Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Bathrooms for Skyliner Guests
- Disney Skyliner Operating Hours
- About the Gondola Cabins
- Do the Cabins Come to a Stop for Boarding?
- What You Need to Know About Strollers and Wheelchairs
- Will I Be Able to Ride the Skyliner if I get Motion Sick?
- What Happens if the Skyliner Gets Stuck?
- Using the Skyliner for Disney Rest Days
Are you exploring resort options for your Disney trip? Or maybe it is your first time visiting WDW and you’re looking into all of the transportation options offered. Disney’s Skyliner service connects two theme parks and four resorts. This aerial gondola transportation system at Walt Disney World Resort is a fun way to get around. Here is an overview of the Disney Skyliner stations, operating hours, and everything else you need to know.
Part of the allure of a Walt Disney World vacation is being “in the bubble”. Once you arrive to the Walt Disney World Resort you’re covered by Disney’s massive transportation system. By utilizing busses, the monorail, Friendship boats, ferries, and the Skyliner you can get pretty much anywhere, including all the way out to Disney Springs. As the newest form of transportation at Disney the Skyliner holds a certain mystique still. While we love the new gondolas, there are definitely some things you need to know when riding them – including what resorts will now be your best bet, what that means for bus service, and when you should get a Minnie Van instead.
Disney Skyliner Stops and Lines, A Route Overview
The Disney Skyliner service has five stops, including two theme parks and four resort hotels. These stops are along three distinct Disney Skyliner lines – the EPCOT Line, the Hollywood Studios line, and the Pop Century/Art of Animation Line. Although the Skyliner doesn’t stop at Disney BoardWalk restaurants, it’s a short stroll from the EPCOT International Gateway entrance.
Think of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort as the “Ticketing and Transportation Center” of the gondola system. It acts as the hub of the Skyliner system. All three lines go through the Caribbean Beach station. It’s also where you can switch from one line to another.
SheBuysTravel Tip: At this time (February 2022) masks are required for all guests riding the Skyliner regardless of vaccination status. You can check for updates to the WDW mask policy here.
Disney Skyliner Pop Century and Art of Animation Line
This Disney Skyliner station is located on the bridge crossing Hourglass Lake that connects Disney’s Pop Century Resort with Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The Pop Century and Art of Animation Resort Line runs to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort where you can catch a “connecting flight” to the Epcot Line and the Hollywood Studios line.
Disney Skyliner EPCOT Line
The EPCOT Line runs from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to EPCOT. It is the longest line and stops at Disney’s Riviera Resort. The ride takes roughly 11 minutes during which you circle around another “station” that turns you due north.
You’ll come into EPCOT by the International Gateway entrance between the United Kingdom and France pavilions in the World Showcase. This station also puts you within an easy walk of Disney’s BoardWalk area restaurants, the BoardWalk Inn, and Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts. Keep your eyes open while you are riding this route.
Disney Skyliner Hollywood Studios Line
The Hollywood Studios Line runs directly from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, home of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. On arrival at Hollywood Studios it drops off between the park entrance and the bus stops. The ride takes roughly 6 minutes.
Bathrooms for Skyliner Guests
Let’s face it. We all know kids aren’t always well timed with their bathroom needs. Luckily there are restrooms available (with changing tables) at all Skyliner stations. Ask a cast member to direct you to the nearest one.
Disney Skyliner Operating Hours
Signs are posted at Skyliner stations with daily operating hours. This info isn’t available online or in the My Disney Experience app. On our trip we had heard that the Skyliner would start running an hour before park opening time. This was not true for us. One day it started 45 minutes before park opening and one day it was 30 minutes prior. Other sites say 60-90 minutes prior to park openings but this is not always accurate.
The only way to know exact hours is to check with a cast member or look for the sign at the Disney Skyliner Station. This is as frustrating to us as it is to you. Even Disney’s own question and answer site refers people to the desk and signage. We hope that in the future Disney will establish consistent operating hours and list these hours in the MDE app for better guest transparency.
