Top 3 Things to Know about the Disney Skyliner

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The Disney Skyliner opened this weekend, and I’ve been excited to get on board ever since it was announced. During its limited previews, I got to ride on all of the different lines, and there were three key takeaways I discovered.

Make sure you know where the Skyliner line goes.

There’s a segment that goes between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Caribbean Beach (with Caribbean Beach as a transfer hub of sorts). There’s a second segment that goes between Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Disney’s Art of Animation/Disney’s Pop Century resorts. There’s a third segment that goes between Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Epcot, passing through the not-yet-opened Disney’s Riviera Resort. If you’re looking to go to any of those places, it is an ideal choice as it is a continuously loading system — no waiting 20 minutes for a bus to show up! That said, if you are looking to go to the front of Epcot, you may still be better off taking a bus, as the Skyliner station for Epcot is located at the International Gateway at the back of Epcot. One benefit for the resorts that are on the Skyliner system is that you can access other resorts at Crescent Lake far easier than in the past by taking the Skyliner system to the Epcot station and walking over the short distance to Crescent Lake. Worth noting is that during its early operation, the Skyliner gondolas seem to make frequent stops for a minute or two quite frequently along their travels. As with any mode of transportation anywhere, if there’s somewhere you have to be at a certain time, allow extra time for transit.

Follow the signs to help get you where you want to go at the Caribbean Beach hub.

It goes higher than you expect, and faster than you expect.

From the ground, the gondolas don’t look like they’re going *that* high in the air. Once on board, you get pretty high up, and being above the tree line in some cases fools your mind into thinking you’re REALLY high up. It’s 60 feet up in the air–or about 5 1/2 stories. And because the units feel so open, with doors that are see-through from top to bottom, and ventilation that gives you the wind in your face feel, those with a fear of heights may find it a little bit unnerving. For me, the fact that in the gondolas it’s also incredibly quiet–you don’t hear noise from the units aside from a little “thump” as you go past the support towers–was a bit unnerving. For a test, take the line between Art of Animation/Pop Century and Caribbean Beach. It goes lower than the other lines. I also found that the height didn’t seem quite as unnerving at night as it did during the day. If you’re afraid of heights, remember not to look down. I was also surprised how fast the gondolas move. Although we did have several times when the units slowed down and a couple times where we were stopped for a minute or two, when you’re in motion, you’re really moving. One other thing to note as you pull into the station, it looks like you’re going to crash into the gondola ahead of you. Feel free to do your best Star Tours impression–Brakes. BRAKES!!

Even on the descent into Caribbean Beach, you’re still above the trees.

It’s a very comfortable ride, even when it stops.

It’s still in the 90s here in Florida during the day, and one major concern that has been raised is that the Skyliner gondolas would be like small ovens. While they are in motion, there’s an amazing bit of cross-ventilation that goes on, making it very comfortable. For the strongest breeze, ride facing forward. The people riding backwards will still get some breeze, but not as much. There are times when the units come to a temporary stop, sometimes multiple times in a trip. (We found this to be especially true on the Epcot line.) Although it never got hot in the units, you could definitely tell a difference between being in motion and stopped. For comparison, riding the gondolas in the afternoon was much more pleasant temperature-wise than riding a Friendship from Epcot to Hollywood Studios that evening. For some of the lines, you’ll only be on the gondolas for about 2 minutes, or up to about 12 minutes for the Caribbean Beach-Epcot line. If you can handle sitting on a parking tram or riding a Friendship, the Skyliner gondolas won’t be a problem.

Whether you travel day or night, there’s a lot to see en route.

 

Have any questions about the Skyliner system? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

10 thoughts on “Top 3 Things to Know about the Disney Skyliner

  • September 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm
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    My question is about going from Pop to Epcot. It seems you have to exit the gondola at Caribbean Beach and get in a different line to go to Epcot, along with all the other guests from Caribbean Beach. Does Touring Plans anticipate an additional wait in this line for mornings where you want to rope drop? How much extra commute time would you build in? Is this a significant enough wait to upgrade to Caribbean Beach?

    Reply
    • October 1, 2019 at 8:45 am
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      When we did the soft opening, there were extremely long lines — from where we boarded at the Studios, the line stretched all the way around the corner and down to bus stop #8. Even with that, we only waited about 15 minutes to board. Going from Pop to Epcot, you will need to transfer at Caribbean Beach, and so in theory you’d have two lines to wait in. Right now, there’s a bit of a shakedown period going on, but even on Sunday morning, didn’t see crowds that were so long that you’d need to budget a lot of extra time, and I don’t think it would be necessary to upgrade. If you want to be safe, add in an extra 15 minutes or so. (Worst-case scenario, if you arrive super early at Epcot, it’s a short walk to the Boardwalk Bakery for some breakfast treats!!)

      Reply
  • September 30, 2019 at 8:51 pm
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    How long is an average ride time between each of the stops?

    Where are there tansfers where one must get off? Are those all at Caribbean beach?

    Have any long waits to ride been encountered? If so, how long, where, and when?

    Is there a prohibitive wait after a park closes?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • October 1, 2019 at 9:33 am
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      For evening wait times leaving Epcot, we haven’t had a good day to see how things will shake out — Sunday was the first day of operation, and so there were lines because everyone wanted to ride. Yesterday was the final night of IllumiNations, and Epcot was packed as a result. Tonight is the first night of Epcot Forever, and so there will be larger than normal crowds. Hopefully within the next few days we’ll see how park closing crowds go, but I’m hopeful that they won’t be anywhere near as long as, say, taking the monorail after Magic Kingdom closes.

      The shortest rides are between DHS and Caribbean Beach (about 5 minutes) and between Pop/AoA (about 3 minutes) and Caribbean Beach. Going between Caribbean Beach to Epcot (through Riviera) is the longest — without unplanned stops, it’s about 11 minutes. Here’s how the lines work:

      DHS < --> Caribbean Beach
      Caribbean Beach < ---> Epcot (going through Riviera on the way to Epcot)
      Caribbean Beach < --> Pop Century and Art of Animation

      If you want to go from Pop/AoA to Epcot or to DHS, you do have to transfer at Caribbean Beach.

      Reply
      • October 2, 2019 at 9:20 am
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        Thanks, this was very helpful.

        Reply
  • October 1, 2019 at 8:12 am
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    The intermittent stops are caused by what I can only refer to as a “side station “. Guests in wheelchairs get loaded on to a gondola that’s off to the “side”, then gets “slipped “ into the system, almost seamlessly it appears.

    Reply
    • October 1, 2019 at 9:36 am
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      We got to see them “flex in” a car on the line from that little “pit stop lane” — it’s really cool, but what they do is wait until an empty car is available, and then the loaded car from the side lane goes in as the empty car goes into the side lane to replace it. What’s really neat is that they are able to do that without stopping the main line at all. It’s a really efficient system.

      Reply
  • October 2, 2019 at 7:44 am
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    Must you be a guest of one of the hotels serviced by the Skyliner to ride it? Or is it like the buses/boats/monorails and anyone at the station can board and ride?

    Reply
  • October 2, 2019 at 11:20 am
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    Anyone can ride it

    Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 8:31 am
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    We went to Hollywood Studios by car yesterday but before we went into the park we walked over to the Skyliner and rode over to the hub at Caribbean Beach where we had to get off – we immediately got back on the Skyliner back to Hollywood Studios and then continued our day at the Studios. I expect a lot of people might be doing just that so that they can experience the Skyliner

    Reply

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