BUZZING: Disney building aerial gondola transportation system.

Edited: February 17, 2017, 11:02 AM

File it under "How COOL is this?!" -- From the Orlando Sentinel (02/15/17): "ans filed with the state have generated speculation that Walt Disney World is planning a cable car system on its property.

Rumors have circulated about such a project for months.

Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Disney-controlled government agency, submitted plans to the South Florida Water Management District this week for work associated with various improvements. The plans are vague, but they do show buildings – including one with a V shape – with floors that are elevated 100 feet. The details are leading some to conclude the project could be paving the way for a gondola lift linking some of the theme parks and other areas.

Such systems have been built in other parts of the world. Experts say cable cars would shuttle tourists around in a cost-effective, fun way."

Chatter has a gondola station planned at a new entrance into EPCOT's World Showcase.

Like all of the completed and ongoing civil work at the Walt Disney world resort, the company continues to invest hundreds of millions in its Florida property.

Replies (21)

Edited: February 18, 2017, 8:17 PM

Sounds cool, but they also need to replace the monorails. However Disney does it, transportation at Disney World needs to made faster and more efficient, even if that means the end of free or included transportation. Maybe use the Magic Bands as a bus pass, with a small fee (no more than $5 per day) per person. The backstage buses are a step in the right direction, but they need to make the whole system more efficient, not just add a faster option for a fairly large fee.

February 17, 2017, 11:35 AM

I have always been impressed how Disney moves people.
A few Years ago we stayed until after the fireworks show(MK)and so many folks headed to the exists all at once...

We tried to wait a few minutes before heading out. We could not get on rides since it was now magic hours and we stay off site.

But it only took a few minutes to get on a monorail. They had them all lined up and waiting. What could have taken hours only too about 20 minutes.
(PS and I am a Universal fan not a Disney Fan).


February 17, 2017, 12:26 PM

Sounds like a good idea, but what happens when bad weather, a common occurrence for a Florida summer, forces it to be inoperable during a chunk of the day?

February 17, 2017, 1:01 PM

Not sure why weather would be a major concern. I am sure they shut down the ferry boats and Monorail she. Things get stormy

February 17, 2017, 1:45 PM

These alleged plans make no sense to me, from an operational perspective. You're shuttling people between two hotels, the edge of the DHS parking lot and the back entrance to Epcot. For what?

How does this relieve pressure on the DHS lot, which is the point here? It seems a huge expense just to move people off buses from the Caribbean Beach and Pop Century to DHS. How many people does that serve daily? And neither of those are deluxe-priced resorts befitting of special transport. Throw more boats on the circuit between EC and ST and you get the same capacity boost moving people between those parks.

If this was a gondola between EC/ST to AK, then I'd be more inclined to believe it. But this just doesn't pass my sniff test.

February 17, 2017, 3:58 PM

I think it might be running between the Art of Animation, Pop Century (which is being renovated and upgraded) and the Caribbean (which was just renovated and is now going to expand) to EPCOT. It takes pressure off of Lake Buena Vista Boulevard, reduces the number of busses and ... It's kind of cool.

Edited: February 17, 2017, 4:59 PM

Wasn't the Skyway closed down because of the Florida weather, specifically lightning? Not sure a family not used to Florida weather would be too happy being stuck up there with thunder booming.

What are the winds like in Florida? Are there high winds that are likely to knock it out of commission?

If Disney really wants one, I'm sure London would be happy to be shot of the Emirates Air Line over the Thames, I understand since the Olympics its not exactly been a success.

February 17, 2017, 6:44 PM

I'm a huge fan of aerial ropeways, so I'm very excited to see Walt Disney World considering the installation of one as a mass transit system. Much like the monorail is for the Magic Kingdom resorts, I expect Disney intends the gondola system to be the primary transportation option for those in the Epcot and Wide World of Sports resorts, particularly if they are visiting DHS or Epcot (both of which are likely to see massive investment in the next 5-10 years). While I don't know what they'll ultimately choose to go with, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a 3S system (look up the Whistler Peak 2 Peak gondola for an example), as those can transport 5,000 passengers per hour in each direction and can operate in almost any weather conditions (put it this way...if the weather would close the gondola, you probably wouldn't want to be in the park anyway).

