We just recently returned from a week-long trip to Walt Disney World staying completely inside the "Disney Bubble". For as many times as my wife and I (and now our son) have been to WDW, this was the first time we had visited without a car, and were completely reliant upon Disney Transportation. When selecting the resort for our stay, price is typically our driving factor, and Pop Century offers some of the most reasonably priced rates on property.
This was our third stay the the Disney value resort but the first time since Disney opened their Skyliner gondola system, and even though I had been highly critical of the system since it was announced, I approached the transportation alternative with open eyes. After a week of traveling around the WDW Resort, I can confidently say that Disney's Skyliner is the most innovative and convenient transportation system on property. We never waited more than 3 minutes to board, even in the evenings after park closing at the busy Caribbean Beach hub station. The longest ride on the system was 13 minutes to travel between EPCOT and Caribbean Beach that included multiple stops and slowdowns. The Skyliner is a breath of fresh air for guests who are frustrated with packed, infrequent bus service, and every time we queued for a bus during our trip, we lamented that there was not an option for us to take the Skyliner to our destination instead.
The system is not without its flaws, and I will stand by my initial criticism that cabins may get extremely warm on hot and humid Florida summer days. Temperatures were consistently in the 60s and low 70s during our week in Orlando, and while there was a noticeable breeze from the vents, I still worry that stuffing 10 heavy breathers into an enclosed space will make the trip somewhat uncomfortable for guests that are more heat sensitive.
Another odd observation we had throughout our experiences on the system was the uncomfortable silence with guests sharing a cabin with us. There were a few trips where we struck up conversations with our cabin-mates, but other times where we were staring blankly at each other. While the cabin contains a speaker that gives some instructions and information, there are long stretches of trips where there is no music or talking, and with the virtually silent operation of the system from inside the cabin, it can be really awkward to share a cabin with guests content in just staring silently across the cabin at you.
We eventually got used to it, but the approach from the Caribbean Beach hub station to the Pop Century/Art of Animation station is low to the ground and at such a high velocity that it feels like you're going to crash into the preceding gondola when you reach the station. We never experienced an incident while riding, but it was extremely disconcerting to come into the station at such a high rate of speed with rapid deceleration that tips the cabin at least 20-degrees as it enters the station.
My only other quibble with the Skyliner was that it was not running early enough in the morning to accommodate DHS hours. Disney continues to move DHS opening hours up to 7 AM, and if guests want to ride Rise of the Resistance, it's critical that they be in the park before the official opening time to secure a Boarding Group. However, the Skyliner did not start operating until 7:30 AM during our entire trip, so we were forced to ride a bus to the park on days that began at DHS. At least Disney was running frequent buses to DHS during the early morning hours for guests wanting to get to the park in time, but it was frustrating that we couldn't just ride the Skyliner.
I've always been a HUGE proponent of the Disney buses, and have rarely had an issue with them. This trip, we had a few hiccups here and there with the buses, but every time we were forced to take a bus (either to DHS in the morning or to DAK or MK), we wished we could take the Skyliner instead. Here's hoping the cabins don't get too hot in the summer, and Disney expands the system in the near future so that all parks and resorts can be connected using this efficient and convenient form of transportation.Tweet
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