Disney Skyliner to Open in Fall 2019

The most expensive gondola system ever built in the United States will debut sometime between September and December next year.  Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products made the announcement this morning in a keynote address at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo, which Doppelmayr and CWA are attending.  Competitor Leitner-Poma is also there.  “Next fall, Disney Skyliner will not only efficiently move you to your location, it’ll also offer a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World with amazing views only available from the sky,” the resort said in a blog post.  Construction began on the three gondola lines in July of 2017.

Crews are working across the resort to complete the network, which will link two of the most visited theme parks in the world with four major hotels and replace a significant number of Disney Transport bus routes.  A mural was recently added to the gateway station at Epcot and the second angle station now has its Doppelmayr D-Line enclosure.

A second angle station will service the sprawling Riviera Resort, seen below.  Can you spot the lift?  Guests will find themselves just a few minutes from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot by gondola.

In the below photo, you can see the last of more than 50 towers being completed.  Parking rails for hundreds of cabins are also being pieced together at the massive Caribbean Beach hub.

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News Roundup: Rope Time

  • Searchmont, Ontario sells to Wisconsin Resorts, the firm behind Pine Knob, Mt. Holly and Ski Bittersweet in Michigan as well as Alpine Valley, Wisconsin.
  • Mike Solimano of Killington reveals what three lifts he would upgrade if given $100 million to spend at The Beast.
  • The new Winter Park gondola is creatively named Gondola.
  • Grand Junction’s NBC affiliate takes viewers inside the factory where Leitner-Poma lifts are created.
  • The two stage Blackcomb Gondola is almost finished; thanks Max for these pictures.
  • Next up for Ramcharger 8 at Big Sky: installation of an in-terminal video wall and the haul rope, which is going up right now.
  • Beech Mountain commissions its twin fixed grip quads.
  • Freeskier looks at Alterra’s whirlwind growth and future trajectory.
  • Rope pulling commences tonight at Walt Disney World, 24 years to the day since the Disneyland Skyway cable was taken down for good.
  • This week’s new trail map comes from Hunter Mountain.
  • In an act of sabotage, someone cuts into three haul ropes at a Pyrenees ski resort.

News Roundup: More Maps

  • As Aspen Mountain considers a Telemix combination lift, the Aspen Daily News looks back at other unique lifts in Pitkin County history.
  • Purden Ski Village in BC is for sale at $1.7 million USD ($2.2 million CAD).  The area operates two doubles and a T-Bar, all built by Mueller.
  • Snowbird’s Chickadee has a new tower that hangs from a bridge.
  • The final Disney Skyliner towers rise from a lake and one station gets a mural.
  • Peak Pass sales are pacing ahead of last year by 19 percent in units and 22 percent in dollars despite increased northeast competition from Vail and Alterra.
  • The shut down Hermitage Club expects to close on $25-30 million in financing around Thanksgiving.  One potential reopening complication: the chairlifts haven’t been touched by mechanics since March.
  • A new trail map shows the locations of Killington’s three new lifts.
  • Beech Mountain is rocking two new quad chairs this winter and an all new trail map.
  • Taos has an updated map to go along with its high speed quad.

Skyliner Update: Hiring Begins, Ropes Soon?

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.

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News Roundup: Working Together

  • It’s not looking good for Mt. Timothy, BC.
  • Two Aspen developers amend their plans to accommodate the new Lift 1 alignment.
  • Horseshoe Resort commits to replacing Chair 6 with a quad in 2019.
  • The Hermitage Club is still trying to ink a reopening deal with members and Oz Real Estate.
  • Powdr breaks ground on Woodward Park City, set to debut with a fixed-grip quad in November 2019.  No word yet on the manufacturer.
  • The Forest Service green lights Aspen Highlands’ Goldenhorn platter project.
  • Peak Resorts posts quarterly results: an $11.8 million net loss on $7 million in revenue as the company worked to build Hunter North and the Carinthia Lodge at Mt. Snow.  SKIS had $10.1 million in cash on hand as of July 31st with $180.6 million in debt.  CEO Tim Boyd says he’s still open to acquiring more mountains.
  • Disney will build and maintain a boat and dock specifically for Skyliner gondola evacuation purposes.
  • Hall double area Navarino Hills, Wisconsin closes for good.
  • With rumors swirling about its future, Black Mountain, NH clarifies it will open this winter.
  • Snow King’s gondola/expansion scoping is extended for the third time to October 4th.
  • A cabin is spotted in one of the Disney World gondola stations.
  • $51 million in new lifts are on track to spin for American Thanksgiving at Whistler Blackcomb.  Thanks Jordan N. for these photos.

News Roundup: Not Cool

Disney Skyliner Build Marches Toward Fall

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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.

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At Walt Disney World, Skyliner Assembly Continues

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Three new lift terminals set to form a gondola hub near Walt Disney World’s Caribbean Beach Resort seen earlier this month.

The big Disney Skyliner story last month came from a Twitter user stuck in traffic within Walt Disney World.  He or she (the account belongs to a golden retriever) happened to get behind a gondola cabin on a trailer which looks to be a CWA Omega IV 10 passenger D-Line model with extra ventilation and reflective windows.  It’s our first real glimpse of what the hundreds of cabins for the Disney Skyliner system might look like.

Before I get into a construction rundown, the video below shows a new Doppelmayr gondola in Turkey that appears to allow carriers to come to complete stops for loading and unloading while the haul rope keeps moving.  In this installation, many of the carriers are buckets carrying ore that must be stopped to fill and dump while others carry workers and go through a standard turnaround.  With double turnarounds at both ends, the setup appears to be similar to the six double loading stations going up at Walt Disney World.

The Epcot International Gateway Skyliner station is progressing with the concrete masts in place and steel beginning to go on top.  The first tower next to the station isn’t up yet but the next one is painted green to blend into its surroundings.

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More Skyliner Steel Rises Across Walt Disney World

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.

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News Roundup: Change of Plans

  • Mammoth seeks to replace the workhorse Canyon Express #16 with a detachable six place lift in a new alignment.
  • Plans for Battle Mountain Resort that once featured ten chairlifts and two gondolas near Vail no longer do.
  • Leitner-Poma’s self-driving mini aerial tramway in San Francisco will debut this summer.
  • A Grafton, Illinois gondola project faces a key vote with groundbreaking possible later this summer.
  • Partek will build a brand new quad chair this summer at West Mountain, New York.

  • Ghost Town – the defunct chairlift-accessed amusement park in North Carolina – may reopen in 2019.
  • A court rules in favor of plaintiffs in three Hermitage Club cases but is still considering next steps for the ski mountain foreclosure.
  • The latest Aspen Lift One meetings go well.
  • You probably heard Jerusalem in the news this week but not for the $56 million earmarked to build a four station gondola there.
  • Like the first one, the second Disney Skyliner terminal to go airborne has two distinct turnarounds.