Early 90's Light Rail/Trolley System Proposal for WDW

NickC

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
While doing some research on the never-built Mediterranean Hotel I came across some interesting references to a WDW Trolley system that I'd never heard of/seen before. I tried searching and couldn't come up with anything, so, does anyone here know anything about this proposed trolley system?

EDIT: See post #2 for more!







My apologies in advance if this is old and I completely missed a thread or site with relevant information.
 
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NickC

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Well I guess I answered my own question...

After doing some more research I discovered that in the early 1990s Disney had plans to build a light rail system across a good portion of the resort. The proposed system would have connected Disney Village to some of the onsite resorts at the time, (Treehouse Villas, Dixie Landings, Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach) as well as Epcot, Epcot's International Gateway, and MGM Studios. The document I found also had mentions of a mass transit high-speed rail system, all dating back to 1992.

You can download a .pdf that contains a segmented map of the entire Trolley system including station locations here:


http://www.dropbox.com/s/7f9v2e2kt40ay14/WDW Trolley.PDF (~5mb)



And if you want to download the entire document I pulled this information from, you can do that here:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/vmpw5v2codxnycp/FullDoc.PDF (~57mb)



And again, my apologies if this is old/known information. It was all news to me, and I couldn't find any information on it elsewhere, but I may not have been looking hard enough.
 
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NickC

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I was originally searching for information on the Mediterranean Hotel on the SFWMD website, where I found documents from the initial bid package from 1991. There was a reference to the WDW Trolley system in there and mention of a dredge & fill permit. Dredge and fill permits are handled by the FDEP, so a quick trip to their online document management portal and I was able to uncover the full permit which outlined the whole trolley system.

SFWMD:
http://www.sfwmd.gov/ePermitting/PopulateLOVs.do?flag=1

FDEP:
http://depedms.dep.state.fl.us/Oculus/servlet/login
 

marni1971

WDW History nut
Premium Member
Nick - there were two Med Resort proposals over the years FYI. One with a monorail stop and one without. You can differentiate between the two with this.
 

skipperg

Member
I remember talking to a Disney Rep back in the early 90's about this. After hearing I was from the Pittsburgh area he mentioned that Disney had been in the southwestern part of Pa looking at some of the few trolley systems still running and some of the history about them. The trolley system brought several things that the Monorails didn't. Nostalgia for one and much cheaper installation and future expansion that the Monorails. Years later I read somewhere where the best solution is still the Busses.

In our area the trolley system was the most prevalent form of transportation until World War II. The Busses took over then and are still available but not nearly as many as I remember when I was a child.
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
How did I miss this thread? This should have been posted under news, since this hellya is news to me!

This is the kind of stuff I love! It may not be about monorails, but I love to see that they've been considering ways of getting around other than this sickening dependency on buses!
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
Initial observations:
  • The document shows that an environmental impact study was done. This is an expensive, time-consuming, and serious process that must be completed before projects like this can get built. The fact that this was completed is major and not to be taken lightly! In comparison the Florida High Speed Rail was still in the process of doing its EIS before it got cancelled!
  • The document shows that permits were pulled!!!
  • The system was to be grade separated! This means, like the monorail, it would have never shared the same level as roads and would have used both bridges and tunnels to accomplish this. This is a major element about the proposal that I really like about it, making it not just another trolly system, but a very special kind of trolly system. Grade separation means accidents caused by street traffic colliding into cannot ever happen. It also means that trollies won't have to stop and wait for passing traffic; and, cars, buses, and trucks won't have to wait either!
  • Its proposed alignment matches mysterious pink and brown lines that are shown on the RCID Future Land Use Map. Pink means that it's zoned for attraction development and brown means it's zoned for general use. So, the zoning allowing the project to advance is already there and has not changed for other uses, had this project been cancelled outright. The fact that the zoning is still there means that the project was probably shelved (not cancelled). It could also mean that an improved future project plan for a trolly system - or other form of transit (such as light rail or automated people mover) - could use that same alignment with no problems!
I'm real excited about this discovery! I haven't been as excited of a WDW discovery since the finding of buried monorail footers backstage of Future World!
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
Initial observations:
  • The document shows that an environmental impact study was done. This is an expensive, time-consuming, and serious process that must be completed before projects like this can get built. The fact that this was completed is major and not to be taken lightly! In comparison the Florida High Speed Rail was still in the process of doing its EIS before it got cancelled!
  • The document shows that permits were pulled!!!
  • The system was to be grade separated! This means, like the monorail, it would have never shared the same level as roads and would have used both bridges and tunnels to accomplish this. This is a major element about the proposal that I really like about it, making it not just another trolly system, but a very special kind of trolly system. Grade separation means accidents caused by street traffic colliding into cannot ever happen. It also means that trollies won't have to stop and wait for passing traffic; and, cars, buses, and trucks won't have to wait either!
  • Its proposed alignment matches mysterious pink and brown lines that are shown on the RCID Future Land Use Map. Pink means that it's zoned for attraction development and brown means it's zoned for general use. So, the zoning allowing the project to advance is already there and has not changed for other uses, had this project been cancelled outright. The fact that the zoning is still there means that the project was probably shelved (not cancelled). It could also mean that an improved future project plan for a trolly system - or other form of transit (such as light rail or automated people mover) - could use that same alignment with no problems!
I'm real excited about this discovery! I haven't been as excited of a WDW discovery since the finding of buried monorail footers backstage of Future World!
...and it was all done 23 years ago. Just because someone spends a good bit of money on a project does not mean it will ever see the light of day. I can give you a laundry list of projects across the globe where the investment was in the millions and little to nothing ever came of them. You could probably find a dozen in Dubai alone.

