Gondola system for Walt Disney World transportation confirmed in planning documents

Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017 8:26 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Reedy Creek notes refer to six stations with three lines linking Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Caribbean Beach Resort and the lakeside area between Pop Century and the Art of Animation resorts.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 9:52 AM

The reported location of the stations makes me question the intention. Up charge? For funzies? Proof of concept for future gondola expansion?

I have stayed at Caribbean Beach and found it to be painful to use with the buses because of its multiple stops. Buses from POP were frequent and easy to use. Is there something about these resorts that make them problematic for the buses that this could alleviate?


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:13 AM
Jeff's avatar

That's a good question, and it also brings up a strange broken thing about the system: The cheap-o mega-hotels always have more frequent and adequate bus service than the better hotels. Getting to AK or MK from Beach Club always seemed like a pain in the ass, despite rooms at 3x the cost. Pop Century may have giant, crowded buses, but you rarely wait long for them at the hotel or the parks.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:34 PM

Jeff said:

The cheap-o mega-hotels always have more frequent and adequate bus service than the better hotels. Getting to AK or MK from Beach Club always seemed like a pain in the ass, despite rooms at 3x the cost. Pop Century may have giant, crowded buses, but you rarely wait long for them at the hotel or the parks.

Being a deluxe resort fanboy myself, I would agree with this observation. Furthermore, depending on the time of year, some of the deluxe resorts share bus service across multiple resorts, which is also a pain in the ass; especially when I'm paying $300+ night for a room. I've even seen all of the Epcot resorts including Swan/Dolphin share a bus loop a few times.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:19 PM

On a side note, I am personally more interested in these cable skyways for the ride itself more than the transportation aspect. Since the cable skyway purge of the 80's, its a rare ride at American theme parks. It's one reason I like Busch Gardens, they have kept theirs.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3:08 PM

Purely anecdotal, but we stayed at the Caribbean in October 2015 and found the frequency of the buses to be pretty solid. Yeah, there are a handful of stops at the resort itself, but they moved through each one pretty quickly and they weren't always completely packed when they hit our stop. Coming back late in the evening from MK was more time consuming and there was always a wait for the bus, but I think we were always back in our room less than an hour after we walked out of the gate, usually less than 45 minutes. We're probably taking an early June trip and staying at All Star Sports, so I'm interested in seeing how that works with their more centralized pick up.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:00 PM

In February we were at a monorail resort, which was pricey. Occasionally we found the bus service to be less than adequate, and it varied depending on time of day. A couple of things may have come into play there. With two parks accessible to us via monorail, the bus routes went to the other two, the water park that was open, and Disney Springs. So they may have run with the same frequency, we just saw fewer busses. But sometimes we would stop at Poly, Contemporary, and Fort Wilderness too, especially on the way home. It changed a 10 minute trip to more like 30 or more. One evening we waited an awfully long time for a bus from DS and I mentioned in a trip report that we had to Uber from a couple of dinners because the transportation had stopped for the evening.

All in all it wasn't totally heinous, and I tried not to feel entitled to better service because we were paying more.

Like others, I'd look forward to the gondolas from a "fun" perspective, but unless my resort was the destination or I was trying to get from Studios to EPCOT I can't imagine taking the time out of a day to do it. From these alleged plans I can see they wouldn't have made my life at Grand any grander.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:29 PM

Has there been any talk of the number of gondolas that will be in use? Until we know the true capacity I'm not sure we can guess on the intent. Having been up there multiple times last year I know that Buena Vista Drive (the major road that divides Epcot and Disney Studios) is one of the most congested areas on property. Star Wars and Pixar Lands are just going to make that worse. If they can get significant numbers of resort guests from those adjacent hotels to those two parks onto above ground transportation it could certainly help.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:02 PM

I didn't consider traffic (as I have never driven on property).

The article cites "the technology" can accommodate 800-3000 pph.


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Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:09 PM

I keep hearing about "documents" and "permits" but I never seen any on here, other sites or Google. Anyone have links? Curious to see any hints on what Disney is investigating.

