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  1. #1

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    Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    The Walt Disney World Monorail system is legendary, and that can lead to urban legends. Guests love to stay at the Monorail Resorts. Disney fans love to spread information—and sometimes misinformation—about the system and the possibility that it be will expanded. For the three pictures in this article, I had some fun with Adobe Photoshop.


    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    I'm a broken record on this subject, but regarding the cost of adding new monorail lines, I still wish the imagineers would incorporate Personal Rapid Transit like Skyweb Express. I'd love to know how much that system would cast to add per mile. Very much less, I'm guessing.

    I don't know where they get their figures from, but the author of www.personalrapidtransit.com puts the total system cost at roughly $4 million per km of track. The wikipedia entry cites:
    Most of the initial investment is in guideways. Estimates of guideway cost range from US$0.8 million (for MicroRail) to $22 million per mile, with most estimates falling in the $10m to $15m range.[27][28] These costs may not include the purchase of rights of way or system infrastructure, such as storage and maintenance yards and control centers, and reflect unidirectional travel along one guideway, the standard form of service in current PRT proposals

  3. #3

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    While it's nice to see someone finally dispell some of these urban legends, it's also a little sad. I mean, who wouldn't like to see the monorail line expanded? I know I would. However, with the estimated costs of doing so, I'm pretty sure the likelihood is very very slim.

    I like the personal transit system ideas, and I think it would fit in nicely at WDW, and I think Walt would like them as well.

  4. #4

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    The Las Vegas monorail, though is much, much bigger than Disney's. The rail and pylons are at least twice the size of Disneyland's (I've never been to WDW). The stations are HUGE. Is it really comparable?

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Shrinker View Post
    The Las Vegas monorail, though is much, much bigger than Disney's. The rail and pylons are at least twice the size of Disneyland's (I've never been to WDW). The stations are HUGE. Is it really comparable?
    The Las Vegas Monorail is much, much bigger than Disneyland's Monorail.

    The Las Vegas Monorail uses exactly the same track size and train technology as Disney's Florida system. In fact, the original Las Vegas Monorail line (when it just ran between Balley's and MGM Grand) used two retired Walt Disney World Mark IV trains. With the expansion of the Las Vegas track to its current length, the new trains are similar to the Bombardier Mark VI trains now running at the Walt Disney World.

    The Disneyland Monorail is a lighter and smaller.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 01-25-2008 at 09:20 AM.
    Werner Weiss
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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Hey WW, spelling error:

    "You never (t)old me!"


    Great article btw

  7. #7

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Quote Originally Posted by TheManator View Post
    Hey WW, spelling error:

    "You never (t)old me!"
    Thank you! I fixed it.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Quote Originally Posted by Werner Weiss View Post
    The Las Vegas Monorail is much, much bigger than Disneyland's Monorail.

    The Las Vegas Monorail uses exactly the same track size and train technology as Disney's Florida system. In fact, the original Las Vegas Monorail line (when it just ran between Balley's and MGM Grand) used two retired Walt Disney World Mark IV trains. With the expansion of the Las Vegas track to its current length, the new trains are similar to the Bombardier Mark VI trains now running at the Walt Disney World.

    The Disneyland Monorail is a lighter and smaller.

    I seem to recall that the LV system is supposed to be highly automated, and that a substantial portion of the cost overruns were in debugging the software that controlled the system.

    Sort of reminds me of the failed automatic luggage handling system at Denver International. Luggage was to be ferried, piece by piece, from the terminal to the planes via automated carts. They were never able to get the system to work, and after countless millions were flushed down the rat hole they pulled the plug and ripped it out.

  9. #9

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Thanks for a very interesting article. Considering the cost of extending the Monorail system, I don't think that it's accurate to compare it directly to the Las Vegas system. For instance: WDW doesn't have land purchasing costs; Disney already has additional infrastructure such as maintenance facilities; and there is a current well-maintained fleet of rolling stock. There are also other factors such as not having to relocate and detour around current infrastructure as it's my understanding that WDW already has a monorail master plan setting aside special right of ways, (though perhaps it's existence is another myth to look into). Also the length of the system is going to determine it's eventual cost with a longer system being a bit cheaper than a shorter one.