As far as the permit goes, it would not even meet current building code. The FBC has been revised a good 20 times since those permits were filed including a complete code re-write in 2000.

This is an interesting piece of history, not a plan of what is to come.
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
...and it was all done 23 years ago. Just because someone spends a good bit of money on a project does not mean it will ever see the light of day. I can give you a laundry list of projects across the globe where the investment was in the millions and little to nothing ever came of them. You could probably find a dozen in Dubai alone.

As far as the permit goes, it would not even meet current building code. The FBC has been revised a good 20 times since those permits were filed including a complete code re-write in 2000.

This is an interesting piece of history, not a plan of what is to come.
I never said it was a current plan. I agree that it is an interesting piece of history; however, the past does influence the future. The proposed alignment of this plan wouldn't work today, any way, because it doesn't consider things that have been built since, such as DAK. That doesn't mean that an updated plan can't borrow from this plan at places that haven't changed much since this one was engineered. As far as old plans go, companies shelve plans all the time and go through with them sometimes decades later, especially Disney. Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian are good examples. Splash Mountain is another. The proof that Disney hasn't ruled out a future system based (loosely on this one or not) is the pink and brown lines you will find in the RCID's most recent Future Land Use Plan.

The fact that this project made it to the EIS and permits were pulled is a lot more than I can say about any of the proposed monorail expansion plans! It also means that this wasn't just a proposal. It was an actual engineering project that was in the works, but was cancelled for one reason or another.

By the way, the projects you mentioned in Dubai were pulled because the Dubai monarchy (which also is the funding source for those projects) was starting to run out of money, so they had to cancel or shelve projects in order to avoid bankruptcy. Disney since 1985 has never ever been close of getting bankrupt. Individual subsidiaries, such as Euro Disney have gotten close, but, collectively, not even close. WDW as a subsidiary alone has been making so much money for the WDC it's not even funny. In fact, last year WDW covered an unexpected shortfall in earnings by the film division. So, earnings at WDW are so good that they even cover other divisions' slack!

Disney really should give a percentage on earnings back to WDW for infrastructure and attractions capital. I think its unfair for one division to pull the weight of the company when other divisions blunder. Their performance should be rewarded for in the form of greater funds back on the earnings gained.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
I never said it was a current plan. I agree that it is an interesting piece of history; however, the past does influence the future. The proposed alignment of this plan wouldn't work today, any way, because it doesn't consider things that have been built since, such as DAK. That doesn't mean that an updated plan can't borrow from this plan at places that haven't changed much since this one was engineered. As far as old plans go, companies shelve plans all the time and go through with them sometimes decades later, especially Disney. Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian are good examples. Splash Mountain is another. The proof that Disney hasn't ruled out a future system based (loosely on this one or not) is the pink and brown lines you will find in the RCID's most recent Future Land Use Plan.

The fact that this project made it to the EIS and permits were pulled is a lot more than I can say about any of the proposed monorail expansion plans! It also means that this wasn't just a proposal. It was an actual engineering project that was in the works, but was cancelled for one reason or another.

By the way, the projects you mentioned in Dubai were pulled because the Dubai monarchy (which also is the funding source for those projects) was starting to run out of money, so they had to cancel or shelve projects in order to avoid bankruptcy. Disney since 1985 has never ever been close of getting bankrupt. Individual subsidiaries, such as Euro Disney have gotten close, but, collectively, not even close. WDW as a subsidiary alone has been making so much money for the WDC it's not even funny. In fact, last year WDW covered an unexpected shortfall in earnings by the film division. So, earnings at WDW are so good that they even cover other divisions' slack!

