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.”