(UPDATE 8/8/19): You’re probably excited about the Disney Skyliner Gondola system, the upcoming new transportation system in Walt Disney World. We have some exciting new details to share with you about the project including the Disney Skyliner opening date, a look at the inside and outside of the Gondola cars, the air-cooling system, and future expansion map.
Our goal with this post is to help you understand everything you need to know about the Disney Skyliner Gondola project, what it is, where it’s going to stop, the speed of the gondolas, car capacity, travel times, and what future expansion plans are coming in the future.
Now we are more excited than ever since it’s just been announced that the Disney Skyliner is opening September 29, 2019.
In the latest update we’ve included the answers to many more Disney Skyliner questions so be sure to check them out. If we leave something out please send us a question below and we will answer it for you!
What is the Disney Skyliner Gondola System?
The Disney Skyliner Gondolas are the newest transportation system in Walt Disney World, roughly based on the old Disney Skyway buckets in the Magic Kingdom. These however are much bigger, and built to carry guests from hotels to parks and are an alternative to the Disney bus system or other forms of public transportation.
They are being designed by the Doppelmayr Garaventa Group which is an Austrian company that manufactures chairlifts, gondolas and cable cars for ski and amusement parks. They also have experience building urban people moving systems, and have produced over 14,600 installations in 89 countries
The Skyliner was announced in 2017 at the D23 Expo when Bob Chapek explained Disney’s commitment to improving transportation in Walt Disney World, and construction began on the Skyliner in 2018.
Riding in the Disney Skyliner will be a unique transportation experience in Walt Disney World because being in an elevated position will allow guests to have a bird’s eye view of the resort in places they’ve never seen like that before. Think the same way the Monorail system allows you, but in new places.
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, however it does look like there will be significant airflow through them.
Here is a new video that Disney has released showing what the skyliner is going to be like when it opens:
Disney Skyliner Stations: Where Will the Disney Skyliner Go?
The Disney Skyliner Gondola system will transport guests to and from many Walt Disney World locations including theme parks and hotels. During the initial launch there will be 6 Skyliner stations including the following:
- Epcot Park
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Turn Station (you can’t actually get off here)
The Epcot station is located right outside the International Gateway and brings guests to the back door of Epcot in between France and the UK. Perfectly located for guests staying at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort, The Boardwalk Inn, or Swan and Dolphin.
This might be the busiest station and be the one with the longest lines once Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens up. It will be awesome though to see Batuu from the sky as you land at the station.
Caribbean Beach Resort:
The Caribbean Beach Skyliner station is the “main hub” so to speak of the Disney Skyliner with all three lines departing from here. Guests going almost in any direction will eventually land here and then exit their gondola and choose the direction they want to go in next.
Once of the main benefits of staying at Disney’s newest DVC resort, Disney’s Riviera Resort, is that you are right on the Disney Skyliner line perfectly positioned between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
Art of Animation Resort and Pop Century Resort:
The Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts share this Skyliner station which is positioned right in the middle of a walkway linking the two resorts together over a lake. A perfect move to have two of the biggest resort hotels on property accessible to the Skyliner.
This initial launch of the Disney Skyliner transportation system is only the first phase in what’s likely to be a multi-phase roll-out to other parks and hotels around Walt Disney World property. We’ll go further into Phase 2 for the Disney Skyliner later in the article…
Disney Skyliner Gondola Transfers:
So now that you know all the stations, it’s important to know that some stations require a transfer from one gondola to another. Knowing this ahead of time is important because in Disney World every second of your vacation counts and knowing potential delays is crucial!
One thing to keep in mind is that if you are taking the gondolas to an end-of-the-line station (Art of Animation/Pop Century or Epcot) you will not be allowed to stay on and continue your journey, you MUST get off and exit the gondola. If you want to go back where you came from you will have to exit and get back in line to take another gondola.
