Walt Disney World prides itself on a fantastic transportation system that gets guests to its various resort hotels and theme parks with minimum fuss. In September 2019, in addition to the motor coaches, boats, monorail, and Minnie vans, visitors to Disney World were introduced to a brand-new transportation system called the Disney Skyliner. What is the Disney Skyliner transportation?
The Disney Skyliner is an aerial gondola transportation system that is the latest addition to guest transport services at Walt Disney World. The Disney Skyliner whisks guests high above the trees in brightly colored gondolas (cars or cabins) that are suspended from a continuously circulating cableway.
It’s cute, it’s whimsical, it’s practical. What’s not to love about the Disney Skyliner? But there are some things you should know about riding the gondolas if you plan to use the Skyliner on your next Disney vacation. Read our complete guide on the Disney Skyliner and make the most of your visit, including the best place to stay if you plan to use this newest transportation option.
Disney Skyliner gondolas
The brightly colored gondolas (cars or cabins) of the Disney Skyliner feature everyone’s favorite characters. Kids love riding these cabins-in-the-sky that are suspended from a continuously moving ropeway. Each gondola accommodates up to 10 passengers. There are two inward-facing wooden benches on either side of the gondola that seat 5 people each. The gondolas soar high above the trees and quickly transport guests between 2 Disney theme parks and 4 Disney Resort hotels. The addition of the Disney Skyliner has made access to these resorts and parks easier than ever.
Boarding the Disney Skyliner is simple. The cars do not come to a complete stop, but they move very slowly in the loading zone (similar to some rides like The Seas with Nemo and Friends). Most guests can easily manage embarkation and disembarkation. If you have small children, you’ll need to help them get on safely.
Disney Skyliner stations, routes, and lines
The Disney Skyliner connects two theme parks (Epcot and Hollywood Studios) and four Resort hotels (Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Riviera Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resort).
There are three Disney Skyliner lines:
- The Hollywood Studios line runs from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to the Hollywood Studios theme park.
- The Epcot line connects the Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot, stopping at the Riviera Resort on the way.
- The Pop Century/Art of Animation line runs from these two Resort hotels to the Caribbean Beach resort. Guests can transfer here to the Hollywood Studios or Epcot Skyliner lines.
In total, there are 5 stations on the Disney Skyliner routes:
- Pop Century Resort/Art of Animation Resort (shared station)
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Riviera Resort
- Hollywood Studios
If you haven’t figured it out already, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the hub of the Disney Skyliner. It serves as a central transportation center for the aerial gondola system. All three lines pass through the Caribbean Beach Resort station and guests can use it to transfer between lines. Switching lines on the Disney Skyliner is pretty straightforward and smooth. The lines run next to each other, so all you have to do is exit from one and enter the queue for your destination.
Disney Skyliner station locations
The Epcot Skyliner station is located near the International Gateway entrance. It is within easy walking distance of restaurants in Disney’s Boardwalk area as well as the Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts. When you arrive by Skyliner and enter Epcot from the International Gateway entrance, you’ll find yourself on the bridge between the United Kingdom and France in the World Showcase.
The Skyliner station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is located at the front of the park between the bus stops and the park entrance. You can’t miss it.
The Skyliner station for the Pop Century Resort and the Art of Animation Resort is located on the bridge that crosses the Hourglass Lake. If you’re staying at one of these hotels, you’ll have to switch lines at the Caribbean Beach Resort to either the Hollywood Studios line or Epcot line, depending on which park you’re headed to.
The Skyliner station at the Riviera Resort is located between the Riviera Resort and the Aruba section of the Caribbean Resort.
At Disney’s Caribbean Resort, the Skyliner station is just south of the Jamaica section of the resort. The station is also situated across the lake from the Trinidad section that has the pirate-themed rooms. If you want easy Skyliner access, ask for rooms on the west side of Caribbean Beach Resort (unfortunately, this is farthest from the pool and main building). However, the Caribbean Beach Resort does have an internal bus system.
Disney Skyliner operating hours
The Disney Skyliner does not have fixed operating hours. The hours vary seasonally according to park opening hours. Typically, the Skyliner starts operating 30-45 minutes before the parks open on any given day. The Skyliner continues to operate after park closing time and during Extra Magic Hours, up to 10 or 11 p.m. Disney further expands the Skyliner operating hours during busy times of the year.
