All About the Walt Disney World Monorail
The Mark VI Monorail Trains at Walt Disney World Resort incorporate more than 30 years of Disney research and development of the monorail technology. The Walt Disney Company has been operating monorail systems for more than 30 years.
In Florida, the Walt Disney World monorail system has been in operation since 1971. In 1982, the system was expanded with a four-mile extension to Epcot, and in 1990 and 1991 new trains were delivered.
The Mark VI trains are a high-capacity design that includes improved air conditioning and door systems, and various improved safety features. The trains began operation in 1990, replacing the earlier design which had been used at Walt Disney World Resort since 1971. By early 1991, the complete 12-train fleet was in operation.
The six-car trains, 203.5 feet long and able to carry more than 360 passengers, travel over a 13.7-mile system of elevated beamway. The purpose of the monorail system is to carry guests to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks. The system has seven stations serving the theme parks, resort hotels and parking areas. On a typical day, over 150,000 guests will ride the monorail system.
The monorail trains travel on a 26-inch-wide precast concrete beamway supported by tapered concrete columns. The distance between columns is approximately 50 feet. The beams and columns are constructed in sets of six; the six beam lengths are post-tensioned together to form a single 600-foot length of structure. The height of the beam ranges from 18 feet to over 60 feet at its highest elevation.
The narrow concrete beamway is a very cost-effective elevated structure, since is uses much less concrete and steel than conventional elevated railway tracks. Also, the lightweight structure can have a positive impact on an urban environment and is compatible with many types of architectural styles.
The monorail trains run on rubber tires and are powered by a 600-Volt DC propulsion system. The trains pick up electrical power from a metallic busbar along the side of the beamway. The train propulsion system includes eight DC motors rated at 113 HP each.
The most visible change in the Mark VI trains is the re-designed interiors, which include additional standing room during peak travel periods. Also, the improved sliding-door systems make it more convenient to get on and off the trains.
The Mark VI trains also include on-board monitoring systems and improved communications and control. The bodies of the new trains are made of a high-strength composite honeycomb material for the best combination of high strength and low weight.
The forerunner of the modern monorail systems was tested in Germany in the 1950s, catching the attention of Walt Disney, who was then planning the Disneyland theme park in Calif. Walt brought the monorail concept to his park, and when the Disneyland monorail system opened in 1959, it was the first new-style monorail to operate daily in the United States. Since then, the monorail design has evolved through six generations of monorail trains, resulting in the Mark VI trains now in use at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.