Disney really should give a percentage on earnings back to WDW for infrastructure and attractions capital. I think its unfair for one division to pull the weight of the company when other divisions blunder. Their performance should be rewarded for in the form of greater funds back on the earnings gained.
That proves absolutely nothing.

Land usage does not change until there is a reason to do it. Once a section of land is zone for a particular thing, it will stay as such until they want to do something else with it. Those pink lines will remain pink until the end of time if Disney does not need it for something else.
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
That proves absolutely nothing.

Land usage does not change until there is a reason to do it. Once a section of land is zone for a particular thing, it will stay as such until they want to do something else with it. Those pink lines will remain pink until the end of time if Disney does not need it for something else.
Right, but they won't be able to do anything else with that valuable real estate until they do. Since they haven't, I guess there's no alternative plan (other than transit) for it.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
Right, but they won't be able to do anything else with that valuable real estate until they do. Since they haven't, I guess there's no alternative plan (other than transit) for it.
Transit is not even in the plans at this point. It once was, but the project was scrapped. When a company with coffers as deep as Disney scraps a plan that got into the permitting stage, there is a good reason. Until that good reason changes, the plans will remain shelved.
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
Transit is not even in the plans at this point. It once was, but the project was scrapped. When a company with coffers as deep as Disney scraps a plan that got into the permitting stage, there is a good reason. Until that good reason changes, the plans will remain shelved.
I would like to know what happened. I still think transit is a long term goal. They couldn't do it then for whatever reason, but I don't think that will be the last time they try. They could be waiting until all their property is developed first. Or maybe they've decided one major infrastructure program at a time (with NexGen as their current focus). They may even be waiting for some futuristic cost-savings technology to mature for all we know. It could be a management issue. Maybe this was a goal under Al Weiss and something Meg Crofton has no interest in, which means that a future manager may. My point is, don't write it off. I believe there's going to be future attempts at this.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
I would like to know what happened. I still think transit is a long term goal. They couldn't do it then for whatever reason, but I don't think that will be the last time they try. They could be waiting until all their property is developed first. Or maybe they've decided one major infrastructure program at a time (with NexGen as their current focus). They may even be waiting for some futuristic cost-savings technology to mature for all we know. It could be a management issue. Maybe this was a goal under Al Weiss and something Meg Crofton has no interest in, which means that a future manager may. My point is, don't write it off. I believe there's going to be future attempts at this.
So would everyone else on this site. The probability of that ever happening is just north of zero.

If I had to venture a guess I would say that they found the system to be to expensive to build, run and maintain compared to the other transportation options available. Buses aren't magical, but there is a reason that pretty every city in the world can use them for masstransit regardless of the population density.
 

PeterAlt

Well-Known Member
So would everyone else on this site. The probability of that ever happening is just north of zero.

If I had to venture a guess I would say that they found the system to be to expensive to build, run and maintain compared to the other transportation options available. Buses aren't magical, but there is a reason that pretty every city in the world can use them for masstransit regardless of the population density.
That's ridiculous. It can't be more (per mile) than a four lane limited access roadway. A short route from Point A to Point B is about the cost of an E ticket attraction (or less). They wouldn't have gotten as far as they've gotten without know the costs involved. If cost was a reason, then someone at the company had "better" ideas for how that money would be spent. Universal is building a cable-propelled people mover disguised as an attraction to connect their two parks which is entirely elevated and a mostly ground-level trolly is far less costly.

If someone decided that the project as a whole, as extensive as it was, was too costly due to it being so extensive, that I can see. My impression of it was that it was too big of a plan, covering areas that could be left out, or added later if demand warrants. If I was the PM in charge of it, I would have created a much "leaner" plan and cut out much of the fat and routes that have less density which are better served by buses.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
That's ridiculous. It can't be more (per mile) than a four lane limited access roadway. A short route from Point A to Point B is about the cost of an E ticket attraction (or less). They wouldn't have gotten as far as they've gotten without know the costs involved. If cost was a reason, then someone at the company had "better" ideas for how that money would be spent. Universal is building a cable-propelled people mover disguised as an attraction to connect their two parks which is entirely elevated and a mostly ground-level trolly is far less costly.

If someone decided that the project as a whole, as extensive as it was, was too costly due to it being so extensive, that I can see. My impression of it was that it was too big of a plan, covering areas that could be left out, or added later if demand warrants. If I was the PM in charge of it, I would have created a much "leaner" plan and cut out much of the fat and cut out routes that have less density which are better served by buses.
This coming from a person that has yet to provide an even remotely accurate cost estimate for any of the grand ideas they have purposed.
 
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