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Passenger videos Disney monorail with open door while the train is in motion

A pair of videos shared to Instagram earlier this week by a guest visiting Walt Disney World reveals what must have been a concerning moment for guests aboard the Disney monorail. A train departing the TTC and running the EPCOT loop had an open door and continued in operations until it pulled into the EPCOT station. Guests in the car can be seen holding on hoping they didn’t fall out of the car.

Update: We’ve added an interview with the guest who tool the video at the bottom of this story. We’ve also added a statement from a Walt Disney World spokesperson.

This represents a big failure of Disney’s safety systems and could have been a significantly worse. Disney’s lucky they escaped this with just a few bad videos showing up on social media:

As you can see from the second video the monorail went through the entirety of the EPCOT loop until it stopped at the station.

The monorails have a door sensor that is supposed to alert the pilot if a door is not closed and prevent the train from leaving the station until its fixed. There are also clear signs that say not to lean on the door and each passenger cabin is equipped with a phone to call for help or alert the pilot to a problem. It looks like all of those systems failed to function properly here.

It goes without saying that this is a very unsafe situation that should not be happening at Walt Disney World. We’re very happy that no guests were injured here.

The monorail fleet is approaching 30 years of operations, the current Mark VI trains came into service starting in 1989, and has been struggling to keep up with increased demands of a growing Disney resort. The result has been slow or delayed service and long periods of maintenance.

Walt Disney World was once known for being the place to visit if you wanted to experience cutting edge transportation solutions. They need to get back on their game and figure out what needs to be fixed on the monorail or if a replacement is a better idea. More videos like the above, which could have been much worse if the car was packed full of guests, will end up having a negative impact on the resort’s reputation and eventually the bottom line.

A Walt Disney World spokesperson provided the following statement, “We regret that this occurred. Safety is our biggest concern we have taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

We reached out to the Walt Disney World guest, Abbie, who shot the video for more details on exactly what happened.

The incident occurred on Monorail Red which was was stationed at the TTC on the Epcot loop. They were traveling to Epcot to watch the half-marathon. After guests boarded they tried to close the doors, but the door you see open on the video wouldn’t latch. After a few attempts by a cast member to get it to latch, a maintenance team was asked to come over. One was already at the TTC so they were there quickly and spent about 10 minutes working on the door mechanisms and were finally able to get the door to latch.

According to Abbie, there was no additional testing of the door before the train was dispatched. They were, however, told not to lean on the doors before the remaining (operating) door was closed.

“As we were traveling over the curve outside of TTC the door popped open,” Abbie said. “Presumably the flex of the curve released whatever maintenance did to latch the door. The train did not stop and there were no audible or visible alarms.”

Abbie reports that “The passengers in the car were all adults with the exception of two young children riding on parents’ laps. Those parents were seated. All of the passengers standing were adults, and were able to move into the center of the car away from the door.”

When asked if they tried to use the emergency phone to contact the monorail pilot, Abbie had this interesting response. “None of us were aware of an emergency phone. I’m a New York City resident and I ride the subways daily; we don’t have emergency phones. It didn’t even occur to me to look for one.”

We asked Abbie what conditions were like in the cabin, “Several of the people in the car took charge, reminding everyone that we were unharmed and that if nobody moved and we were calm we would reach the station safely. That went a long way towards keeping everyone calm. I was personally feeling very panicked but I was also aware that staying in my seat was the safest way to remain.”

“My purse was on my lap and my phone was in it so I was able to take my phone out without moving or turning in my seat. I did not want to try to get up or move from my seat in any way that might upset my balance,” Abbie stated.

The audible laughter you hear on one of the videos was a panic response according to Abbie. “Everyone was very wide-eyed and holding very tightly to rails and seats. The woman next to me, holding her baby, kept saying she was relieved she had her phone so the baby could watch a video and stay distracted and not fuss.”

The monorail continued the entire route to the Epcot station with the door open.

“The platform attendant at Epcot realized the door was open as we pulled into the station and immediately reached for his radio and went to inform the driver,” Abbie reports. “We spoke with them briefly as we detrained. They scolded us for not using the emergency phone (as stated above, we weren’t aware it was there). If they asked if people were OK or to confirm that everyone was present I did not hear it.”

Abbie offered to share her video of the incident with the cast members hoping it would help them understand the situation but was rebuffed. After that the cast members did not speak with them any further so Abbie and her crew departed the station. She did hear an announcement that the train was going back to the yard and not to board it.

