What are the Disney World Skyliner gondola’s?
This is the newest form of transportation to arrive at Disney World. Wikipedia says “A gondola lift is a means of cable transport and type of aerial lift which is supported and propelled by cables from above.”. Disney World guests can ride in small aerial Disney themed Skyliner cars that hang from cables. The Disney World Skyliner system is proving to be a big hit with Disney visitors! Demand has grown for hotels with access.
The Disney World Skyliner system went active in the fall of 2019. As with all Disney World transportation on-property, it’s free for everyone. We’ll go over everything you need to know! This includes info for those with strollers, and those with special needs such as mobility challenges, scooter and in wheelchair use, claustrophobia, fear of heights and motion sickness.
Be aware that there are some challenges with the system, and some people might want to pass on using the Skyliner. So, you’ll want to read through to the end. Also, we were told by a Disney bus driver that the Skyliners go down on average 111 times a year. When that happens, Disney will bring in buses, but of course this could take time.
The Disney themed aerial gondola stations are just found in six locations.
The Skyliners will connect guests to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and they’ll also be able to visit the resorts that are a part of the Skyliner system.
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Station is shared with Pop Century Resort)
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (This is the main station where you can transfer to Hollywood Studios or Epcot)
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Station is shared with Art of Animation Resort)
- Disney’s Riviera Resort (also close to Caribbean Beach Resort’s Aruba section)
- Epcot at the International Gateway (back entrance at the International Gateway)
- Hollywood Studios (Not far from the main entrance of the park)
The Skyliner at Epcot is within walking distance to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Beach Club, Disney’s Yacht Club. It’s a longer walk but doable to and from the Swan and Dolphin resorts.
This Disney World Skyliner station below is at the Caribbean Beach Resort:
And this Skyliner station is at Hollywood Studios:
What do the gondolas travel over?
The Disney World Skyliner gondolas travel primarily over the resorts and over water, reaching approximately 60 feet up in the air. There are some pretty cool sights to take in, including some parts of Hollywood Studios (including the Star Wars area), Epcot, etc.
Take a look at the view over Caribbean Beach with the new Riviera resort ahead in the background:
What do the Disney Skyliner Gondolas look like?
The brightly colored Gondolas are cheerfully decorated with Disney characters. Check out close-ups of a few of them here:
How many people can go in a single gondola on Disney’s Skyliner?
Each gondola has two bench seats. One faces forward, and one faces backwards.
- Up to 10 guests are permitted in a single gondola, without any strollers, wheelchairs or scooters. Having 10 in one gondola is likely to feel very crowded.
- Up to 6 guests are permitted if someone is driving a scooter or wheelchair, with only 1 wheelchair/scooter/ECV allowed in the cabin at a time. We’ve gotten feedback that more than two adults plus a scooter might feel tight. If you have more, you may wish to split up.
- Up to 6 guests are permitted if you have a stroller. This is true if the child is in or out of the stroller.
What if you have too many people for a single gondola?
If your party is larger than allowed, you’d be asked to split up, but the cast members should try to time it so that you’re not too far apart on your arrival at your destination.
What if you don’t have enough people to fill a gondola?
If your gondola still has room, you may be flying with people who are not a part of your group.
Strollers on the Disney World Skyliner gondola’s
Strollers are permitted but they must fit within a 30″X48″ space. If it’s larger, it won’t get through the door, but if it can be folded to fit in the space, that’s okay.
When you’re bringing on a stroller, even if it’s folded up, there’s a maximum of 6 people allowed. This is even if your child stays in the stroller. You can only take one stroller or a mobility device on the gondola. If you have more than one stroller, or a stroller and a mobility devices like a scooter or wheelchair, you’ll need to split up and take separate gondolas.
If you’re planning on renting a stroller, check out our article on Buena Vista Rentals and why we feel they’re your best choice.
How to board the Disney World Skyliner gondola
As the gondolas approach, the doors automatically open. The gondolas do not come to a stop, except in the handicapped boarding area.
They move continually but very slowly, and you’ll step on while it’s moving. It’s kind of like boarding some of the rides in the parks with moving walkways. If you’re unable to manage this, or if you need more time to board, you can board in the handicapped area where they can stop the gondola.
Once you step inside, you can sit on a bench seat, either facing forward or backwards. You’re required to stay seated throughout the ride.
It’s reasonably smooth, and may sway just a bit, especially if there’s wind. It rides at about 11 miles per hour according to the Orlando Sentinel. The acceleration at the start can feel fast, but it’s never really going that fast.
It can be a little bit bumpy and rocks a bit when it takes off and arrives at the station.
If people are moving around inside the gondola, or rocking the gondola on purpose (which Disney discourages you from doing), the gondola can rock.
Skyliner Temperature – No air conditioning. Is it hot in the Skyliner?
The Skyliner gondolas do NOT have air conditioning however from what we’ve been told, the Skyliners are designed to reflect heat rather than absorb it. They also have 4 vents that let in moving air, kind of like a fan.
We’re getting positive feedback on the comfort of the temperature of the moving gondolas. However according to Braden of Mickey Views (in the video below) who actually tested it out with a thermometer, the temperatures inside the gondolas seemed to be about the same as the outside air temperature. He still expressed that he felt reasonably comfortable because of the moving air, but that could be different from person to person.
