Disney Skyliner Proving Runs Underway

The first of Walt Disney World’s three Skyliner lines is looking a lot like a gondola these days with cabins moving along at a brisk clip during test runs.  Line speed appears to be at least 5 m/s with cabin interval around 10 seconds, translating to a 3,600 per hour capacity.  We’ll have to wait and see what the final spacing and speeds are but it’s clear these gondolas are going to move a ton of people.

One of the many cabins now flying between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Hollywood Studios was recently uncovered, providing some clues to how the system will look when completed.  The landing below the cabin doors is wider and squarer than normal for easy loading and unloading.  There are three windows that open out on the front of the cabin, one on the tower side and two at the rear.  Additional vents at the bottom ensure there will be plenty of air flow.  While gondola number 251 is a simple yellow with glazed windows, many other cabins will feature Disney character graphics.

The Epcot line, which stretches some 8,200 linear feet with two angle changes, is not far behind on its way to completion.

At the first angle station, landscaping is underway and stairs are being erected for worker access to the terminal.

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News Roundup: Passcape

  • LST Ropeways’ prototype detachable chairlift in France is once again open.
  • Despite a wild winter in Colorado, the shiny new Glenwood Gondola is tracking towards a March 16th launch.
  • Mt. Spokane’s first new lift in four-plus decades has been spinning since December but the mountain’s nonprofit operator is still seeking donations to help pay for it.
  • Epic Passes go on sale and a new Epic Day Pass offers Vail Resorts skiers the option to pre-buy a flexible number of days at a big discount.
  • The Mountain Collective Pass is back for 2019-20 and, as expected, no longer includes Sun Valley or Snowbasin.
  • Following the collective model, an Indy Pass is brewing with eleven regional resorts already signed on.
  • Court documents suggest the Hermitage Club may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
  • The highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Walt Disney World Resort August 29th, which would be a great date for the Skyliner to start carrying guests to it.
  • Aspen voters approve the Lift 1 corridor project by 26 votes, but it may be a few years before a Telemix joins the Ajax lift fleet.
  • Two years after a fatal ride accident blamed on corrosion, the Ohio State Fair is spending $116,000 to replace all the carriers on a different attraction – its chairlift.
  • Doppelmayr is looking for workers to help build lifts across the country this summer.
  • Vail Resorts season-to-date lift revenue is up 9.6 percent from a year ago, with skier visits increasing 7.9 percent.
  • Attitash won’t open Summit this weekend but not for lack of trying.
  • In California, the City of Long Beach is in the very early stages of considering a multistop gondola.
  • For the first time in years, Black Mountain is opening its 1935 vintage J-Bar this weekend.

News Roundup: Back to Work

 

News Roundup: Dedication

Gondola Cabins Arrive at Walt Disney World

A rainbow shipment of CWA cabins is now stateside, earmarked for the skies above Central Florida.  Construction continues on the three line Disney Skyliner system, which is set to open this fall and sure to become a showcase for high capacity lift technology.

In addition to the row of cabins now staged at the Caribbean Beach hub, cabins have also been spotted in the Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Pop Century and Art of Animation stations.  While the gondolas are covered in protective wraps, you can see they come in a variety of colors with Disney character art on the windows.

There are interesting looking electrical boxes on the cabin roofs.  I’m curious to see what sort of infotainment the Skyliner carriers feature, if any.  It does not appear that power is derived from solar panels, as is the case with some other urban gondolas.

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News Roundup: Friday Night

  • Disney unveils a Skyliner cabin and confirms there will be no air conditioning.
  • Could Vail Resorts or Alterra buy Jay Peak?
  • Friday, December 7th is the big day Vail announces first quarter earnings and capital expenditure plans for next year.
  • The Hermitage Club might be loaned $25 to $30 million next week.
  • Doppelmayr/Garaventa worldwide revenues grow 5.7 percent to $965 million for the 2017/18 fiscal year.
  • American Eagle at Copper is beginning to look like a Telemix.
  • My brother Ben Landsman and Tiffany Wilson are Lift Blog Southeast Asian correspondents this week.  Check out their adventure on the world’s longest and fastest gondola earlier today.

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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