Here's a fresh look at Disney World's new gondola system

October 19, 2018, 11:22 AM · Walt Disney World is showing off some new concept views of its upcoming gondola system, now under construction in the heart of the resort.

The Disney Skyliner will connect Epcot to the upcoming DVC Disney's Riviera Resort, while another line will connect Disney's Hollywood Studios to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The third line will connect the Disney's Art of Animation and Disney's Pop Century Resorts with the Caribbean Beach and Riviera.

The Skyliner is why the parking lot and entrance plaza to Disney's Hollywood Studios has descended into construction zone hell over the past year, as Disney works on that park's loading station. Each of the five stations on the route will have a unique design, to complement its surrounding, so the system should look good once it's finished.

No word, still, from Disney on when that will be. But Disney has forecast a fall 2019 opening for the Riviera property, so that might be a good reference point for guessing when the Skyliner gondolas will be running.

Replies (21)

October 19, 2018 at 11:39 AM

That looks pretty expansive and intriguing. The idea of going right to the Studios will beef up guests at Caribbean Beach and linking to Pop/Animation (which are rather far from the other parks) is good too.

Plus, just seems a cool attraction in itself, the idea of seeing WDW from the air inside a nice closed car. Sure, I can see a few issues down the line with so many guests (not to mention surely have to close now and then in bad weather) but overall, this could work out well.

October 19, 2018 at 12:07 PM

"Plus, just seems a cool attraction in itself, the idea of seeing WDW from the air inside a nice closed car."

I wouldn't expect being 20 feet off the ground is going to really improve your vantage point of WDW. The lines are not going over any park space, so it's not like the Monorail riding through FutureWorld. WDW needed to do something to improve transportation between the parks and resorts, particularly DHS. I hope this system works, but as with any new form of transportation, there will be some growing pains. I think capacity and having to transfer to hop between EPCOT and DHS is going to severely limit the effectiveness of this system. I wouldn't be surprised to see 20-30 minute lines during peak morning hours at the Caribbean Beach hub station, which will see waves of guests arriving from Pop/AoA and Rivera Resorts along with guests actually staying at CB in the morning hours (and returning in the evening, along with park hopping).

October 19, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Only 20? The drawings and such made it look more than that. Well, guess safer that way.

Indeed, as much as I miss the old "Sky Buckets" at the Magic Kingdom, the fact it went 30 years without a major accident is downright miraculous.

October 19, 2018 at 12:47 PM

This is a great idea! I suppose by keeping the elevation to just 20 feet helps reduce the risk during thunder storms.

October 19, 2018 at 1:13 PM

Has it been verified yet if the gondolas are air conditioned? I know this has been a huge debate since the announcement of the project.

October 19, 2018 at 1:35 PM

"Only 20? The drawings and such made it look more than that. Well, guess safer that way."

There might be some spots where riders are sitting 30 feet above the ground, but based on the heights of the supports being erected (most not more than @40-50 feet tall), most of the system is not going to give much of a "bird's eye view". Plus, most of the lines are going over wooded areas and lakes, not the most picturesque. The leg between CB and EPCOT will go over part of the CB Resort and part of the Boardwalk's parking lot before touching down at the International Gateway, but I don't think they'll be any notable view of EPCOT or anything else along the way. The leg going between CB and DHS is straight across through Florida marshland and the DHS parking lot before touching down near where the boat docks - again, not very picturesque. The support towers already erected in the DHS parking lot are not more than 35-40 feet tall, indicating a pretty low slung approach to the park (there are some pretty good photos on Google Images that show the height of the support towers in the DHS parking lot with cars parked nearby for scale).

As far as AC, I don't think there's any way they could deploy a system like this without having AC in the cabins. It's going to probably be a pain to maintain (like any fleet of small AC systems), but I don't think they can stuff 10 people into a tiny glass box for more than 5 minutes without AC. The cabins that have been photographed arriving at WDW do not have AC units built into them, but like most small capsules (like those on large Ferris wheels and ski lifts) can have a small rooftop unit mounted to the top - the only question would be how those units would be powered since the cabins are not affixed to the moving cable. This would be a monumental failure in design if these cabins didn't have AC. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if they struggle keeping the AC units working, and I don't doubt guests will find some cabins like an ice box and others like a furnace, but to not have AC at all on the Skyliner would be one of the biggest Disney blunders of all time.

October 19, 2018 at 1:29 PM

No ac.

October 19, 2018 at 1:34 PM

@AngryDuck ..... not a chance re. the thunderstorms .... have you ever been here when we have one of our summer afternoon showers ... LOL ... :) And as always it's the associated lightening that's the problem. Just ride it in the morning, and all will be well.