    Any cost analysis also has to look at the long term operating costs as well as the initial costs. Would it be cheaper to operate a fleet of monorails versus a fleet of buses? How does capacity compare?? What are the maintenance costs??? And ultimately, what is Disney's responsibility to the environment to use clean energy transportation????

    But I think that the most important (but perhaps least tangible) factor that Disney should be considering is the identity the monorails have with the company and what they represent. They were meant to be a demonstration of an efficient and clean means of transportation that fits well with the environment and has a fairly simple infrastructure. Giving up on the Monorail is giving up on the ideals that Walt Disney himself pursued in his lifetime. It is things like the Monorail that sets Walt Disney World so far ahead of its competitors. Unfortunately, such value is all but lost on the current corporate culture.
    Last edited by Omnispace; 01-25-2008 at 05:29 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    I never suggested that the per-mile costs for a WDW Monorail system expansion would be as high as the per-mile costs for Las Vegas Monorail. But the Las Vegas system provides a useful order-of-magnitude number.

    If you do the math, the Las Vegas system was almost $150 million per mile. It uses the same technology as Disney's system. But, as I noted in the article, there are other cost factors that are different.

    I don't know if Disney could keep the costs down to $100 million or $75 million or $50 million per mile. Those are still staggering numbers. The costs have to include new trains, new stations, and expanded maintenance capacity because those would be needed as part of the expanded system.

    As a regular WDW guest, I would love to see the WDW Monorail system expanded. But I can also appreciate the business reasons why Disney hasn't expanded the WDW Monorail system in over a quarter century.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  11. #11

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Your timing on this article couldn't be better (for me anyway )

    My wife and I returned last week from WDW and chatted a bit with a monorail driver. I asked him if and when WDW could expect new monorail cars a la Disneyland. He went off on a 10 minute monologue about that topic and many others in regards to WDW's system.

    I won't bore you with all the details because I doubt there's much "there" there, but a few things stuck out which are certain to fuel the persistent rumors:

    - WDW has pretty much reached the saturation point in terms of the number of buses on property. I dunno if this is true but it certainly seems possible.
    - Some major electrical work has been done on the MK/Epcot line. This kind of coincided with the substation fire a week and a half or so ago so make of it what you will
    - Transportation execs from way high up the food chain have been seen around property in the last few months; apparently this is very unusual (don't ask me what a "transportation exec" is)
    - Currently the corporate line is that the current cars have 15-25 years of life left in them. This guy expects to see new cars in less than five (despite pointing out that WDWs track is wider than Disneyland's and, as such, they wouldn't get cars identical to the ones recently installed in California)

  12. #12

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    While it might cost millions per mile, Disney has the option of taking ten years or so to make a monorail extension, thereby easing any cash flow issue that might occur with construction. Put in posts for two years. Put in beams for a few more years. Slowly expand the maintenance facilities. Etc.

    One of the major questions of expanding the line is, "Is there a profit component?" Currently, guests are filling the hotels. They're not staying home because of the (perceived) poor bus service or because there is no monorail service from their hotels. So how does Disney get a return on such an investment? The return is required these days (as opposed to in Walt's days, where the return on the investment was his satisfaction of building it) because the owners (large shareholders) demand a return for their investment.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    Some pretty interesting stuff. I have always wished they would expand the monorail system but I also don't know if I see that ever happening. I remember reading an entry on WDWmagic.com from January 2000 stating that an expansion was pretty much a done deal. In an August 2003 Mouse Planet article about the Disneyland Monorail it stated that a WDW Monorail expansion would happen in 2007. Obviously none of this became a reality so I wonder if there was ever any truth to the statements I mentioned. If they were in fact true, what stopped the plans from ever materializing?

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  14. #14

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    Re: Jan. 25, 2008: Urban Legends about the WDW Monorail

    I'd love to see a monorail expansion, but won't hold my breath,even if it does expand I would NOT look to see an expansion to Downtown Disney for one very simple reason, any expansion would probably be from existing parks wher folks PAY to park and parking at DTD is FREE, that said I wonder how many busses could be eliminated with a well planned expansion.... sometimes it seems like almost any expense can be justified if you put the right accountants to work on it. If the right executive comes into power at WDW I betm they will suddenly "discover" that they can save man hours, Energy costs (electricity versus Diesel), and repair costs (the WDW monorails do have excellent service records) by switching to Monorail.

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