Florida Legislator Addresses Shutting Down Disney Monorails

in Walt Disney World

Disney World's Green Monorail pulling into a station inside Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Disney

The Florida Department of Transportation is beginning its inspection of the Disney monorail system as the takeover of Walt Disney World Resort continues.

Several months ago, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed a law into action that replaced Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District with a state-funded board in the Central Florida Tourism District. The move prompted lawsuits from Disney, which has had its own self-governance power since it opened in 1971, as well as countersuits from DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis
Credit: WikiMedia

The latest development in this everchanging story, of course, has to do with the state inspection of the Disney monorails. The FDOT announced earlier this week that Disney had provided them with safety manuals and exisiting monorail documentation.

Of course, the first question that has been on the minds of Disney World fans– especially those planning a vacation in the coming months– is this: Will this inspection shut down the Disney monorails?

Florida Sen. Nick DiCeglie said that a shut down of the monorails would be a “last resort action,” not a likely step.

“That is going to be a last resort action,” Sen. Nick DiCeglie (R-18th district) told News 6. “There would have to be some significant safety concerns in order for that monorail to be shut down.”

Disney World Monorail
Credit: Disney

FDOT Deputy Communications Director Michael Williams gave an exclusive statement to PJ Media, which can be read below:

“Safety is FDOT’s top priority and, being that this is the first time that the State has had oversight, FDOT is doing its due diligence to thoroughly complete the review while ensuring the safety of travelers. 

The Department’s Structures Maintenance Office has a comprehensive program to inspect structures to ensure the safety of all users. During the 2023 Legislative Session, HB 1305 directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to perform safety inspections for fixed guideway transportation systems. Since this law took effect, FDOT’s engineering teams have met with Disney’s technical teams to initiate the process of inspecting the 14-mile-long monorail structure. FDOT has reviewed documentation from Disney including past maintenance and inspection processes and statuses, as well as safety manuals. As they do with hundreds of structures around the state, FDOT’s Structures Maintenance Office, has begun the required field inspections of the monorail structure. The Department continues to work with Disney on necessary information for the non-structural portion of the fixed guideway system.”

Prior to this month, Disney has assigned its own inspectors to ensure the safety of the Monorail system.

Disney's Contemporary Resort at night with a monorail running through the lobby
Credit: Disney

In 2009, a tragic incident occurred at Disney World when a monorail pilot named Austin Wuennenberg lost his life. The accident took place on the EPCOT line when another monorail collided with his train, resulting in the crushing of the cockpit where the 21-year-old Wuennenberg was seated.

Following the event, Disney took immediate action by closing the monorail system for a period of two days. Additionally, they took the initiative to implement over a dozen safety enhancements voluntarily. These measures were put in place as the National Transportation Safety Board conducted an investigation into the fatal collision.

The Walt Disney World Monorail System has 3 separate lines that travel throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

The Resort Monorail makes the following stops:

The EPCOT Monorail and the Express Monorail originate at the TTC and offer express round-trip service to EPCOT and Magic Kingdom Park.

Disney World monorail at EPCOT during the International Flower and Garden Festival
Credit: Disney

Inside the Magic reached out to Governor DeSantis’s office for comment.

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