The new Disney Skyliner System has officially opened at Walt Disney World Resort and is now taking guests on the "most magical flight on earth"! Disney World is known for its wonderful, free transportation options, which already include 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!
When Disney first announced this new gondola system, I imagined a rowboat coasting through Italy — 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 slopes of Vail (which we now sell, by the way)!
We hopped over to Disney World on its opening day, so we could share 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
- Disney's Pop Century
- Disney's Caribbean Beach
- Disney's Art of Animation
- Disney's Riviera Resort (opening December 2019)
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 Hollywood Studios is sure to shorten the bus line for those looking to save time. If this isn't a concern for you, the Skyliner can delight tadpoles with its towering height and views of the horizon.
Disney Skyliner Map and Routes
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is at the center of the new transportation, 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 Ticket and Transportation Center.
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, they could 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 post 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!)
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 slows down at a turn-station so guests can see the aerial and mechanical aspects of the Disney Skyliner Transportation System.
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 like “Zootopia” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” are also represented. Both animated films and 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 the destination that 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 felt the heat was when we were stopped for nearly 10 minutes at the Riviera Resort station, waiting to take off. (Because it was opening day, we expected some delays.)
Each gondola has wooden bench-style seating that fits up to a maximum of 10 people (or six guests if you're riding a wheelchair-accessible gondola — more on that below!).
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" x 48" area for access.
Operating hours vary depending on the weather. It was bright and sunny out for its opening day, but we expect it would close for thunderstorms and high winds.
How Long a Skyliner Ride Takes
Because the gondolas can load up to 10 guests and is 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: 5 minutes
- To Pop Century & Art of Animation Resorts from Caribbean Beach Resort: 5 minutes
- To Riviera Resort from Caribbean Beach Resort: 3 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 take off 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. We were riding with a couple who tried to park at Pop Century Resort to use their Tables in Wonderland membership at the resort's food court but were denied access to parking at the resort.
- 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.
With this new addition, more improved and fun ways to hop around Disney World will allow guests to save time and create even more magical memories! Ribbit!
With all of the exciting new experiences coming to 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!