Why the Skyliner is My New Favorite Form of Walt Disney World Transportation

There are multiple modes of transportation to traverse the sprawling 25,000 acres of Walt Disney World’s property: car, monorail, boat, buses, Minnie vans, and now cable cars. The new Skyliner is a gondola lift system by Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group that opened in September 2019. There are five stations on the three separate cable lines connecting six Disney resort hotels with two theme parks and the Boardwalk entertainment area.

disney skyliner layout

How the Disney Skyliner Works

The main cables are looped between two bullwheels and are almost always moving. The cars use spring loaded grips that allow them to be detached from the moving cable. The cabins come off the cable in the load and unload areas where they appear to be driven by tires at a relatively constant speed. Like on many of the newest Disney theme park attractions, there is a separate load/unload area where the cabins can come to a complete standstill so guests who need extra time can board. As the cabins approach the cable, the driver tires get progressively faster to match the speed of the moving cable.

The engineering behind the system is fascinating, but what makes it so fun to ride? Here’s why the Disney Skyliner is now my favorite mode of transportation at Walt Disney World.

New Car Smell

Even though it’s been open almost half a year now, and who knows how many thousands of tourists have already taken flight, the cabins all still look brand new, inside and out. They don’t smell old, moldy, or like sweaty tourists. Can’t say the same for the tired, old monorail trains.

The Views

From flying low over Hourglass Lake to getting a peak at Ratatouille construction, the aerial views make the Skyliner really fun to ride. Tip: it’s easier to see the sights if you don’t get one wrapped in a character. If there’s no line, ask the cast member if you can wait for a cabin with no characters.

Fast and Efficient

Using the Skyliner, you can make it from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot in about 18 minutes. The cabins are almost always constantly moving so even if there is a short line it goes fast. And once you’re in the air you don’t have to stop at any traffic lights.

Privacy / Room to Relax

Out of ten or so flights on the Skyliner, maybe only two we had to share the cabin with another person or family. No screaming or crying kids. Huge difference from the buses and monorail where they cram in as many people as possible.

Guaranteed Seating

Unlike the buses or monorail where there’s a good chance you could be standing up the entire trip, every member of my family got to sit down for the duration of every trip on the Skyliner, which is a blessing when you’re walking thirteen miles a day.

Character Wraps

Although I liked sitting in a cabin that didn’t have a character wrap because it was easier to see, my kids loved looking at the characters on the outside of the other cabins as they passed. You can request the cast member loading the cabins to wait for a specific character if you or your kids want to.

Fun to Watch

The Skyliner really adds a kinetic energy to the resorts it passes near. It’s mesmerizing just to watch the cabins zip along the cable so silently.

Disadvantages of the Skyliner

Of course, the Skyliner isn’t perfect. We rode on a few days where the high was 88 degrees F. Didn’t have a problem with the temperature inside the cabin. As long as we kept moving there was constant airflow. However, I can see if you get stopped for a prolonged period of time when the temperature is 90 degrees that’s not going to be fun at all. Maybe bring a bottle of water and a battery operated fan just in case.

The cabins can rock and sway side-to-side, so someone prone to motion sickness may have a hard time, especially if the forward movement stops so you’re rocking on a hot day with no airflow.

We never had much of a line to get on, but I can see if you left Epcot after the nighttime show there could be a long wait to get on. If they start loading more than one family into a cabin, you could get stuck with a screaming baby in a really small, confined space.

Disney Skyliner Video

See the Skyliner in action and take a ride with us from Epcot to Pop Century by watching the video below.

If you’re going to Walt Disney World I highly recommend staying at any hotel with access to the Skyliner.

Learn about theme park steam trains, monorails, and other transportation systems here.

Have you ridden the Skyliner? If so, what did you think? Have any good or bad experiences? And if it’s not your favorite form of transportation at WDW, then what is?



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2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Although the Disney Skyliner May seems that impressive for those of you who are rather naïve when it comes to the very simple concept Gondola ? systems have been around forever. These types of transportation system are more recognized in their environment of the cold ? winter at major ski ? Resorts across the USA. So that is One Major Fact. So to have a rather simple design concept such as the skyliner is really Not All the hype everyone makes it out to be. Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group Is far from being a stranger in the skiing world industry. New for the Disney Company but not new for ski resorts. The Disney Skyliner various character scenes as colorful and cute as they may be similar more sophisticated designs can be found on the same type of cabin size at major ski resorts such as Aspen, keystone, And other major ski resorts. What you don’t see or know about is the huge incredible project that Boyne resorts Big sky Montana installed about three years ago making big sky the king of the mountain as far as the title goes for being the first in so many Areas. Ramcharger 8 the first of its kind in North America, it’s also the first Doppelmayr D-Line eight place chairlift in the world. Doppelmayr and Boyne Resorts have been collaborating for over 40 years, and together have introduced many firsts to the ski industry,” said Stephen Kircher, President of Boyne Resorts at a mid-morning ceremony. “We are incredibly proud to bring the first eight-seat chairlift to North America, setting a new standard for lift technology in the world.” Ramcharger 8 is the culmination of everything we have learned so far, and incorporates many firsts for the North American market; first eight-passenger chairlift, first direct drive motor, first locking restraint bar, first height-adjustable loading carpet, first high resolution video display, and the first of our newest generation detachable lifts,” D-Line is Doppelmayr’s fifth-generation detachable, the product of more than three decades of engineering experience. There are dozens of innovations and patents; some may not be obvious but will make big differences for operations and maintenance staff.

