- Ski areas across New Mexico are ordered to close for the rest of the month.
- Saddleback GM Andy Shepard joins the Storm Skiing Podcast to discuss reopening, possible 2021 lift additions and more.
- Mission Ridge aims to open Washington’s first bubble chair by the Christmas holiday.
- Big Tupper is likely to be foreclosed on this spring and a group wants the town to buy it.
- Snow Ridge, NY and Antelope Butte, WY join the Indy Pass, bring it to 59 mountains.
- The proposed community ski hill in Valemount, BC looks to buy a T-Bar.
- Could the pandemic finally bring order to chaotic lift mazes in the Swiss Alps?
- The Hermitage Club relaunches as a member-owned ski area.
- Sun Peaks’ new map shows the route of the new Crystal chair.
- Take a video visit to one of America’s largest lost ski areas.
- The City of Burbank opposes a gondola in Griffith Park near Los Angeles.
- Vail Resorts will report earnings on December 10th, traditionally when the company announces capital improvements for the following year.
- Belleayre renames the Superchief lift Belleayre Express and Whiteface christens its new lift Falcon.
- New Bousquet owners intend to upgrade or replace the Blue chair in the coming years.
- The State of Utah officially adds the La Caille gondola base option to the Little Cottonwood transportation study.
Walt Disney World
News Roundup: Fighting
- The first of many Omega 10 passenger gondola cabins is spotted at Walt Disney World.
- Saddleback Mountain Foundation plans to make a second offer for Maine’s third largest ski area, which has been closed for nearly three years.
- Santiago, Chile awards the contract for an $80 million, four station urban gondola to Doppelmayr.
- The first indoor ski area in the Western Hemisphere plans to open March 1, 2019 with a Doppelmayr CTEC quad chair and platter that were installed back in 2008.
- A gondola is one option being considered to improve mobility in Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Alta, Snowbird and lots of traffic.
- A Basin’s Al Henceroth updates us on Norway’s removal and hints more lift changes may be in store for Lenawee Mountain.
- Members of Congress from four states pen a letter to the Forest Service asking for Arizona Snowbowl to be reopened or further explanation given as to why its extended closure is necessary.
- Doppelmayr scores another project in Canada – a $1.8 million fixed-grip quad with loading carpet at Sugarloaf, New Brunswick.
- Rope evacuating 20-25 mountain bikers turns into a four hour affair at Marquette Mountain.
- Ikon Pass destination number 27 is Thredbo, Australia.
- Jumbo Glacier Resort is fighting to reinstate its construction permit.
- A spokesman for the new owners of Maple Valley, Vermont says reopening for skiing is a long term goal that could take many years to accomplish.
- Loveland seeks a good name for the new Lift 1.
- Loon Mountain is buying brand new CWA Omega cabins for its gondola this fall.
- Tremblant says goodbye to the Lowell Thomas triple, making way for a detachable quad.
- The first Hermitage Club property auction yields a $1.2 million winning bid. “There will be more of these coming up,” says the Windham County Sheriff.
- A breakdown at the Jasper SkyTram leads to an 18 hour helicopter evacuation of 160 guests.
Double Turnarounds! Disney Skyliner Advances
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.
Disney Chooses Doppelmayr D-Line
Doppelmayr’s next-generation detachable lift technology appears headed for North America. Walt Disney World Resort released new details about the upcoming Disney Skyliner gondola system this morning and renderings appear to show D-Line Station-D enclosures. Each of the six gondola stations will be themed differently, reflecting unique character of the destinations they serve.
D-Line is Doppelmayr’s latest detachable product that debuted two years ago in Hochgurgl, Austria. Numerous D-Line lifts have since opened in the Alps but no American resort operator has opted to pay extra for one so far, opting instead for the proven UNI-G terminals and standard line equipment. The Walt Disney Company isn’t your standard lift customer, however. D-Line sports hundreds of innovations including rope speeds up to 7 m/s or 1,378 feet per minute and wider line gauge for wider carriers. CWA has developed D-Line-specific Omega gondola cabins with 11 percent greater seating area than non-D 10-passenger versions. At Disney World, cabins will sport custom wraps with the Disney characters guests know and love.
News Roundup: Transformative
- With The Beavers expansion, Arapahoe Basin ditches painted trail map for a VistaMap.
- The BBC produces a fantastic 23-minute podcast explaining the success of Mexicable, the newest urban gondola built by Leitner Ropeways.
- You can watch Belleayre’s gondola take shape live on their webcam. More recent photos are here.
- The New York State Fair’s Broadway Skyliner appears to be a relocated Stadeli. I’m thinking it’s Bucksaw from Sugarloaf.
- The latest from Orlando.
- SNOW Operating to take over operations at Mountain Creek.
- To compensate for a late July gondola opening, Steamboat extends “summer” season until late October.
- Bob Wheaton says being part of a larger resort group will allow Deer Valley to negotiate better prices on lifts.
- Lift operator and friends sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $96,000 in restitution for stealing and selling $116,000 in lift downtime vouchers from top shacks at Heavenly and Northstar. Vail Resorts has since changed the way it handles the vouchers companywide.
Disney Unveils Bold Skyliner Gondola Plan
It’s official: North America’s largest-ever gondola network is coming to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced the project in a Steve Jobs-esque keynote at a Disney fan convention in Anaheim yesterday. The name for the new system will be Disney Skyliner in a nod to the Skyway VonRoll gondolas which operated at three Disney Parks from the 1950s until 1990s. “I’m proud to announce that we’re building a whole new transportation system,” Chapek said onstage to wild applause. “The Disney Skyliner will soon give our guests a bird’s eye view of Walt Disney World. Many of these gondolas will feature your favorite Disney characters and what a better way to get around the resort than with your pals in the sky.” A simultaneous post on the Disney Parks Blog noted, “[This] new transportation system will add even more magic to your future vacation experiences.”
