It’s been apparent to almost everyone who rides on the Walt Disney World monorail system that this once-futuristic mode of transportation is in need of an extreme makeover. Between the frequent mechanical troubles and mounting safety concerns, it’s clear that the current fleet of Mark VI monorails is in dire need of a major overhaul. No other fleet of Disney monorails has been kept in service past their 20-year design life. (For example, over in Tokyo Disney Resort, they replace their near-pristine fleet almost religiously on schedule.)
We reported back in April 2018 that internal sources at Disney had been saying that a new fleet was ordered from Bombardier of Canada, the same company that built the Mark VI trains for Walt Disney World, and one of only a few companies in the Western hemisphere with the capability to build mass-transit class monorails. A short time after that, legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr, who was instrumental in the design of most Disney monorails, reiterated the very same information.
Interestingly enough, the latest quarterly earnings report for Bombardier show a new undisclosed North America client purchasing $247 million in services (or maintenance for the existing fleet), plus $104 million in rolling stock and systems (i.e. new trains). A 2017 order for 108 INNOVIA 300 cars was valued at $266 million, or roughly $2.5 million per car.
While the North America client could theoretically be a city municipality looking to improve infrastructure or any other popular tourist destination with monorail transit, the order could well be for Walt Disney World Resort, which we all know is in dire need of a new fleet, despite recent attempts to refurbish the current aging fleet.
Despite frighteningly frequent breakdowns, technical problems, and safety issues, Disney has yet to make any official statement on the future of the monorails at Walt Disney World.