Disney World reveals opening date for new gondola system

July 15, 2019, 11:15 AM · The new Disney Skyliner at the Walt Disney World Resort will open to passengers on September 29, Disney announced today.

The new Doppelmayr gondola system connects the International Gateway at Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and four hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Disney’s Riviera Resort, which opens in December. Here is Disney's announcement video:

Disney has been testing the system for the past few months, grabbing the attention of many visitors who have been asking when the colorful gondolas, adorned with Disney characters, would be open to passengers. Now we have an opening date... though we still don't know if there will be any restrictions on who can use the system (such as resort guests only to the hotels).

Replies (10)

July 15, 2019 at 12:24 PM

It's been cool to see them running, but I can tell you it freaked me out the day I was driving under the BVD crossing and I see this shadow come flying across the road at my car. Freaked me out for a split-second until I remembered it was the cars above me.

July 15, 2019 at 12:33 PM

...Checks weather report for September 29th versus August 29th - Makes sense even though it will miss the initial crush for Galaxy's Edge. Disney will now have another 6-8 months to figure out how to keep guests from melting on the Sweatliner when the summer heat comes back around.

There's a good chance we'll be staying at Pop Century at the end of January, so we'll probably give the system a try to get to DHS and EPCOT.

July 15, 2019 at 12:33 PM

Still the question of how to handle the Florida heat but as someone who still misses the old Skyway, this does look intriguing.

July 15, 2019 at 1:46 PM

Have to agree that Disney are playing it safe with a Sept 29th opening. The initial crush to get to DHS will be over, and the weather a little bit cooler.

I can't see how they can restrict access to non resort guests, as it's openly advertised as linking Hollywood Studios and Epcot. That will certainly be my first ride on the system once it opens.

The station at DHS is still behind walls, but according to WDWNT the walls around the station at Epcot are in the process of coming down. Although it seems that station may be the last one to come 'on-line'

July 15, 2019 at 1:48 PM

Disney Skyliner Guyliner now available at Sephora Disney Springs!

July 15, 2019 at 2:12 PM

I agree Makorider. The system has been promoted as an alternative to get between DHS and EPCOT, so I have a hard time believing that it will be limited to resort guests. Perhaps they could restrict guests on the Pop/AOA leg of the system, but the other legs should be accessible to all. Restricting access would be akin to limiting the Resort Monorail to ONLY guests that are staying at the three (3) Monorail resorts, which they obviously don't do.

I still doubt that riding the Sweatliner between DHS and EPCOT will be any faster or more efficient than the Friendship Boats, buses, or walking. We'll have to see what the lines are like at the Caribbean Beach hub station when it comes online, and what lines look like at the park stations during peak times (opening, closing, and around nighttime shows). I still think this will be more of a novelty than a viable and effective mode of transportation around WDW.

July 15, 2019 at 9:36 PM

"I still think this will be more of a novelty than a viable and effective mode of transportation around WDW"
Definitely not, that would be the boats (all of them: MK Resorts, Epcot Resorts, and DS Resorts)...they are pretty to ride but slow as heck. Between the time meandering down the canal, docking, loading, dealing with the scooters, taking the ropes off, and meandering away from the dock they are extremely inefficient, especially during a fireworks dump or park close. These skybucket things have great capacity and this one a separate loading area for chairs and scooters. The exception of course would be the MK Ferries which work quite well during big exits but that's because they are huge, and they are made to take people across a lake to parking lot and not do any kind of maneuvers.

Also there is a 0.00001% chance the opening is delayed to September 29 to have cooler weather. There is practically no difference in weather, it's still extremely hot and humid in late September.

July 15, 2019 at 9:37 PM

Given how much testing has been going on with the system, I'm a bit surprised it won't be open until late September. That said, there could be some finishing touches Disney still needs to add to the terminals before it's up to their standards for guest use. I'm looking forward to seeing this thing in operation, both because it's going to significantly enhance transportation around the resort and because I want to see all the naysayers proven wrong. Given the capacity of the system, I can't imagine there being much of a need for hotel restrictions, though I could perhaps see a priority line for hotel guests at peak times.

July 16, 2019 at 8:10 AM

@the_man - I've never had issues with the Friendship Boats, though I've never ridden them during the post-Fantasmic!/Illuminations crush. In my experience, the time it takes to travel between EPCOT and DHS on the boats is about the same amount of time it takes to walk along the canals at a brisk pace even with boats stopping at the resorts. Depending on how long the wait is to board a boat, you might be able to make the walk a little faster.

The issue with the Sweatliner is that it doesn't have a direct connection between EPCOT and DHS as guests will need to transfer lines at the Caribbean Beach hub. It's unclear how long guests will have to wait at the hub station to switch lines or if it's possible to stay in the same gondola and have the crew switch it between the different lines (there's been no indication that this would be possible, but Disney hasn't specifically ruled it out either). If guests have to get off and then wait in another queue to switch lines, it could significantly decrease the efficiency of this mode of transportation.

As far as the weather, the average high temperature in Orlando on August 29th is 90.6 degrees, while September 29th is 87.4. While that might not sound like that big of a difference, consider that the average high temperature drops a full 3 degrees through the month of September and another 6.3 degrees through the month of October, while it only drops about 1.6 degrees during the month of August, which is on average the hottest month of the year in Orlando. It can definitely still get hot in September and October, but if Disney wanted to avoid the hottest days of the year to debut a system that is under heavy criticism for lacking climate control, delaying the opening by a month will likely achieve that goal while they assure guests will be comfortable riding.

For the record, I think the Monorail is a novelty as well, and is only popular because it's foisted upon guests trying to get from TTC to MK with the only other option being a slow, infrequent ferry. The Monorail is a woefully inefficient system when compared with modern subways, automated trams, and light rail systems, and if there were a bus option from TTC to the front of the MK, it would be far more efficient than the "Highway in the Sky".

July 16, 2019 at 8:25 AM

The gondola system will definitely be the go-to mode of transport for people staying at the resorts along the route, but for everyone else it's a novelty.

My pass holder friends and I all agree, we will try it once, just to see what it's like, but that will be it. A one and done, that's for sure. There is no reason for us to use it as a transportation system.

Russell beat me to the weather explanation. September for us Orlando folk is the time when we finally see the light at the end of a very long hot summer tunnel. Yes, it takes a while, but one has to think that even if it was a small part of Disney's thinking, it was discussed. The key is the shorter day time hours and the longer night times that allow temps to cool-off overnight considerably more than in July and August.

September is when I start going more to the parks, because of less people, but also because it is starting to get a little bit cooler. Win win for us locals .... :)

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