Walt Disney World Resort will erect a gondola ride between two of its parks and three hotels, but it’s nothing like the Skyway attraction that once linked Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
The 10-passenger gondolas will have six stations and with three lines linking Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, the Caribbean Beach Resort and the lakeside area that straddles Pop Century and the Art of Animation resorts, according to Reedy Creek Improvement District records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Disney officials have yet to announce details of the project. But the theme park often has long lines for buses and monorails and the ski-style gondolas may help alleviate the wait for some guests.
The Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, a Austrian/Swiss manufacturer of trams, cable cars, chairlifts and urban people movers will develop the system. The company built the Hogwarts Express elevated train between the two Harry Potter lands at Universal Orlando Resort.
Disney’s first gondola ride was built in 1956 at Disneyland. The Skyway gondolas’ capacity was doubled from two to four and duplicated at Walt Disney World as one of its original attraction, which required a “D” ticket when the park opened October 1, 1971.
Disney World lost an employee on the gondola system that took guests over Cinderella Castle. A 65-year-old part-time custodian died Feb. 14, 1999 while cleaning the Fantasyland Skyway landing station. Employees, unaware he was there, accidentally turned on the ride. The man grabbed a passing gondola, lost his grip and fell 40 feet and landed in a flowerbed near the Dumbo ride. OSHA fined Walt Disney World $4,500 for violating federal safety codes after the accident.
The Skyway, which had been scheduled to close before the accident, closed November 10, 1999.
An article in the Orlando Sentinel the next day included Disney’s official reason for the closing:
“It’s part of our ongoing efforts to phase out some of the older attractions and introduce new things to keep our parks exciting for our new and repeat visitors,” Walt Disney World spokesman Diane Ledder said Tuesday. “It’s just something whose time has come.”
Unlike the Skyway, Disney’s new ride will be enclosed, according to the documents.