Is Disney Closing the Magic Kingdom/Epcot Monorail

After the most recent, well publicized, incident on the Walt Disney World Monorail with a door opening during transport on the RED monorail between Magic Kingdom and Epcot, rumors are swirling that Disney is contemplating closing down the Walt Disney Monorail system.

Those that have published this rumor are stating that Disney does not want to spend the millions of dollars that it will cost to replace the current Mark IV system that is made by the company Bombardier.

MONORAIL HISTORY

Mark IV (1971-1989)

The original Monorail System opened at Magic Kingdom in 1971 transporting passengers from the Ticket and Transportation Area (TTA) to the Magic Kingdom Station using the Bombardier Mark IV monorail cars.  This system was used from when Magic Kingdom opened in 1971 through December of 1989.  This system ferried visitors from TTA through the Contemporary Hotel to the Magic Kingdom Monorail Station, on to the Polynesian Hotel and back to the TTA.  There was also a direct link from the TTA to the Magic Kingdom Station and back.

 

Bombardier Mark VI (1989 – Present)

In June of 1989, Monorail Blue was hoisted onto the tracks and nighttime testing of the new Mark VI monorail had begun. Once testing was completed the new Mark VI Monorail System went into full service in December of 1989.

The Mark VI went into service four months after the official opening of the new Epcot Theme park (Opened in October, 1989) which now featured a monorail spur from Magic Kingdom to Epcot.  The Mark VI increased capacity of each passenger car by 30%.

MONORAIL INCIDENTS

Although the Walt Disney Monorail System is incredibly safe, it has not been without accidents.  In the 46 year history there have been two fatalities and six major accidents/incidents.

  • On February 4, 1974 a trailing Mark IV monorail failed to brake in time for one that was already at the station.  The operator of this monorail was killed and there were three passengers injured.
  • On June 26, 1985 there was a fire on the rear car of the Silver monorail caused by a flat tire that combusted due to the friction of being dragged on the rail.  Seven passengers were injured.
  • On August 12, 1986 there was an electrical fire and two Disney Employees were injured while assisting evacuating the train and putting out the fire.
  • July 5, 2009 the driver of the Pink monorail was killed when the Purple monorail was backing up at the Magic Kingdom Station.  A switch was not changed and the Purple Monorail was not aware that Pink Monorail was behind him.  Several Disney Employees were terminated due to this mistake.
  • June 16, 2017 parts of the Blue Monorail broke and fell onto the roadway below.  The train was reportedly smoking with sparks trailing the damaged car.  The train was safely towed into the Magic Kingdom Station and no injuries were reported.  See our Post on this incident HERE
  • January 6, 2018 the Red Monorail, while enroute from Magic Kingdom to Epcot had the doors on one of it’s cars open during transit.  There were no injuries reported in this incident. See or Post on this incident HERE

MONORAIL POPULARITY

Disney World's Blue Monorail

The Walt Disney World Monorail System is an icon for the Magic Kingdom Theme Park.  The system transports approximately 16 million guests a year from the TTA to Magic Kingdom, The Contemporary Resort, The Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Epcot and back to the TTA annually.  That is three times as many as the Ferry Boat System and 25% more than the resort busses.  Most visitors consider the Monorail System the FIRST ride when visiting Magic Kingdom.

IS DISNEY CLOSING THE MONORAIL?

I do not think that Disney would close the Monorail System at Walt Disney World due to the cost and logistics that it would take to shuttle an additional 16 million guests from the TTA to the resorts and two theme parks (Epcot and Magic Kingdom).  Even though Disney is creating additional transportation options to the theme parks from the resorts, there are only two options for non-resort staying guests to get from the parking area to the Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot, either the Ferry Boat or the Monorail.  If the Monorail was shut down, the park would need more Ferries to get the guests from TTA to the front gate.  In my opinion, Disney needs to be in talks with the Bombardier Corporation on developing the next Mark monorail for Disney World.

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