Walt Disney World on Friday introduced its newest way to get around the Florida resort — an aerial cable car system that whisks visitors from hotels to theme parks three stories above the ground while going 11 mph.
The Disney Skyliner cable cars opening to visitors on Sunday are the latest addition to one of the largest private transportation systems in the U.S. The almost 300 enclosed cable cars join 423 buses, 61 mini-vans (appropriately named Minnie Vans), 30 parking lot trams, 29 watercraft and 12 monorail trains.
In any given 24 hours, 350,000 people — the size of a medium-sized city — can be on Disney World property, which is the physical size of San Francisco. Disney transportation workers need to move them efficiently from parks to hotels to Disney World's shopping and restaurant districts with as little friction as possible.
In a given year, Disney World visitors take 100 million rides on its transit system, said Thomas Mazloum, a Disney senior vice president.
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Unlike municipal transportation systems that typically are a means to an end — your destination — the experience is the most important part of Disney's transit system, Mazloum said.
Disney World guests aren't going to tolerate the smell of urine (looking at you, New York subways) or cars so crowded that gloved workers are hired to push in passengers (ahem, Tokyo subways).
With the Skyliner air gondolas, visitors get neon-colored cars painted with the images of almost two-dozen Disney characters taking them on the three lines to five stations where they can access nine resorts and two parks. Disney World has four theme parks and more than two dozen resorts.
"Most organizations around the world look at transportation as something that is just necessary but we ... simply try to create memories of a lifetime," Mazloum said. "And this mode of transportation will absolutely create memories of a lifetime."