Disney Cruise Line

The History of the Walt Disney World Monorail: Mark IV, 1971-1989

posted on February 13th, 2014 by Nate Rasmussen, Archivist, Marketing Resource Center


As we continue our popular series on the history of the monorails at Disney Parks, Erin Glover asked me to step in and tell you the stories of the Mark IV and VI monorails at the Walt Disney World Resort. When Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971, it also brought with it a new era in monorail trains, the Mark IV. The nearly 3-mile monorail track provided a means of transportation for guests visiting Magic Kingdom Park.

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The Imagineers wanted to uphold Walt Disney’s vision of an immersive experience when developing the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, ensuring that guests left the real world behind. The Seven Seas Lagoon separated guest parking from the entrance to Magic Kingdom Park, making the monorail an integral part of transporting guests into a truly far-away land.

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Imagineer Bob Gurr based the design of the Walt Disney World Monorail System on the original monorails at Disneyland Resort while giving it an updated look.

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On opening day, there were ten trains built with five cars each on two monorail tracks (express and Disney Resort hotels) for guests to make their way to experience the magic.

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Filed: Disney History, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

10 Comments

1

Richard on February 13th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Interesting article thank you…

You know what would have been sweet? A link to the other articles..

2

Jack on February 13th, 2014 at 9:15 pm

yes please…link to the others?

3

Laura on February 14th, 2014 at 8:41 am

These are the monorails I remember as a child. I was honored to sit in front with the drivers on many occasions. A great memory!

4

Robert from FL on February 15th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Those are very nice pictures. It would be nice if we could be allowed to sit in the front of the Walt Disney World monorails.

5

Brian on February 16th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Actually back when the Magic Kingdom first opened there was quite a transportation “crunch” take for instance this bit from Paul Anderson’s “persistance of vision” Disney fanzine vol. 1 issue 1 p23 (under the heading of “Statistical description of the Mark IVs”) “When the park opened in October of 1971, only four trains were operational. that number soon grew to ten — with with five 171 foot-long five-car monorails and five 201 foot-long six-car monorails. The five-car trains had a capacity of 210 guests, while the six-car version carried up to 250 visitors.”
Not only that but there were NO ferryboats, there were some side-wheeler steamships (beautiful vessels I wish I had been there to see the last one retired by the early 1990′s), but those were lower capacity, slower moving, and slower loading than the ferries we have now.

6

Paul on February 17th, 2014 at 10:02 am

These are engineering works of art. Every one of these 10 trains (and later 12 w/the addition of Coral & Lime) are amazing machines. Proof of that is the fact that two of these went on to Las Vegas as the precursors to the Vegas monorail currently running.

It should be noted that Resort & Express were referred to as Exterior & Lagoon back in the day.

My favorite picture I possess is from around 1989 when the Mark VI and Mark IV’s were running simultaneously. I have a shot of a Mark IV & Mark VI Monorail Black coming/leaving Base. I often think of it as the baton being passed.

My most prized WDW possesion is the WED Enterprises sales presentation/pamphlet on the Mark IV and the advantages of going monorail in an urban environment. (thank you EPCOT Outreach!)

7

Darren on February 17th, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Beside Nate’s post on Horizons, this is my favorite post to date! Thank you and please share more photos of the Mark IV monorails.

8

Jenna on February 18th, 2014 at 9:40 pm

I remember it being quite an honor to ride up front with the pilot. When my husband and I spent our honeymoon there 10 years ago they gave up pilot licenses. I remember the lime green and blue uniforms of the staff. The other day I was wearing a similar combo at my job and it reminded me of the monorail. When I was a kid the Contemporary Cafe(think that was the name, it’s now Chef Mickey’s) had a drink for kids called Monorail Orange. My sister and I always ordered those and loved to watch the trains go by. I was lucky enough to see the monorail holding station when I was a kid. My dad was invited to an event involving the Culinary Olympics team and they had a soft open for the press behind MK. My dad was acquaintences with the head chefs of EPCOT and MGM at the time and they invited us to the event. What an honor to go BEHIND the scenes at MK. I’ll never forget it.

9

Shannon from FL on April 16th, 2014 at 8:28 am

This generation of monorails was built by Martin Marietta correct? My Grandfather was the Manager of the project and used to show us pictures and tell us stories of building them for the new park. I was only 4 but it’s some of best early memories!

10

simon on April 16th, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Missing the Purple one because of the accident and so nice to see them all out like this so cool, They were going to put a Monorail from Epcot to MGM studios back then, that would have made sense but the price for a mile of track was nearly $1 million wow

10 Comments