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.
The only aerial tramway in Texas closes after nearly six decades. “Replacement of the Wyler Aerial Tramway is estimated to cost millions of dollars. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does not have the financial resources to execute a capital construction project of this size at this time.”
Michael Doppelmayr is profiled for his 60th birthday. Some interesting facts: his company’s gross margin was 12.1 percent last year and his father Artur vehemently opposed Doppelmayr’s merger with Garaventa.
New York’s high court clears the way for Belleayre to expand into the former Highmount Ski Center.
Bretton Woods and Doppelmayr make great progress on New Hampshire’s first 8 passenger gondola.
The leaders of North and South Korea ride a pulse gondola during their three day summit.
The State of New Hampshire will hold a public meeting about transferring the Mt. Sunapee lease to Vail Resorts on September 26th.
A third detachable quad is poised to please beginners and experts alike this season at Wolf Creek Ski Area. The Forest Service approved the Meadow lift as part of a 55 acre project in late 2017 and construction commenced in June. This learning playground will feature almost a dozen new trails through low angle forests near Alberta Lake. But the lift will also appeal to expert skiers coming from the Knife Ridge Chutes, Horsehoe Bowl and Spooner Hill areas, who won’t need to hike after their powder lines anymore.
The 2,100′ Doppelmayr has eight towers and will deposit riders near tower nine of the much longer Alberta fixed-grip quad. (that’s right, Wolf Creek’s longest chairlift is still fixed-grip but its second shortest will be high speed.) There are now three lifts in the Alberta zone, which could be a ski area all itself at 900 acres.
The new 30 chair quad will be named Charity after late Wolf Creek owner Charity Jane Pitcher. This growing ski area, which sees the most natural snow in Colorado, is up to seven chairlifts and ten lifts overall. The mountain’s total lift-served vertical will increase slightly with the addition of Charity.
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.
For the third time in six years, Soldier Mountain, Idaho hits the market. “The current owners have experienced the typical start up challenges that come with operating a ski area that has been under capitalized, under managed and under marketed for many years,” writes Mike Krongel of Mirus Resort Advisors.
Mont Cascades scores a $1.2 million grant from the Government of Quebec to help build the resort’s longest chairlift yet.
The criminal case of a former employee who may or may not have been stuck on a Gore Mountain chairlift overnight last winter heads to trial.
Snow King’s possible gondola gains two new alignment options. GM Ryan Stanley tells the Jackson Hole community “After struggling for so many years to keep the lifts spinning, it is sad to see the negativity associated with proposed improvements to the mountain.”
In the end, the haul rope sealed the deal. Turoa, one of the two ski resorts on Mt. Ruapehu, announced today that its summit lift will not reopen this season following damage from a large avalanche last week. The top terminal of the High Noon Express is located inside a building and was spared, however snow caused the tube of tower 15 to give way. Communication from the resort, particularly chief executive Ross Copland, has been stellar from beginning to end. Here’s a recap.
Mr. Copland posted a Facebook update from the site within hours and an entertaining selfie video soon after. “It’s a pretty sorry state as you can see behind me. Tower 15 has taken the brunt of a massive snow loading. The shape of the building for the return of the High Noon Express has actually protected it really nicely. The snow has come down right over the roof and basically launched right into the top tower.” He exclaimed at the end “It’s not the first time we’ve had to replace a tower on the High Noon Express!”
Utah ski resorts will debut three new chairlifts for the 2018-19 season and although none of them service new terrain, each will make lives better for skiers and snowboarders. One of my stops this weekend was Park City Mountain, where Vail Resorts announced the creation of a reimagined High Meadow Family Fun Zone back in December. A new Doppelmayr detachable quad, opened up runs, upgraded snowmaking and candy cabin are coming together above the Red Pine Gondola. The new lift will have 8 towers, down from 11 on the old CTEC quad, which is sitting under the Cabriolet for now.
Across old town Park City at Deer Valley, another Doppelmayr detachable quad is replacing another CTEC fixed-grip quad. Highlander Lift Services & Construction is assembling Homestake Express in the existing alignment but again with fewer towers. I think the new number is eight, down from a dozen in this high traffic area above Silver Lake Lodge. For its second winter under Alterra, Deer Valley will operate an impressive 13 high speed quads this season. The 1999 version of Homestake is bound for Utah Olympic Park.