The Disney Skyliner changed everything…and we love it!
We’ll be honest. We didn’t really “get” the Disney Skyliner when it was announced. We saw the plans, the concept drawings, the maps of how it would connect the resorts. Sure, we understood the basics, but we had no idea the game-changer it would become – at least for us Disney Park Nerds.
Walt Disney World Transportation
Some of our skepticism was derived from the way we have engaged with the Walt Disney Resort transportation options since the 1990s. From Magical Express picking up Nerds and Nerdlings upon arrival at MCO (Orland International Airport), to the Disney busses running from hotel to them park to water park to Disney Springs to the Ticket and Transportation Center and beyond, to the monorail and ferry serving the Magic Kingdom….Disney World transportation was robust, but for the Nerds, largely ignored.
We tried a variety of ways to visit Disney World using their transportation. What better way to save money (no car rental!) and time (just grab a bus that drops you at the front) then to just relax and hand over the keys to Disney.
This worked for a while and we happily followed Disney’s lead. But a dose of reality changed our view forever. It was many, many years ago when our triplets were still in strollers. We had a fun and tiring day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and, following the last showing of Fantasmic!, we joined the throngs of guests making their way back to their hotels. We got in line to wait for a Disney bus to Port Orleans – Riverside and had to wait an extra bus or two (now 30 minutes in line with three small and cranky Nerdlings) in order to get five seats together with enough room for two strollers.
That experience represented the last straw and was the last time I used a Disney bus for transportation (reviews still necessitate an occasional trip). I went to one of the on-property car rental locations, rented a mini-van and never looked back. Every trip since, we rent a car and we love it! Why? Freedom! Freedom to leave the airport when we want, freedom to drive directly to our hotel or stop at Publix for water and supplies, freedom to go to a theme park whenever we choose instead of waiting for the bus only to sit down and be treated to 4 more stops on the same property, and most importantly…freedom to leave at will!
And Disney made it easy. Theme park parking (say that five times fast) is included with your Disney World hotel stay. Instead of waiting at a bus stop an hour or more before a park opens, we walk out of the room 35-40 minutes prior to opening and cruise into the parking lot at our leisure.
This meant we could stay where we want, eat where we want and our schedule was our own.
And then the Disney Skyliner happened.
Whoa! This was a game-changer. Of course, after the Skyliner opened a couple other major factors occurred simultaneously:
• Disney’s Riviera Resort opened
• Disney’s Pop Century was remodeled
• Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort underwent a huge transformation
• Most importantly….Disney’s Hollywood Studios became one of the premier parks at Disney World. It’s hard to remember now, but only a couple of years ago this was considered a half-day park due to its lack of attractions.
We Nerds wanted to check out the remodeled Pop Century (HINT: we loved it! Read this post about it) and check out the Disney Skyliner. Getting to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in time to be comfortably through the gates by opening time became crucial with the launch of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance. And the Skyliner made this easier than ever.
From the Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is just two short legs of the Skyliner away. Plus, those riding the Disney Skyliner are treated to a drop-off that is incredibly close to the park’s turnstiles. Now, we were leaving our room 25-30 minutes before park opening, casually walking to the Skyliner station, waiting in a short (if any) line for our own gondola and cruising into the park with time to spare.
From Disney’s Pop Century, the ride to Epcot can take 20 minutes, but it still rivals driving. Plus, there is no parking lot tram or long walk to the turnstiles and since Frozen Forever After is our first Epcot stop in the morning, entering at the less crowded International Gateway turnstiles is a benefit.
Skyliner Heads This Way and That Way.
The Skyliner is essentially made up of three separate systems/routes. Here is a link to the map. There are five Skyliner stations located at:
- Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / Disney’s Pop Century Resort
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Epcot (at the “back” International Gateway entrance)
The Caribbean Beach Resort station connects all three systems and is the only station that connects any route to another. As for the routes themselves:
- One system runs between Epcot and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort with an optional embarkment/disembarkment at Disney’s Riviera Resort.
- One system runs between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- One system runs between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / Disney’s Pop Century Resort.
Timing is Everything.
The entire point of the Skyliner for guests is more than a novelty; it is about being more efficient and saving time in addition to rectifying some of the challenges with the current Disney Transportation system and just being a cool way to get around.
We measured the approximate time it takes once you board the Skyliner until the door opens at your destination (including the +/- 30 seconds for the doors to close once you have boarded). We did not include the time you may spend waiting in line or transfer time between Skyliner routes as there are so many variables. These times also do not take into account “downtime” which, thankfully, has been far less than when it first opened. Enough of our Nerdiness.
You can expect that it will take approximately 3m 55s between Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
It will take another 4m 35s to travel between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios station.
The route between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Riviera Resort has a ride time of 3m 5s. The Riviera Resort station does not require guests to disembark – so you can remain seated – the doors will open and you simply do nothing and they will close and open and close….while you sit for about 90 seconds as your party makes the turn and gets back in the sky – if you are traveling from Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot or vice versa.
Fly time between Disney’s Riviera Resort and Epcot clocks in at 7m 25.
This means the entire non-stop between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Epcot takes approximately 11m 35s.
But That’s Not All!
Wait! There’s more! Park-hopping just became easier, naps or a pool break a piece of cake, and the flexibility and freedom were unparalleled. Now, we didn’t have to so much as wait for a parking lot tram. We walk out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot and hop on the Disney Skyliner back to the hotel. The line for the Skyliner at park closing was no longer than waiting for a parking lot tram.
While we still use a car for visits to the other two Disney World parks – Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom – the Nerds are huge fans of the Disney Skyliner and we make it a priority to stay at a property with Skyliner access. When the deals are right, we upgrade to a preferred room located close the Disney Skyliner station to make the trip even shorter.