Here is an explanation of each station and transfer rules, though there is conflicting reports on some of them:
Art of Animation/Pop Century:
This is the beginning or end of the line depending on your journey and if arriving here you must disembark your gondola. You can always get back on again to go back and continue your ride.
If you are going to Hollywood Studios from here, you will not be required to exit at the Caribbean Beach station, you can continue right on to Hollywood Studios. If you are going to Epcot or the Riviera Resort you will need to transfer at the Caribbean Beach station.
This is the central hub station of the Disney World Skyliner system. Like Rome, all roads lead here. Regardless of your final destination, if you are getting on the Skyliner here you will be taken directly to your destination without having to get off. This includes going to Hollywood Studios, Riviera Resort, Epcot or Art of Animation/Pop Century.
This is where things get a bit more complicated. If you board at Hollywood Studios and are going to Art of Animation/Pop Century, there will be no transfer at the Caribbean Beach station and you can continue to your destination.
If however you are going to Epcot or the Riviera Resort, you must transfer gondolas at the Caribbean Beach station.
If you get on here and are going to Epcot, there are no transfers required.
If you are going to the Hollywood Studios, Caribbean Beach or Art of Animation/Pop Century, you will need to disembark at the Caribbean Beach station.
If you are arriving here you must disembark the gondola.
If you are going to the Caribbean Beach, Hollywood Studios or Art of Animation, you need to stay on the Gondola at the Riviera Resort station and then get off at the Caribbean Beach station to transfer gondolas.
Do I have to Get Back in Line When I Transfer?
If you have to transfer at the Caribbean Beach station it obviously would be a lot more convenient and save time if you didn’t have to get back in line there and could just step into another Skyliner gondola.
Disney hasn’t yet commented on this and we aren’t sure how they will handle this. It will again be crucial for time knowing this as it could add some minute if you do have to get ack in line. We’ll keep you informed when we know more.
Disney Skyliner Route Map:
We’ve created a map for you to follow to see the exact route of the Disney Skyliner showing all 6 stations. It doesn’t matter where you start, most every line will bring you to the Caribbean Beach station in the middle where you will decide which line to get on:
Everything looks really close on the map of the Skyliner, but those gondolas will be moving some good distances at a quick pace! We’re hoping Disney releases an official Disney Skyliner map when it opens so we’ll keep you informed about that.
Disney also just released a new digital map of the Disney Skyliner system on the My Disney Experience app so you can see it on there too.
When is the Disney Skyliner Opening?
That’s a question that we’ve been anxiously waiting for, for some time and progress on the project has been moving at light-speed with testing going on every day.
Its just been announced that the opening date for the Disney Skyliner is September 29, 2019! That means the Skyliner Gondolas will start bringing people back and forth from the resorts to the parks at the end of September.
That’s a bit surprising because it means the Disney Skyliner won’t be open in time for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge which opens August 29, 2019. Apparently Disney didn’t feel it was going to be ready in time.
It’s already been handed over to the Disney cast members for training which is the last step before opening, so they will use the next 2 months to get things ready.
Skyliner Gondola Cars Outside:
There are going to be 2 types of Skyliner gondola cabins, ones with solid colors, and the other with the Disney characters on them. The characters unfortunately are not going to be on all of the gondolas, but only select ones. This is probably to leave things open for future characters to be added who don’t even exist yet, and a question of saving money.
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!
Here are some of the Skyliner Gondola lifts in the sky with the characters on them:
You can read our article which has the breakdown of all the Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars Characters that are going to be on the Disney Skyliner that we know so far…
Inside the Disney Skyliner:
Disney also just released a video showing off the inside of the Gondola cabins and they look amazing:
The Orlando Sentinel had some great photos in their latest article, including what the inside is like:
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 and how many guests they can transport? The estimated capacity of the whole system is 4,500 guests per hour. The Disney Skyliner fleet has 300 cabins, more of half of which will be on the Epcot/Riviera Resort line.
The Disney Skyliner will accommodate 10 passengers per gondola and there will be twin wooden benches in each car, for guests to sit on and each wooden bench fits 5 passengers.
