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Monorail Upgrades – Will We See New Monorails at Walt Disney World?

inside the start of the monorail upgrades - photo credit wdwinfo

Monorail upgrades, it’s has every Disneyphile on the edge of their seat. For years, rumors around potential monorail upgrades have been circling with most targeting Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary as the best chance. With only a short time to go, yes, 2 years is a short time in Disney years, what could we see relating to the monorail? Let’s take a ride on the highway in the sky as we breakdown everything we know about the potential monorail upgrades!

The Mark VI are due for monorail upgrades

Class Is In Session! 

History class that is. There’s no better history lesson than a Disney World history lesson. Today’s topic is the monorail. Arguably the most iconic transportation system around, the Magic Kingdom monorail loop is where our lesson begins. Part of opening day on October 1, 1971, the monorail is part transportation and part attraction to most Disney World guests. The original loop connected the Magic Kingdom with the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Resort, and Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC), with plans for expansion for both the track and number of resorts.

Over the years the monorail system has expanded to include Epcot, as well as the Grand Floridian Resort. Walt Disney World is on its second set of monorails, referred to as the Mark VI monorail which was built by Bombardier Transportation. The 12 monorails on the Walt Disney World track have been in place since 1989 when they replaced the Mark IV monorails from opening day.

Passholder Insights: Soon guests will be able to have a new option for heading to the Magic Kingdom from the TTC, as a new walkway is under construction. 

Rumors are the Main Street Theater projected was canceled for monorail upgrades

How It All Started? 

Every rumor has to start somewhere, and monorail upgrades are no different. Let’s head back to the 2017 D23 Expo. At the event, Bob Chapek made announcement after announcement around new attractions coming to Disney World including Tron Lifecycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. One of the announcements included a new Broadway-style theater to be added to Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom, simply named the Main Street Theater.

Shortly after (about 6 months) the big announcement Disney World started to run into mechanical issues with the monorails. Two months later the Main Street Theater projected was officially canceled without a lot of details around why. Any time details are few and far between we can expect rumors, and the rumor mill started hopping. Almost everyone projected the money from the project would towards monorail upgrades.

Passholder Insights: Main Street USA is where you’ll find one of our favorite Mickey’s. Adjacent to Tony’s Town Square restaurant you’ll find Magician Mickey. 

Bob Gurr hinted at monorails upgrades while being a panelist at a Disney event

Fuel On The Fire 

No less than two months later, Disney Imagineer legend Bob Gurr dropped the biggest news yet. As a panelist at an event in Celebration Florida, Bob stated in reference to the current monorails, “they are past their originally intended end-of-life date” and continues to say that “contracts are out with Bombardier and that we’ll see new monorails in the coming years”. Needless to say, that tidbit of information spread like wildfire in the Disney community. Everyone expected to hear about monorail upgrades heading into the 2019 D23 Expo.

Passholder Insights: When staying at the Polynesian Resort a faster way back to the resort is to take the express monorail from the Magic Kingdom to TTC. It’s a short walk to the resort from there. 

Monorail upgrades have continued with monorail lime - photo credit WDWNT

Where We Stand Today 

The D23 Expo has come and gone, without any announcements around monorail upgrades. This doesn’t the monorails are not in the process of being upgraded. Over the summer with saw Monorail Silver go through a refurbishment that included a new interior comprising of new decals, flooring, seats and accent coloring. For the next three months, it was the only monorail that was upgraded. That was until the first week of October. 

On October 7, 2019 monorail lime was revealed with the same treatment as monorail silver. According to Mickey Views, the ride system associated with the monorail lime could have been updated as well, referencing the ride experience is much smoother since the refurbishment. Additionally, the monorail talk track from the TTC to the Epcot has been updated to discuss the new Epcot Experience within what will be the World Celebration.

Passholder Insights: One of the quieter places to grab a coffee at Epcot is right next monorail on-ramp. More often than not the line is minimal. 

Our Thoughts 

Let’s read the tea leaves! In the DVC Duo house, we have a theory around the monorail upgrades. We believe leading up to the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World we will continue to roll out the refurbished monorails. By no means does it mean we will not see monorails upgrades around the big event. We’re willing to bet that Disney will be making an announcement either just before or during the celebration that the monorail upgrades will be happening over the next 3 years with the first new monorail coming online at the end of the year-long celebration. Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas! We’ve got to run our monorail is rolling out.

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