Take a look inside Walt Disney World's new gondolas

April 17, 2019, 6:07 PM · Walt Disney World is showing off its new Disney Skyliner, providing a first official look inside the gondolas that will start carrying guests across the resort later this year.

The Doppelmayr gondola system will connect 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. Disney's new promo video shows off the interior of the gondolas and explains how the cartoon images on the outside will help shield the passengers from the Central Florida sun, while the ventilation slats that run the width of the gondolas will keep air moving briskly through them as they glide above the resort.

Disney has not yet announced an opening date for the system, other than to say it will be operational for guests by the end of the year. The new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land opens August 29 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, so that's probably a good benchmark for when Disney would like to have all systems available to be able to move people to and from that park as quickly as possible. We've got a thread going on the Discussion Forum detailing known and expected opening dates for all current major developments at the Walt Disney World Resort, if you'd like to follow that.

And for tickets to all Walt Disney World theme parks, please visit our new Walt Disney World tickets page.

Replies (37)

April 17, 2019 at 6:41 PM

I thought the shiny image was thanks to the sweaty guests on board;)

April 17, 2019 at 6:44 PM

So, will they wait until November to open so there will be no "Sweaty" reviews?
10 guest with no A/C seems untenable in August, but will wait for reviews before I criticize.

April 17, 2019 at 6:51 PM

Awesome!

April 17, 2019 at 7:12 PM

I haven’t heard anything negative about the heat or weather affecting the Skyliner from people who live in Central Florida so I think it’ll be fun little attraction in between spending half days at the Studios and Epcot this fall. That being said, time is money at theme parks, and if the lines are so long that it’s a 2 hour commitment, I’ll take the boat.

April 17, 2019 at 7:34 PM

I'm just saying, after waiting in line in full sun, sweating, you NEED to step into some very Cold A/C, a slight breeze is not going to cut it. This coming from someone in a cold climate, not a Floridian who is acclimated.

April 17, 2019 at 7:57 PM

It's a mode of transport. Not an attraction. Some people are getting the lines blurred. It will cross mainly roads and car parks. People will want to experience once, but after that they will move on with their lives and get back on the bus.

April 17, 2019 at 8:01 PM

Native Floridian working locations that include directly under the path of the Skyliner and mostly kidding since no guests have had to sweat on it yet;) but it has the nickname Sweatliner among many of us from the moment the no A/C onboard was confirmed. Usually smell guests coming from behind us indoors in A/C as is. Perhaps time to add official body spray sponsor at WDW?

April 17, 2019 at 8:15 PM

This will be cooler than standing in any outdoor queue anywhere on property. And probably cooler than Disney’s often-overcrowded buses, the same as riding the ferry boat, and definitely cooler than being stuck in a broken monorail. So what’s the problem again?

April 17, 2019 at 8:45 PM

Aaron ... I’m a Disney pass holder living in Orlando and I’ve watched the sky/sweat liner working many times when I go to DHS. The speed varies considerably from one visit to the next, but I have seen it at what I think is ‘top’ speed and unless those slats open at 90deg, and allow a true thru flow it’s not going to having any cooling effect whatsoever. Maybe at 45deg it will create turbulence ?? Who knows. The outside air is super-heated anyway, so it’s not going to matter. The tinted glass will help more than the slats. But, and this is the problem that I see. If it stops mid way between stations for any length of time during July and/or August it’s going to get desperate really quick for those 10 passengers. My car has tinted glass and almost every evening during the summer months when I leave work the car temp sensor reads 105 to 110. First thing I do ... turn on the A/C full blast. Maybe I’m overly concerned (I hope I am to be honest) but I would absolutely not want to be in there on a stop and hold scenario during our summer months.

One person on the Disney blogs today nicknamed it the death liner !! Maybe a bit OTT but there is real concern from a lot of us Florida residents about the lack of A/C. Some even suggesting it will be eventually delayed and A/C fitted. Only testing thru the summer months will give us the true answer to that thought.

April 17, 2019 at 8:57 PM

I agree cooler than standing in the hot sun in a queue, but do not agree that it will be cooler than the buses. In the Morning, yes, but I've stepped into buses many times that felt like a well needed ice box. Never use monorail as i'm always at PO or AOA or POP.