Remember, the Disney Skyliner is the most weather-dependent of all the transportation options at Disney World. If there’s a storm or lightning or strong winds, the Skyliner is closed down for safety reasons. Guests must then use buses to get to and from the various Skyliner destinations.
How long does the Disney Skyliner take to get around?
Approximate travel times on the Disney Skyliner are as follows:
From Caribbean Beach Resort to Hollywood Studios: 5-6 minutes
From Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot: 12-14 minutes
From Caribbean Beach Resort to Pop Century/Art of Animation: 4-6 minutes
From Caribbean Beach Resort to Riviera Resort: 4-6 minutes
From Riviera Resort to Hollywood Studios: 10-12 minutes with a change at Caribbean Beach Resort
From Riviera Resort to Epcot: 9-10 minutes
From Art of Animation/Pop Century Resort to Hollywood Studios: 12-14 minutes with a change at Caribbean Beach Resort
From Art of Animation/Pop Century Resort to Epcot: 18-20 minutes with a change at Caribbean Beach Resort
To the above travel times, you need to add transfer times. However, note that outside of peak hours (park opening and park closing hours), transfers between lines on the Disney Skyliner can take literally just 30 seconds (the time it takes to walk from one line to the other). At peak hours, there can be wait times of up to 10 minutes for transfers on the Skyliner.
Is the Disney Skyliner free to ride?
Yes, like all Disney transportation services, the Disney Skyliner is free to ride. You can use it to transfer to Epcot or Hollywood Studios without any extra charge. If you want a joyride on the Disney Skyliner for bird’s eye views of Walt Disney World, you can do that too, free of cost. But if you want to ride the Skyliner for fun, keep in mind that it can get very busy at park opening and closing times, so this might not be the best idea. Also, you can’t ride the Skyliner without getting off. You will have to exit a gondola at the destination, but you can walk right back onto another one going the other way or transfer between lines at the Caribbean Beach Resort.
Do I need theme park tickets to ride the Disney Skyliner?
The Disney Skyliner stations are located outside the Epcot and Hollywood Studios theme park entrances. Therefore, you do NOT need admission tickets to these parks to ride the Skyliner. Also, you don’t need to be a guest at the Disney Resort hotels to ride the Skyliner.
Is the Disney Skyliner air-conditioned?
You might be surprised to learn that the Disney Skyliner gondolas are NOT air-conditioned. Given the Florida heat and humidity, we don’t blame you for rethinking your plans to ride the Skyliner. However, despite the lack of air-conditioning in the Skyliner, the cabins remain comfortable even in humid 90-degree weather. This is because the cabins are equipped with passive window vents that maximize airflow. So, there’s a nice breeze blowing into the gondola throughout the ride and the temperature inside remains comfortable.
Can you eat and drink on the Disney Skyliner?
Yes, food and drinks are permitted in the gondolas of the Disney Skyliner.
Are there restrooms on the Disney Skyliner?
There are no restrooms in the gondolas themselves. However, all Skyliner stations have restrooms with changing tables. Cast members will be happy to guide you to the nearest bathroom facility at a Skyliner station.
Can you take strollers and wheelchairs on the Disney Skyliner?
Yes, you can take strollers and wheelchairs on the Disney Skyliner. Most single strollers (30” x 48”) will not need to be collapsed, but double strollers will likely need to be folded up (because of the width). This makes the Disney Skyliner a great option for parents with small children because on the buses you have to collapse the stroller before every ride, regardless of size.
There’s a separate queue for people who use wheelchairs or mobility scooters on the Disney Skyliner. The gondolas come to a complete stop to allow safe boarding, then rejoin the rest of the cars on the continuously operating line. At the arrival station, the cars with wheelchair users again enter a special area to allow safe deboarding from a stopped gondola.
Can the Disney Skyliner gondolas get stuck mid-air?
