The Disney Skyliner is a transportation system in Walt Disney World. This gondola system connects Hollywood Studios and Epcot with the Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and Riviera resorts. This review of the Disney Skyliner will include photos as well as thoughts on the system and how it affects the resorts that are connected to it.
Before getting into our actual review of the Skyliner, here’s a brief rundown of how to use the system. Anybody can ride the gondolas free of charge, although the cost of it is somewhat included in the Disney resorts. There are essentially three separate lines to the Skyliner with the Caribbean Beach Resort station acting as the central hub station. From there guests can catch a ride to Epcot/Riviera Resort, Art of Animation and Pop Century or Hollywood Studios. Depending on where you’re staying or going, there’s a decent chance that you’ll have to transfer between lines. It’s a simple system that isn’t hard to pick up on.
Thankfully, transferring takes next to no time at all. We encountered some fairly long lines while waiting for the Skyliner but they move very fast and our wait time never exceeded five minutes. With the easy loading and what amounts to an omnimover system, the Skyliner’s capacity per hour is extremely high. Waiting is a non-issue and that alone makes the Skyliner an exceptional Disney World transporation option.
If there’s one area to nitpick when it comes to the loading of the Skyliner it’s that some of the stations did not extend the queues far enough. One night we were headed back to Pop Century a while after Epcot and Hollywood Studios closed. The lines were backed up out of the queue and into the central area of the station, making it a little chaotic. Even with that, the waits were short and it wasn’t much of an issue.
As far as the actual ride, the Disney Skyliner is peaceful and pleasant. The ride to and from Pop Century and Art of Animation to Caribbean Beach is short, under 5 minutes, and soars right above Hourglass Lake. Once you reach the lake, the Skyliner drops down in height so that the vehicles are right above the water. It’s a beautiful ride mainly due to those minutes right above the lake.
Caribbean Beach to Hollywood Studios is also a short ride, coming in under five minutes as well. The view here is less exciting, although the route to the park offers an interesting perspective. You can also see Epcot off in the distance.
Caribbean Beach to Epcot is easily the longest ride, especially when factoring the stop at the Riviera. The ride from Caribbean Beach takes a little less than 15 minutes. Gliding over the Caribbean Beach rooftops is prettier than it has any right to be, as the colors are vibrant and the massive resort gets to show off its landscaping.
Once the line hits the Riviera station (which might actually be the better option to walk to if you’re staying in certain sections of Caribbean Beach) the views consist of roads below and the backside of World Showcase. It’s the most interesting section of the Skyliner, showcasing views that are extremely unique. There are some sections of underwhelming landscape or parts of backstage that could ‘take you out of the magic’ but it’s far from egregious. If the view is something you are excited about then I’d recommend asking for a Skyliner without a wrap on it. While the character wraps are cool on the outside, you can’t really notice them on the inside and they only dim the view.
While I think that Epcot section is the most interesting portion of the Skyliner, others who are less interested in the workings of Disney World might not care. Really, that’s my only critique. To the average Disney World fan, these views may not be all that interesting or impressive. Even if a guest found themselves in that boat (err… gondola) the convenience of the Skyliner is too much to pass up.
Disney World’s bus system is derided and, putting this politely, inconsistent. While there have been steps to overcome this in recent years with bus wait times in the app, if you’ve been to Disney World then you’ve likely had an unpleasant experience at some point. I don’t despise the buses as much as some, but always choose boats or monorails if given the option. The Skyliner is just another way to avoid buses, while being superior to monorails and boats.
If you’re simply jumping from Hollywood Studios to Epcot, or vice versa, then the Skyliner ride is under 20 minutes while the boats average closer to 25. Along with that, there won’t be much waiting for the Skyliner in line while it’s hard to know for sure when a boat is coming.
Each Skyliner cabin holds up to 10 guests but we never had more than 6 people inside of one. There’s plenty of room in each. One minor complaint is that it can be a little awkward riding with strangers. For some reason the Skyliner cabins don’t play any music, instead opting for ‘fun facts’ every minute or so. While it’s kind of peaceful, the silence can be somewhat awkward. If you have a cabin to yourself then the experience is blissful, and you can just sing your heart out even without music. I guess you could do that even with strangers in there, free country and all, but please don’t.
Many were worried about the Disney Skyliner not having A/C and we can’t exactly speak to this as the temperatures were below WDW’s norms when we experienced the ride. Frankly, I’m not worried about it though as there was a lot of airflow in the cabin. The only way I could see it getting hot is if they have to stop the system for a minute or two to accommodate a guest.
Speaking of stopping the system, the Skyliner did have an infamous accident in the first week of operation. While I can understand this causing some trepidation, and after riding it was easy to see how the accident happened, please don’t let this stop you from riding the Disney Skyliner. Disney is not going to risk guests safety (or a lawsuit) if they weren’t confident in the system. I’m somewhat scared of heights and had no issue riding the Skyliner. The system does kind of slam on the brakes in the last moment and that can feel uneasy but that’s simply how the system works and is nothing to worry about.
All of this rambling leads me to say that the Disney Skyliner is fantastic. It’s reason enough to pay a little extra to stay at any of the connected resorts. The experience is peaceful and relaxing, far from a cramped bus ride, all while taking less time than any other complimentary Disney transportation option. Many were concerned about the Skyliner but the gondolas are a massive success and a huge upgrade to Walt Disney World as a whole.
Have you been on the Disney Skyliner? Let us know your thoughts or questions below in the comments. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide to help you along the way! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy the site please subscribe to the blog via WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those on the right side of this page. Have a great day!