April 17, 2019 at 11:20 PM

I’m not to concerned with the heat since each line will be like a few minutes ride before your transfer. Now that Dave mentions the BO issue, maybe they’ll add themed scents like Universal is doing with their bathrooms. Or any kind of air freshener.

I’m more interested in how the lines and security checkpoints will work with the multiple stops on the Skyliner.

April 18, 2019 at 12:31 AM

Guest Show has moved to restroom air fresheners in the theme parks, Aaron though Disney has not gone with the seasonal themed scents Universal Park Services is rolling out. Honestly, the often awful scents those of us working on stage encounter at both are an accepted occupational hazard for us lifers! Along with some really mean guests and some guests that put their safety and that of others at risk in ways that defy logic. In the overall scheme of things, I will gladly smile for stinky nice guests over well groomed nasty guests any time! :) I prefer to dwell on the happy guests and regardless of whether the Skyliner is a sweat box on a cable or a good addition for guests at least I won't have my commutes messed up by its construction soon and that is a win!

April 18, 2019 at 2:21 AM

This is exactly the same system as operates in Funchal on Madeira which I have ridden a number of times. That one is on a south facing slope and gets a lot of direct sunshine. The gondolas have no air conditioning and it's absolutely fine inside the cabins. It amuses me all these people pronouncing how 'awful' or 'sweaty' the cabins will be before they have even seen them or experienced them in practice. This system is used around the world and is very popular and liked by passengers.

April 18, 2019 at 3:06 AM

I love it how Disney tries to sell as if they designed every aspect of this thing although they bought it off shelf and slapped some plastic wrap around it.
Beyond that they bought the cheapest gondola with no soft seats or air-conditioning.
Lets hope they make it as much fun as the monorail and the buses.

April 18, 2019 at 5:43 AM

Thanks to David Brown for offering an informed perspective.

April 18, 2019 at 6:39 AM

From our friends at WikiPedia ….. not really an apples to apples climate comparison …… ? Funchal gets the sea breezes as well, so night and day in reality.

Funchal has a subtropical Mediterranean climate with even temperatures all year round. The climate can be separated into two main seasons: a rainier and slightly cooler season from October through March with average daily high temperatures ranging from 20 °C (68 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) and a drier and warmer season from April through September with average daily high temperatures ranging from 21 °C (70 °F) to 26 °C (79 °F). Humidity levels remain constantly high at about 70%. Sea temperatures range from a low of 18 °C (64 °F) in February–March to 24–26 °C (75 °F) in August–October.

During the height of Orlando's humid summer season, high temperatures are typically in the lower to mid 90s °F (32–36 °C), while low temperatures rarely fall below the mid 70s °F (23–26 °C). The average window for such temperatures is April 19 – October 11. The area's humidity acts as a buffer, usually preventing actual temperatures from exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), but also pushing the heat index to over 110 °F (43 °C). During these months, strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over Central Florida. They are highlighted by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rain (sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as well as rare damaging hail

April 18, 2019 at 8:24 AM

As a child we had family vacations to Florida in a car with no AC. If one is roasting at 40mph with all the windows down..........

April 18, 2019 at 8:32 AM

"Designed with guest comfort in mind." I would have expected padded seating for my rump.

It will still be a great experience, especially the first couple of times.

April 18, 2019 at 9:48 AM

Looks good! I want to believe David is right these won't be the hot boxes some of us are concerned they will be.

I hope we see a positive impact on the buses running around the resort. Both less crowded buses and less buses driving around.

April 18, 2019 at 9:51 AM

In answer to Robert's questions .....

Standing in a queue does have the advantage of shade, fans and misters blowing cool air and water.

The buses are crowded, but they are also air-conditioned. The driver’s cabins on the monorail are air conditioned, so you could always sit in there. Gets you away from the sweaty armpit brigade as well …. LOL !!

You can't compare the ferry boat with the skyliner, it's totally different. For a start you are in the fresh air and not cooped up in a sweat box. You can also move around and sit in the shade if you want. If the ferry boat stops mid-way across the lake, you are going to be able to enjoy the scenery and relax. The ferry boat is always my choice of transport to and from the MK.

