History of Highway In the Sky:
In the 1950s, a forerunner of the modern monorail system was tested in Germany. It caught the eye of Walt Disney who was in the midst of planning Disneyland in California at the time. When the Disneyland monorail system premiered at the theme park in 1959, it became the first new-style monorail to operate daily in the United States.
In operation since 1971 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the system was expanded in 1982 with a four-mile extension to Epcot and updated in the early 1990s with new trains to complete a 12-train fleet.
Specifications & Design:
Each of the twelve, six-car trains are 203 feet long and has 124 rubber tires powered by 600-Volt DC propulsion systems, including eight DC motors rated at 113 HP each. The train bodies are made of a high-strength composite honeycomb material that allows durable strength at a low weight.
The updated trains include improved air conditioning, door systems and safety features, a re-designed interior, additional standing room for peak travel periods, improved sliding-door systems, on-board monitoring and improved communications and control.
The trains travel on a 26-inch-wide concrete beam supported by tapered concrete columns approximately 110 feet apart. The beams and columns are constructed in sets of six and post-tensioned together to form a single 600-foot structure. As the trains move along the "beamway," they pick up electrical power from a metallic buss bar.
Today, incorporating nearly 40 years of research and development in monorail technology, the Mark VI Monorail Trains travel 14.7 miles of elevated track that services six stations throughout two theme parks and several hotels — Magic Kingdom Transportation & Ticket Center, Contemporary Resort, Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Resort and Epcot Center, On a typical day, more than 150,000 guests utilize the monorail transportation — that's nearly 7,000 guests per direction, per hour.