The Skyliner, as you’ll recall, is a gondola system at Walt Disney World that connects two theme parks and four Resort hotels. And thanks to a DFB pal, we got a chance to see it from the sky!
Segmented into separate lines, the Skyliner’s hub is at Caribbean Beach Resort. But our journey started at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the Skyliner station at the Park’s main entrance has been coming to fruition for well over a year!
Signage has been up for a while at the Hollywood Studios station, but the route info is looking shiny and new! Each station has signs letting guests know where they can go from that location — and indications for when transfers are necessary.
A journey aboard the Skyliner begins in the queue, which we found to be orderly and straightforward. There are no frills here; get in line, walk forward, board your gondola.
Boarding the Skyliner itself is a simple process: you just step (or roll) in!
Seating is on wooden benches (no seat belts). Each gondola can carry up to ten guests at a time without a stroller or wheelchair or up to six guests at a time with a stroller or wheelchair. Strollers are limited to 30″ x 48″, but they can roll on and off the gondola with a child inside — just as they can on the Monorail. No need to fold!
Tinted windows help to deflect the heat of central Florida, but they’re large and provide lots of expansive views.
We were, however, taken aback by the difference in quality views when riding a standard Skyliner gondola versus a character-bedecked gondola. While we’ve long been pining to ride the character gondolas, views in these are much more obstructed due to the wrap. The standard view is relatively clear (with a slight tint from the reflective window).
Views through a character gondola look a little like this:
The photo above is notable for another reason: we were on a line that stopped temporarily over Hourglass Lake en route to the Art of Animation and Pop Century station. We know a lot of you have been concerned about the skyliner stopping en route. No worries, no rescue barges were required (check them out here!), but there was an announcement that indicated we’d resume travel momentarily — similar to when you get stuck temporarily on an omnimover attraction like Spaceship Earth or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
But for all those wondering about the heat inside the Skyliner: note that while we were stopped, it got pretty warm within minutes. Temperatures in the gondolas are mitigated by cross-ventilation provided by vents on the forward and back sides of the cabin.
We found that the vents provided plenty of air movement when the gondola was in motion, but we did find the Skyliner to be noticeably (and borderline uncomfortably) hot when we were stopped over the lake.
Tonight we soared from Hollywood Studios to Caribbean Beach Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort to Riviera Resort, Riviera to Epcot, Epcot to Art of Animation/Pop (passing by Riviera and Caribbean Beach Resort), and then back to Hollywood Studios via Caribbean Beach Resort.
For the most part, the gondolas traveled at a steady speed. Again, when they slowed, it was noticeable in the way that it’s noticeable on an Omnimover ride. Disney has said the Skyliner can travel up to 11MPH, and while we couldn’t precisely gauge that, they do move at a clip!
Another quick note based on your questions to us about this experience — if you’ve got a serious fear of heights, this experience may be daunting for you. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ride, but just be prepared.
Before we show you what it’s like at each station, a few more notes: When your gondola pulls into a station, it does so at what feels like a fast speed, and when it comes to a stop, it’s surprisingly close to the cabins in front of them. Be aware of that so you and your crew don’t panic that you’re going to weave into the next one.
And when exiting the Skyliner gondola, the cabins do have a bit of movement. You’ll want to brace yourself as you step out of the gondola so you don’t get wobbly.
There are some safety notices inside the vehicle. You’ll want to remain seated, and no dancing! (Is it just us, or is that what the second icon on the left looks like?!) Your cabin number is clearly labeled so #bucketlist — you can keep track of which ones you’ve ridden in and collect ’em all.
If you encounter an issue in your cabin, there’s an Emergency Call Box with a button you can push to alert the cast members on the ground.
And now, without further ado: let’s fly!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Skyliner Station
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the end of one of Skyliner’s separate lines. Here you can board for a trip to Caribbean Beach Resort. At Caribbean Beach, you can change lines for Riviera/Epcot or Art of Animation/Pop Century Resorts.
The station at night has some cool contrasting lighting, so be sure to check that out.
Views as you arrive at the Hollywood Studios station from Caribbean Beach include, as one might expect, Tower of Terror and the taller structures of the Park. You can also see the general layout of the Park and its parking lots, entrance, and, well, anything that’s down there!