April 18, 2019 at 10:13 AM

I'm really enjoying all this discussion and speculation! I want to stick my oar in and say I'm worried about inclement weather. I remember how the ol' skybuckets used to shut down at the first sign of wind or lightning. Now I'm sure that Disney has done its due research on these gondolas. I'm sure that they're heavier than the skybuckets and will be more robust in terms of stresses, wind, and lightning dangers (especially when over water) but I'd love to hear some reassurance about some of those things.

I'd hate to be stalled over a lake during a lightning storm. Although the view would probably be unmatched!

April 18, 2019 at 10:39 AM

I'm not going to hammer the comfort of guests riding the Sweatliner, but it's pretty interesting that Disney continues to try to promote the ride as being comfortable. The bottom line is that I don't think they even know how hot it's going to get inside these plastic bubbles on a 90-degree/60% humidity August day. For all of the cooling features that Disney notes on the pods, they don't override the laws of thermodynamics. The windows on buses and the monorail have similar UV/reflective coatings, but good luck touching them on a sunny summer day without feeling the intense heat being transferred/radiated. Even if a surface has a mirror finish, the backside will still get hot under constant bombardment under the sun's rays. All of that has nothing to do with the radient heat generated from 10 guests (that may already be sweating after a day of walking through the parks on a hot day) being in such close proximity in an enclosed space.

I will say these wooden benches seem very utilitarian, especially if the average trip on the system is going to be 5-15 minutes, but are probably the best solution to allow them to fold up to accommodate strollers and wheel chairs. Padding would not only add to the weight, but would make the benches more difficult to fold away.

I don't think guests need to worry about standing in the sun waiting for the Sweatliner as the stations appear to be quite spacious with enough room for shaded queues. However, it's unclear how long it will take to get from one place to another on the system. Disney has not detailed how guests will be loaded/unloaded when transitioning between different lines of the system, and whether or not the system can increase capacity/speed during peak times (park opening/closing). While the ride between EPCOT and DHS might only take 15 minutes physically on the system, guests might be waiting 20+ minutes to board and then another 20+ minutes at the transfer hub (assuming they force guests off at Caribbean Beach to switch lines). That means it could take an HOUR to get between 2 destinations you can walk between in less than 30 minutes (even at a moderate pace). The logistics of the system and how crowds will be managed is going to be key to the success of this system.

I'd also question Disney's assertion that these will provide "spectacular" views with pod heights raging between 15 and 60 feet. Who are they kidding? 60 feet off the ground, 10 feet or less above the average WDW treeline (and shorter than the top level of the garages at Disney Springs), is not going to afford views that are anything special. None of the lines cross inside of the parks, so I guess if "spectacular" is getting to see the backstage area of World Showcase, aerial views of a sea of cars outside DHS, or swampy canals beneath the pods then they're onto something.

In the end, this is a TRANSPORTATION system, and Disney should stop trying to market it as an "attraction". Guests are not going to ride on the Sweatliner for the fun of it, it will just be an alternative way to get between parks and resorts. Let's face it, if guests could reach MK from TTC without getting on a boat or monorail, they would, so let's not put the monorail on some sort of pedestal for achievements in transportation. The monorail is a necessary evil (unlike the Disneyland monorail, which is an actual attraction), and hopefully Disney understands that in order for the Sweatliner to succeed, it has to not only be comfortable, but efficient. We'll have to wait and see how comfortable the ride is on a hot day, but Disney seems to be spending more time combating valid criticisms that they have no actual proof to debunk instead of focusing on the problem that this system is being built to solve, which is to increase the options for guests to get around WDW.

April 18, 2019 at 11:04 AM

Russell ..... I'm not sure if the benches "fold up". Have I missed something somewhere?

Also, more and more of the cabins are running without the covers, and the vast majority have no Disney characters on them. Just plain old red, yellow etc. I wonder if there are any black ones .... Oh My ... :)

April 18, 2019 at 11:15 AM

Maybe I'm just surmising, but they appear to be the type of wooden benches on trolleys and antique-looking vehicles that fold up when you pull knobs on either side of the supports. I would think those benches would need to fold up to accommodate wheel chair/ECV guests, strollers, and their families. If those benches stay down, there's no room even for people standing if a full size ECV is in the pod. Based on the photos, the benches can seat 4 people on each side of the gondola with 2 guests standing. If you jam an ECV or large stroller in there, that's going to seriously cut into the cab capacity until they can fold up the benches to allow for some standing room. I don't think Disney wants to make ECVs/wheel chairs and stroller pushing guests to have to ride by themselves, and it would be silly on a system of this scale where there are tons of people needing ECVs and strollers to have designated ADA pods.

