Why Aren’t There More Monorails at Walt Disney World?

The monorail is an iconic part of the Disney experience, and for good reason. However one question I’ve gotten from subscribers many times over the years is “Why stop at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot? Why isn’t there a monorail to Hollywood Studios or the Animal Kingdom or more resorts? Where are all the monorails?

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But first, the money issue. There are figures out there for other monorail systems around the world and we can try to use those to estimate what it would cost for Disney, but even that’s going to be a guess since there are so many different variables to consider.

Looking at more recent monorail systems, the Mumbai Monorail in India cost an estimated $43.8 million dollars per mile. The Las Vegas Monorail cost an estimated $88 million per mile, and coming in at the top, the Palm Jumeirah Monorail in Dubai cost around $118 million dollars per mile. That’s a pretty wide range. If we aim for the middle we would land at $80.5 million, which isn’t far off from the Vegas estimate which, as far as supplies and labor go, is probably the closer to Orlando than Mumbai and Dubai is. Then of course we have to consider that those three systems were all built between 2004 and 2008, so when we adjust the estimates for inflation, that $80.5 million becomes $100.4 million.

The next question then becomes, how long would a new monorail extension be? I took a stab at a track layout that would extend from the Epcot track, which saves us about 4 miles, and sticks towards roads much in the same way the Epcot line does. I assume it’s a safety design so that in the event of an emergency vehicles would be able to get near the monorail. That would put an extension to both Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom at around twelve miles of new track. At an estimation of $100 million per mile, that’s $1.2 billion dollars.

So to my earlier point, it’s financially possible. The Walt Disney Company’s 2017 annual earnings report showing that Parks and Resorts had operating income of $3.7 billion dollars. But would it make sense to spend upwards of a third of the entire division’s profit on just two new monorail stops? Consider for a moment that it would only benefit two groups. Those who are staying at one of the three monorail resorts out of the over twenty resorts on property, and those looking to park hop, which is a feature that isn’t even standard with a Disney World pass today.

Don’t get me wrong, it’d be pretty cool if the Disney World monorail went to all the parks, but even as a die-hard fan I’d admit that the costs are just too high for benefits that are too few.

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