Abbie and her family saw Monorail Red back in service the next day on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop.

We asked Abbie how the situation made her feel and what she hopes Disney does differently with the monorail to improve safety.

“I trusted the crew when they said the door was fixed, and again in hindsight that was a mistake,” Abbie stated. “I think it would be helpful for Disney to include the emergency phones in their boarding announcements. Whatever failsafes they have that are supposed to stop the train were obviously not working in this situation. That and the fact that maintenance felt comfortable sending the car out in that condition are the two most concerning aspects to me.”

“I am grateful that the riders were all calm, that the car was not crowded, and that there were no children standing on the train. This could have ended very differently.  I am hoping that Disney will acknowledge these problems and demonstrate a revision of procedure that will ensure it will not happen again,” Abbie said.

When asked if she will board the Monorail again Abbie replied, “I love the monorail and in the past have take every opportunity to ride them, but from now on I will take the bus.”

Previously: Rumor of a new resort to be built on EPCOT monorail line at Walt Disney World.

11 thoughts on “Passenger videos Disney monorail with open door while the train is in motion”

  1. I agree they need to identify and correct the problem, as I’m sure they’ve already done, but the article is overly dramatic.

    1. Overly dramatic? That’s often the case on these Disney blogs, but this time there is a major safety concern! There should be redundant safety measures in place here, so they must have all failed or been ignored. If there were not cast members in place to catch this, then the procedures need to be changed to add humans to oversee it. If there was a distracted cast member(s) involved, there needs to be more sensors in place to alert to possible scenarios. Why we have self-driving cars but this monorail has all these issues is beyond me. So lucky that this happened to a group that didn’t suffer any injuries. What if a child was involved? I’m not one to shout “think of the children” but will we start needing height requirements to ride the monorail?

  2. Wow this is disappointing to see. I wonder whether the doors were open when the monorail left the station – in which case surely a cast member should have spotted it and reported it? Or whether they opened mid-journey, which is even scarier!

    I don’t think the passengers should be blamed if they didn’t use the call box (and we don’t know if they did or did not) – they could have reasonably taken the view that everyone in the carriage was aware of the issue, was away from the doors and holding on tight, and so it could get resolved at the next station. Otherwise the driver might have just halted the train and awaited rescue, in which case they would arguably have been in danger for longer.

    It looks like it was very lucky that the train wasn’t very full. Could you have imagined it if it had been packed, and with kids and strollers that couldn’t get away from the doors? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

  3. A few years ago, we were stuck just after the turn leaving Epcot because someone leaned on the door. The door did not open (or appear to move for that matter), but the act of leaning was enough to activate the alarm. We were stuck for quite a while to clear traffic and reverse us into Epcot station. I wonder why the fail safe did not work in this instance or if was overridden to send the monorail on its way after being “fixed”.

  4. I am not surprised to hear that the cast member actually scolded the GUEST for not using the phone. And then let them go without talking more to them or soothing them. The self-absorption of cast members these days has reached an all-time low.

  5. I’m starting to wonder how long WDW leadership can continue to ignore the dire need to find a replacement as funds go to Pandora, Star Wars and now the Skyliner. I recall a time when riding the monorail was a thrilling part of visiting WDW. In the past decade it has become the absolute low point of any visit. The monorail does anything but represent cutting edge technology that Walt intended for the guest experience. There has been a crash, people stranded, debris falling and now doors not closing. What’s it going to take?

  6. The monorail emergency phones are clearly marked and very easily visible — how do you not know they’re there?

    To be perfectly honest, if I were in this situation, though, I’d prefer to just continue on to the monorail station. As long as no one was in danger of falling out, continuing to the station would seem safer than having the monorail stop where it is, since you’d be stuck in the monorail with an open door for far longer while waiting for rescue.

    The current fleet of monorails desperately needs to be retired. The fact that they have retrofitted them with driverless technology in the past year or two means that they have no plans to retire them, though. They wouldn’t have gone to the expense of putting in the new technology if the monorails were going to be replaced in the near future. It may unfortunately take some sort of tragedy to get Disney to even consider building an entirely new fleet of monorails.

    1. I can’t say I’ve ever really noticed them before so I can’t blame the passengers. And Disney certainly shouldn’t.

      Besides which, in this circumstance, sitting down and remaining still is probably the safest course of action. Moving around the monorail car to get to wherever the phone is is probably not a good idea. So, it’s a balance of risk.

  7. Pingback: New safety signs added to Walt Disney World's Monorails | The Disney Blog

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