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What You Need to Know Before Riding The Skyliner at Walt Disney World

First Published: October 13, 2019
Last Updated: October 19, 2019

On Sunday, September 29, 2019, Walt Disney World opened its brand new Skyliner transportation system to the public. Disney guests everywhere had been anxiously awaiting this day and so many still have questions about this new transportation system, so we’re here to answer them for you. The first thing to note before you keep reading is the difference between The Skyliner and a gondola. The Skyliner is the transportation system as a whole, whereas the gondola is the individual ride vehicle guests can ride in. This will help as you continue reading this blog post. So here we go!

Which Disney Resorts and Parks Have The Disney Skyliner?

You can find The Skyliner stations at Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation/Pop Century, the new Riviera Resort that opens December 16, 2019, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. The Epcot location is by the boat dock outside of France. Hollywood Studios Skyliner hub is by the entrance/exit of the park. Art of Animation’s hub is by Hourglass Lake which can be accessed by guests staying at Pop Century as well. Caribbean Beach’s Skyliner hub is by the Jamaica section parking lot, across the water from Trinindad.

How Long Does It Take to Travel from Each Resort to the Park on The Skyliner?

We went to every Skyliner hub and rode between each resort and park and back, and none of our trips took longer than 10 minutes. Most took between 3 and 5 minutes which was crazy good. The Skyliner gets you from one place to another so quickly which is a huge plus for guests! We loved how quickly we got from one place to another without having to wait for a bus or monorail to arrive.

Below are the times we clocked during each of our rides:

  • Hollywood Studios to Caribbean Beach- 4 minutes
  • Caribbean Beach to Art of Animation- 5 minutes
  • Riviera Resort to Epcot- 7 minutes
  • Caribbean Beach to Riviera Resort- 3 minutes

As you can see, The Skyliner has a much faster ride time than the bus or the monorail, and you also don’t have to worry about the gondolas being overcrowded or too full to get on. The longest part of the whole process will most likely be waiting in line to get on. Our gondola did stop a couple times on some of our rides but never for more than a few seconds, so it didn’t increase our ride time much at all. 

Is There Air Conditioning in the Gondolas?

There are no air conditioning units in the gondolas; however, that does not mean they feel like saunas while you’re in them. Each gondola has air vents underneath the seats as well as above you near the top. It provided plenty of air flow while we were traveling, and none of us felt like it was too hot or even warm in the gondolas. You do have the option to close the air vents, which we assume is for rainy or colder days. 

It did warm up some in the gondola when we stopped, but none of our stops ever exceeded 30 seconds, so it cooled off almost immediately when we started moving. We imagine if you were to stop for long periods of time, it could start to heat up in the gondolas, but the material the gondola is made from is very lightweight, so it would take some time before this happened.

How Many People Can Fit in a Gondola?

Each gondola can comfortably seat 10 adults or children. If you have a stroller or a scooter in the gondola with you, the maximum occupancy is 6 adults. We had 9 people in one of our gondola rides, and we were all spread enough and comfortable without brushing up against one another. The cars definitely don’t look big enough for that many people, but it is larger inside than it appears. (Yes, kind of like The TARDIS for those Dr. Who fans out there.)

What Size Strollers, Wheelchairs or ECVs Are Allowed in The Skyliner?

Any stroller, wheelchair or ECV must be 30″x48″ or less to ride The Skyliner. Most double strollers are larger than this, so you can collapse the stroller to still be able to ride. The same goes for a wheelchair. The sizing is specifically to allow you to not have to fold down or collapse these.

How Do You Load an ECV or Wheelchair onto a Gondola?

If you are boarding with an ECV or wheelchair, a gondola is brought off the track for loading. This gives you plenty of time to load without rushing or hurrying, and you also won’t be stopping The Skyliner while doing so. Once your gondola is ready, it is put back on The Skyliner track, and you are on your way!

What If I Get Motion Sick or Have a Fear of Heights?

If you have a fear of heights or are afraid of getting motion sick while riding the Skyliner, you should watch this video (you can also see it at the bottom of this article) to see what you think first. From there, if you’re still interested in riding, here are our thoughts and observations.

The fastest and roughest part of the ride is the takeoff and landing. The actual ride itself was quite smooth with small bumps whenever we went over one of the poles holding The Skyliner in the air. When you first take off, the gondola speeds up to get it up in the air. When coming back in, the gondola speeds up again and comes to a stop rather abruptly. This was my least favorite part of the journey because it almost seems like you’re going to crash into the gondola in front of you.

I myself am not a fan of heights, and we had someone with us who also has a fear of heights, and we both enjoyed the ride. As long as you don’t look straight down, it really isn’t a problem. It also helps that the windows are tinted with designs and characters because you don’t notice the height or the ride unless you make it a point to look out the window because it’s not a clear view.

If you want to ride The Skyliner with friends and family but are worried about motion sickness, try not watching the initial take off and landing. Distract yourself with checking out everything inside the gondola and talking to friends. The ride is smooth enough, it shouldn’t be an issue once you’re in the air.

What Characters Are On the Gondolas?

There are characters from Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, and Pixar movies. They all look so awesome and make the gondolas even more fun and enjoyable.

What Type of Skyliner Merchandise Is Disney Selling?

Disney has some adorable merchandise that has come up for The Skyliner opening. Pins, magic bands, ornaments, and mugs are just a few of them. There’s even Passholder and DVC exclusive merchandise as well.

Are There Restrooms at The Skyliner Stations?

There are restrooms at each Skyliner station for guests to use. This is especially helpful if you have little ones with you or the skyliner line gets really long. The restroom at Art of Animation is still being worked on, so it is not open yet, but once it is, each location will have a restroom if needed.

What Are the Hours of Operation?

The Disney Skyliner is supposed to run on a similar schedule to the buses and boat systems. They are currently operating from 8:00am to 10:30pm every day. As with all Disney information, that’s subject to change, so be sure to check with Disney directly when you’re here about the current schedule.

What If There Is Bad Weather?

The Skyliner runs during sunny days, wind, and rain, but it does not run if there is lightning in the area. This is unfortunate as we tend to get lightning pretty often here in Florida, but we understand why they can’t run The Skyliner in this situation and appreciate Disney keeping guests safe.

But What About Coffee?

There is a Joffrey’s coffee stand located right outside the Skyliner station at Caribbean Beach. If you’re at the parks, you can always get coffee there, but we did not see a coffee stand at the Art of Animation skyliner station. 

What Happens in the Event of an Emergency?

Disney did plan for emergency situations, but of course we hope they’re never needed. If there is an emergency, there is a button inside each gondola that you can press to reach Disney cast members and let them know. There’s also a box under the seat with water, barf bags, and cooling packs if needed. 

In the event that the Skyliner cannot start moving again, and the gondola is stuck over the water, Disney has purchased a boat specifically designed to reach the gondolas to retrieve guests. There are also lift trucks in the event the gondolas get stopped over land, which we now know work well since they were used to evacuate guests when The Skyliner stopped for several hours a week after opening.

Conclusion

The Disney Skyliner is by far our new favorite Disney transportation system, and we will probably ride it just for fun many times. It’s faster than a bus or monorail and is a more enjoyable form of transportation than either of those as well. We also love the cute designs the Imagineers came up with for the gondolas, and we’ll continue looking out for more we haven’t seen yet. The Disney Skyliner seems to have great potential, and we’re hoping if all goes well, maybe we’ll get more of these at other Disney resorts and parks in the future!

Bonus: Here’s a video with our thoughts on the Skyliner overall. Spoiler alert: we love it!

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