Testing begins on Disney World's new gondola system

January 28, 2019, 3:47 PM · Walt Disney World's new gondola system is making its first test runs.

The Disney Skyliner will open later this year, connecting the Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios theme parks with the Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Disney's Riviera Resort hotels.

We told you late last year that the Doppelmayr gondola system would begin initial testing this month. But much more work remains, including finishing the stations and applying the graphics that will decorate each gondola with characters from various Disney animation and live-action franchises. Here's the latest video update from Disney:

The Skyliner system will provide additional capacity for moving guests into and out of Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, as Disney adds popular new attractions at both resorts, including Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios this fall and the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster that's now under construction in Epcot for an as-yet-unrevealed opening date.

Replies (12)

January 28, 2019 at 5:57 PM

The rate of project development at WDW has been EPIC!

January 29, 2019 at 12:17 AM

I'm all for anything that provides an alternate method of transporting guests from their hotel to the parks. I know buses will never disappear completely in my lifetime, but I'm really glad to see a couple more hotels having another option. And I can't wait to ride on one of these just for the experience.

January 29, 2019 at 4:54 AM

I always liked the sky buckets in MK. Imagine they where still there and going over 7DMT.

January 29, 2019 at 8:27 AM

"The rate of project development at WDW has been EPIC!"

Can't disagree there TH, but considering how little development occurred between 2004 and 2014, the current pace of development is more about making up for lost time than anything else.

January 29, 2019 at 9:30 AM

Assuming the gondola will be open before GE, the nightmare domino effect will likely occur when the DHS parking lot is full. Maybe an hour after park opening ? Maybe even an hour before park opening ??

We now have a gondola system that will take us from EPCOT to DHS, so the smart tourist, knowing how crazy DHS will be, will head for the EPCOT parking lot and get on the gondola to DHS.

But then again, will the really smart tourist park at the MK, get on the monorail to EPCOT, and then the gondola to DHS ?? Of course, they will still hit the road block that will be people trying to board the gondolas to DHS, but we have a very likely scenario that three of the 4 WDW parking lots will be used to enable entrance to GE at DHS ??

Maybe that was the masterful Disney dastardly plan all along ... Hmmmm

Oh joy .... It's going to be a fun time at WDW in the Fall !!

January 29, 2019 at 9:46 AM

Why would you park at EPCOT or TTC/MK to ride the Sweatliner? You'd have to walk from the front of EPCOT all the way to the International Gateway, stand in line for the ride to Caribbean Beach and then stand in line again to get to DHS. The strategy to take the Sweatliner from EPCOT to DHS makes no sense when you can just walk between the two parks or take a 20-minute boat ride.

The Sweatliner is a very inefficient park to park solution (a bus from the front of EPCOT to DHS and vice versa is far better), and will likely only be used by guests at the resorts connected to the system.

January 29, 2019 at 10:11 AM

Russell .... visitors will take desperate measures to get to where they want to be, and any option to get to GE at DHS will no doubt be considered as fair game. Just a hunch, but I wouldn't rule anything out as a non-starter once GE opens.

I totally agree with your logic, but there will be minimum of that available come November.

January 29, 2019 at 11:00 AM

I think it's unrealistic to think that guests will gravitate to the Sweatliner to get to DHS from other parts of WDW not directly linked to the system. It's not only an inefficient and illogical way to get between the parks, but it's just not very practical. The fact that you have to walk from the front of EPCOT to the back makes it very unlikely that guests will park at MK/TTC or EPCOT and use the Sweatliner to hop to DHS.

I wouldn't be surprised to see people use it as a novelty in the first few months to get from EPCOT to DHS in the middle of the day or perhaps at the end of the day to get to Fantasmic!, but I highly doubt guests will plan a trip on the system to park hop in the mornings. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the system is operated in such a way so as to maximize capacity in the other direction (to EPCOT) making it even less efficient to go from the International Gateway station to other destinations on the system. I have no doubt that guests will attempt to invent clever ways to get around the Galaxy's Edge crowds, but using the Sweatliner from EPCOT to avoid the DHS parking lot seems like a pretty stupid idea even from frequently illogical Drones.

January 29, 2019 at 11:39 AM

All valid points Russell .... but they truly walk amongst us, so only time will tell. As mentioned in my first post, the nightmare scenario is likely to occur when the DHS parking lot is full. And I think it's safe to assume, that's going to happen.

Panic will set in, and people will find other ways to get to DHS. A sweaty ride on the sweatliner is an option .... it's not ideal, but ...... so you're saying there's a chance .... we could get to DHS .. :)

January 29, 2019 at 12:21 PM

I don't doubt that the parking lot will fill to capacity, but the question will be, when that happens, does Disney keep trying to stuff more people into DHS? Will it even be worth parking over at EPCOT and taking the Sweatliner over if you're just going to be standing outside the gate waiting for guests to leave the park so you can get in? I don't think DHS has ever closed for capacity, and who knows what the tiny park's "capacity" even is. I expect Galaxy's Edge to bring crowds that come close to whatever that number is, and spending a hour or more going from the EPCOT parking lot to DHS via the Sweatliner will be an exercise in futility.

January 31, 2019 at 4:23 AM

Conclusion of the ongoing discussion : "Too many people" !! :-)
We need to do birth control .. :-)
Practical :
DHS will find a solution in providing a peak day overflow parking. So many parks all over the world, hike into that solution, so why not Disney ?

February 2, 2019 at 3:20 AM

We do. And yes, Disney's Hollywood Studios has hit capacity before. If any of WDW theme parks hits capacity, there's levels of priority to which guests are admitted in- Resort Guests and Passholders have priority over day guests. Likewise, parking has procedures for rerouting overflow if that lot is full, usually Studios parking overflow is sent to Epcot's huge guest parking lot. Skyliner's guest flow is intended to mostly be for guests transiting from Caribbean Beach, Riviera, Pop Century and Art of Animation so no reason those guests would need to drive and park at either Epcot nor Studios. Likewise, guests at BoardWalk, Yacht & Beach and Swan & Dolphin have no need to park at either Studios nor Epcot since they have Friendship Boat service. Resort Guests from other parts of Property have Disney transport to those theme parks as well. Day guests are the only ones who have specific need to park their own cars at thise lots. We certainly have procedures for peak day parking at Walt Disney World Resort and for the phases up to capacity for all the theme parks.

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