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Sunday, March 5, 2017

UPDATE: Rumor mill no more - gondolas are coming to Walt Disney World

UPDATED April 18

In early March, broke a story that suggested Disney possibly was considering creating some sort of gondola network connecting the southern portion of Epcot (near the International Gateway) to the Caribbean Beach/Pop Century/Art of Animation and then to Disney Hollywood Studios.

In late April, the Orlando Sentinel confirmed that Disney is indeed creating a gondola network to connect Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Caribbean Beach and Pop Century/Art of Animation.

While Disney has yet to officially comment, this report has the online WDW community buzzing.  For years, there has been a call for Disney to expand the current monorail system to include DHS, AK and southern area resorts.  While this is just about an impossibility these days (the costs are more than astronomical), the thought of a goldola network is a very different animal.  

Here's where we leave the world of RUMOR and enter SPECULATION.  This is your fair warning.  Nothing that I discuss from here on is based on any fact.  I am carrying the rumor forward.

Ok, caveat statement done.  Let's have some fun.

Let's take the idea of a gondola network even further.  Why stop with this small, limited system?  Why not create an entire network that services the entire southern portion of the property?

Fan imagination of a WDW gondola map
Click here for a larger view.

So let's give this some serious consideration.  Above, you will see a wide-view map of a gondola network that serves many of the key areas in the southern portion of the Walt Disney World Property. Each red square is a station.  The yellow lines between each station represent a two-way line with gondolas traveling in each direction.

Thus, if a guest wanted to travel from, say, Epcot to Disney Springs, he or she would first take the gondola from Epcot's International Gateway to a main terminal area located in between Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort.  This is something like the Ticket and Transportation Center (just without the large parking lot) and would be a hub for multiple gondola lines.  From the Hub (for lack of a better term), the guest would then switch lines and take the gondola to Typhoon Lagoon.  Again the guest would switch lines (or perhaps stay on the gondola) and proceed to Disney Springs.

You can quickly see how this sort of network has all sorts of possibilities.  Having such a network would remove some of the strain on the already overtaxed bus lines, especially during peak hours.  Also, the gondolas would bring an additional entertainment and another unique feature to Walt Disney World - guests will be riding the gondolas, just to ride them - much like the monorail.

And then there are the environmental benefits - gondolas are much cleaner to operate than any sort of expansion to the current bus network.

Sure, there are some mitigating factors - high wind and thunderstorms being chief among them.  However, gondolas are used in some of the more mountainous areas of the world, and these places also are known for thunderstorms and wind, so I suspect there's been some developments to address these concerns.

What I don't know is the cost - are gondolas cost-effective?  I do know that several communities are looking to gondolas as a possible solution, especially for mountainous areas.

What do you think?  Could this new project be the initial phase of Walt Disney World's newest transportation network?  Where there is nothing to indicate anymore more than what's been confirmed to this point, it's fun to consider the possibilities.  After all, isn't that what Walt Disney had intended for his original EPCOT?

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