Please stand clear of the doors” – “Por favor, mantegan se allejado de las puertas“
One of the most famous symbols of Walt Disney World, is Disney’s Monorail.
The Walt Disney World monorail system began service in 1971 with double beam track that circles the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom. Originally, the monorail system connected the Contemporary and Polynesian hotels with the Magic Kingdom and Transportation and Ticket Centre. In later years, the Grand Floridian was added to the loop. Disney expanded the monorail system in 1982 by adding a four mile extension that travels from the Magic Kingdom resort area to Epcot’s entrance.
A spur track connects the Express and Resort lines to the maintenance shop. Another spur connects the Epcot and Express lines and is located north-east of the Transportation and Ticket Centre.
The monorail trains run on rubber tyres on a “track” which is actually a 26 inch wide concrete beams. The beams were built in Oregon and shipped by truck to Florida. They contain a styrofoam core which is wrapped by steel and concrete. Each of the more than 400 individual beams were specifically designed depending on where they would be located on the track in order to follow the contour of the land. The beams are supported by tapered concrete columns, located 110-feet apart. The support columns feed electricity to a bar located beneath the beams, which in turn powers the trains. The highest beam is about 65 feet above the ground, and is located as the entrance/exit to the Contemporary Resort. It is the due to the narrow size, quiet operation and maintenance free design that allows the monorail to run through the hotel’s interior.
Since it was built, the monorail has traveled the equivalent distance of twenty-one trips around the world. On a typical working day, around 150,000 Walt Disney World guests that’s more than 50 million guests riding each year.
The monorail travels on three routes:
- Express service between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Centre which is adjacent to the Magic Kingdom Parking lot.
- Local service making stops at the Magic Kingdom, the Transportation and Ticket Centre, the Polynesian, Grand Floridian and the Contemporary Resort. Starting from the TTC, the monorail goes first to the Polynesian, The Grand Floridian, The Magic Kingdom, and the Contemporary before returning to the TTC.
- This service runs between the Transportation and Ticket Centre and Epcot.
The Mark IV trains were built by Disney and Martin Marietta Co. and they debuted with the park in 1971. In 1989 the new Mark VI, designed by the Bombardier Co., were introduced and all were in operation by 1991 at the Walt Disney World Resort. Each train is identified by one of the following colored stripes: black, blue, coral, gold, green, lime, orange, pink, purple, red, silver, and yellow.
The monorail train is about 200 feet long and can carry about 360 people in its six cars, with a control cab at the front and the rear of the train.
Each car on a Mark IV train had four doors per side; each pair of doors provided access to two facing bench seats that spanned the entire width of the train. The doors were opened remotely by the pilot, using a control panel on the outside of the train, adjacent to the cab’s door. There was a panel on both sides of the train, with six buttons, one for each car that would open all the doors on that side of the car. When the train was loaded and ready to depart, each door had to be closed manually by Cast Members on the platform.
The Mark VI trains retained the same basic look as the original Mark IVs, but with many noticeable changes. The newer train had a higher passenger capacity than the original model, better air conditioning and safety features. Each train has a back-up battery system and if needed, the trains can be pushed or pulled by a specially equipped diesel tractor. Normal maximum speed is 40 mph and speed limits range from 15 mph top 40 mph. Each car now has two sets of double doors on each side. The double doors open into a larger, squarish compartment with a bench seat on both sides. The newer trains are also taller to accommodate standing guests, who hold onto poles mounted near the centre of each compartment. All doors are now both opened and closed remotely by the pilot.
As the train floor is slightly raised above the platform, a portable ramp must be used to load guests in wheelchairs.
The train is also known around the world for its friendly advice and familiar voice used for years: “Please stand clear of the doors; Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.” This voice belongs to Jack Wagner “The Voice of Disneyland.”