When the Disney Skyliner Gondola System becomes operational for the public on September 29, 2019 (see the announcement here!), it begins a new phase of transportation (and views!) in Walt Disney World. We’ve learned a lot about the Skyliner since the system’s announcement in 2017 (like how it’s designed to keep riders cool!); but now that all the pieces are essentially in place, guests have a TON of questions before they take their first flights on the new transportation system.
We’ve got the pro tips you need to make the most of your rides on the Disney World Skyliner!
Disney Skyliner Stations
There are five Skyliner stations. These are located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot’s International Gateway, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation/Pop Century Resorts, and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
These stations are themed for their locations, with styling that matches that of each location. The Skyliner Station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, for example, uses shades of turquoise that match the Park’s entrance.
At least two of the stations have restrooms nearby for convenience. This station restroom is located on the Art of Animation end of the Generation Gap Bridge for the Pop Century/Art of Animation station.
And Disney’s Hollywood Studios built a new restroom at the Park’s entrance that is convenient to the Skyliner station as well.
In addition to the five stations where guests will board the gondolas, there’s a turn station located near BoardWalk Inn & Villas. Riders will not leave the Skyliner cabins here; this is just a station for the line to change direction between Epcot and Riviera Resort.
Disney Skyliner Map
A simple map of the Skyliner System shows the general locations of the stations and lines with relation to one another.
And recently the Skyliner stations and lines were added to the My Disney Experience app maps and DisneyWorld.com maps. So if you’re zooming in on those, you’ll get to start making out details and getting a sense of where things are.
Disney Skyliner Station Transfers
But one of the most persistent remaining questions readers have is where they’ll need to make transfers on the Skyliner. Having to transfer from one line to another could impact travel time for those using Skyliner, and often at Disney World, time is money. So we’re going to talk about each station individually to clarify where it’s going directly and when you might need to transfer.
Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts Skyliner Station
This station is the end of the line and, as such, is simply for boarding or disembarking. Note that Disney has said the stations at the end of the lines will not function like the Monorail insomuch as riders can not opt to remain in their cabins. They will be asked to disembark, and they’ll need to get in line to re-board if they want to continue their rides in the opposite direction. The skyliner isn’t a round-trip situation. We’ll watch to see how and if this policy is enforced when the Skyliner opens.
It’s expected that riders boarding at this station can stay on through the Caribbean Beach Resort Skyliner station if they are en route to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (we’ll confirm when Skyliner becomes operational). Riders who wish to continue on Skyliner to Epcot will need to disembark at Caribbean Beach Resort station, board the Epcot line, and stay on through the turn at Riviera Resort to continue on to Epcot.
Caribbean Beach Resort Skyliner Station
This station is sort of a hub of the Skyliner system. Here, lines to both Hollywood Studios and Epcot (via Riviera Resort) are available, as well as a line to Art of Animation and Pop Century.
Riders boarding at Caribbean Beach Resort station will choose their line and be taken directly to their destination without requiring transfers. The Hollywood Studios line will go directly to Hollywood Studios. The Epcot Line will travel to Riviera Resort, where riders can remain in their cabins and continue on to Epcot. (If riders need to disembark at Riviera, they can do that, too.)
Hollywood Studios Skyliner Station
The Hollywood Studios station is the end of a line, so riders who arrive at this station will be required to disembark. Riders who board here will be taken to Caribbean Beach Resort Station, where they can remain in their cabins to go to Art of Animation/Pop Century or transfer to the Riviera/Epcot line.
Riviera Resort Skyliner Station
The Riviera Resort station is on the Epcot line, so riders who board the Epcot line here will be taken directly to the Park, where they will be required to disembark.
Riders at Riviera Resort Skyliner station who are heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will glide to the Caribbean Beach Resort station, where they will need to transfer to the Hollywood Studios line. Technically this also means that guests who board at Riviera Resort could also transfer to the line toward Art of Animation and Pop Century, too (you know, for Tie-Dye Cheesecake cravings).
Epcot Skyliner Station
Epcot’s International Gateway station is the end of the line, so riders will be asked to disembark here. Riders who board here at Epcot’s line can head to Riviera Resort and beyond to the Caribbean Beach Resort Skyliner station.
