9 Things to Know Before Your First Disney Skyliner Ride
The Disney Skyliner is finally in operation at Walt Disney World. Real people have ridden this new form of transportation, and some of them don’t even work for The Walt Disney Company! Now that many unbiased opinions are out there, let’s talk about the new system. Here are nine things to know before your first Disney Skyliner ride.
The Skyliners Don’t Stop…Mostly
You may have heard that the Disney Skyliner is perennially in motion. In a way, it’s like a mid-air version of the Omnimover system. And one of the strange parts of an Omnimover is that the ride rarely stops.
You know this, of course, but you still probably take it for granted. After all, when you board a Doom Buggy or a PeopleMover tram, you’re jumping on board a moving vehicle. It’s moving so slowly that you give the matter little thought, though.
The Skyliner behaves similarly. While it will stop for wheelchair accessibility and the like, the gondola system remains in motion almost all the time. However, during the loading and unloading phases, it creeps along at a glacial speed that wouldn’t allow it to win the three-legged race at the company picnic.
The Seating Is Spacious
When you watch an object move through the sky, it seems much smaller than it actually is. You could hold your thumb in front of an airplane and possibly block it out of view entirely. The same premise applies to the gondola system.
You’ve likely watched videos of the Disney Skyliner and marveled at how modestly sized the carriages are. That’s a trick of perspective. When you enter a gondola for the first time, you’ll appreciate just how large each cabin is.
These vessels seat 10 comfortably, although you’re under no obligation to fill up the space. Disney will apparently push for maximum occupancy only during the most crowded periods. So, you’ll have PLENTY of space during your gondola ride. Stretch out and enjoy the view. Speaking of which…
The Wraps Aren’t Perfect
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that have excited me the most about the Disney Skyliner is the appearance. Disney’s promotional materials showed gondolas covered in wraps, high-quality images of beloved characters. I’ve excitedly debated which gondola I would prefer to ride, already planning out the social media picture in my mind.
Well, I got ahead of myself a bit. As it turns out, park officials knew something when they decided to build some gondolas without the wraps. It turns out that the gorgeous prints that cover the side of the vehicle cause a problem.
When you choose a gondola with a Disney print, you’ll have an obstructed view during your ride. The facings of the prints are somewhat see-through, but they’re not entirely invisible. The situation causes a kind of blurring effect. It’s negligible to some and a deal-breaker for others.
My suggestion is that you ride once in a wrapped gondola and then once in a plain one. Decide for yourself whether the obstructed view bothers you. If it does, choose plain gondolas most of the time.
Otherwise, enjoy your favorite Disney character and the view. You’ll get to study Walt Disney World buildings from an entirely new perspective. In a way, this form of transportation is also a new ride!
You Can’t Stay on the Gondola Indefinitely
The Disney Skyliner system is still new. Ergo, some misinformation is out there about how transfers work. Cast members have been clear on one point, though. At some point, you’ll need to exit the gondola. You can’t simply circle indefinitely.
According to Disney, some of the gondola stations are hubs. They are the end of the line, so to speak. Epcot and the Art of Animation/Pop Century stations are the start and finish of the Skyliner system. Meanwhile, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is the hub.
The current information suggests that when you reach any of these three locations, you must exit your gondola. You totally have the option to enter another skyboat immediately. To keep the system running smoothly, Disney needs guests to make the switch, though.
Overall, whether you’ll need to switch gondolas depends on where you start and where you finish. For example, a ride from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort wouldn’t require a transfer. A trip from Epcot to Hollywood Studios would, though.
At least, that’s the current word. The situation is fluid during the early days. Disney won’t finalize plans until they have more data about traffic patterns.
The Rides Are Short
Given the above, you may wonder about the length of travel time needed when you go from Point A to Point B. The situation will vary depending on crowds, accessibility needs, and the like.
The most important fact right now is that you’re unlikely to be on a gondola for more than 10 straight minutes. The longest possible travel time is just over 12 minutes, and you’d have to switch vehicles to do that.
So, a ride on the Disney Skyliner will take a few minutes to get from station to station. While I haven’t timed it yet, I think that you could go from Epcot to the All-Star Resorts hub in as little as 20 minutes.
The Heat Isn’t An Issue
Last year, Disney officials surprised fans by announcing that the Skyliner gondolas don’t come with air-conditioning. Many people worried that they’d melt in the Florida sun. At the time, MickeyBlog stressed that Imagineers wouldn’t do this unless they were confident about the climate.
Sure enough, the gondolas come equipped with cooling vents. Early reviews suggest that the temperature in the individual vessels is extremely comfortable. The prevailing belief is that the gondolas operate in the low 80s, which is perfectly reasonable for Orlando in September.
The Weather Could Be an Issue
Something you should understand is that the Skyliner system will shut down during inclement weather. Any sign of lightning in the area is enough for park officials to close the gondolas until the skies clear.
You’ll appreciate this safety precaution when you’re in the situation. Alas, you could run way late for a FastPass or Advanced Dining Reservation due to the weather.
When you plan to rely on the Skyliner, you should get in the habit of checking the weather ahead of time. At a minimum, research the forecast for the next few hours. That way, you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises in terms of unexpected shutdowns.
Are You Afraid of Heights
I don’t want to mislead anyone or sugarcoat the situation. You’re high in the air when you ride the Disney Skyliner. Anyone who suffers from a fear of heights may want to skip the gondola system altogether.
Those of you who aren’t sure can perform a simple test. Visit the hub at Caribbean Beach and take a trip to Hollywood Studios. It’s one of the shortest possible rides and should be over in less than five minutes. You can tell during this journey whether you feel upset over the height of the gondola.
The Bathroom Situation
Are you worried about a full bladder? Obviously, the gondolas don’t come equipped with bathrooms. You wouldn’t want to go while the vehicle is in motion anyway, right? Don’t worry, though!
The Disney Skyliner hubs have bathrooms. Since, as we’ve discussed, you’re never in the air for more than a few minutes, you’re never far away from a functional bathroom.
By the way, the main station at Caribbean Beach has a Joffrey’s coffee kiosk. So, you can go ahead and fill up your bladder again whenever you need a coffee fix during your park day.