    Big Sky, Doppelmayr and Radius Displays partnered to create the largest-ever video wall on a chairlift. The high resolution LED display will feature video content, snow conditions, lift status and even social media posts that tag #bigskyresort. You can’t miss the 30 foot wide screen in the base area! Like with older sister Powder Seeker, Big Sky spared no expense for passenger comfort. Ramcharger 8 includes heated seats, blue bubbles and extra wide upholstered seats. New for this lift, the safety bar locks in place once lowered and raises automatically upon entering a station. There is also a height adjustable Chairkit loading carpet. I learned D-Line terminals come in a few widths and many lengths. Both of Ramcharger 8’s terminals are the 18 meter length and as wide as they come. The bullwheels are almost 24 feet in diameter and line gauge is over 25 feet. Doppelmayr builds D-Line stations in increments of two meters as short as 12 and as long as 36 meters. Ramcharger features the D 5000 grip, the larger of two D-Line grips. The slip force of one is 38 kN. Ramcharger 8 is 4,367 feet long with about 16 feet of tension travel in the bottom terminal. The haul rope is a 54 mm Fatzer Compacta. The number of cabinets below the top operator house gives an idea of how complex this machine is. The parking structure isn’t quite finished but carriers can also be parked in the stations. Once complete, the barn at the top will house all the chairs in two rows. The rails are slightly inclined so that parking and feeding is completely automated. Lift capacity can eventually be increased from 3,200 people per hour to 3,600 with additional chairs There is just one chain conveyor for parking and feeding. Rough spacing is located at the end of it. amcharger 8 is the second North American lift to open with a direct drive and the first for Doppelmayr USA. This one has three rings which weigh more than 13,000 lbs. each. The motor is water cooled and incredibly quiet. As Stephen Kircher noted, a direct drive eliminates the biggest Achilles heal of a modern lift – the gearbox. Ramcharger’s direct drive spins at just over 13 revolutions per minute when the lift is moving 5.1 m/s. There is a Caterpillar auxiliary engine that can be coupled to the bullwheel if necessary. Two service brakes and two emergency brakes act directly on the drive bullwheel. Minimized noise, dampened vibration and overall smooth operation are an obvious focus of D-Line. Even grip rollers are lubricated automatically Making it very maintainability. At the return terminal, the section of tires that does fine spacing operates independently of the PTOs with its own electric motor. It was pointed out to me this little motor might be louder than the direct drive for the lift! Roof vents in both terminals are opened and closed electronically based on ambient temperature and weather doors can be lowered with the push of a button. Welcome to first class. Ramcharger’s terminals currently have two charging rails for seat heating, which can be automatically adjusted based on outside temperature. Wiring for the seat heating goes through the chair hanger arms rather than outside with the bubble and restraint bar cables. Two more charging rails can be added in the future if needed. Three of Ramcharger’s 65 carriers have cleaning brushes for the copper rails. All of the grips have RFID tags for the Doppelmayr Connect control system to keep track of carrier locations. D-Line grips even come in multiple color options. Grip force is checked in a dedicated spot on the light side of the return terminal. The testing rail can be moved out of the way when carriers are being parked in the terminal. The outer walkway is the most spacious I have ever seen and there are two sets of stairs that allow easy access from the center of the terminal. The roof is taller than a UNI-G station too Doppelmayr Connect takes ropeway controls to a whole new level. Ramcharger includes touchscreen desk displays, outdoor pedestals, VoIP telephones, Android-based tablets and wireless remote operator controls. The interface is more like a personal computer than a traditional ski lift. Information is distributed via Wi-Fi throughout the operator houses and terminals. Electrical prints and manuals are also accessible through Doppelmayr Connect. The system has cool operator features. Marked carriers can be set to slow the lift automatically when they arrive at the next station. The display shows precise countdowns in minutes and seconds until arrival. REPORT THIS AD

    Big Sky got to create 65 different backs for the chairs. There are no repeats! There are a total of 13 towers. They have public address speakers that can broadcast pre-recorded messages or live announcements. Towers 6 and 13 have anemometers. Towers 6 and 7 are approximately 70 feet tall in order for the lift to span the Ambush ski run. The old Ramcharger had a tower right in the middle of this popular groomer. The new tapered towers were flown in multiple sections and spliced together The communications line and fiber are underground rather than on top of the lifting frames. It makes the lift look sleek and clean. The Kirchers had one last surprise in store before the gathered crowd got to load Ramcharger 8. Big Sky plans to introduce three Omega V gondola cabins to the lift for winter 2019-20. Two will be dedicated dining cars, allowing guests to sit around a table installed in the cabin for a premier dining experience. Another car will be reserved as a VIP cabin. The CWA gondola cabins will be the first of their kind in North America. A huge amenity you won’t find at any of the Disney Resort and Skyliner. The 1st ever Heated 8 Person D-Line System in the world ????????????????????????☝️??‍?‍?‍?+?‍?‍?‍?= 8. Sorry Charlie to the Disney Skyliner just can’t compete against huge facts. https://youtu.be/SyMFzy-dH2Y

    • Nick says:

      Thanks for the info Paul but I think you missed the point of the article. I’m simply saying the Disney Skyliner is my favorite mode of transportation at Walt Disney World compared to the other options available right now (compared to the monorail, buses, boats. etc.). I’m sure there are many bigger, better, more impressive gondola systems around the world.

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