April 18, 2019 at 11:18 AM

I just watched the video again and I can't get where people are claiming Disney are marketing this as an 'attraction'. It's manifestly a transportation system, and they're not pretending it's anything else, but they are doing their best to make it sound exciting. 'Magic in the sky', and frankly I think that's perfectly fair. Gondola cable cars are still pretty rare around the world so there is a genuine sense of excitement for many people at the thought of riding one, even if it is only as a means of getting from A to B.

As for Madeira having a different climate to Florida you're right, although it was damn hot when I was there last. However if it makes you feel any better how about Singapore? The Sentosa Cable Car in Singapore has remained comfortable without an air conditioning system thanks to a passive ventilation system, which is exactly what the skyliner is using. So surprise, surprise, there is actually some evidence that the passive ventilation system can work in a climate similar to Florida's, although frankly how anyone would think that Disney would invest millions of dollars in a system without thinking through a basic issue like ventilation is beyond me. But then there seem to be plenty of people who are objecting to this purely because it's a Disney enterprise....

April 18, 2019 at 12:23 PM

@David - It wouldn't be the first time Disney invested a lot of money in something that was not fully thought out, and had serious consequences that diminished the guest experience (FP+ anyone?). I think the concerns about heat in the pods is a valid one, and the fact that they continue to note all of the design elements that will help combat the heat indicates that they've at least thought about it when choosing this particular system. However, the lack of specificity in their responses in terms of interior versus exterior temperatures, and how guests' body heat will be dissipated is a bit concerning. Maybe they just don't have the answers yet, or maybe they don't want to play into guest's fears about a system they really want people to use so they can limit WDW's reliance on fossil fuels. After they test the system under real world conditions, perhaps they'll determine that they simply can't run it on days where the heat index exceeds a certain threshold, or they have to reduce the number of guests in each pod during certain extreme heat conditions.

Makorider also brings up an important point in that the passive ventilation system is rendered useless if Disney has to E-Stop the Sweatliner with guests stuck in the pods for any length of time on a hot day. Disney has a tendency to sugar coat things through the lens of their PR/hype machine, and things are never as rosy as they seem from a Disney Press Release. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but nothing Disney has said allays my concern that these pods will be very uncomfortable on a hot summer afternoon.

April 18, 2019 at 1:04 PM

I checked the Sentosa version, and yes I'll admit the reviews on trip adviser were mainly positive, but a couple of niggles are exactly what worries me about the Disney version ....

"Really very stuffy in the cable car. Wish the fans were stronger."

"As it was 2 pm the sun was blazing. Inside the cable car, it was stifling. Wish there was AC"

The system is also 200ft above the sea, again the possibility of sea breezes helping cool it down must be considered.

Finally .... from what I gather the Sentosa gondolas have fans ?? I don't see any mention about fans for the Disney sweat liner. Although I'm sure the hand held fans will be a popular 'must have' for users especially when the reviews start to filter onto the internet. Knowing Disney, they will be selling the mist spray-fans at the stations ... :)


April 18, 2019 at 2:21 PM

OK I’m going to get a bit ‘racist’ here, or at least a little bit anti-American but it never ceases to amaze me how quickly Americans (and obviously I’m generalising here) love to see the negatives when it comes to their comfort levels. In the UK we don’t really consider a 15 minute gondola ride as an issue, even if it’s extremely hot, sweaty even... (Have you tried riding London’s Tube network in summer? You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘sweaty’ until you have...). If the system breaks down then yes, it will get uncomfortable, and knowing what you’re like you’ll no doubt be sueing Disney for ‘emotional distress’. But honestly guys? It’s a short gondola ride. I’ve ridden Disney’s buses and frankly their air-con was either icy cold and thoroughly unpleasant or didn’t work in which case it was horribly sweaty but the point it was less than 10 minutes and ultimately wasn't life-changing, nor was it anything other than ‘mildly uncomfortable’.

