Plans suggest gondola transportation system between Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Reedy Creek Improvement District 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 – 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.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

I may be wrong, but have a feeling they won't be very high in the sky.

Jeff's avatar

And everyone knows the thunderstorms are at exactly 3:30 in the afternoon. Problem solved!

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article mentions 100 feet elevation, comments of "you can build things under it".

and realistically anything over 10 feet becomes a major/complicated evac scenario from a litigation standpoint.

Seriously though, while fun and perhaps actually functional, doesn't this seem like a serious issue in the United States? What am I missing in recent developments that makes this feasible? How fast can they crank up the busses in case of a closure?

As a second point, what's the actual throughput on something like this compared to a monorail extension?

Last edited by CreditWh0re,

^I was wondering the same exact thing. If it truly is like a ski resort gondola, how much capacity can there be in those? I instinctively think that a busy day at a ski resort pails in comparison to a busy day at Disney. And yes, what about evacs and the expected storms? Is the thought that no one is really going/leaving the parks at about 330pm on any given day so the storms aren't an issue?

And regarding the computers running the monorail, doesn't the monorail in LV operate by computers? If so, why is it taking so long for the process to be completed at Disney?

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.

public transit systems around the world run on automated systems, so yes why is WDW's such an issue.

Admittedly not an expert here, but isn't the main problem with WDW transit that it has a very compressed "rush" hour? Looking at that layout how can that system actually handle peak morning and peak exit times, and not cause a huge angry customer response?

From that layout I see possibly two spurs and one connection for all, and one continuous loop (or only one spur to pop century, if the full loop extends to Studios). That's a connection/interchange to add to the transit time. The walk from Dolphin/Swan to the suggested terminus at Epcot appears to be longer than the actual walk to the Studios, if such walk were permissable.

Again, admittedly no expert, but thinking of the crush leaving the parks, and what about that end point at the back of Epcot? That's not sensible as a connection from MK (and I'm sure it's not intended to be, but.....).

is a monorail extension really that expensive? over the long haul? considering that they don't have the costs that urban transit has (right of way, land acquisition, etc), I just can't fathom how that expenditure wouldn't have paid for itself.

Last edited by CreditWh0re,
Pete's avatar

CreditWh0re said:
Am I missing something here? North American parks have all but eliminated sky rides in their parks due to evacuation issues. How in the hell is this going to work in Orlando, where a thunderstorm is a near certainly for xxx many days a year?

If they can run these systems in the mountains, where evacuation is many times more difficult, there shouldn't be a problem at Disney. Urban lifts are an up and coming thing, they have such a system proposed for Cleveland with around 10 terminals when fully implemented. As far as capacity, a Dopplemayer 3S system runs at 8.5 meters per second and has a capacity of 5000 people per hour in each direction, that is 10000 people per hour. Probably more than Disney has now with the monorails. In addition, it can run in high winds and other extreme weather conditions. Here is some information:

Last edited by Pete,

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

well, using the London Emirates Air-Line system in London as a guide, which is only my guess. However, Dopplemayr are the only real manufacturers of this type of thing, and the London and Medellin cable cars are the only two real transit system examples that match this scenario.

for the main loop:

10 pax cars, 15 second intervals peak speed, estimated theoretical capacity of less than 2,400 pax per hour (approx 48 busloads). That is also predicated on a straight line routing, without the two 90 degree angle turns as shown in the guesstimated routing to slow potential timing. That also assumes that you can get 10 people into each carriage, with no empty seats. That is dubious given the amount of crap WDW tourists bring with them, e.g. range rover sized strollers, and also factoring in Mobility impaired guests with wheel chairs or scooters.

now do the math for entry time to the parks. Are there 50 busloads headed to Studios going from Pop Century/Animation, caribbean beach, and epcot resorts? Don't know, but certainly 2,500 people heading that way is not out of the question, especially if this is the "suggested" means of travel. All of them crushing at 7:30 to get to the Studios for Star Wars land early opening at 8:00.

again, not an expert, but without further specs, this looks like a fail. While the system appears to be able to handle a large number of pax throughout the day, that's not the way the system will be used. Huge spikes at entry, afternoon and then at closing, with minimal usage during the intervals. Throw in a thunderstorm, which then forces plan B (what is that??) and this looks like lose lose.

Help assuage my fears on this one.

Pete's avatar

The London Emirates Air-Line cable car is a monocable system that runs slower and is much more susceptible to wind than the 3S system I suggested. 3S has two track cables and one haul cable and is very wind resistant. It can probably run in thunderstorms. In addition the cars hold 35 people and the wide doors allow efficient entry and exit. I'm not sure how many people a monorail train holds, but with the frequent and constant departures of a cable car system, it will probably scoop up as many people as the monorail if not more.

Last edited by Pete,

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.


this one would have two curved L or V shaped turns, which has to slow capacity.

While Dopplemayr's site shows up to 5,000 PPH, none of the examples listed goes over 3,800, and again, none of those systems actually anticipates the amount of crap that americans bring with them to the parks these days.

per wikipedia, monorail holds 360 persons

if it can reliably run in a thunderstorm, then it makes sense.

Last edited by CreditWh0re,
Pete's avatar

The turns wouldn't necessarily reduce capacity, it would be similar to a terminal. The cars are detached from the cable and transfer to tracks and are driven by tires. The cars run slower but are much closer together than they are on the line. As they leave the turn, they are spaced out again as they attach to the much faster moving cable. While this would increase ride time it would not decrease capacity.

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

fair enough, obviously my experience is with older "corner" systems such as BGW, same principles, just updated with consistent computerized movement.

Jeff's avatar

The monorail already "suffers" from the same evac problem (though probably not higher than 50 feet in any particular position), and to Pete's point, ski resorts. The turns definitely don't matter, as every lift has a turn at the ends. I've been on the Crystal Mountain gondolas near Mt. Rainier, and they're pretty sweet, if a little small. On a larger scale, I was really impressed with the Mt. Roberts tram in Juneau, which is a very different kind of device (no turns possible, funicular, rides on non-moving cables), but another kind of aerial transportation.

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As far as capacity goes, I've seen posts above referencing systems with 10 passengers or 35 passengers per car. I picture this being something more along the lines of the Roosevelt Island tram in NYC that runs over 100 passengers per car.

Another operational system that offers possible insights is the Portland Aerial Tram. Operationally, it is a different beast than Disney's needs (straight run, much lower capacity, much higher elevation delta), but I can see a variation on the car being a good choice. According to Wikipedia, it holds 78 people, with seating around the perimeter of the car and standing room in the center. That flexibility would be nice in the theme park environment for strollers etc. It is a nice way to travel short distances, and I think if engineered properly could be an ideal way link the two parks.

99er's avatar

Maybe this is something that isn't meant to replace the current means of transport to the referenced parks/resorts but something in addition to the buses. Or a means of transportation during the day when passenger levels are less. That way they can reroute busses to busier parts of property or just give them a rest. Sort of how on occasion the Magic Kingdom will halt monorail service midday and force guests to use the ferries.


Pete's avatar

Check out the video linked below. This is a Dopplemayer 3S system installed in Koblenz Germany. This could well be exactly what Disney is planning.

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

Jeff's avatar

Neat, those operate like the tramway in Alaska, riding on cables with a hauling cable in between.

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rollergator's avatar

That's the same company that built the short-lived Vertigo "coaster" at Walibi Belgium...

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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