We took off from Hollywood Studios when the sun was starting to set and made our way to Caribbean Beach Resort (a 4-5 minute ride) at just about Golden Hour. It was… lovely.
Caribbean Beach Resort Skyliner Station
Caribbean Beach Skyliner station is themed to the Resort with tons of lattice (and faux lattice), shutters, and exposed beams.
The station is open-air and serves as the main hub for the Skyliner. All lines go in and out of this station. If you stay at Caribbean Beach, you’ll have Skyliner access to every place on the line. Talk about a perk!
Signs point you in the direction of the line you need: left for Art of Animation and Pop Century, straight ahead for Hollywood Studios, and right for Riviera Resort and Epcot.
Each station has a separate line for boarding wheelchairs and ECVs so be sure to look for directions (or talk to a cast member) if you need this line.
The Skyliner cabins designated for wheelchairs and EVCs are off the main line and so the main line does not have to stop for loading. When a gondola carrying a wheelchair is ready to move onto the main line, it will be added to line without interrupting service for the rest of the line.
Caribbean Beach Skyliner station also has restrooms AND a brand new Joffrey’s!
Check out our first look at the NEW Joffrey’s Location and review of the special TOFFEE FLIGHT LATTE here!
Views over Caribbean Beach Resort are colorful and lush.
From Caribbean Beach Resort, we soared to Riviera Resort. This journey is incredibly short — just three minutes. But the views of the Resort are stunning!
Riviera Resort Skyliner Station
At present, because Riviera Resort won’t be opening until December 16, 2019, we weren’t allowed to disembark and look around. Still: we feasted on this view as we arrived at the station.
From this vantage point, the resort makes a dramatic statement on the horizon. (And you can still peep the rooftops of Caribbean Beach Resort below, too!)
You get a sense of the dramatic height upon arrival at Riviera Resort Skyliner station. And the Resort itself is really given some scale here.
FYI — stay tuned to DFB TODAY (or join our newsletter) for a fun FIRST LOOK at the Riviera Resort (we’re on our way to a media event there NOW!)
Epcot International Gateway Skyliner Station
The ride from Riviera Resort to Epcot’s International Gateway was 9-10 minutes. On our way into the station, our line was “temporarily delayed” once again, but the timing was 9-10 minutes on the way out, too, when we had no delays.
On the line from Riviera to Epcot is a turn station near BoardWalk Inn. This station is simply for changing the line’s direction, and guests remain in their cabins through this turn.
The views for the flight to Epcot were pretty epic, and we can definitely see ourselves timing a ride on Skyliner to enjoy a sunset.
Entering the Skyliner station at International Gateway is, again, straightforward. Note the small handicap icon on the right side of the entrance here.
The design here definitely has a European feel, which is due to the station’s proximity to the France pavilion. The pavilion is visible from the Skyliner station, so the designs are harmonious.
You can see the movement of a Skyliner gondola here. Riders definitely feel the motion of the cabins at take off and landing.
Views toward France show the Eiffel Tower and on-going construction for La Creperie and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Also on the route to and from Epcot, riders can get a bird’s eye view of the Friendship Boats! Looks like their tops could use a little scrub. 😉
Art of Animation and Pop Century Skyliner Station
The final stop on our Skyliner journey was the Art of Animation and Pop Century Skyliner Station at Generation Gap Bridge. They weren’t allowing riders to disembark and explore this station, so we were off and right back on. The colorful gondolas sure fit in at this station!
And, of course, there’s safety info here as well.
We spotted Pua and one of Hank’s orange tentacles on these gondolas with character! Although we weren’t big fans of the character gondolas from the perspective of capturing the views, it was still fun to see them in action and close up!
Oh, and as a friendly reminder…in case you missed it earlier…we stopped here over Hourglass Lake in a gondola that wasn’t moving. We did not love this.
After visiting each of the stations, we headed back to Hollywood Studios via Caribbean Beach Resort (as is required), and overall, we found Skyliner to be a pleasant experience!
While the cabins themselves are functional (as opposed to comfortable), the views and the efficiency are excellent. The longest ride we experienced was Epcot to Riviera (about ten minutes), but the other segments were five minutes or fewer. Transfers were relatively painless, though on very busy days a transfer may add a few minutes to your trip.