In this analysis of the new Disney transportation, we’ll share a few dozen photos, offer first impressions and be honest about whether the failure predictions have been realized (since we’ve already seen some problems happening at Skyliner that even left it closed for many days after it opened).
It is true that both me and Nath are great cheerleaders in the Disney Skyliner. As such, you can doubt that line of honesty when it comes to conceding defeat on Skyliner's problems.
However, we are here to bring as much information as possible for you traveler to make the best choices for your trip!
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We will delve into the positive and negative aspects of the inauguration of the Walt Disney World’s new airlift system, the Disney Skyliner!
We'll start with some quick basics on the Disney Skyliner gondolas.
Basic Skyliner Information
Dubbed "The Most Magical Flight on Earth" by the in-cabin audio, Skyliner serves two Walt Disney World theme parks (Hollywood Studios and Epcot), as well as four resorts (Art of Animation & Pop Century, Caribbean beach
At the moment both Animal Kingdom and Magic kingdom do not have access via Skyliner!
One of the Caribbean Beach stations is the hub, from which you can reach all destinations. It connects directly to the Hollywood, Art of Animation / Pop Century and Epcot through the second station of the Riviera Resort / Caribbean Beach.
At most, you will make a transfer while riding on the Disney Skyliner, as Riviera station is on its way to Epcot and does not require disembarkation.
In travel times between stations, Skyliner varies. It is about 3 to 4 minutes from Pop Century / Art of Animation or Hollywood Studios to Caribbean Beach.
At the other end of the spectrum, it's 10-11 minutes from Caribbean Beach to Epcot (or 4 minutes from Caribbean Beach to Riviera, plus 6 minutes from Riviera to Epcot).
Add to that the time you wait in line at the original station and the central station at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
The use of Disney's Skyliner is “free”, in the same sense that all other transportation at Walt Disney World is free.
You do not pay a fare directly on boarding, but it is best to believe that guests at the resorts served by Skyliner are seeing their infrastructure and operating costs embedded in the nightly fares. (In fact, this has already happened, and we will talk more about tariff increases in 2020 soon).
There were “rumors” that Skyliner it would be for resort guests only Disney and that would be applied with the MagicBands. This is not true. There are no rules about who can ride the Skyliner or leave where.
You can ride the Skyliner for 16 hours, making an hourly stop to get the Tie-Dye Cheesecake at Pop Century and nothing will stop you (maybe just the fact that you will be wasting your travel time aimlessly eheheheh).
This covers everything in basic terms that you need to know for now.
First, the view of the gondolas. They are spectacular - better than I expected.
My biggest concern here was seeing many unpleasant areas behind the scenes, parking lots and nothing.
There are definitely many of the latter two, and it would be nice if better landscaping was done along the escape routes. However, there is no reason to look directly at the ground to look for cars or parked paths.
Along each stretch of the journey, there is something different and engaging that instead captures your attention as you can see in many of the photos in that post.
From Disney's Hollywood to Caribbean Beach it's kind of "boring" if you're looking at the resort, but cool if you're facing the park or looking at Epcot in the distance (see photo above).
From Pop Century and Art of Animation to Caribbean Beach, you'll pass over Hourglass Lake and have the resort's huge icons on each side.
On your way to Disney's Riviera Resort, you have the rooftops and landscape of Caribbean Beach, and gliding over them is much cooler than expected.
Traveling from Disney's Riviera Resort to Epcot is my favorite stretch, even if it is ostensibly the most boring and likely to “ruin the magic”. During most of that journey, you are traveling by road and parking.
However, for a long time, you will also be directly behind the World showcase, and it's really cool to see the icons of each nation with SpaceShip Earth in the background. Also, in addition to the (temporary) construction of France's expansion, you really aren't seeing much behind the scenes.
As with many things, much of this is a matter of perspective. If you are looking directly at parked cars or dirt, it is not an interesting trip.
However, there is almost always something of visual interest in some direction.
Otherwise, seeing the other Skyliner cabins with characters is an option since the cabins are very beautiful and very different.
The situation of the seats in the seats can be a little strange. If seated "normally", your views will be from a side window or to the front, looking at the other guests. The latter is not ideal and can make everyone feel needed for an uncomfortable conversation. (It is not.)
Instead, we recommend facing the window you're sitting in. There are a few reasons for this. Most importantly, views are best when you have a direct view without obstructions from other people.
In addition, it is essential that your lens - phone or camera - is level against the cabin glass to prevent reflections. For that reason, I like to be seated backwards and facing backwards ... to have a vision of moving forward. (Makes sense????)
Relevant information is that it can swing much more than you think. So this is something to keep in mind if you are prone to feeling sick.
The characters' gondolas are definitely a mixed bag. Watching your favorite characters pass by your cabin is cool, but you absolutely don't want to be inside a gondola with a character wrap.
