(UPDATE 4/18/19): Some exciting new details were released about the Disney Skyliner Gondolas today including a look at the inside of the Gondola cars themselves and what the air-cooling system will be like inside.
The Disney Skyliner has been exciting to follow ever since the announcement at D23 Expo 2017. Many questions remain though and Disney has not been forthcoming with information about its newest transportation system, so it’s nice to get a better look at them.
Contrary to what was originally thought about the Disney Skyliner Gondolas, this newest transportation to the Walt Disney World Resort will NOT have air conditioning as has been confirmed by Disney and seen up close now in these new photos. However it does look like there will be significant airflow through them.
In this post we are going to talk about what the air movement system will be like in the Disney Skyliner, the speed of the gondolas, as well as the size and future expansion plans over Walt Disney World.
The Orlando Sentinel had some great photos in their latest article, including what the inside is like. Here is the first shot over water as Skyliner gondolas are taking off and landing down at the Art of Animation and Pop Century Skyliner station:
As you know there are going to be characters on some of the select Disney Skyliner gondola cars. This one has Mickey, Minnie and Pluto on it!
It’s going to be great to ride around in these and it will be fun to wait for your favorite Disney characters!
Inside the Disney Skyliner:
Disney also just released a video showing off the inside of the Gondola cabins:
Looks pretty spacious from this angle with two large wooden benches:
No Air Conditioning, but Air-Cooling:
One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind has been whether or not the Disney Skyliner will have air conditioning. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that it’s hot in Florida and sending up hundreds of passengers to cook under the baking sun in a metal can might not be the most pleasant experience.
Unfortunately the Disney Skyliner WILL NOT have air conditioning after all. This is kind of upsetting as I didn’t think Disney would risk having people melt inside the Skyliner cars. Disney though has commented that the air-flow system that will be installed should be more than enough to keep guests comfortable.
If you look at this photo you can see there are panels which are able to tilt out on both sides which should let a cross-breeze in. The reflective windows should help with the blazing sun!
We’ll have to see how it turns out…again, this is Florida after all and it does get super hot, so how this holds up from June to August remains to be seen…
Another big topic has been how big will the Skyliner cars be? Most reports earlier had said 8 people. Well now we know that the Disney Skyliner will hold 10 passengers, and there will be twin wooden benches.
The 10 passengers are what fit on the two benches, but one would assume you can stand too if you prefer which may allow for even higher capacity during peak hours. They will also be able to hold passengers in wheelchairs. That size is about we thought, and again makes much more sense considering the high traffic level these will have.
Now how often will the cabins have everyone standing in them? That’s another question and I don’t know how they will control that. Will Disney leave it up to passengers? Will they make people stand up when there are a ton of people waiting in line in order to get people going quicker? It’s gonna be hard to control especially due to the high number of people who might need to sit for one reason or another. We’ll keep an eye on this to see how Disney handles it.
Speed and Ride Time Length:
Disney’s official estimated ride times for the Disney Skyliner are rides between 5-15 minutes, though most will be quicker than 15. There will be more than 300 gondolas in the Disney Skyliner fleet and they will travel at heights of up to 60ft.
The Disney Skyliner cars are going to move pretty fast. They will have a cruising speed of 11mph and will slow down to about 1mph when arriving at the station and people are exiting and loading. It will be like an omnimover attraction (think Spaceship Earth) where it never really stops but Cast Members can pause or slow down the gondolas to give guests as much boarding time as needed.
Estimated Disney Skyliner Ride Times are:
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to Disney’s Pop Century Resort or Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: less than 6 minutes
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to Disney’s Riviera Resort: about 5 minutes
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach to Disney’s Hollywood Studios: about 6-7 minutes
- Disney’s Riviera Resort to International Gateway at Epcot: approximately nine minutes
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to International Gateway at Epcot: approximately 15 minutes
Most of these times are taken from the Caribbean Beach station since that will be the main hub for the Disney Skyliner and guests will be getting on and off here.
From that we learn 2 things. One, it’s going to be a very fast and effective way of getting around property, though I think those time estimates are pretty conservative.
For example it’s about 1.75 miles using the projected Disney Skyliner path from Epcot to Pop Century/Art of Animation. That means it should be around 10 minutes or so going 11mph at that distance if the gondolas didn’t stop.
Guests will have to get off and back on to change directions to wherever they want to go at the Caribbean Beach station which slows it down a bit. So add a few min for loading and going from Epcot to Pop Century is still pretty fast!
Second, the cars keeping moving while at the station during the loading/unloading process means Disney is putting a priority on efficiency and speed.
Will the Disney Skyliner be Accessible to Wheelchairs and Scooters?