Malfunctions can happen on the Disney Skyliner. In one such incident, guests got stuck for 3 hours before they were rescued. However, this is extremely unlikely to happen. If your gondola stops mid-air, do not panic. There are phones in each Skyliner gondola and Disney has first responders who are trained to assist you very quickly. If you find yourself trapped in a gondola, call the number and tell the operator your gondola number (it’s clearly indicated on the glass door). You can also use the phone line if someone in your Skyliner gondola is experiencing a medical emergency. There’s water, cups, and a barf bag on board (useful if you’re stuck and nature calls). (Let’s hope you don’t have to find out how that works).
What’s the best Disney Resort hotel for the Disney Skyliner?
If using the newest transportation system at Disney World is high on your list of must-do Disney experiences, then the Caribbean Beach Resort is the obvious choice for accommodation because it is the Disney Skyliner hub. From here, you can hop onto a gondola for a quick transfer to Epcot and Hollywood Studios without needing to change lines. The Caribbean Beach Resort is a moderate Disney resort with a relaxed vibe, a lovely pool, and some pirate-themed rooms.
With that said, all four Disney Resort hotels on the Skyliner route are great options and offer convenient connections to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Pop Century and Art of Animation are Value Disney resorts that have some great offers for families. If you want a more intimate resort, Riviera Resort has a nice Mediterranean vibe and is small enough to make walking around the resort easy.
Have bus services to Epcot and Hollywood Studios been stopped after Disney Skyliner opened?
Disney has reduced the frequency of the bus services to Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the resorts that have a Skyliner station. The buses now run once an hour while the Skyliner is operating. However, this is not a problem most of the time since the Skyliner offers a convenient and efficient transportation mode from these properties to the two parks.
What happens when a Skyliner line goes down?
Stoppages of 2-5 minutes are not uncommon. However, stoppages of the Disney Skyliner for 15+ minutes are extremely rare. If one or more lines of the Disney Skyliner are down, Disney operates buses to get people where they need to go. At Epcot, if the Skyliner is down, guests may have to go to one of the nearby hotels and catch a bus from there.
Will the Disney Skyliner expand?
An expansion of the Disney Skyliner is in the pipeline. The new Skyliner route will supposedly run from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the Coronado Springs Resort and ultimately to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Rumor also has it that the Coronado Springs station will be a bigger hub than the Caribbean Beach Resort. There are even plans (unconfirmed) of connecting Coronado Springs to Blizzard Beach via pathways and bridges.
Tips and tricks for Disney Skyliner
Here are some tips to help you make the most of the Disney Skyliner.
- The gondolas soar up to 60 feet above the ground. If you have a terrible fear of heights, this may not be the best Disney transportation option for you.
- If you’re a large group, then up to 10 of you can ride in one gondola. However, with a wheelchair or stroller in the gondola, the capacity drops to 6 including the person in the wheelchair or stroller, so you may need to split your party into two gondolas.
- Most people with minor motion sickness do alright on the Disney Skyliner. The cabins can sway a little or even jolt, especially when taking off and coming to a stop. The ride itself is smooth for the most part. If you tend to get motion sickness, it helps to sit in the direction you’re moving (similar to car rides).
- If you’re staying at Disney’s Caribbean Resort, ask for rooms in the Jamaica section of the resort which is closest to the Skyliner station. The Caribbean Resort is big and if you’re in some other section, you’ll end up spending a fair bit of time getting to the Disney Skyliner station.
- When you’re staying at a Skyliner resort, remember that Disney’s Boardwalk is within easy access of the Epcot Skyliner station, giving you dozens of dining options (don’t forget to keep an eye on the clock because Skyliner operating hours are tied to park opening hours – there’s always Uber, of course – but your best bet is on the days there are Extra Magic Hours at Epcot when the Skyliner may be operational until midnight).
- If you want to capture fabulous photos of the Disney Skyliner gondolas, head to the Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts. Pictures of the gondolas in the foreground with a stunning sunset as the backdrop over a glistening Hourglass Lake will have all your social media followers oohing and ahhing.
- If you are staying offsite and park your car in the Epcot parking lot and want to use the Disney Skyliner, be mindful of the park opening hours. The Epcot Skyliner station is at the back of the park whereas the parking lots are out front. Once Epcot closes, you cannot walk through the park from the Skyliner station to your car in the parking lot. You’ll need to take a Minnie van or Uber it.