Be aware that lines in the morning to board the gondolas can get long. Luckily they move fast once passengers start being loaded. If you’re planning to rope drop or have booked an early Genie+ time slot you’ll want to line up early. Skyliners continue to run for a bit after parks close and during Disney Early Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
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SheBuysTravel Tip: If you are using the Skyliner as an offsite or driving guest and you park in the EPCOT parking lot, plan to leave BEFORE park closing time!! The Skyliner drops off at the back entrance of EPCOT. The parking lot is located at the front entrance. So if you can’t walk through the park to go out the front, you’re out of luck. You’ll need to take a bus or Minnie Van to EPCOT if you’re staying after EPCOT closes.
About the Gondola Cabins
Gondola cabins are brightly colored with Disney character wraps on some cars. Kids will love stepping into a gondola adorned with Mickey, Minnie, Moana, Stitch, Mrs. Potts or one of their favorite Pixar characters. There are even gondolas themed after rides like the Haunted Mansion. These cable cars are spacious and can comfortably seat 10 passengers. There are wooden benches on either side of the gondola that each seat 5 people. During my last few visits, we never rode in a gondola that was at capacity.
There is no air conditioning in the gondola cabins. At first, I was concerned that they would be like tiny terrariums in Central Florida’s sun. After multiple rides in humid weather with temperature above 90 degrees, I can report that the Skyliner gondola maintained a comfortable climate. The vents maximize airflow. You feel wind blowing on you for the whole ride.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The gondolas can reach heights of 60 feet above ground! Combine this with the fact that they are designed to maximize airflow and those with a healthy fear of heights may want to avoid this transportation option.
Do the Cabins Come to a Stop for Boarding?
The Disney Skyliner cabins do NOT stop during the boarding process. Think of the system as one based off of Spaceship Earth. The “cars” continue to move (albeit slowly) during the loading process. The speed at the time of embarkation and disembarkation is minimal and mosts guest should be able to manage it.
What You Need to Know About Strollers and Wheelchairs
The Disney Skyliner system’s gondolas can accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. You do not have to collapse single strollers to ride the Skyliner. Most side by side double strollers will need to be collapsed. They weren’t originally having people fold double strollers down but in late 2021/early 2022 they started asking people to collapse their double strollers. In-line front to back double strollers can be wheeled right in. Strollers can occupy a space that is roughly 30 inches by 48 inches. As a parent, being able to wheel in a stroller makes the Skyliner system a preferred method of Disney transportation over the buses where you have to collapse the stroller for every ride. Just in case we still recommend always sticking a tote bag in the bottom of your stroller to quickly toss stuff in if a fold up is necessary. It’s on our Disney packing list for every trip!
There is a designated queue for groups that include someone using a wheelchair or mobility scooter. These gondolas come to a full stop for boarding then rejoin the rest of the continuously operating cabins. At the next stop, your cabin will enter the handicapped boarding area so you can disembark from a stopped cabin.
SheBuysTravel Tip: When a wheelchair or stroller is in the gondola, capacity of the car drops to just 6 passengers, including the person in the stroller or wheelchair. Families with more than 6 members will need to split their party between two gondolas.
Will I Be Able to Ride the Skyliner if I get Motion Sick?
Honestly, this depends on the person. I have minor motion sickness. I can fly, but if I’m in a car and not driving, it gets bad. Disney’s Skyliner and I got along just fine. The biggest jolts are at the beginning when it speeds up at “take off” and when you’re coming into the stations and abruptly slow down. The rest of the ride was extremely smooth. Definitely sit facing the direction you are moving in (just like in a car) to minimize nausea.
What Happens if the Skyliner Gets Stuck?
This question is high on many people’s list in part because of the malfunction that happened shortly after the Skyliner opened. In that October 2019 case, some guests were stuck for 3 hours waiting to be rescued. After that incident, phone numbers were added into all Skyliner cabins. A second malfunction happened in December 2019 and we’ve heard of cases in 2021 where people were stuck for an hour.
Does anyone want to be stuck on the Skyliner? No. Is it extremely unlikely to happen? Yes. Did we make jokes about being trapped on the Skyliner while we rode it? Most definitely. The good news? Disney has its very own first responders – the Reedy Creek Fire Department – and they are trained and ready to assist if something does happen.
