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Welcome to our Walt Disney World Skyliner Page. Here we’ll go over everything having to do with WDW’s newest transportation system, plus we’ll offer some tips.
Walt Disney World’s Skyliner gondola system connects Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera Resorts with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway.
The Disney Skyliner system is has a main station at the Caribbean Beach Resort from which which 3 separate gondola cable lines run. The cables run continuously, unless momentarily paused due to a loading or unloading issue.
If someone has an issue boarding or exiting, cast members hit a button which causes the entire line to smoothly come to a momentary stop. after a couple of seconds at rest, the line smoothly restarts.
While in the loading and unloading areas the gondolas move at a slow pace, making it easy to board your party even with strollers. For those who need a little more time to board or exit, such as those in ECV scooters, there is a separate off cable stationary boarding areas at most stations.
At the point where the gondolas U-turn there is a small additional extended section where gondolas are pulled off the cable so that they can be stationary for ECV unloading and loading and then put back on the cable.
All stations have a handicap loading area except the Riviera Station.
Gondolas hold up to 10 people on 2 wood park bench like seats, 1 facing front and 1 facing aft with room in-between for strollers or scooters.
The gondolas are not air-conditioned, but 6 inch tilt out windows on 3 sides provide ample breeze even on hot days. On rainy days the windows may allow some rain in if not mostly closed.
When running the Skyliner provides a quick ride between its various stations, with occasional momentary stops as needed for the afore mentioned loading/unloading issues.
The Skyliner does not run during high winds or lighting conditions and also has times when individual sections may not run for technical reasons. On my most recent trip the Skyliner (or Epcot line) was not running for much of 3 of the 4 days I stayed at the Riviera
There are 5 stations and 1 Turn Station where there is no boarding or exiting.
You can see the locations of the stations on the image below
The stations are located as follows:
- Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts Station (right bottom red square) – This station is located on the bridge between the 2 resorts
- Caribbean Beach Resort (right middle large red square) – This station services the southern portion of the Caribbean Beach and is the Main Station, where transfers are required for those arriving who desire to continue on to another destination.
- The Riviera Resort (top right red square) – This station services the Rivera and northern portion of the Caribbean Beach. This station serves as both a turn point and an loading and unloading station
- Hollywood Studios (left bottom red square)
- Epcot (top left red square) – This station serves both Epcot and the nearby Epcot Deluxe Resorts
- Turn Station (yellow square) – This station serves only as a turn point, no loading or unloading is possible
Notes on Individual Resort Hotel Stations
Resorts on the Skyliner system fall into all 3 of Walt Disney World’s Resort Categories:
- The Riviera Resort is a Deluxe DVC Resort
- The Caribbean Beach Resort is a Moderate Resort
- While the Art of Animation and Pop Century Resorts are Value Resorts
If you are interested in staying at a Skyliner Resort, besides considering price, you should consider ease of access to the Skyliner. And by access that I mean wait times.
If you ask your front desk or other Disney Help Venue what time you should arrive at the Skyliner station they will always tell you the stock answer of 20 minutes prior to when you want to be in the parks. While this is a good answer during light travel times, such as mid-day, it is totally wrong when the theme parks are getting ready to open!
First a note about the Caribbean Beach Station. The Caribbean Station is the main station as mentioned before. the 3 different lines radiate out from here. When you arrive at this station from another you will have to exit your gondola, because it will be doing a U-Turn and going back to where you came from. If your destination is not the Caribbean Beach, you will need to board another Skyliner Route.
Disney’s current policy is that, if you arrive at the Caribbean Station and there is a line already waiting there to go to your intended destination, you will be required to go to the end of that line. My Example is that I was trying to get to Hollywood Studios by 10 a.m. to join a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group. I departed the Riviera Station at 9:40 with zero wait to get on a gondola. When I arrived I was told to go to the back of the Hollywood Studios Line which stretched half way down the entry ramp to the station.
Caribbean Beach Resort – The Caribbean Beach Resort is a large Moderate Resort. It has 1536 guest rooms, so can potentially have up to 6000+ guests per night.
This resort sits on both sides of a very long narrow lake that runs north/south. In the middle of the lake it narrows considerably and there is a bridge across for local traffic. There are 5 sections of the resort named after Caribbean Islands: Aruba and Jamaica sit on the west side of the northern portion of the lake with Aruba being furthest north. On the east side from the north to south are Martinique, Old Port Royale (the lobby and main services area), and Barbados. On the southern portion of the lake the Skyliner Station sits on the west side and Trinidad is on the east.
The Riviera Resort Sits on the very norther shore of the lake as well.
Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad are closest to the Caribbean Beach Station. While Aruba and Martinique are closer to the Riviera Station.
