Author’s note: This article is an expansion on the Monorail section of Andrew Prince’s Blue Sky Wish List posted on December 23, 2016.
I’ve been a big fan of trains my entire life and really love the Monorail at Walt Disney World, it is, after all, a type of train. One of my favorite experiences of the Monorail was having the chance to be a co-pilot on several occasions in 2003 and 2007. It was not always easy to catch a ride in the front cab of the Monorail, as it was on a first-come, first-served basis. I can remember waiting on the platform at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa for an empty front cab during a non-park visit back in 2007. Finally, an empty Monorail cab arrived! The Pilot’s cab could accommodate four Guests at a time, so my family of six had to separate, which also meant I got to ride in the front cab on two loops around the resorts!
Here’s how it worked. After waiting for the empty cab, we entered via the Pilot’s door and sat on benches that circled the front of the cab. I had to leave my wheelchair at the Grand Floridian which ensured we could ride the entire loop. I remember the Pilot letting us briefly look at the control console, which looking back at the pictures it looked pretty simple, with a microphone, buttons, a screen, and a control stick of some sort. It was fun to wave at waiting passengers at the five stations of the Monorail Resort Loop. Once back at the Grand Floridian, my family switched places, and I got to ride the loop again! After our rides were over we were all given an “Official Disney Monorail Co-Pilot” license and sticker, which I still cherish to this day!
Sadly, in 2009 there was a Monorail crash that killed the Pilot, no guests were riding in the front of the cab on that fateful trip. Since safety is the number one priority at all Disney locations, the Monorail Co-Pilot experience ended in July 2009.
I wish Guests could still be Monorail co-pilots, it was a really unique experience, and one I will always remember. With the rumored update to the Monorail trains, I am hopeful that they will reinstate this experience.
Disney Resort Monorail loop map copyright Disney. All other photos are from the author’s personal collection.
To learn more about Andrew, aka Disney on Wheels, and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, click on his name at the top of this post.