Once upon a time, brightly-colored gondolas floated gently across the sunny skies above Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The two stations were in Fantasyland and in Tomorrowland. If you boarded at the station across from Space Mountain (once located on a second story above the current Space Mountain area restrooms), you were on the “Skyway to Fantasyland;” while the route from Fantasyland was called the “Skyway to Tomorrowland.”
Meanwhile, a similar Skyway at Disneyland passed right through the middle of the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Disneyland’s Skyway closed in 1994, and it was more than 20 years before a tribute to the Skyway appeared on the Matterhorn. Just past the top of the lift hill, you can now spot the “hoard” of the Abominable Snowman – lanterns and canteens left behind by climbers and several Skyway buckets – clawed, heavily damaged, and now snow-filled!
At the Magic Kingdom, the Skyway was closed in 1999. Guests who don’t remember the Magic Kingdom Skyway might remember the old stroller parking which itself has been replaced with the Tangled-themed restroom-area mini-land! The chalet-style Fantasyland Skyway station was located on the site of the old stroller parking beyond the small world entrance.
Recently, Disney announced plans to bring the classic Skyway back to Walt Disney World in a reimaged, modern incarnation called the Skyliner. Rather than taking the form of a park attraction (it was a D ticket, back in the day!), the Skyliner will provide guest transportation between selected resorts and parks. You’ll be able to board the Skyliner at Disney’s Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach resorts. You’ll be able to reach two parks via Skyliner – Epcot (via the International Gateway) and Hollywood Studios.
This is not your mother’s Skyway. This is a whole new reinvented reboot. The Skyliner is a high-tech aerial tram with roomy gondolas for commuter traffic. Disney promises that the Skyliner will be “convenient and scenic.” Part of its route will follow busy Buena Vista Drive (and thereby reduce traffic on Buena Vista Drive!), giving a thrill (“Look mom! A Mickey gondola!!”) to guests below. Disney uses the word “kinetics” to describe the mental stimulation provided by moving elements. The Skyliner will be kinetically effective across the whole southern part of Disney property, as well as having obvious practicality and providing plain old fun for its riders!
At Epcot, the Skyliner station will be located at International Gateway across the walkway from the Friendship boat docks (in an area where you may have seen marquees set up when special events were hosted there). Caribbean Beach will be the site of a transfer station from the Hollywood Studios line, so the station will be larger. It’s being built near the shores of Barefoot Bay behind the Jamaica section of the resort.
While you’ll be able to board the Skyliner at Art of Animation or Pop Century – it’s one shared station. The platform is being built on Hourglass Lake next to the parking lots between the Little Mermaid buildings and Pop’s 50s bowling pin buildings. At the Studios, the Skyliner station will be out front, along the walkway to the Boardwalk Resort beside the Studios Canal (across from the bus stops).
Guests will board gondolas wrapped with Mickey, Minnie, and other Disney friends (including the Haunted Mansion’s Hitchhiking Ghosts!) for an amazing ride. Imagine the bird’s eye view guests will be treated to as they zoom along overhead – with never-before-seen perspectives on favorite resorts and parks.
Guests of the upcoming Disney’s Riviera Resort will also be served by the Skyliner. The Riviera will be Disney’s 15th Vacation Club resort and will be geographically tucked right into the Caribbean Beach Resort – its eight or nine story towers built where the Barbados and Martinique guest buildings once stood. The entrance to the Riviera will be just west of the Caribbean Beach entrance. (Creative landscaping and Disney sleight-of-hand magic will no doubt conceal the proximity of the two entrances.) The Riviera is Disney’s answer to the towers of the off-property (but physically on property!) Bonnet Creek Resort. It’s expected that you’ll be able to come through the Riviera’s palm-tree-lined entrance in the fall of 2019. You’ll be able to dine in the Skyline view rooftop restaurant at the Riviera, as you gaze down on both Epcot and Hollywood Studios (with both Illuminations and Fantasmic! before your eyes) – as gondolas drift across the sky. Perhaps in the future the line will be extended all the way to the Animal Kingdom Resort – though many guests have clamored for an AK monorail! Disney keeps surprising us. For now, the Disney Transportation of the Future is almost here – in the new “highway in the sky” – the Skyliner!
Access to the Walt Disney World Skyliner will be free, as with all other Walt Disney World transportation options.