My own husband is a paramedic in Texas. I asked him what is the most important thing to do if you’re stuck on a gondola? “Stay calm,” he said. Sounds like sage advice.
Find yourself in a stalled Skyliner? Call the number provided on the Skyliner and take note of your cabin number. The cabin number can be found on the Skyliner door glass above all the no-no decals of what not to do. If someone in your party is experiencing a medical emergency during a shutdown, mention it so they prioritize the response. Each cabin is equipped with an emergency kit including water packets, note pad, light stick, cups and a barf bag. If nature called while you’re stuck, you could use the barf bag to answer it clumsily.
Using the Skyliner for Disney Rest Days
Many families build in rest or break days on their Disney vacation. While you may not be going into the parks on those days you can certainly still take a spin on the Skyliner. I love that the Skyliner allows me to resort hop a little bit easier. Even staying in a value resort like Pop Century I can take ride over to check out the murals at Riviera or to get a bite to eat near the BoardWalk area. On our last trip we worked in an “ice cream lunch” at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop and it was the highlight of the day for my 9 year old.
Best Disney Resort for Skyliner Use
Some of you may find yourself basing resort choices around the Skyliner. While resort choice is always subjective, here are my resort rankings in order. Keep in mind that the Skyliner’s operation is more weather dependent than other modes of Disney transportation. The Skyliner will close down during storms that involve lightening. If you’re looking for a full Disney resort rundown including what the different levels (value, moderate, deluxe, deluxe villas) mean be sure to check outour full post.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort comes out as the clear winner here if you want to ride the Skyliner repeatedly during your Orlando vacation. Not only is that Skyliner station the hub, but the resort itself went through a recent refurbishment. From Caribbean Beach, you’ll be able to hop a gondola to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios without having to change lines. You can still take the bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.
Parents will like that fact that Caribbean Beach is a moderately priced resort. Rooms at Caribbean Beach also frequently pop up over on Priceline. Kids will love the pool with two water slides and the pirate shipwreck water play area for younger kids. There are also pirate-themed rooms available.
SheBuysTravel Tip: This resort is large and spread out. To top it off, the Skyliner station is near the Jamaica section of the resort and the bus stop is near the lobby. No matter which room you choose, you’ll do some walking to get to the Disney transportation.
SheBuysTravel Tip 2: In the morning folks line up waiting for the first Skyliner gondolas to launch. There’s a Joffrey’s coffee stand near the station so have one of the adults in your party do a java run while you wait!
Disney’s Pop Century and Art of Animation
Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Art of Animation are in my second place slot. The Skyliner adds a lot to these resorts and the view of the Disney Skyliner gondolas soaring over Hourglass Lake is beautiful. You can capture some stunning sunset images with the cute cable cars in the shot.
Pop Century, a value resort, has family-friendly prices and was renovated recently. These renovations offer a fold down Murphy bed in the room which I found comfortable on my last visit.
Art of Animation is also a value resort. Personally, I like the theming at Art of Animation better and the larger suites there fit my family of 6. For both resorts, the bus transportation is near the lobby while the Skyliner transportation is on the back end of each resort. You will do quite a bit of walking no matter where you stay on property dependent on that days transportation needs.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you like to travel with Fido consider Art of Animation. It is one of four Disney resort hotels that allows dogs.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Looking for a Deluxe resort? Disney’s Riviera Resort opened in December 2019. It’s not heavy on character-theming and feels more like a Mediterranean getaway. With rooms ranging from Tower Studios that sleep 2 to family villas that can accommodate up to 12, Riviera certainly has options. It is smaller than most Disney resorts meaning your walk to transportation, food, pools and more will be shorter.
Check out the murals when you are heading to the Riviera Resort station. Millions of mosaic tiles create these stunning pieces of art. They remind me of the murals you see when you walk through Cinderella’s castle.
Now I know this resort is in last place among the Skyliner resorts on my ranking. Again, personal preference. For me it just doesn’t have the most bang for your buck. However, it’s a Disney Vacation Club property. This means you might be able to snag a room for a fraction of the nightly sticker price by renting DVC points. One giant bonus of staying in a Deluxe level resort is access to Extended Evening Hours.