Those going to Epcot from Aruba and Martinique are better off walking to the Riviera station. Note that if you are going to Hollywood Studios from the Riviera when you arrive at the Caribbean Beach Station from the Riviera you will have to get off and get in line to go to DHS!
Lines at the Caribbean Beach Station can get long prior to each park opening (especially Hollywood Studios)! You have the those from your resort going to these 2 parks Plus those coming from the much bigger Value Resorts on the south end of the Skyliner, and a few going to DHS from the Riviera.
When you enter the station you will see the 3 different lines. Art of Animation/Pop Century to the left, Hollywood Studios straight ahead, and Riviera/Epcot to the right.
Art of Animation/Pop Century Resorts – These 2 resorts have a combined 3784 rooms. That’s up to a max of 17000+ guests. Now they all aren’t going to Epcot na dHollywood Studios, but a lot are…
Lines here can get long. Recently (during social distancing operations) the line to board in the morning stretched up the right side of Hourglass Lake to the 50s section of Pop Century, that’s about .15 miles.
Keep in mind that once you arrive at the Caribbean Beach Station from here, if there is a line for where your destination, you go to the back of the line! SO you have to plan your leave the room time based on lines at your station and the Caribbean Station!
Riviera Resort – Coming in at only 300 rooms, this is the smallest Skyliner Resort. You’ll experience zero to minimal waits at your station.
Epcot is a quick 10 minutes away. But when heading to Hollywood Studios, you’ll have to get in line behind those from the Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century.
The system is not a single uninterrupted cable that runs entirely around to all stations. Rather it is divided into 3 sections which you need to transfer between (by getting off and on again) at the Caribbean Beach Transfer Station.
The three sections or routes are:
- Epcot – Which runs from the Caribbean Beach Resort to the Rivera Resort and on to Epcot and back
- Disney Hollywood Studios – Which runs from the Caribbean Beach Resort to Disney Hollywood Studios and back
- Pop Century/Art of Animation – Which runs from the Caribbean Beach Resort to the Art of Animation & Pop Century Resorts Station and back
When you enter the Caribbean Beach Station the 3 routes are arranged in a T, with Epcot to the right, Hollywood Studios straight ahead, and AoA/Pop to the left.
The Epcot Line – When looked at from above the Epcot line is running clockwise When standing at this route looking straight down its path, gondolas arrive in the station on the right side, riders exit and then the gondolas continue on and make a U-turn and head back the way they came with new riders boarding on the left side.
This route is the longest and travels over various in use areas of WDW versus parking lots and natural areas as the other lines do.
From the Caribbean Beach station you’ll soar over the Jamaica and Aruba sections of the Caribbean Resort and make a turn at the Riviera Station. You mat get off here if the Riviera is your destination or stay on to go to Epcot.
You’ll then cross over then parallel Buena Vista Drive.
Then you will make another turn at the BoardWalk Turn Station.
You’ll travel over the BoardWalk parking lot, and past the BoardWalk Convention Center,
Next you will glide behind the France Pavilion and then arrive at Epcot’s International Gateway.
Travel time on this route minus any brief pauses is roughly: Caribbean Beach to Riviera – 3 minutes, Riviera to Epcot – 8 minutes
The Hollywood Studios Line – This route runs counter clockwise, boarding on its right side and arrivals on the left.
This route travels over a path cut through a large stand of pine trees and Hollywood Studio’s parking lot entrance and parking lot.
Travel time on this route minus any brief pauses is roughly: 5 minutes from Caribbean Beach to Hollywood Studios
The Art of Animation/Pop Century Line – This route also runs counter clockwise, boarding on its right side and arrivals on the left.
This route is the lowest in height of the 3 routes as there are no obstacles along the way. It glides over scrub brush, one of the AoA parking lots, and Hourglass Lake between the resorts. The AoA/Pop Station is on the bridge between the resorts.
Travel time on this route minus any brief pauses is roughly: 3 and a half minutes from Caribbean Beach to Art of Animation and Pop Century station.
Riding the Skyliner
The Skyliner is quick and efficient when running.
As a reminder, that Skyliner doesn’t run in high winds, when lighting is near, or when it’s broke…
Also keep in mind that in the summer months it rains every afternoon in Central Florida, sometimes severely.
Skyliner Resorts have no, or limited bus service to Epcot and Hollywood Studios when the Skyliner is running.
What if the Skyliner is not running?
There is no notice at your resort, in the parks, or via the My Disney Experience app that the Skyliner is not running! This can mean extra walking for you if you walk to the Skyliner station and then discover that it is not running!
