Disney reveals Guardians coaster vehicles and Skyliner opening season

November 14, 2018, 10:12 AM · Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek this morning announced a new opening window for the Disney Skyliner gondola system and shared a first glimpse at the ride vehicles for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster at Walt Disney World. Chapek was speaking at the GM and Owners' Breakfast at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, to which Chapek brought 800 cupcakes to celebrate the 90th birthday of Disney icon Mickey Mouse.

The Disney Skyliner gondola system will connect the Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot theme parks with the Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort as well as the upcoming Disney's Riviera Resort.

"We believe that getting around the Disney resort should be a uniquely magical experience," Chapek said, before revealing that the system will open sometime in the fall of next year.

"Riding the Disney Skyliner system will provide guest a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World, with unique vistas only available from the sky."

Chapek said that the final support tower for the system is now in place, and contractors are beginning to thread the gondola's support cables across the system.

Disney's contractor Doppelmayr is displaying on the IAAPA show floor this year, and has two of its gondola units on display. They are not decorated in Skyliner trim, but they can give more of an idea of what the Disney Skyliner gondolas will look like.

Doppelmayr gondola at IAAPA

Chapek also displayed an artist's concept for the ride vehicles for the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, which is going into a massive new show building behind the old Universe of Energy pavilion at Epcot.

Guardians of the Galaxy ride vehicle

The show building can fit four Spaceship Earths, Chapek said. The Guardians coaster ride vehicles will rotate to direct guests' attention to the coaster's narrative elements, Chapek said.

Chapek also announced that the new 15-story Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will open in July 2019.

Chapek said that Disney is concerned that demand for its new attractions around the world will outstrip its ability its "supply," even with those expansions.

"We are taking a multi-pronged approach aimed at incenting guests to visit during non-peak periods," Chapek said. Though he did not cite specific examples, those include the move to park-specific blockout calendars for annual passholders at the Disneyland Resort and variable ticket pricing on multi-date tickets at Walt Disney World.

Chapek also will speak Saturday morning at the Destination D event at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort, so look for more news then.

Replies (23)

November 14, 2018 at 10:22 AM

One would think they need it in place before the new Star Wars land opens at DHS.

Robert ..... did they indicate if the gondolas would be air-conditioned. They look fully enclosed, so I assume they must be ??

November 14, 2018 at 10:48 AM

It seems like those giant gondolas that can be seen at certain ski resorts which accommodate dozens of people and are climate controlled would be much better, but I'll save the criticism until I see it myself. Chapek is right about demand though. These new attractions will not thin out the crowds across the parks, but they will just make demand increase. I can see WDW being the easiest of the US resorts to navigate, simply because you can park hop somewhere else to escape, or at least diminish crowds. Disneyland is so landlocked that I fear it will never be the same once Galaxy's Edge opens. As it is, there's just no more space for more bodies during peak times. We push a stroller for our child and we are shoulder to shoulder moving at a snail's pace most of the time. I think Disneyland needs a third gate, somehow, somewhere, and Disney World just needs to keep building high capacity attractions (but not necessarily a fifth park).

November 14, 2018 at 11:35 AM

Does anyone else feel that those NEW Gaurdian trains look suspiciously like the Galaxy’s Edge dark ride vehicles?

November 14, 2018 at 12:09 PM

I fear that the old Disneyland vs Disney World argument is soon to be moot. Disneyland always had the advantage of more attractions in a smaller space, meaning you could do a lot more in less time - because who wants to be forced to park hop just to get a decent day's slate of attractions in?

Well, sorry to hardcore Disneyland fans, but with WDW packing more high quality attractions into their existing space, the clear winner will be Orlando.

It only surprises me that it's taken them this long. Resting on ones laurels is a sure way to let Universal gain ground, after all!

At the same time, this will only increase attendance at all 4 of the Orlando parks, and make Disneyland almost unbearable, I'd venture to guess.

There's only one solution - get a six-figure job and take advantage of all of the ridiculous upcharge events! Stay on-site every visit. Get the fancy gold passport annual pass. Hire VIP tours, and pay kids to stand in line for you when you run out of other options.

Yes, all 6 of these parks are going to be hell to navigate unless you're Scrooge McDuck. Such is life.

November 14, 2018 at 2:09 PM

No AC, but if you look closely at the gondola photo, you can see vents at the top, so air can flow through.

Reasons against AC? It's heavy. It draws power. And it's an additional point of potential failure on the gondola unit. So if a vent can provide enough passenger comfort to get by, then go with the vent.

November 14, 2018 at 2:37 PM

"No AC"

They should just rename it Disney's Sweatliner. It's bad enough on a hot and humid day standing shoulder to shoulder with 40k sweaty strangers waiting for a parade/fireworks, now you get to be stuffed into a acrylic sauna getting to and from the parks too. Is there any precedent for a non-AC gondola system in a tropical climate? It's probably not a big deal for the leg between Caribbean Beach and DHS (probably a 2-3 minute ride), but that run from Caribbean Beach to EPCOT could get mighty uncomfortable by the time you touch down at the International Gateway (probably a 5-8 minute ride). I can see people dripping before they've even taken a step in a theme park.

November 14, 2018 at 2:55 PM

With you 100% on that Russell ..... I can't even imagine what it would be like in a little glass box during a 105deg heat index August afternoon in Orlando.
Phew .... !!

