Since the days of The Jetsons, we’ve always wondered when we would finally get flying cars. Well, we still haven’t progressed to flying Ford’s and Tesla’s, but Disney might have the next best thing—Disney’s Skyliner. But, is Disney’s Skyliner safe? And is Disney’s Skyliner scary? Well, we’re going to answer these important questions today, as we dive into this unique mode of transportation at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Is Disney’s Skyliner Safe or Scary?
To begin this discussion, it’s probably wise to discuss Disney’s Skyliner height and speed numbers.
Disney Skyliner Height and Speed
Now for those that may be unaware, the Disney Skyliner efficiently transports guests from the resorts to the theme parks through the air. These gondola style cabins are a whimsical new addition to Disney World’s park transportation—think of them like Disney’s own ski lift transportation system.
With that said, perhaps you have someone in your party that is afraid of heights, or just cautious of moving through the sky at an accelerated pace. If so, it’s wise to talk about the Skyliner’s height and speed.
The Skyliner’s highest point is 60ft. It would be wise to keep this in mind if you’re afraid of heights. Be sure to map out your route as well, because at points you will be traveling over water.
The average speed is 11mph. As the attraction is continuously moving, it picks up speed quickly after loading and approaches the stations at accelerated speeds before abruptly slowing. You will feel the speeding up and slowing down, which is something to keep in mind if you’re susceptible to motion sickness. In my experience, despite a few unavoidable jerks, the ride is surprisingly smooth.
Disney Skyliner Capacity
The Skyliner cabins are designed to fit an average of 10 passengers. However, if the cabin is carrying something like a wheelchair or a stroller, the Disney Skyliner’s capacity lowers to roughly five or six guests. Cast members strive to keep parties together, with an exception being on extremely high volume days with excessive wait times.
Is the Disney Skyliner Wheelchair Accessible?
Yes, it is. There are gondolas in rotation that can accommodate a wheelchair. Simply look for the wheelchair accessible queue. If you or someone in your party is traveling in a wheelchair, you may wonder – is this safe? Not to worry—the gondola will be stopped, and remain stationary, while you board. In fact, wedges are placed behind the wheels to avoid movement.
Again, the gondolas do move quite a bit when embarking and arriving in the station, so keep that in mind. There is a limit of one wheelchair per wheelchair accessible gondola.
Best Age for Disney’s Skyliner?
The good news is that there are no height requirements, so children of all ages can ride. For safety reasons, children 7 years old and younger must be accompanied by someone 14 years or older. If you’re traveling with little ones, don’t worry, the gondolas are fully enclosed.
Small strollers (48” or less) can be rolled right into the gondola. Larger strollers will need to be folded and loaded. Keep in mind boarding with strollers will limit the passenger capacity.
Are the Gondolas Air Conditioned?
No, however they’re decently ventilated and crosswinds help keep the cabin itself fairly cool. I travel to Disney World frequently during the summer months, and I can tell you that if the ride stops for any reason, so will your air. It can get a little toasty, but often the rides between stations are short and delays are minimal.
How Many Different Gondolas Are There?
One of my favorite details about the Disney Skyliner is that every gondola is different, highlighting our favorite Disney characters and classic films. Are you looking to ride in a specific car? Feel free to ask the cast member, and they’ll do their best to accommodate you (remember to be a courteous guest, especially during peak times. Cast members will do everything in their power to accommodate you, but they need to keep the line moving).
There are over 300 gondolas traveling between 5 different stations, with the cables collectively reaching 6 miles in length. Because there are so many gondolas, even during peak times, while the line may appear long, it moves relatively quickly.
Disney Skyliner Resorts
Here’s a list of the four resorts that offer direct access to the Disney Skyliner:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
The Skyliner connects with two well known Disney properties: Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.
Keep in mind that the International Gateway is also conveniently located near additional resorts, including:
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
- The Swan & Dolphin Hotels
You’ll also be short steps from Disney’s BoardWalk Entertainment District, which is one of my favorite places to enjoy nightlife at Disney World. This district is home to favorites including Atlantic City Dance Hall, Jellyrolls and The Flying Fish.
How Long Should I Allow for Transportation?
