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The Disney Skyliner: My First Impressions

If you were like me, you were a bit disappointed (and maybe a bit nervous) that the Disney Skyliner got into an accident within just a week of its Grand Opening. Some Guests were trapped in their cabins for more than 3 hours as a result of a pile up of cabins that occurred at the Riviera Resort station. This is not something Disney ever wants, or expects, nor does its Guests. Disney has worked extremely hard in the last week and it seems they have fixed the issue. The Skyliner is open again!

Although they’ve been pretty quiet on the topic, they did issue a statement along with the reopening (that wasn’t widely broadcasted).

In part it says: “Following a complete review with the manufacturer, we’ve made adjustments to our processes and training, and we are improving how we communicate with guests during their flight with Disney Skyliner.”

Read the full statement here.

I’ll admit, while I absolutely love the concept, I was a bit nervous to ride the Disney Skyliner to begin with. I am quite terrified of heights and I don’t like large bodies of water, so these made me feel a wee bit skeptical considering these high-in-the-sky gondolas glide their way over bays and lakes at Walt Disney World. At the same time, the idea of a whole new transportation system at the resort really excited me and I knew I had to ride them, despite my fears.

Skyliner Station at Epcot

Well, that day came last Monday. I happened to be vacationing at Walt Disney World when the Skyliner re-opened to the public. As I walked towards bag check on my scheduled Hollywood Studios day, I could see the Skyliner was in motion and suspected it was being tested. It was called out to me that there were actually Guests in the gondolas! Unbeknownst to me (and to many), the Skyliner re-opened to the public once again that very morning! Deep breath, here was my chance to ride them!

The Skyliner

Re-opens!

Hollywood Studios Station

The Skyliner has multiple stops with stations at Epcot (near the International Gateway entrance), Disney’s Riviera Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Art of Animation and Pop Century. The main hub is located closest to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. From there, you can catch the Skyliner going in any direction to any one of these destinations. See map below.

Skyliner Map

I will first say that the Skyliner looks amazing. It is so fun to see all the decorated and colorful cabins moving back and forth across Walt Disney World. I rode the Skyliner multiple times on Monday, making a full round-trip during the daylight with my best friend, and again later in the evening with Walt Disney blogger friends testing a Skyliner Pub Crawl. The Skyliner operates daily from 8:00 AM to 10:30 PM. 

Skyliner Signage at Hollywood Studios

Because it was the first day it opened, it was hard to gauge wait times as there were few riding the gondolas. The longest wait I had was 10 minutes at the Epcot station at 6:30 PM, as I made my way to Art of Animation to meet some friends. I suspect that wait times will of course increase as time goes on. Keep in mind that the gondolas are in constant motion, so you get on and off without it stopping. This makes this new transportation system extremely efficient and effective. Walt Disney World can move an extreme amount of people in a short period of time rather quickly. So while there may be a long line, my point is it should move faster than other methods of transportation, such as the buses and monorail.

There is plenty of room in each gondola for 6-8 people. Cast Members will load multiple parties into the gondola, so you may be sharing a ride with another family.

Disney Skyliner

Hollywood Studios Station

Once in the vehicle, it takes off pretty quickly to your next destination.  The ride is extremely smooth and VERY quiet. There is plenty of air flow throughout the gondola (I know many were concerned about this), and the breeze felt great.  I will say however, if the vehicle stops for any significant amount of time during extreme heat, I can see it becoming uncomfortable. Remember, the gondola system does not have air conditioning. During my journey, the cabin only stopped once for about one minute. It does sway a bit when you stop mid-air, you feel as if you are atop a Ferris wheel. That felt a bit disconcerting, but the cabin was in motion again rather quickly.

I will caution you, when the gondola is in its final descent into the station, it does move rapidly, making it look and feel as if it’s not going to stop and hit the vehicle in front of it. Don’t worry, it does stop! And with plenty of room to spare.

Gondola’s at Art of Animation/Pop Century Station

I didn’t have any issues getting off (or on) the gondola, although I will say if you have any balance issues or get dizzy quickly, you may feel it when getting on or off because the gondola does not stop.  So you’re moving and the gondola is moving. I definitely experienced a bit of dizziness.

Gondola’s at Art of Animation/Pop Century Station

During the evening, the gondola system does not have any lights; absolutely none. There are lights of course at the stations, but once you are up in the air, it is quite dark once the sun sets.  I found this to be a bit disorienting. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I rode the Skyliner multiple times back and forth in a short period of time, or if it was the very dark ride at night, but I actually dealt with a bit of motion sickness for much of the evening.  I did not expect that reaction. It did not interrupt my plans for the evening, but I definitely felt it.

Now, will the bit of motion sickness stop me from riding it again? No way! I love the Skyliner and I think it’s a great travel option. I have personally not heard of a phase II or additional stops being added, but I could see this becoming the newest and preferred travel method at Walt Disney World. I would love to see this expanded to other resorts or possibly to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom could use another mode of transportation aside from the buses (just my personal opinion).

I look forward to see what the future holds for the Disney Skyliner!


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