Riding the monorail at Walt Disney World is an important part of your vacation. The line has been with Disney World from the beginning, so it’s really become integrated into the whole experience. Thousands of people ride one of the three lines every day, whether they get on at one of the deluxe resorts, or Ticket and Transportation Center; exit at Magic Kingdom or Epcot. The monorail is part and parcel to the Disney magic.
However, most casual guests know hardly anything about this amazing system. Here are 15 things that you probably don’t know about Disney World’s monorail!
- The monorail system at Walt Disney World began operation on opening day in 1971. It started out with two lines: one stopping at the resorts around the Seven Seas lagoon, and one express line from the Ticket and Transportation Center and the Magic Kingdom.
- Another monorail line was added in 1982 when Epcot opened on October 1.
- When the resort monorail line debuted in 1971, it had four stops: Ticket and Transportation Center, Polynesian Resort, Magic Kingdom, and Contemporary.
- Hang on, does something seem amiss? Shouldn’t there be five stops along the resort route? The Grand Floridian, and its monorail stop, didn’t open until 1988.
- Each train consists of 6 cars, and can transport up to 360 people. That’s a lot of people heading into the park all at once!
- 600 volts of electricity run through the busbars on either side of the concrete beam. All that electricity power 8 motors aboard each monorail train.
- Even monorails have speed limits, which can be anywhere from 15 to 40 mph, and it’s automated by the train’s onboard computer. Under normal operations, the monorail trains can reach speeds of 40 mph. That’s as fast as dropping down into the briar patch on Splash Mountain!
- Each train has a towing knuckle on both ends. In the event of a power outage, one of three diesel towing tractors can rescue a stranded train. The three towing tractors can pull three trains simultaneously to the Monorail Shop, located behind Space Mountain, for maintenance.
- The monorail conductors are called pilots. There is also a Cast Member stationed as a Central Coordinator, which oversees all monorail operations. That Cast Member is called Monorail One.
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- The monorail’s safety system is referred to as MAPO (named after Mary Poppins, which funded the transportation improvements for Disneyland). Sections of the monorail’s beam are called blocks, and MAPO indicates to the pilot how many blocks separate his/her monorail from the next one ahead. It works sort of like a stoplight. A green light indicates three blocks between two trains, a yellow light means two blocks between trains, and a red light is no blocks between trains and is not allowed.
- Each train is named for a colored stripe that runs along its cars. To distinguish the green from lime, pink from coral, or blue from teal, the lime, coral, and teal trains also have a white delta, or notch in the stripe, painted on each train car.
- In all its years of operation, there has been only one fatal crash involving two monorails. On July 5, 2005, the pink and purple monorails collided, resulting in one pilot’s death.
- Disney reused undamaged parts of the pink and purple trains when building new ones. Today, the monorail system operates with a full fleet of 12 trains.
- “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas,” is a well known phrase at Walt Disney World. Over the years, guests have heard several voices. It was first recorded by Jack Wagner, who was known as the “Voice of Disneyland.” Currently, the monorail spiel is voiced by Tom Kane, who guests might recognize as the voice of Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- As of 2013, the Walt Disney World monorail system, which averages 150,000 passengers per day, is the 2nd busiest monorail in the world. It is surpassed only by a system serving a shopping center in Chongqing, China, which serves over 500,000 passengers per day, on one line alone. And you thought Disney’s monorail was cramped!