Disney World Monorail crash kills driver

Posted Sunday, July 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Contributed by Bill

Emergency officials say two monorail trains crashed in the Magic Kingdom section of Walt Disney World, killing one train's operator. Bo Jones, deputy chief for Reedy Creek Fire Department, says one train operator died at the scene of the crash, which happened around 2 a.m. Sunday. The other train operator was not injured, but was taken to a hospital because he was emotionally shaken. Five park guests were treated at the scene.

Read more from AP via Yahoo and CNN.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 11:01 AM

This local station has video from the station right after the crash...


Sunday, July 5, 2009 11:10 AM

More info at pics here:


It's sad to hear that someone lost there life, but thank goodness there were not any guests riding in the front cab.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 11:18 AM
ridemcoaster's avatar

Knowing the end result, that video is just way to erie to watch.. Fortunately or unfortunately it happened in a place where there will be hundreds of pictures and videos. It will help Disney Figure out what happened, but unfortunately also encourage people to post things that are borderline inappropriate (at very least to the family of the cast member).

Sunday, July 5, 2009 1:12 PM

The news reports I've been reading suggest that they shut down the entire monorail system, not just the Epcot-TTC circuit. What's Disney World's contingency plan for getting guests to the Magic Kingdom in the even that the monorail is down? Extra busing?

Sunday, July 5, 2009 1:13 PM

No,, you are somewhat incorrect. Their onboard computer will explain what went 'faulty', ie the proximity sensor, the driver fell asleep, or a combination.

Be happy it happened very late at night, without a fully loaded train, which would have made the moving train much heavier. Be happy it did not happen inside a fully loaded station for all to witness.

Things sometime happen for a reason. This is one time less witnesses the better.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 1:29 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

How would the use of eyewitness reports and photos make me somewhat incorrect? I didnt discount other means of discovery (hence me saying help)..

Eyewitness (which includes photos) will NEVER be obsolete to any other method.

As far as contingency.. They also have the boats from TTC.. But I would expect a beefing up of the buses as well.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 3:22 PM

I have been to WDW at least 2 dozen times and I always thought there was some kind of safety system in place like rollercoasters have where if it noticed a monorail in a station or too close that it had a shut down or slow down system.


Sunday, July 5, 2009 3:31 PM

you got it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 4:02 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar

The driver was a 21-year old college student getting ready to graduate next year. So sad and tragic. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. :(

There have been a lot of video going around of the monorails post-crash. In some ways it's disrespectful but in other ways it shows how strangers will come together to try to save someone. Unfortunately it was too late for the driver. :( I am sure these pics and videos will also help with any investigations.

The bright side to this is nobody else got hurt with the exception of the other driver who wasn't injured but was pretty shaken up. :( My thoughts and prayers go out to him too.


Last edited by coasterqueenTRN, Sunday, July 5, 2009 4:05 PM
Sunday, July 5, 2009 6:09 PM

Is anyone else disturbed by the fact the cast member who was trying to help the driver had to chase off the camera person.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 6:27 PM

Better information in this link about what might have happened.

Attractions Magazine

Personally I think the video on Local 6/ClickOrlando.com is gross, unnecessary and disrespectful. As for the Cast Member chasing the photographer off, I think it was already to late for the trapped pilot.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 7:47 PM
The Mole's avatar


For a better understanding of the innerworkings, and what possibly went wrong, read up this post from a former WDW Monorail driver.


Sunday, July 5, 2009 7:50 PM

This is very confusing. Because the monorail system has a system to prevent trains getting too close. And if you go over a certain speed at points it will automatically perform an E-Stop. If I remember correctly. And seeing how it happened in the station. I guess we will find out soon enough though. And it is very sad that this has happened.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 8:41 PM
Jeff's avatar

The theory on Micehat sounds most plausible. On my last visit, we got to "co-pilot" the monorail twice, and one of those times, we had an anti-collision stop for a train still in the station ahead (which triggered the PA message indicating this). I don't recall that the operator had to do anything specifically for this condition.

I do recall seeing the switch to the maintenance area, which is approximately where the resort bus stations are for Magic Kingdom, near the southeast corner of the park by Space Mountain. In fact I think those maintenance buildings are next door to it. I also seem to recall that the switch would require you to pass, then reverse into the switch.

That they were running trains in manual mode does make sense given the time of night and the desire to park them, but that they would begin that process with any guests anywhere in the entire system surprises me. Perhaps even more surprising is that, if the one linked post is correct, that 15 mph is enough to crush the end of the train. It would seem to me that they'd be built to withstand that kind of crash.

Either way, it sounds like a catastrophic human failure and break down of procedure, and very un-Disney-like. You can bet that's the end of guests in the cab too.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Sunday, July 5, 2009 8:45 PM
The Mole's avatar

Just heard this from a guy I trust 100% on a WDW boards...

"Anyhow...the message I got this morning was that the accident happened in the station, Pink backing into Purple. Not the Purple driver's fault. Not a computer glitch. Human error, but not on the part of the driver.
Can't verify for sure, but I got that early-ish this morning."

Also, it took place in the Epcot TTC station, not MK.

Sunday, July 5, 2009 8:55 PM
Jeff's avatar

I was wrong about where the maintenance buildings were, but close regarding the switch location. (Check out the maintenance buildings!) But the switch they're talking about is at the TTC (see here) or just east of there. If I'm following this right, a train on the Epcot line has to switch off on to the Magic Kingdom's counter-clockwise loop, right? Then they take the east side of the loop through Contemporary, pass the switch, then back up to the storage buildings.

I guess I'm just trying to get an understanding of who made the wrong call in moving the trains around the switches.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Sunday, July 5, 2009 11:29 PM

From what I've heard from past monorail pilots, the MAPO Override has to be used by the driver whenever they're passing over a transfer switch, and while entering/exiting certain stations.

This was apparently, from what they've said, a bad combination of a transfer switch being put in the wrong place by the shop controller, sending the reversing Pink (which was in override to go over the switches, it was being sent to shop for the night) onto the wrong beam, at the same time Purple, also in MAPO Override, was pulling into that station. Crunch.

It's not official, but it sounds pretty logical. They said the controller has no visual indicator of the train positions, they rely entirely on radio communications.

Monday, July 6, 2009 9:02 AM

Honestly I can't belive the Monorails cannot withstand a relatively slow 15 MPH collision. Sometimes stuff happens even with safety measure in place.

It absolutely appalls me that there is no kind of anticlimber at all.

Guess this is the Railfan in me coming out but still I am shocked by this.

The shape of the noses makes it easy to see how the nose of one train easily rides up and over the nose of another.

This is basic rail transport 101.

I know the things look pretty but so does Acela and TGV etc and a 15 MPH collision with those systems would be a non issue and some scraped paint.

-Brent Kneebush


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