As I mentioned above, it’s breezy when you’re riding. However if the gondolas are stopped, there would be no air flowing in. This would be a problem if the gondolas got stuck, and that’s always a possibility. Without the air blowing, it could feel hot on a really warm day. If that’s not something you can tolerate for long, you’ll want to skip the gondolas altogether.
One other thing to consider. If it’s raining outside, according to ZiggyKnowsDisney.com, water can get in through the vents and make things a little wet inside. You’ll have the ability to close the vents, but you’ll get hot quickly. There isn’t really a great solution.
You can watch Braden from Mickey Views test out the temperature at various times during the ride in the video below.
Storms and wind and the Disney World Skyliner gondolas
Disney tracks the wind and thunder storms with their own radar system, and if needed, they will stop gondola service. They’ll stop it if there’s lightning in the area, and they’ll stop it if it’s too windy. Of course they’ll bring in all the gondolas currently in use, and then stop the system.
Generally the ride is smooth but if it’s windy (but not windy enough to stop service), there may be some rocking of the gondolas. This should be relatively gentle.
If weather causes a shut down, you’d need to use buses. Disney will bring in buses when it shuts down, but that could take some time.
Handicapped Access to Skyliner Gondolas at Disney World
Some of the Skyliner stations have small inclines to get up to the station.
There is a separate handicapped line. Who can use it?
- Those with scooters, wheelchairs and ECVs can board here.
- Those with any health issues that make it difficult to board a moving gondola.
- Anyone who just needs more time to board than the moving gondolas allow for.
The gondola is taken off of the main line for you to board, and it’s completely stopped. There are no special accessible gondolas. Regular gondolas are accessible.
Mobility scooters, ECVs and wheelchairs are allowed in the gondolas, but they must fit within the size of 30″x48″ space.
Only 1 wheelchair, ECV or mobility scooter is allowed into a single gondola at a time.
To board, you can just drive right on, and when you leave you’ll drive right off. No ramp is needed. In the photo to the right, you can see that this scooter driver has driven right onto the gondola. The ground looks very level.
Once you’re in, the cast member may put small blocks (wheel locks) behind the back wheels of the scooter/wheelchair. If the manual wheelchair has brakes, blocks might not be used as long as the brakes are on. Either way you’ll want to lock the wheels in place. You can choose to stay in your wheelchair, ECV or scooter during the ride, or you can move to a bench seat.
The bench seats can be folded up and laid flat.
As mentioned above, there’s a limit of 6 people on a gondola if there’s a scooter, wheelchair or ECV. If you have more in your party, you’ll be split up. Some will be asked to go in the regular queue.
Emergencies in the gondolas
Each gondola has an Emergency Call Box, and you can push a button to call for help.
Disney also has an on-board speaker that will share alerts and updates during your ride. If there’s an emergency, they can let you know what’s happening.
There is also an emergency kit inside each gondola. Gondolas have been stuck at times, and these kits are meant to get you through the wait. They include a number of items:
- Water packets
- A note pad
- A container that we think is for bathroom purposes or to be used as a “barf bag”.
- Light stick
Keep in mind that if the gondolas stop, you will not have the breeze coming through the vents. Also, if Disney is not able to restart the gondolas, you’ll have to be removed in an alternative way, and it could take time, as in hours. If any of this sounds too difficult for you, you may want to use alternative transportation.
If guests need to be removed, they can do it. Reedy Creek Emergency Services is prepared to remove guests, even if the gondola is over water. This recently happened, and all of the guests were removed safely, but it took hours.
Motion sickness, fear of heights and claustrophobia with the Disney Skyliners
If you know you’re very prone to fear of heights, you may want to skip this form of transportation. It does go up around 60 feet, give or take, and you can see below and all around you.
For motion sickness, as mentioned above, it’s a pretty smooth ride, but there can be some gentle swaying. If that seems troublesome to you, you may want to skip this.
If you do decide to ride and you tend to have motion sickness, be sure to take the bench facing forward. It’s the same as in any vehicle when it comes to minimizing motion sickness – it’s better to face in the direction you’re moving. Plus seeing where you’re going can help orient you, which can also help to minimize motion sickness.
For claustrophobia, the gondolas are visually open and you can see around you outside, so that helps.
Check out this photo to get a sense of how open the gondola feels:
If you have a large party of people on the gondola, that could be a problem. You don’t want to be crushed inside if you have claustrophobia. You’ll want to try to keep your party on the smaller side, even if it means that you’ll need to split up.
If your party is too small, cast members may add others to your gondola. You might try explaining to a cast member that you’re claustrophobic and would rather ride with less people. I can’t guarantee they’ll comply, but they might. It’s really at the cast member’s discretion.
Bathrooms at the Skyliner stations
Four of the stations have bathrooms and a bathroom is being built at the fifth, Art of Animation/Pop Century station. The stations that have bathrooms: The Epcot station, Riviera Resort Station, Caribbean Beach Resort station, and the Hollywood Studios station.
A HUGE THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO RESEARCHED, AND DONATED PHOTOS AND VIDEO:
You all are so generous. Thanks so much to: Kim Barron, Sue Mickelson, Dawn M. Serio, Sammy Leete, Frederic Royer, Oliver Thorpe, Chris Holda, Pat Baniowska, Diane Henderson Piper, Tammie Kent, Rob Dybo, Jennifer Goetschius Passman, Michelle Cronin, Chris Mann, Perryn Olson, and Jeff Stoner for sharing their research and experiences, and for the photos and video. We really appreciate you all!
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