Disney Skyliner: A Game Changer

Disney Skyliner: A Game Changer

A History of Gondolas

I should mention that I was never a big fan of the Skyway. My first experience was at “The Happiest Place on Earth” in Anaheim. The Skyway at Disneyland was low enough to see the beautiful buildings. And it had a very cool view of the interior of Matterhorn Mountain as it went through. The chalet building in Fantasyland was really quaint. But can I say, a gondola system never seemed to fit in medieval Fantasyland. It was a “D” Ticket. You could do a lot of cool things with a “D” Ticket, like The PeopleMover or The Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland.

D23 Photo Opportunity in the old Disneyland Sky Bucket.

The Magic Kingdom also had a cool chalet.

The chalet in its declining years as a stroller parking lot. Photo by J. jeff Kober.

But this version seemed really tall for my fear of heights. It seemed to look out more at roofs. And while it did have an impressive view of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the turning point in the middle of the Tomorrowland Speedway seemed really unimpressive. And the lines…people have forgotten how the lines were not just long–they were slow.

Always a one way passage between Fantasyland to Tomorrowland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I never got a chance to do the one in Tokyo Disneyland, though it was an enclosed system for handling the weather. Its Fantasyland station was ultimately replaced by Pooh’s Honey Hunt. Good choice. Really Good Choice.

Skyliner Announced

So my initial impression wasn’t all that great when the Disney Skyliner was first announced. I just thought it was another transportation system going in, a little more exciting than a new paint job on the buses or the introduction of the Minnie vans. But nothing much more than that.

I certainly wasn’t part of that tribe of people who ranted about how hot it would be inside because there was no air conditioning. Any concern I may have had was nulled when I spent time in a similar model of craft in the heat and humidity of Sentosa in Singapore. You can see that see my experience here. In fact, if anything, that opportunity made me all the more excited.

When I rode it during the Cast Previews my impressions were positive on nearly every level. The ride is enjoyable. It’s well run by Disney Cast Members. It’s technically far superior than those gondolas Disney Cast Members used to manhandle to move into place years ago. It’s efficient. Really, the experience is pretty solid.

Access for guests with mobility challenges without interrupting the flow of the system. Photo by Madison Kober.

You can see the experience as played out by Jennica and Jase. It captures the experience both day and night. Check out the YouTube video below:

So Disney Skyliner is a great attraction. But that’s not what impresses me most.

Game Changer

Something about the new Skyliner experience took me to a place I hadn’t considered prior, or at least I had taken for granted. The thing that makes the Magic Kingdom resort area so wonderful is how it is connected by a monorail. Guests who have stayed there for years–DVC guests in particular–know this. They love the convenience of coming to and from. I’ve been so many times to Magic Kingdom Resorts like the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian. And I’ve been more than you can count to the Magic Kingdom. But I seldom do both in any given visit, being a local.

The Highway in the Sky approaches Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I also seldom find myself over at resorts like Disney’s Caribbean Beach, Pop Century and Art of Animation. I don’t even go back and forth between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot very often. I could always take a boat, or bus, or even walk. But I didn’t. This new system just opens that up in a way that makes the resort all come together. It really connects the resort in a fun way.

Taking off from Epcot’s location at the International Gateway. Photo by Madison Kober.

It’s especially a game changer if you are staying in one of the resorts mentioned, or in the new Riviera Resort. Disney’s Caribbean Beach has always seemed to have been at the bottom of the moderate category in comparison to Disney’s Riverside or Disney’s Coronado Springs. I think this resort just became the centerpiece of the fun. I am so looking forward to having dinner at Sebastian’s (a great restaurant) then slipping onto The Skyliner to head over to the Studios or Epcot. I know that guests staying in these resorts are going to love this new transportation option.

Soaring past new additions to France at Epcot. Photo by Madison Kober.

So What’s Next

So if one Skyliner system is great, how about another?

People talk about having a line that might run out to Coronado Springs, The All Star Resorts and possibly Animal Kingdom. John Frost of TheDisneyBlog.com had a fantastic idea of running it from the center of the parking lot all the way across the lagoon to the front of Magic Kingdom. Don’t just skip the monorail and ferry–skip the tram as well.

All that sounds great, but if I were to lay out the next track, I would put something at the front of Epcot and run it over to Riverside, Key West and on to Saratoga and Disney Springs. Having a connector to that social hub of nighttime activity would be fantastic. And it seems more doable than the routes that were laid out for this first one.

Whatever happens, it’s exciting for sure. And I applaud Disney for the risk of exploring this new option. This will be a signature part of the Disney experience for years to come.

J. Jeff Kober

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