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New monorail fleet for Disney World? Original designer backs up rumor

08 May 2018

Walt Disney World should soon be getting replacements for its aging fleet of monorails, according to the retired imagineer who designed the original iconic trains for Disneyland as well as the Orlando resort.

Bob Gurr, an 86-year-old Disney legend who was hired by Walt Disney in the 1950s, appeared to confirm recent rumors during a question-and-answer session at the end of a panel discussion near Orlando last week.

The current fleet of 12 monorail trains at Disney World has been in service since 1989. "I call this the duct-tape monorail," said Gurr. "When you get up in years, you find a lot of duct tape stuck on yourself to keep you running."

Disney World's futuristic monorail trains have come under scrutiny after several recent incidents that suggest they may be nearing the end of their life span. In January, video posted on social media by a passenger showed malfunctioning doors wide open while the train was moving. Last June, a large piece reportedly fell off a train into the Epcot parking lot.

"Machines do not last forever," Gurr said during the April 28 event in Celebration, the Disney-designed town just south of the Kissimmee theme parks. "You typically design them in the transportation industries for 20-year service. We're close to 30 years of service here."

Gurr designed Disney World's original "Mark IV" monorails, which debuted with the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and ran until 1989. Those trains were replaced by the current "Mark VI" fleet, designed by another Disney icon, George McGinnis. The last imagineer hired by Walt Disney, McGinnis died in April 2017 at 87.

Gurr's statement near the end of the charity event "Working with Walt Disney" drew applause from the hundreds in attendance. "If everything works right, it will be the same company, Bombardier, which built our current version," Gurr said.
Facebook: See the live video stream (Monorail question comes around the 2-hour, 13-minute mark)

"Contracts are under way," he said. "You will see it." There has been no official announcement from Disney World on new monorail trains. The resort is in the midst of many large construction projects - including theme park additions, hotel expansions, and a gondola-based transportation system - in advance of the Magic Kingdom's 50th anniversary in October 2021.

Bombardier Inc., based in Montreal, built the Mark VI fleet for $3.5 million per train, according to reports. That would translate to around $7.5 million today. Bombardier recently worked on monorail systems in Brazil and Saudi Arabia.


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