There will be NO STANDING on the Disney Skyliner according to signs for the transportation system. Guests will be required to remain seated at all times.
It’s difficult to say just how comfortable this will be and obviously 5 children on a bench will fit different than 5 adults, so things just might get a little cozy up there in the Skyliner.
I would say that 10 passengers is a decent number and if Disney can get the loading/unloading down relatively quickly, things should move right along. There will be big lines at times (during park opening and closing) but it’s a big enough number to move guests through at a good speed.
With the Skyliner rules being posted, Disney has made it clear they do not want people standing in the Gondolas. I think this was a pretty smart move all around, but I don’t know how they will control that. I would think you have to have safety handles on the ceilings of the gondolas, and I don’t know if they will be able to enforce guest standing once the Gondolas leave the stations. Will guests stand if they feel too crowded? 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: about 9 minutes
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to International Gateway at Epcot: about 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.
Does Wait Time Include Waiting in Line?
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.
Disney Skyliner Times and Schedule:
When does the Disney Skyliner open everyday? The answer is early, very early. So for the most part the Skyliner will operate just like any other form of Disney transportation in that it will open 30 minutes before park opening and close 1 hour after park closing every day.
A recent job posting for the WDW Skyliner mentioned that Cast Members assigned to the system could expect to work as early as 5 a.m. in the morning and “as late as 3am, 4am, or 5am.”
When the Disney Skyliner opens in September, Hollywood Studios will be running its Extra, Extra Magic Hours event and will be opening at 6am each day. Because of this you can expect the Skyliner to start running at 5am each morning to bring guests to the park.
In slower parts of the year when the park openings are a bit later this time will probably change.
Will the Disney Skyliner be Accessible to Wheelchairs and Scooters?
Disney has confirmed that wheelchairs and scooters will be allowed on the Disney Skyliner and fit in quite nicely. There will be special gondolas fitted to accommodate wheelchairs, ECVs and other mobility devices.
Normally each Disney Skyliner gondola car can fit 10 guests, however, gondolas fitted to accommodate any wheelchairs, mobility devices or ECVs will be limited in capacity to 6 guests per cabin. I’m still trying to find out if that means 6 total, or 6 plus the mobility device as Disney has previously stated: “Each cabin can accommodate up to 10 Guests, including those traveling with wheelchairs or assistive devices.”
Strollers and mobility aids must fit within a 30″ x 48″ area to board the Disney Skyliner.
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.
We’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear more!
Is the Disney Skyliner Scary?
This depends on your point of view, but Disney has not made the Disney Skyliner to be scary, it’s a transportation system designed to get people from their resort hotel to the theme parks, not as a thrill attraction.
That said if you are afraid of heights you might want to reconsider riding the Disney Skyliner. Each Gondola car will be suspended approximately 30-50 feet above the ground at any time, so if you have a fear of heights this might be scary for you.
Also you have to imagine that when there is a bit of wind, or if people are moving around inside the gondola cars, there is a small bit of a natural rocking motion taking place which might make some guests uneasy or nervous.
In fact Disney has already posted signs outside of the Disney Skyliner stations recommending guests who have a fear of heights to not ride. So it’s up to you but if you feel nervous about it it’s probably best not to go.
Will the Disney Skyliner Close for Bad Weather or Lightning?
Yes, the Disney Skyliner system will absolutely close for bad weather, especially lightning. In fact Disney has posted on signs that operating hours will vary depending on the weather. That means if there is a storm coming you might have to wait a while.
Obviously they are going to have to be very cautious about passengers getting stuck out on the line between stations, and they will have to anticipate bad weather conditions far in the distance because they can’t allow people to get stuck out there.
The distance between most stations will be under 10 minutes, so that should be enough time to foresee bad weather moving in, and take the necessary precautions for guest safety.
