Walt Disney World reveals more details about its new Skyway system

December 8, 2017, 11:26 AM · The Walt Disney World Resort this morning released new concept art and details about its upcoming "Disney Skyliner" aerial tramway that will connect Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios with the Caribbean Beach and Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts.

Unlike the old Skyway buckets that once carried visitors between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, these gondolas will be enclosed... and some of them will be adorned with Disney character images, such as Mickey and the Fab Five, the Haunted Mansion's Hitchhiking Ghosts, and various Disney Animation movie characters.

Austrian manufacturer Doppelmayr is providing the 10-person gondolas, and contractors have been working on the system since last spring. This isn't the first installation of such as transportation system at a theme park. The Singapore Cable Car network that can be used to reach Resorts World Sentosa — the home of Universal Studios Singapore — also uses Doppelmayr gondolas.

At Walt Disney World, the Caribbean Beach station will be the network's official hub, connecting the stations at Epcot's International Gateway, the Disney's Hollywood Studios entrance, and the shared station for the Art of Animation and Pop Century resorts.

Caribbean Beach Disney Skyliner station
Caribbean Beach Disney Skyliner station. All concept art courtesy Disney

Epcot Disney Skyliner station
Epcot International Gateway station

Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney Skyliner station
Disney's Hollywood Studios station

No word yet from Disney on when the new system will be operational... or on who will get to use it. Or if the addition of a non-bus resort transportation system will affect the pricing and status of the three resorts that the Disney Skyliner will serve. Up until now, only Disney's Deluxe resorts have enjoyed direct transportation to a Walt Disney World theme park on something other than a bus.

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Replies (25)

December 8, 2017 at 11:35 AM · Man, I miss the Skyway and this does look cool. Did worry about the issues regarding winds and folks dumping stuff out that played a part in closing the Skyway off in the first place but it looks like the design of the gondolas will work on that. No doubt be a few years but this should be an attraction in its own right for a fun view of the parks.
December 8, 2017 at 12:05 PM · Hope the cars aren't hermetically sealed. I want them open to the outside.
December 8, 2017 at 12:14 PM · This looks like an awesome add-on for both entertainment, if anyone can use it, or simply as transportation. It is definitely an E-ticket type experience, but I'm guessing it's only for the hotel guests and not just anyone can walk on - which is probably for the best. Still have concerns about weather related issues, i.e. thunderstorms, lightning, etc. WDW will have to shut it down in those instances, regardless of how stable or reinforced they are. Look at the balloon ride in Disney Springs. They are shut down practically every day during the summer because of winds or weather related issues. Can't imagine this would be any different. Still looking forward to it. Will add an extra kick to the "world"...
December 8, 2017 at 12:24 PM · It also doesn't say how long it will take to get between the parks and resorts. If passengers going between EPCOT and DHS have to transfer at a hub at Caribbean Beach, that will not be any faster than taking the boats or walking between the parks through the International Gateway. The information also does not say what the theoretical capacity of the transportation system would be. All of the resorts being connected are fairly large resorts, so even if you're stuffing 10 people in every gondola every 30-45 seconds, it could create quite a wait during peak hours with thousands of guests in each of those resorts at any one time (particularly Pop and Art of Animation - probably close to 10k guests staying at those 2 on an average day). If guests from Pop/AoA have to transfer at Caribbean Beach to get to the parks, it makes the Skyway way more inefficient than just taking a bus to the parks, and the flood of passengers from Pop/AoA at the Caribbean Beach hub will make using the gondola unpalatable for CB guests.
December 8, 2017 at 12:48 PM · It's difficult to tell from the pictures, but I wonder if they are enclosed or open ? If closed, they must surely have air-conditioning ?
Can't see them being used a great deal after 3:30/4:00pm in the summer with all the thunder storms we get like clockwork almost every day. I assume they will use the 5 mile lightening limit as well ?
December 8, 2017 at 1:26 PM · they look enclosed to me.
December 8, 2017 at 1:36 PM · Fantastic! Another amazing addition to WDW. The 8th wonder of the world.
December 8, 2017 at 2:43 PM · How would it be a wonder? Okay, these systems aren't just anywhere, but there's so many of them that they're not exactly rare... and they're not exactly high tech either.

I've been on the Emirates Air Line, other than it having more stops I don't see how its any different.

December 8, 2017 at 2:56 PM · I detected some sarcasm in ProfPlum's comment.
December 8, 2017 at 3:27 PM · OK, a tad ambiguous but no sarcasm. Honest! I think it will be fantastic and WDW, as a whole, is the 8th WotW, not the skyway in particular.
December 8, 2017 at 3:38 PM · The gondolas are not for park hopping. It's for the convenience of the resort guests to return to their rooms and visit any theme park on the route. I wish they made the theme parks the hub instead of the first station outside of DHS. I also wished they made the gondolas larger. The 10 passenger gondolas can barely fit two families. It makes travel time longer especially since park hoppers will still use the system and clog up the seats for resort guests.
December 8, 2017 at 5:09 PM · I would have thought the clearest place for a hub is the hub they already have - TTC...
December 8, 2017 at 6:15 PM · I love the fact that the stations are themed to their location. The Hollywood Studios one is the best, but the others are good too. Its not going to be faster or put a dent in the need for buses, but its better than keeping the status quo. Better for the environment and more unique than a bus even if it does not decrease the need for buses at all.

