The Pros and Cons of Gondola Transportation in WDW

Bright and early this morning, my Twitter feed erupted with the discussion of the latest theme park rumor: A skyway gondola system used to transport guests around the Epcot/Hollywood Studios area in the Walt Disney World resort. At first I thought this was just a small hoax, but the more I read, the more I realized that this could be the real deal. Apparently Disney has already filed permits for the system, with the rumored route looking something like this:

Now the way I see it, there are definitely some good things about building a gondola system in this area…and there’s also some bad things. So, what I’m going to do here is make a good ol’ pros and cons list. At the end of it all, I’ll give you my final opinion. Ready? Here goes…

Pro #1: Another Mode of Transportation!

Okay, this one’s kind of obvious. Adding a gondola system would provide for another way to get from place to place in the incredibly large plot of land that is Disney World. I especially like the idea of connecting the gondolas with some of the Value resorts. That way the hotels would have another option for transportation, rather than just being stuck with buses. Of course, this brings us to our first con…

Con #1: Price-Hikes on Value Resorts(?)

If the gondola system were to reach resorts like the Pop Century and Art of Animation, would that lead to a raise in hotel rates? I don’t think it would be too much of a problem, but it would be a bit of a bummer if these resorts ended up losing their “value” title.

Pro #2: Amazing Views

One thing that can’t be argued about this gondola system is how awesome the views of the parks and hotels will be. Being both a Disney and theme park enthusiast, I love the idea of being able to see Epcot and Hollywood Studios from a different perspective (as well as all the cool behind the scenes areas). With that idea in mind, Disney could easily label this as an attraction for the resort. Maybe they could even add some sort of on-board narration like the monorail!

Con #2: Poor Efficiency

Although I wasn’t around to experience the gondolas in the Magic Kingdom, I have ridden a considerable amount of other ones throughout the U.S. Therefor, I can tell you from personal experience that these things aren’t, well…the fastest mode of transportation on the planet. They can also be hard to maintain, and have a pretty slow throughput time. I can already see the wait times for getting a gondola car surpassing 60 minutes, especially if the stations are located outside of the parks. Even if Disney has larger cars attached, they still won’t be able to push through the amount of people that they could with a bus or monorail.

Pro #3: Cheaper Than a Monorail Extension

When I first heard about the gondola rumor, I thought to myself, “why not just build another monorail line?”. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it would be way too expensive to maintain. If Disney had to choose between building a monorail or a gondola (assuming there is no other third option), I’m sure they’d go with the gondola, which is most likely the cheaper option.

Con #3: Florida Weather

This could fit under the “poor efficiency” subject, but I feel it’s large enough to talk about on its own. Gondola’s don’t always run the best in poor weather. Obviously, Florida is susceptible to hurricanes and other bad weather. Even the slightest amount of wind could shut down the transport, leaving riders stranded either in a car or in line. I just don’t know if building a gondola system would be worth that risk.

In Conclusion…

It’s really hard for me to choose a side on this subject. When I first read about the gondola rumor, I immediately thought, “No! That’s Impossible!”. However, weighing out the good and the bad has made me form a second opinion.

…and I think I’m in favor of this thing.

Sure, it might not be the most efficient mode of transportation, but neither is the monorail. There are definitely some roadblocks that they’ll need to overcome, but if anybody can do it, it’s Disney. Overall, I think we will see more good come out of a gondola system than bad. It will provide a new mode of transportation for value resorts, as well as a fun new attraction that will give guests a new perspective of the surrounding area; two things that Disney could really benefit from. Hopefully one day we will all be able to experience this new highway in the sky…even if it isn’t a new monorail loop.


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