Also, Disney is always really good about handling bad weather situations already with attractions and swimming pools. Whenever a storm is in the area they shut down rides like Test Track, Expedition Everest and evacuate the resort swimming pools. I expect the same prudence with the Disney Skyliner.
During this testing period for the Skyliner, we have already seen the gondolas being tested for their reliability during bad weather conditions. They’ve been stopped when it was raining very heavily, or during lightning storms and heavy winds. So obviously Disney has been testing the effects of these weather conditions and is gathering information to decide when it’s necessary to shut down the gondolas.
Overall I wouldn’t fret about it. Again, Disney is very good about safety and keeping track of the weather conditions already with outdoor attractions and they will be on top of things.
Other Potential Delays or Problems?
What happens if you have to get off the Skyliner at a station before your destination because of bad weather? This is the most likely worst case scenario when riding the Skyliner. This could be a problem because you will have hundreds of guests now at a location they don’t want to be in and trying to make other plans to get to their destination.
The cheapest way is obviously to take a Disney bus from your current location to your new one. If the wait is too long, your best bet is to use ride sharing (Uber, Minnie Van, etc). It will be interesting to see how Disney handles this. In the case the Skyliner isn’t running, will they have buses on call to pick up all the remaining guests?
TIP: If taking the Disney Skyliner when you have dining or other reservations, allow for enough time in case of weather delays. We’d encourage you to look at the weather forecast and avoid it if things aren’t looking good.
In the unlikely scenario you are stranded between Skyliner stations still in a gondola, Disney has emergency rescue services in place to come and get guests much like they do for the Monorail system.
For example at the Art of Animation and Pop Century station guests will have to travel over Hourglass Lake. Not to worry, Disney has a rescue barge nearby and motor riders to bring guests in to safety in the case these gondolas ever need to be evacuated.
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.
If you need to use the facilities you’re in luck because at least two of the Skyliner stations will have restrooms in them from what we can see so far. At both the Art of Animation/Pop Century and Hollywood Studios restrooms have been spotted so no need to fear.
The only question is if the other stations will have them or not. It’s quite likely that the Caribbean Beach station will have restrooms since it’s the main hub, and possibly the Riviera station too. The Epcot station is the one I have most doubts about, but we’ll keep an eye out.
Another common question is whether or not there will be a security check before getting on the Disney Skyliner.
This one is hard to pinpoint because while there are security checks for guests before getting on the Monorail system going to the Magic Kingdom, there when you arrive at the park you are already past the security check there so it just replaces it. Instead the Disney Skyliner is going to drop guests off outside the edges of park security at Epcot and Hollywood Studios so 2 security checks might not be necessary in that case.
We’ll keep an eye on this and update you when we know for sure.
Cast Member Costumes:
Disney has just revealed what the cast member costumes for the Disney Skyliner will look like.
There are two colors: Blue and Orange. Read the link above for a better look at the design and hidden features of the costumes.
Disney Skyliner Future Expansion Map:
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.
Once it opens up, 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.
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.
Disney Skyliner FAQ’s
This is Disney World’s newest transportation which is similar to high speed gondolas popular in Europe. It will take guests from select resorts to the theme parks. They are similar to the old Skyway Buckets in the Magic Kingdom only bigger and faster.
No, at this time the Disney Skyliner transportation system is not open, however it is opening on September 29, 2019. For the meantime you can enjoy watching Disney cast members test the Skyliner.
Unfortunately the Disney Skyliner will NOT have air-conditioning in its gondola cabins. There is an air ventilation cooling system though that Disney is confident will keep guests cool.
From the announcement at the D23 Expo it will be just over 2 years to build the Skyliner till opening in September.
That’s a more complex question as going from one station to the other is different depending on where you want to go. On average gondola rides will be between 5-15 minutes, but please refer to our Ride Length guide above for more details.
There will bee no charge for riding the Disney Skyliner Gondola system, just like other forms of Disney World transportation. All guests are allowed to ride whether staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel or not.
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 Gondola system…
- 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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