Disney Monorail System to be Dismantled by 2028, Removed Entirely

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

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

Credit: Disney

The iconic monorail is coming to an end.

There are not many places in America where guests can hop on a monorail. Of course, Walt Disney World and Disneyland are known for having monorails as one method of travel.

Monorail at the Magic Kingdom.
Credit: Inside the Magic (Luke D.)

The Disney monorail was created by Bob Gurr, a legendary Imagineer who played a significant role in the design and development of many iconic Disney attractions. Gurr’s innovative design for the monorail system was introduced for Disneyland in California in 1959, just in time for the park’s expansion. The monorail quickly became a symbol of futurism and innovation, offering guests a unique and efficient mode of transportation around the park.

Over the years, the Disney Monorail system has expanded to other Disney parks around the world, including Walt Disney World in Florida where it connects three resorts and two theme parks together, and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, solidifying its status as an iconic feature of the Disney experience.

The Las Vegas monorail is a public transportation system that operates along the Las Vegas Strip, connecting major resorts, attractions, and convention centers. It runs on a single elevated track, providing a convenient and efficient way for visitors to travel between popular destinations along the Strip without having to deal with traffic congestion.

The Las Vegas monorail is operated by a Mark VI tram, much like Disney World’s, which is why both Vegas and Disney are in trouble.

EPCOT Line Monorail at Disney World
Credit: Disney

In late 2020, the announcement of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) acquiring the Las Vegas Monorail Co. from bankruptcy seemed like a promising development for supporters of the futuristic tram system. However, this move actually signaled the end of the line for the monorail.

What many aren’t aware of is that the LVCVA’s intentions involved a hefty $11 million charge for dismantling the Disney-style monorail system, potentially as soon as 2028, but certainly by 2030.

As Casino.org stated, “The problem is that operating the monorail, for which the LVCVA pays a Los Gatos, Calif. company up to $500K annually, has become like driving a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider. Sooner or later, it will break down and require a replacement part that can’t be obtained because it’s not manufactured anymore.”

Now, the parts needed to repair the monorails are no longer available, as the company who made them, Bombardier, sold its business.

The publication continued, “For a while, monorail executives reportedly rooted for Disney World to upgrade its Mark VI trams so they could buy the retired stock. (The first monorail tracks to operate in Vegas, connecting the MGM Grand and Bally’s from 1995 to 2002, used two retired Disney World Mark IVs.)

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

However, the Mouse House is in the same no-win situation as Las Vegas.

It can buy an all-new monorail system but would need to construct all-new tracks. It’s not impossible for a company to develop a new monorail to fit the existing one’s tracks but nobody is rushing to step up to that very niche plate.”

The purchase of the aging Las Vegas monorail by the LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) might seem puzzling at first glance. Here’s the explanation: The monorail held a powerful bargaining chip – a noncompete clause. This clause prevented any other company from building a competing off-street transportation system along the Las Vegas Strip.

Ironically, the LVCVA had already committed to a different solution in 2019. They signed a $48 million contract with Elon Musk’s The Boring Company to build the Vegas Loop, an underground tunnel system. The Vegas Loop would likely violate the monorail’s noncompete clause, potentially leading to legal challenges. So, the LVCVA’s acquisition of the monorail appears to be a strategic move to clear the way for their Vegas Loop project.

As for the Disney monorail, The Florida Department of Transportation has initiated the procedure to oversee the regulation of Walt Disney World’s monorail. This action follows months after Governor Ron DeSantis enacted a bill granting the state the jurisdiction to inspect and regulate the privately owned transportation system.

“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,” said FDOT District Five Public Information Director Cindi Lane.

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

FDOT’s Structures Maintenance Office, which inspects hundreds of bridges and other structures across the state, has begun conducting field inspections of Disney’s monorail structure.

While the Mark VI monorails are safe, as we have seen, they are tough to manufacture as their parts are no longer produced, which will make it harder for Disney to continue to maintain. Unfortunately, the House of Mouse is going to have to figure something out, as the monorail is the main method of transportation for many guests into the Magic Kingdom, and operating without it for a long period of time would create a lot of chaos for guests parked at the Ticket and Transportation Center. 

At the moment, the monorail at Disney World has no closure date, but it sister monorail in Vegas, certainly does.

Do you think that Disney World would be in trouble if they had to shut down and replace the monorail?

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