RUMOR: New Monorail Fleet Has Been Ordered For Walt Disney World

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Internal sources are reporting that Disney has ordered a new fleet of monorails for Walt Disney World to replace the aging and problematic Mark VI monorails that have been in use at the resort since 1989.

Apparently, the now-infamous door incident on Monorail Red in early January was the main impetus behind the decision. Video taken by a passenger showed one of the doors on the monorail wide open while passengers were on board traveling to the Epcot station. After this incident, Disney added signs to all the monorails warning guests not to lean on the doors.

The new fleet will reportedly be built by Bombardier of Canada, the same company that built the Mark VI trains for Walt Disney World, and one of only a very few companies in the western hemisphere with the capability to build mass transit class monorails. The Mark VI fleet reportedly cost $3.5 million per train, which would be around $7.5 million in today’s dollars.

The line of automated monorails that Bombardier is currently marketing is called the INNOVIA 300 series. We believe the new fleet built for Disney would utilize this same chassis design, but could certainly be fitted with custom features to make them distinctly “Disney.”

Bombardier INNOVIA 300 Monorail in Brazil

Here are two recent installations of the Bombardier INNOVIA 300 Series monorails, one in Brazil and one in Saudi Arabia. Quite possibly Disney may only need to change the nose cone to give it a unique look.

Bombardier INNOVIA 300 Monorail in Saudi Arabia

We have also been told that the abrupt cancellation of the broadway-style Main Street Theater was necessary to free up some of the funds needed for the new monorail fleet. This makes a lot of sense, since the theater was confirmed by Bob Chapek last July at the D23 Expo, and work actually started on the project in October, only to be rumored to be cancelled in February (barely a month after the door incident), and finally removed from the Walt Disney World What’s New webpage earlier this month.

Though the door incident brought the most scrutiny to the aging fleet, it was not the only incident in recent years that pointed to the need for new monorails. In June 2017, a large piece fell off Monorail Blue while it traveled above the Epcot parking lot. Monorail Teal suffered numerous breakdowns last summer. And don’t forget the problematic automation system that is still not working properly after many years of work, which was a response to the horrific crash in 2009 that killed Monorail pilot Austin Wuennenberg.

For an in-depth look at the history of Disney Monorails, check out our multimedia Back to the Future segment on the Disney Monorails below with video and some great imagery. For a condensed version, have a look at our article from January.

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About the author

Jason Diffendal

Jason has been a lifelong fan of the Disney parks since his first visit at age 2. His biennial pilgrimages during his childhood accelerated into semi-annual visits by the year 2000, when he also Joined the Disney Vacation Club. Luckily, Jason’s bride-to-be was also a Disney fan, which allowed his infatuation with the Disney parks to continue, and ultimately culminated in their wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in September 2003. Early in 2007, Jason began his involvement with the planning for what became Celebration 25, the unofficial fan gathering to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Epcot®. Soon thereafter, Jason met Tom Corless at a pin trading meet in New Jersey, and became part of the WDW News Today podcast starting with Episode 17. Jason has been involved with the WDWNT Network ever since, and can't seem to escape no matter how hard he tries.
Contact Jason at [email protected]

31 Comments

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  • Thanks for the excellent article Jason! While I’m disappointed to see the theatre off the table for now, getting new monorails is worth it.

    One topic you didn’t mention in your article… Bombardier’s website touts how their monorails are driverless. I’m assuming Disney would go this route (Because money), but I am curious how that would work. The monorail at WDW is different from the examples that Bombardier cites (Newark airport, Las Vegas) given the large crowds and large numbers of wheelchairs and ECVs.

    • The idea with the automation work they have been doing for years now was to make them driverless. There would still be a pilot, he just wouldn’t control the monorail. So I’m fairly certain the new ones would be driverless.

  • Since they would be getting a brand new design of monorail car, would they have to fullly replace all the existing monorail infrastructure they currently have?

  • Bombardier is not the most reliable when it comes to on time delivery of orders. We may be waiting a while for these if their work in Toronto is anything to go buy. Years behind in terms of delivery.

    On a positive note, new trains is great and welcome.

  • WAY overdue. We don’t ride on the current fleet. Safety incidents are happening all the time, few get reported. Way past their expiration date.

  • Any word on whether new units will improve air circulation and filtration. The summer hotbox stench of sweat and filled baby diapers does not exactly make one think they’re $600 / night rate to stay on the “Monorail Loop” was a wise investment.

    • No they plan to make brand new trains, but install the old broken air systems from the old ones into the new ones.

    • I’m with you! The stench you are referring to, which kind of reminds me of aged cow manure and hot plastic, is getting worse as each year passes! And we don’t even go to WDW in the heat of summer! I have to pack hand lotion and put it on right before we board the monorail and then breath through my hand-covered nose just to make it from one stop to another without gagging. For me, it is the most “un-magical” part of every trip to the park.

      • I hope use some Disney magic and age them to look worn with mold, dents, yellowing plastic and chipping paint like they do to the current ones. Its as good as the third world poverty theming in Animal Kingdom`s Africia and Asia lands

  • BOMBARDIER? Nooooooo. I am from Montreal, and trust me…they are not the ideal solution for mass transit. They supplied the trains for the original subway system back in the 60’s. They were commissioned to design and build the replacements. When the first batch arrived, they didn’t fit…they were too big. After modifications, they finally were up and running. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the brakes wore out in less than a month. They had to retrofit the brakes from the original cars onto the new ones. Bombardier was commissioned to produce a new system for Toronto. There is now a lawsuit pending, because they’ve surpassed the delivery date and nothing has been built.

    Every 10 years or so, they approach the government for bailouts. If these people actually knew what they were doing, they’d actually be profitable.

      • That’s likely when they still cared about producing a good product and providing good customer service. In the many years since, they’ve become an embarrassment

  • Amy idea when or if DisneyLAND can expect new ones? They usually closed down every afternoon due to the heat in Anaheim.
    I guess the cars no longer have AC-if ever did. Been going there since it opened and forget.
    We had my 89 yr young mother with us in a wheelchair (we 3 being seniors ourselves) and were staying at the Disneyland Hotel. LONG walk back.

    • Doubtful given the DL one isnt even close to a replacement cycle – they were only built in 2008. They may need a bit of TLC but replacement wont be on the cards for at least another 10 years.

    • The Disneyland system is limited by its infrastructure. Its current power bus can not handle the amperage needed to drive an AC unit on each train and in each car.

      Also side note, the chassis that current Mark VII trains are using are the originals designed by WED and built in Germany for the Mark III trains…

  • I hope use some Disney magic and age them to look worn with mold, dents, yellowing plastic and chipping paint like they do to the current ones. Its as good as the third world poverty theming in Animal Kingdom`s Africia and Asia lands

  • Great post!! I’m just hoping Bombardier meets their deadlines better than they have the replacement street cars in Toronto. They are years behind in delivering those! Hope the same thing doesn’t happen to the monorails! Somehow I don’t think it will as Disney has the funds and the need for a quick replacement to ensure a timely delivery.

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