The views are significantly impaired and you can totally forget about the photos. (A little bit positive is that these cabins are a little cooler than the unwrapped ones.)
In theory, you can order a cabin without a wrap. But if you are going to walk more than once, we recommend that you take one with and one without the stickers of the characters, so you can evaluate for yourself.
We recommend using common sense when it comes to making or not making such a request, if the queue is too long, it is better to leave it for another opportunity.
Speaking of lines, they move quickly. Skyliner has incredibly high capacity, so we never wait in line for more than 10 minutes.
At the moment, it is difficult to say how long the queues really will be - clearly many residents and holders of the Annual Pass were on hand to take a Sunday trip to see the gondolas.
Leaving Epcot after IllumiNations, there was a long line for Skyliner, and this will undoubtedly be a common occurrence.
Our recommendation, as always, is to stay at Epcot, because the nights at the World Showcase after guests leave are sublime.
Unquestionably, the biggest controversy about the Disney Skyliner has been the lack of air conditioning in the cabins.
I will continually reiterate that, to my knowledge, of the tens of thousands of Doppelmayr gondola systems installed worldwide, only one is air-conditioned. Stay at Wynn Palace Macau, a 5-star luxury resort in Asia.
Fortunately, there is no longer any need to keep looking at past precedents or spin our wheels offering predictions.
Skyliner is open and we have our verdict. The external enamel reflects heat sufficiently and the passive ventilation system works.
It provides a fresh and consistent breeze. In other words, Skyliner is perfectly comfortable.
If you've taken a random guest off the street who doesn't read blogs like this or get angry at Disney through social media and put them in a Skyliner cabin, you're unlikely to bring up the subject of air conditioning.
Air conditioning is simply a problem while driving and is no more likely to arise than concerns about a colossal gorilla popping up and pulling the tram out of the sky. (A terrible tragedy that Florida has really suffered in the past. Watch the video here)
O Disney Skyliner is more comfortable than sitting at a shaded bus stop and more or less comfortable like the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover.
It is less comfortable than air-conditioned buses and “depends” when it comes to comparing it to monorails.
We recently had those where it looks like the air conditioner barely works - which, along with a crowded cabin, led to some nasty road trips in the sky.
Depending on the time of year it is true that air conditioning Disney buses may not allow the number of people to flow.
All of this presupposes that Skyliner is in constant motion, and that is where our biggest problem comes in. This is also a big part of why this is a preliminary review that offers first impressions.
Since movement is critical for passive ventilation, it has become somewhat uncomfortable during some stops.
We never stop for more than 3 minutes, but we hear about significantly longer stops. At longer stops, with the sun shining directly in the cabin and no breeze, I could easily imagine Skyliner cabins becoming very uncomfortable and even quite unpleasant.
This is not what we experienced, but it is easy to see it happening.
The question therefore becomes why the system is stopping and how often it will happen when Skyliner is running smoothly.
We ride many cable cars and aerial trams, like the Skyliner, and we never tried another one stopping like that. (As it is a detachable gondola, the entire system does not need to stop for wheelchairs, ECVs or other guests who need special assistance, so that is not the explanation.)
Disney's Skyliner is still new, and we are just experiencing the beginning of its operations with guests. Cast members are still working to load guests quickly, without having to interrupt the entire line.
Other possible explanations are the guests at Walt Disney World who are materially different from those who use gondolas elsewhere in the world.
Disney guests have more children strollers, children and other reasons to embark more slowly than usual, but I still don't think that's the root cause. As for the system itself, Doppelmayr has installed thousands of aerial trams around the world, so that explanation also seems unlikely.
However, we will see how it happens. If in the heart of next summer, Skyliner still stops at 25% of its trips for more than a few minutes, we’ll come back and change the review.
There are probably other pros and cons that I'm forgetting, but the post is already quite long.
Some quick notes:
- We think the gondola's audio had a nice touch, but it could have been “more attractive”.
- The stations are well designed and adapted to the environment.
- The Caribbean Beach hub looks like a central / union station, which is fun.
- Walking is still the fastest option between Epcot and DHS.
- Overall, even though it is not perfect (yet?), The nickname "Magic Flight on Earth" is entirely suitable for Disney Skyliner. It's everything we hoped it would be, and I anticipate that we will spend a lot of time walking on it in the future. For us, this is the new addition of the year to Walt Disney World that we will most enjoy.
I want to be careful to avoid being hyperbolic here, because I don't think this is objectively "better" than Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge or higher than Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. It's just different. These discreet atmospheric experiences are part of our favorite walks in the Walt Disney World, and the Skyliner is up there with the PeopleMover for us.
We hope you enjoyed our review and would like to hear your comments and questions in our section below in comments!
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