Walt Disney World Resort’s Skyliner is beginning to look a lot like a gondola – actually a system of gondolas unlike anything ever built in North America. Before I get to construction pictures, two significant developments occurred within the past week. First, Disney Parks announced that water taxi service between certain destinations will be suspended for 21 days beginning November 28th, likely so haul ropes and communications lines can be pulled between the eight gondola stations and 50 or so towers. Second, the first Skyliner-specific job posting appeared last Thursday. More on that in a minute.
The station at Epcot International Gateway is getting close and scaffolding shown below may be for applying the graphics shown in this artist’s rendering. The rear end of the terminal is getting a steel structure over the turnaround area where guests will load and unload.
The non-boarding station to the southwest of Epcot now looks similarly complete. Some of the D-Line windows are transparent while some are opaque, breaking up visually this very long station. Unfortunately the three awesome red bullwheels are being covered with terminal skin as well. Notice the stub rails on both sides which will ensure no cabin is ever more than two stations away from somewhere it can be removed. The primary parking and maintenance bays will be at Caribbean Beach South, two stops away from this angle change. The Epcot line has a total of four stations.
On the heels of building its 50,000th Omega gondola cabin, CWA Constructions introduced the fifth generation of an icon yesterday. Omega V features updated design language and is highly customizable for monocable gondola installations going forward. Omega first debuted back in 1983 and the the rest is history. The Omega IV joined the dynasty in 2007 and in just a dozen years became the chosen carrier for 29 gondolas in the United States and Canada. “The new cabin features the unmistakable Omega shape which merges seamlessly with any of its surroundings. The cabin has been completely redeveloped while retaining the core values of a true Omega,” Doppelmayr says.
Designed with 10 passenger D-Line systems in mind, The V will become the global standard for snow, tourism and urban installations by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, of which CWA is a member. The changes I noticed first were the suspension going below the roof line and the bench seats being swapped for individual places (each seat is 18.1 inches or 460 mm wide, more than you’ll find in a typical economy airline seat.) The V has new ergonomic ski rack choices, two bumper options and wider doors that open to 35 inches (900 mm.) A single door can hold up to six pairs of powder skis or five with a snowboard lot. An interior bike rack is also available.
The most state-of-the-art chairlift in the world went vertical today under wispy Montana skies. Teams from Doppelmayr, Big Sky Resort and Timberline Helicopters flawlessly executed 71 trips to hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel to Andesite Mountain in under six and a half hours. Thanks to good weather and an even better crew, that’s an average of one pick every 5.5 minutes, including refueling. As fly days go, it was amazing to watch Ramcharger 8 take shape.
Eight is the magic number of gondola terminals now vertical in Florida. Three haul ropes will soon connect these stations at two iconic theme parks and four distinct resorts to create the Disney Skyliner network. With innovative loading capabilities and huge capacity, the Skyliner is poised to become a world showcase of gondola technology in 2019.
The gateway of Walt Disney World’s gondola system is being assembled this month at Epcot. Like most of the Skyliner stations, cabins will likely transit two separate loading zones to accommodate throngs of passengers of all ages. Each Skyliner building features a different theme and the outside of this one is going to be dark gray.
June is an important time for the Disney Skyliner gondola project as we’re a year from when the system would need to open to transport guests during the park’s busiest months of 2019. A late spring opening seems like an attainable timeline as construction of many of the system’s towers is complete with terminal steel now spotted at four of eight station locations.
The Epcot park entrance known as International Gateway was one of the last stations to break ground but concrete is now in place for the four masts that will support the terminal.
Most of the approximately seven towers between International Gateway and the first angle station are now standing near Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and its various parking lots.
Three of the highest capacity lifts America has ever seen continue to take shape this spring at Walt Disney World in preparation for a 2019 opening. With steel coming together for the first two megastations announced almost a year ago, the Hollywood Studios gondola seems on track to be completed first.
To keep things consistent, I’ll start this month’s update at Epcot, where the longest of three Disney World lifts will terminate. This zigzagging line will feature two intermediate stations between Epcot’s International Gateway and the south end of the Caribbean Beach Resort. Foundation work is in progress at all four stations and the second to last tower (number 25 I think) was recently set near the park entrance. You can see in the bottom left of the above photo that it might be finished in a green shade to blend into its surroundings.
More towers are either standing or soon will be between Epcot and the first turn station near the parking lot for Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. This section appears to have around seven towers total. The ride will be very cool with one water crossing, a forest section and Eiffel Tower views.
Those interested in reading only about ski lifts can skip this post. For everyone else, the Disney Skyliner is poised to become among the world’s highest profile ropeways a bit over a year from now and one worth following. I plan on scrambling to Walt Disney World as soon as the three Skyliner gondolas open, but for now, we can rely on Twitter user bioreconstruct, a relentless documentarian of everything Disney.
The Skyliner will bring Epcot within just a few minutes’ reach for guests staying at four Disney World Resort hotels. At the storied park’s International Gateway, what will likely be the second busiest gondola station is in the early phases of construction near the current boat dock. This one will be mostly open air with a few unique Disney touches on an otherwise dark gray Doppelmayr terminal.
A few tower foundations are going in for the stage from Epcot to the BoardWalk Inn parking lot, where an angle station is also beginning to form. Cabins will turn sharply here but doors will stay closed in both directions.
Walt Disney World is currently building America’s inaugural Doppelmayr D-Line gondola, actually three gondolas. Although Orlando is a long way from the mountains of Wyoming, the world’s most visited resort is also one of Earth’s most photographed places. So, through the magic of the internet, I am able to give a construction tour of the Disney Skyliner from afar.
Let’s start at Epcot. Foundations for this key station are taking shape but the bulk of work still lies ahead. Though they look like lift terminals, the dark green roofs are actually related to ferry boats the Skyliner will partially replace.
Next up is an angle station that Disney says will showcase the inner workings of the Skyliner as riders pass. No loading or unloading will take place here but the line will deflect around 110 degrees (double grooved bullwheel, maybe?) This one is also just beginning to be formed in what used to be a pond.