As rumored since February, there will be five stages connecting Disney’s Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort, and new Riviera Resort to Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at EPCOT. Whistler Blackcomb currently operates the most gondola sections in North America – six – but they are not contiguous and utilize varying technologies. The longest of three individual lines at Walt Disney World will have two angle stations, one of which will serve the all-new Disney Riviera Resort opening in 2019. All three lines will meet at a hub on the south side of Caribbean Beach Resort, where guest can change cabins based on destination. Renderings confirm Doppelmayr and CWA ropeway technology and this is probably Doppelmayr USA’s largest lift contract ever (excluding DCC rail-based systems like the Oakland Airport Connector.) Air conditioning does not appear to be included but the Omega cabins will include more open windows than normal like those on the recently completed
Arthurs Seat Eagle in Australia and California Trail at the Oakland Zoo Singapore Cable Car.
News Roundup: Removed
- Reopening of Steamboat’s refurbished gondola has been delayed one more week to July 21st.
- Pats Peak starts work on the new Peak chair, a CTEC from Ascutney, VT with Skytrac upgrades and a loading carpet.
- Alta updates skiers on the new Supreme.
- The Snowdon triple at Killington is getting new SkyTrans crossarms this summer.
- Didn’t make it to Interalpin? You can see the Leitner-Poma Group’s booth through an interactive panorama.
- This week’s Disney gondola update comes from EPCOT.
- Waterville Valley proposes replacing unreliable High Country double with a T-Bar.
- More details surface in fatal Gulmarg Gondola tree incident.
- Six Flags sky ride reopens with new between-leg restraints following rider fall.
- The Community Ski Areas at Risk Symposium, sponsored by Skytrac, is a worthy watch.
- I stopped by Hogadon this weekend and confirmed the Red chair has been removed. Pictures of all 33 of Wyoming’s lifts are now in the database and Montana will be completed next.
- An Eldo Express update.
- Doppelmayr opens an impressive over-water gondola in South Korea’s second largest city.
- Medellín’s four gondola lines will be joined by a fifth.
- The Lake Compounce Skyride, a 1997 CTEC Sprint with 14 towers closes for good.
- Leitner’s new urban gondola in Berlin sees a million riders in its first three months.
- Insolvent Ski Blandford may be sold to Ski Butternut.
News Roundup: Skyride
- MND Group secures $6.7 million private investment to support future growth.
- Whitewater’s new Leitner-Poma quad chair project update.
- Sunday River blasts some rock to make way for Spruce Peak 2.0.
- Timberline Helicopters, the company that flies the majority of lift towers in the West, plans to build a new $3 million home on 93 acres in Northern Idaho.
- SeaWorld San Diego commemorates 50 years of operation of its VonRoll Skyride, one of only 11 remaining in the U.S.
- Tragedy in Gulmarg, India as seven die following tree strike on the world’s second highest gondola. The accident was blamed on an ‘act of god’ and the gondola deemed mechanically fine. More trees will be cut before reopening.
- Human error caused 14-year old girl’s fall from a chairlift at Six Flags Great Escape. After video gets millions of views, editorial in the local paper calls for locking restraint bars.
- Colorado tram board votes against disciplinary action in Granby Ranch case.
- A Walt Disney World gondola update.
- Much-maligned New York State Fair gondola project is dead.
- Anakeesta load tests new Chondola.
News Roundup: High Country
- Watch LST Ropeways build its first detachable lift in three minutes.
- A Swedish company has developed a new, more comfortable T-Bar carrier called Boardie.
- Doppelmayr moves into new $62 million Wolfurt headquarters.
- Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole, Brundage, Sun Valley, Mt. Hood Meadows and Tamarack are operating a total of 13 lifts on August 21st for the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since 1979.
- Sunlight’s end-of-season survey includes some insightful tidbits:
- “Sunlight is evaluating the addition of a high-speed detachable lift.”
- “Understanding that lift ticket and season pass prices would likely increase with the addition of a high-speed lift, please rank how favorable this would be.”
- Vail and Replay Resorts break ground on LIFT development set to anchor future detachable Sunrise lift at Park City’s Canyons Village.
- Preliminary gondola tree cutting and construction work spotted at Walt Disney World.
- Waterville Valley secures $7.5 million for future projects including multiple unspecified lift upgrades. “To answer one burning question, we do have multiple options in development regarding the High Country lift,” the resort says on Facebook.
- Utah sets another all-time record for skier visits.
- Two new Skytracs in St. Maarten won’t open until late summer but are already getting rave reviews.
News Roundup: Confirmed
- $150 million Raymond James settlement includes $762,503 for Burke Mountain’s new Leitner-Poma T-Bar.
- Power outage leads to rope evacuation of Loveland’s newest lift.
- Steamboat gondola refurbishing begins (I got to tour Northstar’s gondola this week which received a similar upgrade in 2015.)
- Orlando Sentinel confirms Walt Disney World is building three Doppelmayr 10-passenger gondolas with six stations.
- Crystal Mountain breaks away from Boyne Resorts, orders five additional gondola cabins and plans to build new Discovery and Gold Hills lifts in 2018.
- Eldora is selling Hall and Heron chairs as six-pack construction begins.
- Preview Oakland’s new $13 million restaurant accessible only by gondola.
- Sunday River’s new owner commits to replacing Spruce Peak.
- This week’s cities floating gondolas include Edmonton and Burlington, Vermont.
- Fatzer delivers four 153-ton track ropes to Germany’s Zugspitze using two trucks linked together for the entire journey.