Rob Pastor

Published: February 6, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Simplicity... That's why we enjoy Universal Orlando so very much. A short walk or a beautifully landscaped water taxi ride to your every destination. No waiting in lines. A vacation that combines the ultimate in entertainment & relaxation. It's a major reason we increased our Universal stay at Lowe's Portofino Resort from 7 days last year to 12 days this coming May. We'll be onsite at Disney for eleven days prior to Universal but we reserved the more relaxing portion(Universal) of the vacation for last.We love Disney, but the one stop aspect of Universal is more satisfying....Mr. Niles: That was an excellent article. You summed up the situation very well.

Published: February 6, 2012 at 4:08 PM

I really hope to see that walkability may be coming an objective to achieve for USA tourism-friendly cities. Not only for tourists but for citizens itself: I'm from Spain and when I arrived to L.A. I was astonished about how car-dependent their inhabitants were. It was near impossible to arrive anywhere just strolling, which is something very usual in european cities. Also you have a nice example of pedestrian-friendly town in Las Vegas, if we talk about the Strip.
Wok Creative

Published: February 6, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Friends that just got back from working there on the game, half-time show, and awards show went on and on complaining about the major gouging that they were doing - 20 dollar martini's, adding 4 dollars to every item on a menu, 10 dollar cover charge just to get into one of these places (arguments with management and servers)...
These guys weren't there as tourists, but to work, and enjoy a night out while they were there. Also, most of them have worked there on other things, like the kick-off game... and not had these huge add-on prices. Doesn't seem right at all.
It is nice to save on driving/parking. Las Vegas seems to be okay, but Milwaukee and Boston stand out to me. Disney World has a great transportation system, with multiple options making it even better. Park hopping is probably the easiest in Anaheim (and, I agree, Universal Orlando).
The world expo sites have been good examples, too.
Melanie Howe

Published: February 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I absolutely agree with Robert and Rob above. Being able to walk between the hotels and parks at Universal Orlando makes the whole experience so relaxing and enjoyable.

The WDW monorail and bus system seemed to work great when I was kid (and the resort only had a handful of hotels....), but now I feel like I'm being herded on a cattle truck whenever I use Disney transportation. I agree with Robert that it's actually more pleasant to drive between the parks than to depend on the buses.

It will be interesting to see how WDW handles this in the future. In a way it's sort of representative of Florida itself....big and sprawling with questionable transportation infrastructure and no concept of walkability.

Neil Trama

Published: February 6, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Very interesting.

It brings Las Vegas to mind. When I visited I was so amazed by how large all of the casino/resorts were, yet they were so easy to maneuver between when you wanted. The MGM Grand is "caddy corner" to the Excalibur, New York New York, and Tropicana. A monorail connects them to Caesars, Ballys, Bellagio, Paris, and Planet Hollywood...all an easy walk to one another. And it makes sense for Vegas because, let's face it, most people go there for activities after which driving is a terrible idea.

Neil Trama

Published: February 6, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Melanie: Boy is that ever true. We have a family condo in Clearwater. I love it, it's close to everything...except it's impossible to walk ANYWHERE. Seriously, it's gated with one road in and out that leads to a street with no sidewalk. And this seems to be the norm in the area.
Daniel Etcheberry

Published: February 6, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Walt Disney World's solution to commuting is to extend the monorail throughout the resort; the monorail route should include the Disney hotels, Downtown Disney, Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios.

Published: February 6, 2012 at 6:27 PM

To Daniel, I agree 110%. I'm surprised that Disney never did that.
It must be a cost/benefit problem. I suspect that the cost to extend the monorail far exceeds the cost to run their other transporation options.
Eric G

Published: February 6, 2012 at 8:20 PM

This article is a little odd because we already have "theme parks" like Six Flags Magic Mountain for example and then we have "theme park resorts" like Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort and Universal Resort. My point is not all "theme parks" can add the resort to their title. The demand isn't there in many cases and thus the business model won't work.

I too like Universal Orlando and Disneyland Resort, though I would be willing to bet that if Disney could start from scratch they wouldn't put the entrance to California Adventure directly across from Disneyland again. I believe the facing entrances is one of the major problems in getting the public to view California Adventure as a truly separate theme park. I think the distance or you could say inconvenience of park hopping in WDW works to Disney's advantage. No one calls parks like Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, which to this day are severely short of attractions, just an extension of Magic Kingdom like they do California Adventure.

Getting back to the topic though the transportation system at Walt Disney World (bus network) would be a "real mass-transit system" by most definitions. What are you expecting Robert? Walking paths through the woods, a train system or an underground subway network?

Disney in my opinion has made it pretty clear that they don't intend to expand the monorail system or link any additional resorts. It doesn't make financial sense to so and it isn't an efficient transportation model. The monorail is cool, but the cool factor is way overridden by the fact that it has a single point of failure. Even if Disney were to link additional resorts they would still need a bus or other transportation system to serve as a backup. That makes the monorail proposition very expensive.

I firmly believe that Disney really likes their bus network for its redundancy. If one bus fails it inconveniences a few, but there is another bus that can be quickly dispatched to replace the one that is out of commission. It also scales to demand. During busier weeks additional buses can be put on the road, during slower weeks fewer need to be used.

Unfortunately, I don't think the lessons learned from the Super Bowl really apply to the theme park world. They certainly apply to city development, but not so much for theme parks as I doubt we will see many parks, especially theme park resorts built in the US in the next decade or two.

Published: February 6, 2012 at 10:22 PM

The monorail is not affordable for Disney and does not add the value as when it was cool and innovative. It is also inefficient to deal with. However, Walt loved his rail and we should to. It would be relatively straightforward to design a light rail system for Disney and theme the cars appropriately.

The trains would result in fewer vehicle, substituting electricity for diesel, reduced workforce over the hundreds of busses, reduced bus accident risk, and more opportunities to market to the guests. I would expect a reasonable payback period.

A hub point get tremendous traffic with potential to be highly profitable. Ease of access to the hotels could make the hotels their own profitable mini-attractions.


Skipper Adam

Published: February 7, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Actually there are monorail expansion plans under review. The plan would be to combine the Epcot line with the MK Express so that is one continuous line without transfer. There would be a new TTC like hub built at Epcot with a new line connecting the studios and DAK. If they had their dream budget, Peoplemover like lines would connect the resorts to the monorail stations, or smaller additional lines might be added, but the more lines the more complicated and expensive. So Disney is realistically looking at an MK/Epcot line and a DHS/DAK line. The idea then would be to bus people from their hotel to the nearest Themepark, and from there they would take the monorail. This would reduce the need of the aging bus fleet to about 1/10 of the size, clearing up traffic and making the bus system short and efficient.

Right now it is the cost of fuel, bus repair, bus union and accidents versus a brand new monorail fleet and monorail lines and a new matainence building. The current monorails are too old to go on for another ten years, so about 20 new monorails would be required. The cost to build a beam has come down since the 1980's.

Eric G

Published: February 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

I'm sorry, the cost of construction has gone up since the 80s. There is no way that Disney can build the monorail beams for less than it would have paid in the 80s.

Combining the Magic Kingdom express with the EPCOT line makes almost no sense. Cycling trains through EPCOT when it closes at 9:00 pm and Magic Kingdom closes at 1:00 am would be a wasted effort. I figure the station changes (Ticket & Transportation) center could be done with minimal changes to the existing since a stop going to and coming from Magic Kingdom at this spot would still be necessary, but sending every train on to EPCOT doesn't make sense.

Now combining the MK resort line with EPCOT, kind of would make sense.