Just this morning, I was debating a fellow Disney Parks nerd (staff writer Dirk Libbey) about Walt Disney World’s dominance over the Anaheim-based Disneyland. Dirk’s a California native, and is naturally inclined to side with his familiar West Coast stomping ground. As an East Coast kid, I’ll defend Orlando’s sprawling vacation destination over the significantly smaller Cali spot all day and all night.
But one issue Dirk raises that I can’t defend is the amount of time it takes to travel between parks when one is at Walt Disney World. The size of the park, it turns out, is both a blessing and a curse, as park-hopping can take extended amounts of hours out of your theme park day. Well, Disney heard this complaint, and based on what I just saw, they’re ready to address the transportation concern head on.
The Disney Skyliner, first announced at D23 in 2017, will be an aerial gondola transportation system that’s expected to connect two major Florida theme parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, with four key resorts on the Walt Disney World properties. Those hotels are the Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and the yet-to-open Disney’s Riviera Resort (which opens December 2019).
The map of the Disney Skyliner route is below.
Opening on September 29, the gondolas of Disney Skyliner – which each hold 10 total passengers – expect to be a marked improvement over the adequate bus systems that patrons can use to travel between parks, or to and from their hotels.
Speaking from experience, on this most recent trip to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge located in Hollywood Studios, I attempted to park hop over to Animal Kingdom. I wanted to ride the Avatar-related Flight of Passage – still the best theme park ride I’ve ever been on.
All told, though, it took almost 90 minutes to move from one park to the next, primarily because it took so long for a Disney bus to arrive at Hollywood Studios to bring us over to Animal Kingdom. Not the most efficient use of time when you are trying to maximize your moments in Walt Disney World.
Now, Disney has made significant moves to improve transportation between the parks. Don’t want to wait for a bus? You can sign up for and use Disney’s version of Uber, the brilliantly nicknamed Minnie Vans, that will pick you up and carry you to your next destination (for a fee… the buses are free). But the addition of Disney Skyliner takes the convenience of park hopping to a new level.
And by the looks of the photos I was able to shoot from right outside of the Hollywood Studios park, they are just about ready to open these aerial gondolas for business.
If this transportation system ends up being successful, I can easily see Walt Disney World implementing more aerial lines that connect the other theme parks, Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom. But with the new addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the renovations happening at Epcot, you can understand why there’s a need to move guests between these destinations as quickly, and as easily, as possible.