Last edited by Concrete Enchilada, Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:10 PM

Astroworld.....Gone But Not Forgotten

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Thursday, April 20, 2017 9:55 PM

WDWMagic is the go-to site for RCID/Orange County permits. The original sleuthing for the gondola system is here:

http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/new-gondola-transportation.924477/


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Friday, April 21, 2017 5:08 PM

This is very interesting, but I've got to wonder how reliable it will be over time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these systems do not seem to run well in thunderstorms, which seem to be quite prevalent in Florida. Obviously, getting people up and off of the ground is key to cutting down on the traffic issues, but I'm just not seeing this as a huge transportation mechanism. Even at 1500 PPH, that's really only the equivalent of 6 monorail trains per hour... Not designed for large numbers of people.

The other challenge is that it really doesn't do anything for traffic excepting those two resorts. If you are at any of the other resorts, you still end up going by bus.

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Friday, April 21, 2017 5:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

Thunderstorms only occur at 3:30 p.m. daily from late June to early September, so that's no problem.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Friday, April 21, 2017 10:55 PM
OhioStater's avatar

But, per the article:

"As ridership increases, additional cabins can be added. Capacities range from 800 to 3,000 people per hour, per direction."

So that's 12 trains per hour :)

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Saturday, April 22, 2017 12:32 PM
99er's avatar

Jeff said:

Thunderstorms only occur at 3:30 p.m. daily from late June to early September, so that's no problem.

Sounds like a good time to run a parade.


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Saturday, April 22, 2017 9:00 PM

OhioStater said:

But, per the article:

"As ridership increases, additional cabins can be added. Capacities range from 800 to 3,000 people per hour, per direction."

So that's 12 trains per hour :)

This is interesting and if accurate would indicate that it may be a different system than the traditional gondola. I spend most of the colder months on skis and have never seen a gondola that adjusts cabin numbers based on crowds.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017 11:14 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I suspect it's an overnight thing and not an on the fly thing. Adding or removing cabins from a gondola (in most systems) is a pretty extensive process and requires a shutdown of the entire system.


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Sunday, April 23, 2017 2:24 AM

ApolloAndy said:

I suspect it's an overnight thing and not an on the fly thing. Adding or removing cabins from a gondola (in most systems) is a pretty extensive process and requires a shutdown of the entire system.

I've seen a cabin removed for maintenance issues and it's a full stop, 20 minute issue. Just last week we were in Whistler and the Blackcomb gondola was down for a bit because of spacing issues. Which I assume is like some sort of block breach in the upper, lower or midstation terminals. It would definitely be a challenge to get a system up that could add or remove cabins, and not really sure what the benefit would be than to just have all the cabins on the cable as existing gondolas have.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017 10:21 AM
Jeff's avatar

I don't buy that it's a hard problem to solve. Look at any amusement park sky ride, where it takes very little time to add or remove capacity for 4-person tubs. You can't convince me that concept can't scale.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Sunday, April 23, 2017 11:32 AM

What Jeff said. Any system that uses detachable gondolas would be able to add or remove gondolas at will in a matter of *seconds*. And if the system is designed to load and unload while gondolas are moving, then the use of a detachable system is pretty much a requirement....otherwise you end up with something more like the system at Glenwood Caverns where they have four sets of three gondolas and the system has to stop halfway up the mountain to load the other two sets.

I would guess that a WDW system would make use of fairly large gondolas, if only to accommodate the non-trivial number of small wheeled vehicles they would be called on to carry (holding "children of all ages"). Probably each gondola about the size of a small bus, but perhaps with far less (or no) seating and no-threshhold loading.

As for thunderstorms...it's worth noting that a suspended gondola has no direct path to ground except via the suspension ropes. That makes it not an especially attractive target for lightning. The towers on the other hand would be exceptionally good lightning targets, but those can be outfitted appropriately to protect the ropes and gondolas.

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