The newest form of Walt Disney World transportation is here. It will include all tiers of resorts and some are speculating may well be the new system of the future for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs resort areas in future expansions. Here is the skinny on what the Disney Skyliner is and when we can expect it to open.
The Disney Skyliner System
Not since the Monorail has there been a more innovative form of transportation to move guests around Walt Disney World. Although I’m sure many fans are with me in wishing the PeopleMover would someday happen, a transportation system inspired by the Skyway that once moved guests from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland is undoubtedly the next best thing. The Skyliner system is not like other cable suspension transportation with which you may be familiar. It will efficiently move guests from select resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at a max height of 60 feet. The Epcot station will be located just outside the International Gateway at Crescent Lake.
The Disney Skyliner gondolas are more significant than they look. They are sleek round boxes with a fun design wrapped in cartoon images that give the impression that famous Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars characters are riding inside. With a top speed of nearly 11 1/2 mph and a station speed of 1 mph, some of the gondolas will be wheelchair accessible. Most gondolas are fitted with two benches designed to hold five passengers each. They are very comfortable and convenient for guests with strollers. Disney did not miss a beat when they created this extraordinary system. The gondolas even use an advanced ventilation system and special glass to avoid overheated cabins. However, the gondolas are equipped to carry air conditioning, should the need for an upgrade arise.
Disney Skyliner is the newest form of Disney transportation. It brings accessibility to some of the fringe resorts that haven’t had the benefit of the monorail, or boat transit. By affiliation, there are even some deluxe resorts that can add this new system among their already beneficial location and travel options.
In most cases in the Walt Disney World resort, you see the best transportation around the deluxe resorts. Three of the four Magic Kingdom Deluxe resorts have monorail access. All of them, including Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge, has boat access to the park, as well as each other. Of course, the monorail connects the deluxe resorts on the Seven Seas Lagoon to Epcot as well. The Deluxe resorts on Crescent Lake enjoy boat service to Hollywood Studios and Epcot, although both are already a walking distance.
The moderate Port Orleans resorts share the availability of water taxis with Saratoga Springs and Old Key West. All of which are Disney Springs resorts. However, most moderate resorts and all value resorts have never had access to free transportation outside of the bus system. The Skyliner changes that by adding a station between the Art of Animation and Pop Century. Caribbean Beach, a moderate resort in the Epcot area also has a station. The Riviera, which has not opened yet is a brand new Disney Vacation Club resort which will also have a Skyliner Station. (Be sure to subscribe as we’ll be back with opening day coverage on December 16, 2019)
The system will be very smooth for loading and unloading at the Skyliner stations. However, the Caribbean Beach station will feature a separate line to Disney’s Hollywood Studio. That means guests hopping to the studio from Epcot, will need to switch gondolas to take the other line. (Envision it as taking the monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot and having to switch at the Transportation and Ticket Center),
Because of the placement of the Skyliner Station at Epcot, Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club, and Beach Club will all have access to the Disney Skyliner as well. Though accessible, since it will require a change of gondola’s at the switching station unless the Friendship Boats are not running or you want to consider this an extra attraction, it won’t be the most efficient transportation from the Deluxe resorts.
While we have been watching the gondolas run in testing as early as April (check it out here on our facebook page) we were surprised when just two weeks ago Disney announce the gondolas will officially open for guests on September 29, 2019. We really hoped they would open in conjunction with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to alleviate some of the traffic. Who knows, maybe they will surprise us and open for limited hours before September.
Disney has not released the official number of different designs, we personally counted over 25. They are great fun to watch as each designed gondola features three coordinating graphics…both sides and the back, not the side with the door.