Resorts – When the Skyliner is down, signs will be placed at each resort Skyliner station directing you to the resort’s bus stop. At the Riviera, Art of Animation, and Pop Century the Skyliner station is located at the opposite side of the resort from the bus stop. you’ll need to walk about a .25 mile on top of the walk to the Skyliner station at all 3 of these resorts.
I recommend finding a spot (AoA & Pop) as close to your room as possible or window facing the Skyliner (Riviera) where you can see a portion of the Skyliner route or routes that you desire to ride if possible. Do a quick check to see if it is running before walking to the station.
It is possible for different sections of the Skyliner to be down while other sections are running. During my last stay the Epcot – Riviera – Caribbean section was mostly down 3 days of my 4-day stay while the other sections Art of Animation/Pop Century – Caribbean Beach – Hollywood Studios were running.
At the Caribbean Beach they have a bus stop at the Skyliner station that becomes active when the Skyliner is down. But if one of the other bus stations is closer to your room you should follow my advice to find a spot close to the room to check if the Skyliner is running.
Hollywood Studios – This is the station where it doesn’t matter whether the Skyliner is running or not. The Skyliner station is located right next to the bus station. No extra walking.
Epcot – This is the absolute worst place to be when the Skyliner is not operating! The Skyliner Station is located outside the International Gateway Entrance to Epcot, near the back of the park, very far from the Epcot bus station located at the front entrance!
It is .75 miles between the Skyliner and bus stations! Walking between the 2 would be on top of the up to .75 miles you walked to get to the Skyliner station in the first place. Add to that the additional distance if you are at the furthest bus stop at the very spread out Epcot Station (another .25 miles). This exact thing happened to me. I walked to the Skyliner from almost the front of the park near the end of a long day, only to find out that it was not running and I had to walk all the way back to the bus station.
MDT Tip – There are many places all around the World Showcase and approaching it from the front of the park where you can see the Skyliner gondolas running above the trees way behind the park. Look to the left and right of the American Adventure or Japan just above the trees!
Knowing whether it is running or not will save you lots of steps!
Note – when the Skyliner is down Disney does send buses to the Beach Club to carry passengers to the Skyliner resorts. This is a much shorter walk, but the Skyliner cast member told me that they send fewer buses there to replace the Skyliner that they do to the front so it would actually be quicker to walk further to the front. I do not know if this is true or not.
How To Ride the Skyliner
When it is your turn to board, the cast member will ask how many in your party and tell you which gondola to board.
Getting on and off the Skyliner is easy! your gondola will be moving quite slowly along the boarding platform with about a inch or less gap between the gondola and the cement. Just step right in. Just make sure when stepping in to place your whole foot down in the gondola (or cement if exiting). Do not place half your foot down with half on the gondola and half on the ground!
Then just grab a seat on the bench seats facing the front or the rear.
The gondola will continue slowly to the end of the boarding platform. Once clear of the platform the gondola will accelerate quickly, causing it to swing to the rear slightly and you’ll feel a few bumps as the gondola attachment point to the cable goes under the guide wheels.
Your gondola will then angle up and come to it’s full traveling height. There will be slight bumps when passing each of the towers and going over the guide wheels, but less bumpy than during departure.
Check out our Skyliner Video!
You can adjust the windows on the front, rear, and side opposite the door for ventilation or to keep any rain out by pushing or pulling on the levers.
All Skyliner windows are tinted, but some have scrims placed on the windows. Scrims are plastic covering with lots of small holes that are applied to windows by Disney (and others) in order to place an image on the outside of the window, in this case Disney characters (it looks like they are riding in the gondola from the outside. From the inside you can still see out (though not as well) due to the multiple small holes in the scrim and its dark inner color. Disney has done this for years with their monorails and buses. The view is slightly restricted when looking out and the scrims really mess with photography. So of you plan to take pics or just want a better view, you can ask the cast member doing the boarding for a gondola without a scrim.
Exiting the Skyliner is just like getting on, just fully step onto the cement.
Rush Hour on the Skyliner
Skyliner gondola capacity under normal circumstances is 10 people. Cast members will seat several parties per gondola during peak travel times in order to achieve higher throughput and keep people from having to wait in long lines.
SPECIAL NOTE: During the extreme social distancing measured Disney is taking during this initial opening period after the 2020 closure they are only allowing only 1 party per gondola. This creates long lines at The Caribbean Beach and Art of Animation/Pop Century stations.
And this makes the requirement fo those arriving at the Caribbean Beach Station from the other stations to exit and go to the end of the Caribbean Beach station line even worse than it normally is!
Disney Skyliner Operating Hours
Hours of operation vary based on park hours are typically 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Note: during this Re-opening period with it’s short park hours it has been operating 9 – 8:30.
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