Maybe the vents would work if the gondolas traveled at 100mph ... LOL ... :)

November 14, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Almost identical systems (by the same company) are in use in Singapore and Hong Kong, which have similar if not worst weather than Florida. And they're quite successful, so I am not sweating too much about the lack of AC.

November 14, 2018 at 3:41 PM

The no AC is going to be a real dealbreaker on folks accepting this on certain days.

November 14, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Russell yes in Singapore the same system built by the same company. No A/C.

November 14, 2018 at 5:44 PM

What an abominable failure not to include air conditioning. Genuinely disgraceful.

November 14, 2018 at 6:31 PM

Anybody else more than a little surprised that the SkyLiner is still almost a year out from grand opening? I'm not local, so I haven't seen the progress first hand, but it seems like once the cable starts being added it should be further along to opening that 8 - 10 months. Are there stations that are not as far along as one would assume? Is it additional infrastructure? Do we expect a long soft opening prior to the official opening in Fall 2019? Thoughts?

November 14, 2018 at 8:59 PM

Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster vehicle is awesome and I can't Wait to ride it for the 50th birthday for Walt Disney World!

November 15, 2018 at 12:11 AM

A Fall opening makes sense if there is no AC. You don’t want to open this in the middle of summer and have everyone complaining from day 1. Better to have the complaints pour in 6 months after opening so it doesn’t get as much bad press.

November 15, 2018 at 12:41 AM

The Guardians ride looks great but I still think it is in the wrong park. It should be in Hollywood Studios, not Epcot. Also, not interested in going in that Skyliner. More then happy to take the Monorail and/or the bus.

November 15, 2018 at 4:55 AM

The moment the gondola's break down (and they will) they are a death trap.
Like Toy Story Land it feels these things are designed with no knowledge of the location. Maybe they should enforce Immagineers to visit the park each week like Walt did.

November 15, 2018 at 6:48 AM

Hmmm, It seems like Disney describes the Guardians RV doing the same kind of motion as the Gringotts RV at USF. "Ride vehicles will rotate to direct guests' attention to the coaster's narrative elements". Doesn't seem like anything new here except for the longer track and more "coaster" elements.

November 15, 2018 at 9:03 AM

No AC is shocking, and almost criminal. Try driving in Orlando with your windows down in August and see if that's comfortable.

November 15, 2018 at 9:28 AM

@72.184.85.24 - I would note that Gringott's is more like a motion-base on a coaster track. It's more like Spiderman and Transformers than it is like The Mummy, even though the coaster is a Premier. The Guardians coaster car looks more like a traditional roller coaster, and given the size of the building, I anticipate far more coaster-like maneuvers than you get from Gringott's.

The real question is, are the Guardians vehicles single or maybe double car trains (like Space Mountain), or traditional longer, multi-car trains? My guess is that trains cannot be too long and still give all riders good viewing angles on all the sets/screens, so given that these prototypes are only 4-person cars, this coaster might be 1 or 2 car trains with lots of blocks/scenes (again, like Space Mountain).

This does seem to put the rest the rumor that the Guardians coaster would use the swinging coaster patent that Disney applied for shortly before the attraction was announced. I hope they're saving that for a Spiderman attraction at DCA.

"No AC is shocking, and almost criminal. Try driving in Orlando with your windows down in August and see if that's comfortable."

Not down, but just cracked an inch or 2, and with your car completely full of people and personal affects.

November 15, 2018 at 10:27 AM

What will be the advantage of taking the new gondolas vs taking the existing bus system? Sure you will be getting "unique vistas" but what times of day are expected to be peak activity for these. Park hopping? Getting back to the hotel at the end of the day? Park hopping could suggest shorter mid-day waits with hotter temperatures, but end of day transport could lead to long lines and still warmer rides in the Florida Summer. I'll ride it as a novelty during the off season, but if I had to choose, I'll take the freezing bus.

November 15, 2018 at 1:04 PM

If you look at the top of the gondola cabins, you may notice a white slab running across the ceiling of the interior of the cabins which may indicate they can be retrofitted with AC in the future.

Looks like Disney is penny pinching in initial construction costs.

Honestly, they should have looked into the sky rail which is basically an inverted monorail already operating in Japan, Germany and China.

Sky rail is supposedly less expensive than a standard monorail but has a higher capacity than a cable car system.

IMHO, Universal should look into the sky rail option to connect their existing parks to SITE B because the support structure takes up less of a footprint than a typical elevated system.

November 15, 2018 at 2:02 PM

I'm pretty surprised the Skyliner is still close to a year out given that most ski areas can build one of these in a summer. Perhaps there's more needed to give it the Disney touch, though I could also see it being delayed just because the new attractions aren't opening until the fall. Based on my experience with similar systems, I don't think the lack of AC will be as big of deal as some suspect (especially if the terminals and waiting areas are sheltered), as the time spent inside the cabins will be relatively short.

As for the Guardians coaster, it's just a spinning coaster with controlled rotation throughout rather than being free spinning. Nothing new here, though I am curious to see how well executed the concept is. I'm skeptical of the ride, but it has the potential to be quite interesting if it's not just a bunch of screens.

November 20, 2018 at 8:24 AM

This means many more entering/exiting Epcot at International Gateway. Ever take a look at how small that gate is?

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