Disney has confirmed that wheelchairs will be allowed on the Disney Skyliner and fit in quite nicely. The level of the cars is going to be the same as the platform which means it will be really easy for anyone in a wheelchair or whoever has a stroller to get on/off. This is really good to hear and should minimize wait times.
As for scooters, we know they are a super popular way to get around in Disney World, but unfortunately we don’t have any info yet about whether or not they will be allowed on the Skyliner. In Disney’s last update they said: “Each cabin can accommodate up to 10 Guests, including those traveling with wheelchairs or assistive devices.”
What exactly do they mean by “assistive devices?” If scooters are included in that category then they will be allowed.
My gut feeling is they will allow them seeing that a big number of families have at least one member who uses a scooter, and it shouldn’t be a problem loading them in the gondolas imo. I’ll keep you updated as soon as I hear more!
Disney Skyliner Future Expansion:
Right now during this phase of the Disney Skyliner construction project there are going to be 5 stations: Epcot, Disney Riviera Resort, Caribbean Beach, Hollywood Studios and Pop Century/Art of Animation. The key word though is “this phase” because if everything goes smooth with the Skyliner, Disney has plans to expand it out to other parts of Walt Disney World Resort in phases.
Below I have a map of the current Disney Skyliner Route and the potential expansion routes for the future. Red is the current Skyliner plans. Green is future:
Right now the Skyliner runs through the center of the Walt Disney World Resort. However one expansion would bring the Disney Skyliner west out to Disney’s Animal Kingdom with potential stops at Blizzard Beach, Coronado Springs Resort, Animal Kingdom Park and Animal Kingdom Resort (with a stop even going to Kidani Village!)
The second expansion would be east of the current infrastructure and bring you to Typhoon Lagoon and up to Disney Springs. Supposedly the stop at Disney Springs would be on the far side close to Rainforest Cafe. That would allow guests staying at Saratoga Springs Resort and Hotel Plaza to use the Skyliner. For both of these expansions we’re probably looking at about 5 years down the line if everything goes well with the first phase.
This is a lot of information and makes it clear that Disney doesn’t view the Disney Skyliner as some little toy model, but as a realistic, viable solution to their transportation needs for the long-term. Disney hired a transportation expert who was in charge of the system in San Francisco some years back, and the Disney Skyliner they decided is a big piece of the puzzle for the future of the resort.
The Skyliner is going to provide quick transportation from some of Disney’s biggest hotels to and from the parks, and it will also keep traffic from overcrowding the Walt Disney World highway system which is taxed right now.
Also much like San Francisco has, it gives Walt Disney World an iconic transportation system moving into the future. You know, that thing that people have to try while here on vacation and gets them talking to others about it back home. Years ago it was the Monorail system, but now people talk about that only for negative reasons.
We still don’t know when new monorails are coming to Walt Disney World and they are a complete mess right now. Supposedly there’s also a plan eventually to bring the Disney Skyliner to the Magic Kingdom, but that’s very far off and may or may not happen depending on a lot of other factors.
The only question left is what Disney is going to do about lightning, considering this is the lighting capital of the country. They’re going to have to really be on point with watching the weather systems coming to to avoid potentially dangerous situations. And in the case the Skyliner isn’t running, will they have buses on call to pick up all the remaining guests?
Disney must be very sure that the Skyliner is going to be a success because they are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into it. They have to have already figured out all the solutions to any potential problems.
Ultimately I think anyone just looking at the Disney Skyliner as this small, little toy transportation system is missing the point. It’s an attraction in of itself. It’s going to make a huge impact on the way guests move around the Walt Disney World Resort for the next decades and in light of these new details, that choice is seeming better and better.
When is the Disney Skyliner Opening?
That’s a question that we are anxiously waiting for, but progress on the project has been moving at light-speed with testing going on every day. We know it has to be open in time for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge which opens August 29, 2019. The Skyliner will be open before that for sure!
Stay tuned at ZiggyKnowsDisney.com for more info on the Disney Skyliner as we’ll keep updating you as soon as we know more! Our latest Disney Skyliner construction update also shows the progress being made!
In the meantime you can check out our updates on some of the other construction projects going on in Walt Disney World and track their progress!
If you need help planning your next Walt Disney World vacation, our friends at Show You the World Travel are certified Disney Travel Agents and are super helpful with all your planning needs. I highly recommend them and the best part about it is they are FREE to use!
I want to know what you think about the new Disney Skyliner details about it not having air conditioning and future expansion around property…
- Are you looking forward to the Skyliner?
- What other locations around Walt Disney World do you want it to go?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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