I think Disney just needs to bite the bullet and spend the money to expand the monorails to go to all the parks. Build a line from Epcot that goes to DHS, and then Animal Kingdom, and then one from Animal Studios to the Magic Kingdom. Then the can just have all the buses just go from the resorts to the nearest park, then people can use the the monorails to the other parks.

December 8, 2017 at 7:04 PM · This looks really good, and it should help tremendously with transport around the resort. For anyone concerned about the viability of the system, this is Doppelmayr's latest gondola technology that has never been used in the US before. It will reportedly be capable of moving 5,000 people per hour in each direction, the highest capacity of any gondola system in the world, and with a rope speed of almost 1,400 ft/min it should only be about 10 minutes between Epcot and DHS (plus the time needed for one transfer). As for rider restrictions, I fully expect Disney to only permit hotel guests to use it during the morning rush (at least going to the parks), but after that I don't see why they'd need to restrict usage...after all, the capacity is comparable to that of a single monorail line.
December 8, 2017 at 7:23 PM · They forgot to draw in all the people in the extremely long line
December 9, 2017 at 1:52 AM · Presumably they are going to have to considerably beef up the International Gateway at Epcot. Up till now it's been a quaint little-used 'back door' into Epcot but this is going to make it major entry-point. The current handful of turnstiles aren't going to be anything like enough unless Disney wants to create a whole new 'waiting in line' experience...
December 9, 2017 at 6:30 AM · THis system looks like something that sounds good on paper, but practically won't really be as useful as it seems.
December 9, 2017 at 7:42 AM · I agree Randy. The Peoplemover, the Monorail, and the steam train are part of what defines the Disney brand. They should go back to their roots and do what is right, rather than what is quick and cheap.
December 9, 2017 at 10:44 AM · Why connect to the international Gateway instead of Epcot’s monorail station?
That would gave acess to MK for all guests of those resorts.
December 9, 2017 at 5:43 PM · I'm just not sure about it. Weather won't be too much of a problem as in the alps these things go during snowfall and everything. But potential sinkholes, terrorism, breakdowns stranding (like the monorail) hundreds of guests in the air and in the heat, lack of maintenance (like the monorail) and it's safety hazards and of course the guests who are probably going to pull the craziest and raunchiest stuff in these things if they can get the chance.
But it's nice for once Disney tries to improve the customer experience.
December 9, 2017 at 9:35 PM · As most guests only go to Magic Kingdom the goal is to move them to the less popular parks like DHS and Epcot where the new gondola ride will be the 3rd or 4th best attraction at both parks
December 10, 2017 at 1:12 PM · Ah. But this way, Flavio, they force guests to go through EPCOT to get to the gondola station. More chances they'll stop at a store or get a bite to eat. And ensures they'll have a ticket to EPCOT. Smart, huh?
December 11, 2017 at 12:19 AM · According to my information, you´re able to open 2 small windows in the gondolas in front and back facing direction. So you will get a nice breeze into the cabin during summer time. Sentosa / Singapore has the similar system, and it works quite nice. Can´t wait to see the system in operation.
December 11, 2017 at 8:30 AM · @Randy - The Monorail is an expensive relic. There were always plans to expand the current system to connect other parks and resorts, but the track and operational costs are just too high to make an expansion feasible.

@Flavio - The International Gateway makes the most sense because of the geometry of the system. Getting the station to the front of EPCOT would require a much longer leg that would travel either around the perimeter of the park or cross right through it - unsightly. IG can handle the influx of additional guests - it's rarely manned fully with many gates and security tables empty. Perhaps they widen the promenade to allow for more guests to wait prior to park opening, but beyond that, it will just require more manpower to facilitate getting more guests into EPCOT through that entrance. They may also need to rework entry protocol from the IG since more guests would be entering the park from that direction to give those guests the same fair chance at getting to high demand attractions at rope drop.

I agree that the hub should have been placed at DHS - there's certainly plenty of land there, especially since they're already reworking that parking lot and bus bays for Galaxy's Edge. Having a hub at a resort doesn't really make much logistical sense unless you're deliberately trying to make that resort more desirable.

December 13, 2017 at 5:36 PM · Doppelmayr produces excellent cable cars.

Next week, on 21 December 2017, a new cable car from Doppelmayr/Garaventa will be put into operation on the highest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze 2962 m. This cable car has three world records at the same time.
From the valley station Eibsee, 998 m, you will reached the Zugspitze by a non-stop trip in only 8 minutes. Each cabin holds 120 people. Between the valley station and the mountain station there is only one support, which is 127 m high. Between the Support and the mountain station, the rope 3213 m hangs completely free. Each of the four carry cables has a diameter of 72 mm and weighs 153 tons. The drive power is 1.8 MW. It is a very good decision by Walt Disney's management to intruct the best cable car manufacturer to build the new cable car. Here the trip (full ride) with the old cable car, which was built in 1961/1962 by the company Heckel, Saarbrücken, Germany. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_6BDaTT2b8

Best wishes from Thomas, Munich, Germany

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