Review: The Disney Skyliner offers quick and convenient transportation with some room for improvement

The Disney Skyliner is a captivating sight when visiting Walt Disney World. It’s impossible to miss the colorful cabins, many of which feature beloved Disney characters, flying through the sky. But is the Disney Skyliner worth using? And how does it stack up to the other transportation options?

We rode the Disney Skyliner across several days in December 2019 in an effort to get a feel for the experience. Our journeys were during various times of day in what was a very busy time of the year at Walt Disney World. The Christmas crowds are no joke. We hoped that things would be running smoothly after giving the system a few months to work out all of its bugs and well-documented issues.

Before diving into our thoughts, let’s preface this conversation by saying one of us has a small to medium fear of heights. It wasn’t enough to prevent us from wanting to try the Disney Skyliner, but it was definitely in the back of our mind before boarding. We’ll touch on this more later.

Our journey began one night at the Hollywood Studios station. The goal was to travel to Epcot’s International Gateway station while giving our very tired feet some needed rest after hitting the parks hard the previous day. The queue wasn’t too long and the two of us were soon loaded into a cabin with six other guests. Before we knew it we were whisked away into the darkness.

Here’s a rough transcription of our initial thoughts:

  • The ride is very smooth and very quiet. It’s actually quite peaceful.
  • The cabin itself is mostly dark aside from some lighting under the seats.
  • The vents are closed – or can be closed – during cooler times of the year. Even with the main vents closed, it was drafty but not uncomfortable.
  • It’s really, really dark around Walt Disney World at night away from the lights of the resorts and parks.
  • We’re at the Caribbean Beach station already?

Just like that our first ride came to an end as we arrived at the Caribbean Beach station. This station serves as the main hub for the Disney Skyliner, allowing guests to access all of the lines that serve Epcot, Pop Century/Art of Animation and of course Hollywood Studios.

Transferring was easy. We exited our original cabin and found the queue for Epcot. Lines (if there were any) for the other destinations were minimal and moved quickly. This time we were loaded into a cabin of our own and we once again took to the sky.

As if by a touch of Disney magic, Epcot Forever was about to reach its climax and we had an incredible view from high above the ground. Unreal. Any thoughts of heights, speed or safety vanished as we watched the nighttime spectacular from a completely unique vantage point. The show ended soon after we landed and we went about our day.

We ended up taking several more journeys over the course of the next few days and our experiences were fairly similar.

Unfortunately, the Disney Skyliner isn’t perfect. Delays can happen and probably will happen over a large enough number of rides. Those delays should be minimal, but sitting motionless for 5-10 minutes (sometimes longer) can be frustrating. It can also be a bit unnerving sitting or even swaying high above the ground for an extended period of time. Even though the lines never stopped during our trips, we can see how one delay could turn your peaceful trip into one that suddenly makes a crowded bus look attractive.

We also were a bit surprised by the operating schedules and how they weren’t as convenient as we expected. With Disney’s Hollywood Studios opening at 7:00am, the Skyliner didn’t start running until 6:45am. That time doesn’t really work for people hoping to get a virtual boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance or for individuals with an early breakfast reservation. It’s also not a reliable transportation option if you’re hoping to visit the Boardwalk area from a different resort for a nighttime visit to Jellyrolls. The Disney Skyliner closed between 10:30pm and 11:00pm each night of our visit.

Occasionally, entire lines of the Disney Skyliner system will be closed for unknown periods of time. This is happening less and less often, but it can throw a major wrinkle into your plans if you are planning to ride and the line back to your resort is closed. Bus transportation will be offered when a line is closed.

Let’s break it down.

The Good

  • Speedy transportation that connects four resorts (Caribbean Beach, Riviera, Pop Century, Art of Animation) and two theme parks (Epcot, Hollywood Studios).
  • It’s unique and feels like Disney magic. Way more fun than a bus.
  • You get to see Walt Disney World in a brand new way. The elevated view really makes you appreciate the size and scale of Walt Disney World.
  • The ride was quite smooth. Any fears of things being bumpy or lots of swaying were quickly dismissed.

The OK

  • Occasional delays of 5 or 10 minutes where you’re motionless can be frustrating. Similar motionless delays don’t happen on buses or boats.
  • Heights are a bit unnerving during portions of the ride, particularly when you travel over buildings in Caribbean Beach. That being said, even though one of us is not a fan of heights, we had no issue riding the Disney Skyliner and wouldn’t hesitate to ride again.
  • It’s still quicker to walk between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but admittedly less fun.

The Not So Good

  • The Disney Skyliner’s operating times may not fit into your plans. It may not open early enough for you to join the virtual boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance or a super early breakfast reservation. We’d love to see it stay open later so more guests could enjoy the nightlife on the Boardwalk.
  • You may find the line you want to ride on is closed for an unknown amount of time, forcing you to find an alternative mode of transportation.

The Verdict

Overall, we love the Disney Skyliner. We found it to be an efficient, quick and fun way of moving around Walt Disney World. It’s not perfect, but the pros and potential of the system greatly outweigh the cons. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney expand the Disney Skyliner system in the future if guests continue to respond favorably.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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