All these issues are at worst ‘mildly uncomfortable’, not life-threatening, emotionally damaging or ‘likely to ruin a day at Disneyworld’. A little perspective here would be good......

April 18, 2019 at 2:39 PM

You're perspective makes plenty of sense, but we're talking about a brand new, multi-million dollar investment Disney is making, and they appear to be underestimating a critical flaw in the system's design. Whether it's slightly, mildly, or extremely uncomfortable is not the issue, it's that the potential is there, and Disney is banking on some plastic wrap and window slits to alleviate guests' concerns of sweltering, suffocating conditions.

This isn't the same as ride 150-year old subway system or dealing with some heat because of an equipment malfunction on a bus. This is a company that is knowingly installing a "modern" system that will shove 10 sweaty people into a tiny plastic box on a 90+ degree/60% humidity day with some air holes hoping that pulling it along a cable at 11 MPH will be enough to keep them from overheating in the 15 minutes they're riding. It's a HUGE oversight to not consider guest comfort and to assume that people will simply deal with the heat just because they're only jammed into the tiny box for a few minutes is not how a company like Disney should react to such concerns. As Makorider noted, the Sentosa pods have fans to help air circulation, and the higher elevation and seaside location are critical cooling features not present on the Sweatliner.

If Disney wants people to use this new system that they're investing a lot of money into, making guests "mildly uncomfortable" while riding is not the way to do it.

April 18, 2019 at 4:24 PM

RM is right! If the temperature in the gondolas gets too high Disney will get some "heat" from its guests.

Especially if they're steam punk fans.

(Chuckle)

April 18, 2019 at 4:38 PM

But 'Disney' isn't 'banking' on anything here. This is a system that's being designed by experienced manufacturers specifically for this location. Until proven otherwise I'd prefer to trust that they know what they are doing rather more than we do....

April 18, 2019 at 4:48 PM

@David B ... if it's not already been obvious from my posts, I'm a Brit, and I live in Orlando. And yes, I've been on the tube countless times so I know what it's like. It's a sweaty humanoid heat, not a blazing sun 110deg heat index type of oppression.

Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to try it out, and when it finally does open, I'll get onboard and write a report so you'll hear first hand what it's like.

I've seen it, and admire it, but there's that nagging 'what if' scenario of a failed system which leaves the gondolas stationary on the cables with no hope of it moving anytime soon ... and it's a hot and very sunny afternoon in August, in central Florida. 'Uncomfortable' will come nowhere close.

I wonder what the evac procedure would be if this ever came to pass? Let's hope it never gets to that point.

April 18, 2019 at 6:05 PM

Well, if you don't want to ride it, you can walk.

But dare I suggest you'll get sweatier exercising this option.

April 18, 2019 at 8:42 PM

I get asked every night I am out there how to walk between Epcot's World Showcase to the Studios via the Epcot Resorts, plenty of guests do this regularly. Only known sweater is one of our own team who includes it on his daily break time run, roundtrip to backstage Future World:) Me, I will enjoy my air conditioned self drive and entertain guests who will inevitably ask in the future when nearby lightning temporarily makes the Skyliner 101.

April 19, 2019 at 2:27 PM

Wow these new gondolas sans AC and cushioned seats make the buses seem like luxury.

April 20, 2019 at 3:41 PM

Has the "Magic in Motion" WDW Transportation Dept following their corporate bosses televison strategy- just like at home, Guests can choose "cable " with Skyliner or "streaming" on the friendship boats at Epcot Resort area. Though really the majority of guests using the gondilas are likely staying at Caribbean Beach, Riviera, Art of Animation and Pop Century so they gave up their bus seat. If it's storming like it is as I write this backstage, they'll have neither option since lightning within 5 miles means cycle through and disembark guests anyway.

April 20, 2019 at 9:56 PM

Fun game...how many times does Dave Bakas post something mentioning he's a cast member? This thread...four out of five!!!! Congrats Dave come on down and win your prize!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.



Theme Park Guides

What's New and Under Construction

Universal Orlando

Walt Disney World

Disneyland