February 17, 2017, 8:25 PM

I am very interested in seeing where this could possibly go.

Can we also take a moment to recognize the genius of the Disney rumor machine. This could be a complete red herring, but Disney has us all talking about this.

February 18, 2017, 5:14 AM

I hope it pans out. Nobody wants to enter the parks in a bad mood because you were in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Lake Buena Vista or World Drive, on a crowded bus (without a seat), or any other number of transportation-related issues that could get you down, before you even start your day.

This is the kind of thing I get really excited about, so let's see if Disney pulls it off. Or if they defer to Universal, with a monorail or other mode of non-bus mass transportation to link their upcoming third gate.

February 20, 2017, 7:21 AM

"It's kind of cool."

Sure it's cool, but how practical is it? Gondolas seem to be the "hip" transportation alternative these days (there's a group in Washington DC trying to get one approved to connect Georgetown and Roslyn, VA in an attempt to relieve traffic on the Key Bridge) because it's relatively cheap to build and operate compared to other alternatives like light rail, heavy rail, and BRT - bus rapid transit. The problem with gondolas is the speed, especially over longer distances (>1 mile), the challenges of expanding the network, and safety issues, especially when you have people in cabins longer than 10 minutes.

Sure it's cool, but as someone who watches the transportation industry very closely, gondolas are not a very practical solution in most applications. If Disney is looking to more efficiently move people around the resort, they should start putting together a BRT network on their existing surface streets, and provide operators the ability to preferentially control signals to expedite bus trips.

February 22, 2017, 10:45 AM

Why not build something like the Wedway People Mover... every family could have their own car, and pick any destination. Empty cars could be routed to where they're needed. The computer system could find the fastest way. Who could ride? Disney Guests could go anywhere. People who drive in to the parks could use it to get from park to park. Other people could buy passes. The system could be on the ground, in the air, or even in tunnels. The cars could be covered to avoid the rain. If this is a big network, it could avoid crowded areas, and just go around. The longer way may be the faster way.

Edited: February 22, 2017, 4:44 PM

Jetpacks and autonomous flying cars are how we are going to solve the traffic problem.

February 22, 2017, 12:53 PM

"Jackpacks?"

February 22, 2017, 4:45 PM

Jetpacks....stupid spell checker

February 23, 2017, 1:06 PM

This is an awful decision by Disney and they have so many better options for transportation. Expand the monorail system through the whole resort, that's what everyone truly ones because it's the best way to transport people . I know it will cost millions but it will be an efficient way to transport people. Also it will be a way of transportation that is not relying on gasoline for the buses.

February 23, 2017, 1:27 PM

Chris, Disney has not made any official announcement. Many people would love more monorail lines, but given the price, I doubt that will happen. No matter how Disney does it, they need more transportation, and I think this would be a good alternative to monorails, which may be faster, but is much more expensive. Another option Disney should consider is roads exclusively for buses.

February 23, 2017, 2:39 PM

I would think it will be cheaper to build dedicated roads with automated busses. There will be no drivers and the bus will not drive into traffic. In fact, it should follow the perimeter of the parks and drive alongside the highways and major roadways to avoid the crowds and pedestrians.

February 23, 2017, 11:27 PM

Given the wait for a monorail it probably wouldn't be faster. A high speed detachable gondola can move pretty fast and is efficient and much more cost effective

February 26, 2017, 9:26 AM

As a separate ticketed leisure link from some place A to some place B, why not !? But it's not a mass transit system. Capacity will always be very limited, and one can check the real-reality operational transportation cost of cable cars in all ski resorts and mountain top tourist lookouts, everywhere in the world. CHECK... in the range of $15 to $35 per roundtrip !?

Edited: February 26, 2017, 12:36 PM

Hedwig, it depends on the system. A 3 cable gondola system has a capacity of around 8000 people per hour, which is comparable to the monorail system (maybe a little smaller) for a fraction of the cost. Modern systems are actually being targeted for use as mass transit systems.

Considering the huge cost of infrastructure for a monorail system, and the comparably large footprint, a gondola makes a lot of sense as a free (for patron usage) alternative.

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