10 Totally Cool Facts About Disney’s Monorail System

epcot monorail yellow
Credit: World of Disney

My first memories about the monorail come from the eyes of a 6 year old. It was a special trip because we were also joined by extended family. My immediate family was a ferry boat family, but my Grandpa insisted on riding the monorail and that was very exciting. From the moment we took off, I was in love. Going through the Contemporary Resort, seeing the views of Magic Kingdom and the feeling that you had already left the world behind for pure fun and fantasy has kept me intrigued after all these years. The monorail represents the first ride to so many families, the first glimpse of the fun to be had on a wonderful vacation. Here are some awesome facts about the monorail!

1. The idea of the monorail came after Walt and Lillian Disney traveled to Wuppertal, Germany. The two took a ride on the monorail system that had already been in operation for over 50 years! That monorail design had the cars under the track and it made Lillian sick, so the monorail that Walt dreamed up sat above the tracks. The monorail debuted at Disneyland in 1959 and in 1971 at Disney World.

2. There are 12 trains on the Disney World line and part of the fun is trying to ride them all! There is Peach, Red, Black, Teal, Coral, Yellow, Gold, Lime, Orange, Blue, Silver and Green. Disneyland has 3 trains, Red, Blue and Orange. The latest update to the trains was in 1989 at WDW and Disneyland monorail trains had an update in 2007.

3. In 1971, two routes were opened at WDW. The Express track takes riders from the Ticket and Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom. The Resort track originally took passengers from the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort and Magic Kingdom. The third track opened in 1982 to take guests from the Ticket and Transportation Center to Epcot. The final expansion happened in 1988 to the resort track, when the Grand Floridian opened. Each track loops for continuous travel.

4. Disney is serious about monorail safety. Every train has a safety system called MAPO. The system was installed using the profits from Mary Poppins, hence the name. The MAPO system can detect when a train is too close to another, and alerts the pilot with either a green, yellow or red light indicating how safe it is to continue travel. Each day, each monorail is purposely driven too closely to another to test the MAPO system (without guests!) If the monorail reaches red, emergency brakes are applied and the pilot temporarily loses control of the train. If a pilot sees a yellow MAPO, they are trained to stop the monorail before the next beam or the system will go red. 3 reds in 2 years will result in transferring to a different role.

5. In 2010, Disney started using the monorails for advertising! Monorail Coral was transformed to advertise Tron: Legacy. Monorail Red was used for the Avengers, Black for Iron Man3 and Teal for Monsters University.

6. Disney estimates that 500 million people ride their monorails every year. It is the second busiest monorail system in the world, only surpassed by the Chongqing Rail Transit in China, which carries over 500,000 riders per day on only one line. On average, Disney sees 150,000 passengers on all lines.

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7. There have been some accidents and sometimes Reedy Creek Fire Rescue has to help passengers off of a dysfunctional train, but there has only been one fatal crash. In 2009, a pilot was killed when monorail Pink and Purple collided. Until that day, up to 4 passengers could ride with the pilot. When the Starbucks in the parks debuted a limited time coffee mug series, the Epcot mug had a Purple monorail on it. People were very upset over this and Disney corrected the oversight with a silver monorail.

8. The monorail system is Eco Friendly! The motors are run by a 600 volt electrical system, eliminating a carbon footprint. Considering the continuous service provided, this is pretty awesome!

9. The Tokyo Disney Monorail system has 4 stops connecting resorts to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. It opened in 2001 and carries 571 passengers per monorail, while the trains at WDW carry under 400. The line is fully automated, requiring no pilot! A cast member does ride the line along with passengers just to make sure people are entering and exiting properly.

10. The phrase “Please stand clear of the doors.   Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas” has become somewhat of a famous saying for Disney fans. It is spoken before the doors close each time on the monorail. You can find the phrase printed on t-shirts and it is voiced by Jack Wagner, who was known as the voice of Disneyland. It happens to be the only full sentence of Spanish I can speak!

About Lauren Wallis

Lauren Wallis was destined to love Disney. Her Mother found out that she was pregnant with Lauren after her honeymoon at WDW. After moving to Florida in 1990, every school trip, family vacation and weekend getaway was at Disney World! Lauren attended the University of Central Florida and spent her weekends looking for the most delicious restaurants on a college budget. She and her husband have relocated and now live in Central Florida, just minutes from Walt Disney World. She has stayed at every single resort and is currently working on eating at every single restaurant! She has been on WDW property over 400 times…lucky Floridian!