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.
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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Disney will build and maintain a boat and dock specifically for Skyliner gondola evacuation purposes.
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.
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.
Aerial view of Disney Skyliner Epcot station. Top arrow at the inner turnaround. Bottom arrow at curve staged for outer turnaround. pic.twitter.com/f8YF87vzXk
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.