To get to Hollywood Studios, riders who board at Epcot will need to remain on the Skyliner through Riviera Resort and transfer to the Hollywood Studios line at Caribbean Beach Resort. At Caribbean Beach Resort Station, riders could also transfer to the Art of Animation/Pop line.
Remember, too, that the Epcot-area Resorts are all within walking distance of International Gateway and Hollywood Studios, making these stations possible go-tos for travel from Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk, Swan, and Dolphin. (It would be easier to walk or boat to Hollywood Studios and Epcot from these Resorts, but if you’re Resort hopping (say, for rooftop dining at Riviera), Skyliner might be helpful!)
Travel Times on Disney’s Skyliner
Disney has reported that the Skyliner system can operate as fast as 11MPH and that travel times vary from 5 to 15 minutes depending on where you’re going. No word if this travel time includes transfers or other factors that might slow or stop the cabins, so we’ll have to give the Skyliner some carefully observant rides when it begins operation to see how these times hold up in real life.
Disney Skyliner Weather Concerns
One variable sure to impact Skyliner operations is the weather in central Florida. In addition to the warm climate, daily (hourly, by-the-minute, etc.) weather will likely result in the Skyliner stopping operations when conditions like heavy winds and lightning exist.
During the testing phase, we have seen gondolas stopped during periods of heavy rain, lightning, and wind, and although we can’t be certain the stoppages were solely due to weather, it seems likely that specific conditions will result in the gondolas ceasing operations at times.
Disney has long had systems in place to track and predict weather patterns that may affect their outdoor attractions, so it’s unlikely guests will be in a gondola when weather strikes. Instead, the hassles will be more along the line of the system being closed down due to potential weather, meaning guests will have to scramble to find other transportation plans.
To be sure, the system has been tested for its reliability under typical weather conditions, but for those already nervous about the Skyliner, weather may be a factor in saying “no, thanks” to the airborne transport system.
Disney Skyliner Safety Concerns
Any transportation system has inherent risks (yup, even those adorable Disney buses!), and gondola systems are safer by the numbers than vehicular travel on the roads. Still, there’s something about dangling from a steel cable 60 feet up that gets the heart pumping (and the imagination spinning).
Of particular interest for readers and followers is the Art of Animation and Pop Century station which sends Skyliner gondolas sailing over Hourglass Lake. For that, Disney has a rescue barge parked and ready to motor riders to safety should these cabins ever need to be evacuated.
There are some potential safety concerns that, while statistically very unlikely, are part and parcel of a system like this. Gondolas around the world have, at times, jumped the cable, suffered cracks in their towers, and had cables come off of their wheels. Presumably, Disney has taken the strictest measures possible to ensure safety, and for most guests, the relative safety of the Skyliner gondola system will put their minds at ease. But for others, the idea of flying over land and lake on a steel cable will never feel right.
Disney Skyliner Capacity
Skyliner gondola cabins are designed to accommodate ten passengers seated on the fixed wooden benches inside the cabin.
However, Skyliner can also accommodate wheelchairs, ECVs, and strollers. When these are in place in the gondola, it appears the capacity lowers to six passengers. (Click here to see more about this!)
Disney Skyliner Comfort Concerns
One of the biggest concerns we hear from DFB readers and followers is how the non-air conditioned gondolas will prevent guests from overheating in the tropical climate of central Florida. According to Disney, the gondolas are fitted with cross-ventilation and feature reflective windows in an attempt to keep the heat at bay.
But one big question remains: what happens when the gondola isn’t moving, as may be the case when the line slows or stops to allow passengers to board who need more time? Will riders be dangling from the Skyliner with no way for air flow to pass through the cabin, thus diminishing that singular cooling system?
At this point we do not know the answer to this question, but we’re looking forward to finding out how effective the cross-ventilation system is in all conditions, including absolute stillness.
Overall Skyliner Thoughts
Skyliner is a controversial transportation system. Some guests say “hard pass” while others say “I believe I can fly!” Still others reside in the continuum between with questions about how long the waits will realistically be, what type of climate the gondolas will actually maintain, and whether they are completely safe. Here at DFB, we’ve got team members on all points on the spectrum, which can mean only one thing: we’ll be bringing you all the details as they unfold so you can make the best decisions for yourself.