The average travel times range from 3 – 10 minutes. I’ve rarely experienced more of a delay than this. Resort to resort tends to be a quicker ride, while resorts to parks are a little bit longer. Keep in mind, these are averages and there are many things that can affect travel time, including delays at different stations, park capacity, etc. If you’re catching the gondolas for something time sensitive like a dining reservation or a show, always allow extra time.
Safety: Does the Disney Skyliner Operate in Inclement Weather?
Safety is a top priority, and like all outdoor attractions in Disney World, Disney takes weather conditions very seriously. Expect to see signage at all locations letting you know that unsafe weather conditions can and will stop the ride.
If you’re traveling during the summer months, when afternoon showers are fairly common, don’t be surprised if you see the attraction shut down on a regular basis. While it can be frustrating, keep in mind that these storms are often accompanied by high winds and lightning, and your safety is a top priority. If you notice rainy days are in the forecast, consider planning alternate methods of transportation, like the bus or monorail system.
Safety: What Happens if my Gondola Stops Moving?
I personally have not experienced a Gondola malfunctioning and stopping in its path, however if this happens, Disney has assured that there are procedures in place to safely unload guests. However it isn’t uncommon for your gondola to stop temporarily. As I mentioned previously, there are a variety of reasons why this could happen.
While I’ve never experienced an extended delay, I want to be transparent. At the end of the day this is an attraction, mechanical difficulties aren’t uncommon, and there’s always a chance you could get stuck. It’s rare, but it’s happened. Fortunately there have been no reported injuries, and there’s even an emergency case on board if you unfortunately find yourself in this situation.
Disney Skyliner Cost
One of my favorite features is that you don’t need a park ticket to board the Disney Skyliner, and you don’t need to pony up any extra money, ether. If you’re staying on Disney World property as a guest, you’re good. If you want to simply travel between Epcot and Hollywood Studios—you’re good too. Just hop on and enjoy the fact that Disney’s Skyliner is free.
The History of the Disney Skyliner
Now if this attraction looks familiar, that’s because you might recognize its predecessor, the Disneyland Skyway. This similar gondola style lift opened in 1956 in Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The attraction was originally intended to shuttle guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and was later redesigned to pass directly through the Matterhorn. This was the first aerial transportation of its kind in the United States at this time. Over the years, this attraction grew quickly in popularity. It was, after all, a small glimpse into the future. However, in 1994, the hype had died down and the Disneyland Skyway was closed.
As the Disneyland Skyway was proving to be a star attraction in California, the Magic Kingdom debuted their own similar transportation system. It also shuttled guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Unfortunately it was shut down in 1999 to make way for renovations in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. If the restrooms outside of Space Mountain seem familiar, this is all that still remains of the original skyway system. It would be 20 years before Disney World would reintroduce a similar method of transportation, and in September of 2019, the Disney Skyliner made its debut.
Be sure to take a look at this blast from the past to get a glimpse of what the nostalgic, original skyway looked like! It’s come a long way over the years.
Now that we’ve gone in depth on what to expect if you’re considering the Disney Skyliner as a method of transportation, let’s revisit the ultimate question: is Disney’s Skyliner safe?
In my opinion, yes, it is safe. I find the ride to be just as safe as other similar attractions at Disney World. If I’m comparing this method of transportation to the Monorail, Friendship Boats, Magic Kingdom Ferry or the busses, while there are always risks, I feel it’s a fairly safe attraction.
Now, let’s answer a bit of a tougher question here: Is Disney’s Skyliner scary? Well, to a degree it is. Overall, I’d rate it as relatively mild. If you are opposed to heights in any way, or extremely sensitive when it comes to motion sickness, I’d suggest you board this ride with caution.
However, I personally don’t feel it’s scary at all. You know your children and the people in your party best, so use your better judgment when it comes to this attraction. It’s certainly not an attraction that’s intentionally meant to be scary, so do always keep that in mind.
At the end of the day, this is a safe and mild form of transportation if you’re staying at any of the resorts I’ve mentioned earlier, if you’re visiting Hollywood Studios or Epcot, or if you have any dining plans at any of the aforementioned resorts or the BoardWalk Entertainment District.
If you’re not staying at these resorts or visiting these parks, I can’t say it’s exciting enough to go out of your way to experience (I’m a very practical planner and am all about efficiency). But, if I was traveling with my very young family members, I’d make a detour to Disney’s Skyliner and let them experience it for the very first time.
- This article was written by Jessica and edited by Michael.
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