The Disney Skyliner transportation system opened last fall at Walt Disney World Resort and has since been taking guests on the "most magical flight on earth!" Walt Disney World is known for its wonderful, free transportation options (which already includes buses, ferryboats and monorails) that take guests around the parks, hotels and entertainment areas. For many tadpoles, ours included, it doesn't get any better than the monorail to Magic Kingdom, but Skyliner just might be our new favorite option!
When Disney first announced this new gondola system, I imagined a rowboat coasting through the Venice canals — the type Mommy Frog would find quite romantic. Don't be fooled like me! This is a gondola lift: an enclosed cabin transported through the sky via cables, much like you see on the ski slopes. With Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort serving as the Skyliner's "hub," guests staying at this hotel (or connecting hotels) or traveling between Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will especially want to learn all about it.
Now that we've frequently used it to get around Walt Disney World, here is everything you need to know about the routes, wheelchair access, how it feels inside a gondola and more. Read on to learn all about this new transportation system!
Overview of the Disney Skyliner Transportation System
Where the Disney Skyliner Transportation System Is Offered
Walt Disney World Resort hotels with Disney Skyliner access:
Walt Disney World theme parks with Disney Skyliner access:
With Pop Century and Art of Animation being two of our preferred value resort hotels, having this extra transportation option is a major bonus. Additionally, a new way to get to EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios is sure to shorten the bus line for those looking to save time. If this isn't a concern for you, Skyliner can delight tadpoles with its towering height and views of the horizon.
Note: Skyliner does have a stop at Disney's Riviera Resort, which has since opened. Disney has not released an updated map yet.
Disney Skyliner Map and Routes
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is at the center of the new transportation system's route, with a hub designed to reflect the imagery of Caribbean open-air village marketplaces. The station incorporates detailed architectural elements of the resort, especially its vibrant color scheme. Here, guests must hop off and transfer gondola routes to reach their end destination, similar to the monorail’s Transportation and Ticket Center.
The Riviera station is the only station that you do not have to get off at, unless it's your intended stop. Caribbean Beach Resort guests can also hop on at the Riviera Resort station if they’re closer to it (for example, staying at a room in Aruba) and would like to go directly to EPCOT.
If hopping to Hollywood Studios, guests can still use the Riviera station, but must go to the Caribbean Beach main hub to switch routes. If guests hop on at the Caribbean Beach main hub to go to EPCOT, they do not have to get off at the Riviera station.
Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts are also part of the Disney Skyliner transportation system travel loop. These two value resort favorites share a "floating" station matching the colorful, whimsical atmosphere they both exemplify. The gondola travels over the resorts’ shared Hourglass Lake for a panoramic view of their colorful character displays.
Inspired by the park’s nearby European Pavilions is the International Gateway station at EPCOT. This hub fits perfectly into the surrounding World Showcase, with ornamental steel structures, glass and metal canopies and hand-painted murals reminiscent of 18th century Art Nouveau style. Traveling to and from this station offers a never-before-seen aerial view of World Showcase and Disney’s Boardwalk — and a sneak peek of the France pavilion expansion! (Also, the number of security stations have been greatly increased to accommodate the larger amount of people entering this way, so don't fret about efficiency if you opt to take the Skyliner.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the only other park stop for the Disney Skyliner transportation system. The design matches the park’s entrance with turquoise and red tones. An awesome view of the park, particularly Tower of Terror, can be seen when traveling to and from Hollywood Studios!
Along Buena Vista Drive, gondola cabins slow down at a turn-station so guests can see the aerial and mechanical aspects of Skyliner.
What the Gondolas of the Disney Skyliner System Look Like
Select Skyliner cabins feature classic Disney pals such as the Fab Five, but newer films including “Zootopia” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” are also represented. Both animated films and Walt Disney World attractions make appearances on the gondolas, including “Lilo and Stitch,” “Moana,” “Finding Dory,” the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The nearly 300 gondolas feature onboard audio, which is unique to every Disney Skyliner route, depending on the destination you're headed to. The gondolas are not air-conditioned, but they feature reflective panels to avoid direct sunlight and cross-ventilation windows that allow for air flow. We were concerned that it'd get too hot inside, but we're hoppy to report that it's a comfortable ride! The only time we've felt the heat was when we were stopped for nearly 10 minutes at the Riviera Resort station, waiting to take off after a short delay.
Each gondola has wooden bench-style seating that fits a maximum of 10 people (or six guests if you're riding a wheelchair-accessible gondola — more on that below!). During this time of social distancing, each party has its own gondola.
How the Disney Skyliner System Operates
The gondolas don’t stop, but instead keep moving as they enter and exit the station (similar to the Haunted Mansion ride). For guests with wheelchairs or other assistive devices, there is a separate queue at each station for anyone needing extra time while getting on a gondola. These special gondolas move to the side, so it doesn't affect the other gondolas coming in and out of the station — keeping the Skyliner system operating at all times.
There is enough room for strollers to roll on without having to fold them up. Larger strollers may also use the wheelchair queue. Both mobility aids and strollers must fit within a 30-inch by 48-inch area for access.
There are several new measures in place to promote the health and well-being of guests and cast members when hopping aboard, including regular cleaning and sanitization of the gondolas. In addition, the Disney Skyliner will load one party per gondola.
Disney Skyliner Hours
Disney Skyliner hours vary depending on park hours and the weather. Typically, Disney Skyliner begins operating an hour before Disney's Hollywood Studios opens and a half hour before EPCOT opens. Each Disney Skyliner route continues to operate an hour and a half after the respective park closes. It temporarily pauses for inclement weather and/or high winds.
How Long a Skyliner Ride Takes
Because the gondolas can load up to 10 guests and are always moving, the queue moves very quickly! Even when the line for EPCOT at the Caribbean Beach station looked scary long, it took less than 10 minutes to hop on.
To give you an idea of how long the actual ride is, we took every route and timed it ourselves:
- To Hollywood Studios from Caribbean Beach Resort: five minutes
- To Pop Century & Art of Animation Resorts from Caribbean Beach Resort: five minutes
- To Riviera Resort from Caribbean Beach Resort: three minutes
- To EPCOT from Caribbean Beach Resort: 12 minutes
Tips for Using the Disney Skyliner System
- If you have a fear of heights or enclosed spaces, we wouldn't recommend the Skyliner as a travel option.
- For people with severe motion sickness, the Disney Skyliner may also not be the best option. Flora can easily get carsick and seasick, and she felt some queasiness during each takeoff and when the gondola stopped and gently swayed in the air.
- Anyone can ride the Skyliner! You do not have to present any hotel reservation information in order to get to the resorts accessible by gondolas.
- That said, you cannot park at any of the resorts if you are not a registered guest, are attending a convention or have a dining reservation.
- Keep the gondola balanced if you do not want an extra rocky ride! Don't all sit on one side, and have the tadpoles sit in between the grown-up frogs.
- Riding at night offers a toadally different experience. As we left Hollywood Studios after closing, we could see the fireworks exploding in the sky at EPCOT! If you have a character-themed gondola, it is a little harder to see out.
- If you're staying at any of the resorts along the Skyliner routes, Skyliner is currently the only Disney transportation option available for EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Buses are only available if Skyliner is not operating.
With this new addition, more improved and fun ways to hop around Walt Disney World will allow guests to save time and create even more magical memories! Ribbit!
With all of the exciting new experiences coming to Walt Disney World — from new lands to new ways to travel — there’s no better time to book your next trip. We've got great discounts on your Orlando hotel and theme park tickets!