October 19, 2018 at 4:23 PM

The cabins are open air with no AC ... Some of the towers that run through the Carribean resort are 60-plus feet tall.

October 19, 2018 at 6:10 PM

The sky ride at Cedar Point, while not holding ten guests in each cabin, also are open air and are one of the most comfortable rides on a hot day. You'd be surprised how much breeze there is just a short distance above the ground.

October 19, 2018 at 8:53 PM

They cannot possibly justify no AC. Florida is very different from Ohio. Russell is correct, the gondolas would be unsafe with no air conditioning and it would be a historic failure for Disney. They're also very clearly not open air in the concept art or in the photos we've seen of the physical gondolas.

October 19, 2018 at 10:28 PM

I rode similar gondolas in Hong Kong with no AC in the middle of June and it was in fact comfortable. It was still warm in the cabin, but the airflow was sufficient. I can argue that the heat and humidity in HK were way worse than anything I’ve experienced in Orlando. AC would be a wonderful addition but I think it’s going to OK without.

October 20, 2018 at 6:49 AM

The cab windows open to provide ventilation. Do you guys actually believe the designers would not take passenger comfort into consideration?

October 20, 2018 at 10:21 AM

@TH Creative: Yes, Disney designers do forget passenger comfort from time to time. The Disneyland Monorail Mark VII is a perfect example. They have no ac and can't operate above 85F I believe. Those trains do have windows that open for ventilation. I've been on it last year and it was very uncomfortable. And that is in SoCal where its alot drier than Florida. Would you go on the monorail here in Florida if the trains just had windows that opened? Add in weather concerns (BGT's skyride goes down when you sneeze on it), I think the Skyliner is going to be a huge flop. But I'll wait and see, hopefully I'm totally wrong.

October 20, 2018 at 1:37 PM

Get a job in the industry. Or at least try and meet the people who manage projects with WDW or UO. They're capable individuals with real experience developing complicated projects. Honestly, "...the gondolas would be unsafe"? Are you serious?

October 21, 2018 at 10:30 AM

The boats don't have air conditioning either so I will hold judgement.

I still don't get Disney's angle with all of this. What kind of service or efficiency is this going to fix? I mean, if they just want to do it because its cool, then they should just come out and say it. With Florida being Florida, I can see these gondolas not being efficient.

Personally, they should have just built this from Epcot to DHS. That would be the more promising route anyway.

October 21, 2018 at 2:00 PM

For efficiency, it's a lot better than taking a bus. If you figure a bus holds 50 people and arrives on average every 15 minutes, a gondola that holds 4 people that departs a station every 10 seconds means they transport 24 people per minute (or 360 people every 15 minutes).

October 21, 2018 at 6:46 PM

Open windows would not be enough to properly cool the compartments. Clearly you've never been to Florida. Maybe watch your tone a little bit?

October 22, 2018 at 9:40 AM

"The sky ride at Cedar Point, while not holding ten guests in each cabin, also are open air and are one of the most comfortable rides on a hot day."

I would agree with that, but what would happen if you enclosed the cabins on all 4 sides of Cedar Point's skyride with glass/acrylic? I assume that if there isn't AC in the cabins that there will be ventilation panels/windows to allow for air circulation within the cabin. However, barring some big sliding windows being added (the cabins photographed arriving at WDW appear fully enclosed), I would be concerned that the interior of the cabins would get stuffy if they are fully loaded on a hot, humid day, and even more so if you stop moving for any length of time. I wouldn't call it "unsafe", but it could be uncomfortable.

I still don't understand where this system is going to provide guests an advantage over the current buses. Caribbean Beach guests get direct connections to DHS and EPCOT (which will probably mean Disney will jack the prices up to near Deluxe levels), but the trip to EPCOT will probably take as long as a bus (the trip to DHS is likely to be faster though) with lines that could be prohibitively long with a crush of guests from POP/AoA/Rivera clogging the hub station. This seems like a lot of investment for little improvement in service. Disney probably could have gotten better bang for their buck by beefing up and improving the bus system.

October 22, 2018 at 12:33 PM

Busses have to be maintained and are labor intensive. Plus as Disney approaches the opening of SWTGE and the tidal wave of people (cars) they probably want to minimize the number of additional vehicles on the roads.

October 22, 2018 at 1:20 PM

True TH, but will this new system be any cheaper to operate than buses (or at least cheap enough to make a ROI within 10-15 years)? I think Disney has been foolish not to establish rapid bus corridors between the parks and resorts. They have already invested so much into their bus system that it seems silly not to leverage their ownership of the roadways around WDW to give their own vehicles priority over cars and non-Disney buses. The fact that the Disney buses are subject to the same traffic and lights as a personal vehicle is why the system operates so inefficiently.

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