All aboard the 2019 Hype Train for Disney World's Gondolas

December 20, 2018, 12:11 PM · As we close 2018, let's fire up the Hype Train to take us into the new year. With 12 days to go in the year, let's take 10 of them to preview 10 of the most anticipated new attractions coming to the world's top theme park resorts. We start today with number 10 on that list — Walt Disney World's Disney Skyliner gondola system.

The Doppelmayr gondola system will connect two theme parks and four hotels across the central area of the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Parks chairman Bob Chapek announced at last month's IAAPA Attraction Expo in Orlando that the system would open to the public sometime in the fall. However, we have learned that Disney might start testing the gondolas as early as the completion of the holiday season in early January.

"We believe that getting around the Disney resort should be a uniquely magical experience," Chapek said. "Riding the Disney Skyliner system will provide guests a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World, with unique vistas only available from the sky."

Gondola stations are under construction at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot, as well as at Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, and the upcoming Disney's Riviera Resort.

The 10-passenger gondolas will be closed, but ventilated, keeping them comfortable for passengers even in Orlando's hot and humid summers. A similar gondola system is used at Universal Studios Singapore's Sentosa Island, where the weather gets even hotter and sticker than in Orlando. However, it remains to be seen what the uptime for the system will be in Central Florida's frequent thunderstorms.

Each gondola will be decorated with Disney characters, and the stations will be themed to their location. It's a fresh way to get around the resort and one a lot more interesting to a lot of people than riding in yet another bus, so we expect the system to be popular with guests in 2019 and beyond.

Tomorrow: We stay in the Disney family, but head west.

Replies (13)

December 20, 2018 at 1:02 PM

As long as the trips don't take too long, they could pump them with a heavy blast of cool air when they're loading guests and it should be fine. But if this system ever malfunctions and guests are trapped for very long on a hot Florida day that would be very very bad. Otherwise it looks like fun.

December 20, 2018 at 1:58 PM

I should run a poll: Would you rather be trapped on a stalled Disney gondola or Disney monorail?

December 20, 2018 at 3:03 PM

Re: Robert

Add in: Stuck on a water taxi that is dead in the water and/or sardined in a bus stuck in bumper to bumper gridlock and I will take part in that poll ??

December 20, 2018 at 3:40 PM

A little pushback/clarification on those "frequent" thunderstorms:

(1) Walt Disney World maintains a very extensive system to monitor weather. The gondolas would not be the only thing shut down during such events. For example, attractions, water parks and water craft go 101 all the time and it doesn't seem to be a big problem.

(2) Those really heavy weather events rarely last more than a couple of hours (if that long) so shutting down the system won't be a prolonged condition.

(3) People forget that Disney has invested millions in new civil and transportation systems -- some of which have not opened. Example: The bus terminal complex under construction at DHS -- which gets a wide open pathway onto Buena Vista Drive (what with the new DHS parking toll plaza). Meaning, for those short weather-related shut downs, there are plenty of efficient and convenient ways to get around WDW.

(4) If system tests are really set to begin in a few weeks, that means Disney will have months and months and months to monitor cab temperature, operation conditions (weather) and a myriad of other variables and considerations associated with the system.

So there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Stay frosty.

December 20, 2018 at 3:39 PM

TH with the reality check. Thanks.

But I am definitely doing the "in what mode of transport would you least like to be stuck" poll within the next week or so. Stay tuned.

December 20, 2018 at 4:07 PM

"We believe that getting around the Disney resort should be a uniquely magical experience"
I love this, they don't say it is (because it sure isn't unique or magical) but they "believe" it "should" be.

Silly convoluted Disney marketing bs aside the gondola system is a very reliable and safe system that is used in extreme locations like Switzerland and in almost every country in the world in widely various weather conditions. If it won't operate perfectly it would say a lot about Disney but I expect it to work in a way that is fitting for a world class resort.
So take enough water and an empty bottle with you.

December 20, 2018 at 4:34 PM

The biggest problem with a malfunction whilst in the gondola is when the weather is perfect ... not inclement. When it’s a 105 heat index day, the skies are crystal blue and the sun is beating down .... that’s the nightmare scenario, in my opinion.

December 20, 2018 at 4:45 PM

More like "hot" train!

Thank you, Thank you.
I'm here all week!

December 21, 2018 at 7:49 AM

I thought there was just one station for both Art of Animation and Pop Century. Are they really building 2 different stations, and if so, which one is first on the line (there's only 1 line connecting these resorts and the Caribbean Beach hub)? Also, the Riviera Resort I believe is sharing a station with Caribbean Beach hub station, and does not have a separate station. It's possible that Disney may expand the lines in the future (running a line from DHS to Coronado Springs has already been mentioned), but I think the initial design is deliberately simple with the CB hub, and 3 different lines (DHS, EPCOT, and AoA/Pop).

Unless I'm staying at one of these resorts, there's no reason to use the Sweatliner. I do wonder if Disney starts increasing the prices for rooms at CB (currently the least expensive Moderate) and Pop (typically on par with All Stars) because of this new transportation option. If you consider the new improvements made to CB, the Sweatliner could validate Disney categorizing the resort as a Deluxe.

December 21, 2018 at 3:50 PM

There is just one station serving both Pop and AOA. CB guests will be able to access both at River and at the central station where the three lines converge. I'd be surprised if CB rooms didn't increase in price, but the rest of the resort's amenities don't seem to merit migration to a Deluxe.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the ride from Epcot to DHS. Should be fun.

December 21, 2018 at 4:23 PM

What if it turns out that the gondola subcontractor that has built systems all over the planet creates an operation where no one sweats?

December 21, 2018 at 6:41 PM

Robert, if I'm going to be stuck on Either, I want to be stuck on the monorail. I'm going to feel a lot more confortable and safe knowing there's a solid thing under me, rather than hanging from a cable.

Plus, if worst comes to worst, you can escape across a beam. Good luck trying that on the Skyliner without acrobat training.

December 21, 2018 at 7:20 PM

Really miss the Skyway from Magic Kingdom. Can’t wait to get some FREE rides on these gondolas. The DHS/Epcot area of WDW is about to get that much better!

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