25 June 2018
Disney World’s brand-new Skyliner transit was first announced just last year, but with construction in overdrive, the stations and towers are already more than halfway done.
Linking Epcot, Disney’s new Rivera Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, Hollywood Studios and the Art of Animation/Pop Century resorts, the new gondola system is projected to open by late spring to early summer of 2019.
This would place the opening a few months ahead of the late-2019 opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the new Ratatouille ride at Epcot.
Now the system has taken another significant step forward with the first of the gondolas spotted on property.
Twitter user Robert Wagner (@Kono_in_Orlando) tweeted out a picture of a gondola cabin strapped to a trailer on a Disney roadway. This is the first time the gondolas have been seen in person at Walt Disney World. The cable system has yet to get cables attached to it, so it’ll still be some time before we see actual gondolas floating through the sky, but these new pictures do confirm Disney will be using D-Line Omega IV-10 SI D cabins by Doppelmayr. These had been rumored to be the new system, since the stations look nearly identical to the ones Doppelmayr has designed for their D-Line, though with a heavy dose of Disney theming.
Doppelmayr explains why this new gondola system, first unveiled in 2016, is viewed as one of the best: “The D-Line is visionary ropeway technology with impressive features: top passenger comfort, quiet operation, simple and time-saving maintenance, and much more make the D-Line first class.”
This new system has an estimated capacity of between 4,000 and 5,000 passengers per hour per direction, making it one of the highest capacity gondola systems in the world. The cabins have luxuries many other gondola systems don’t feature, including a spacious interior with ceilings more than 7 feet high and large seats. With a floor space area roughly the size of a pallet, there’s plenty of room for full-size strollers or ECVs.
Disney is making sure the off-the-shelf gondolas have plenty of Disney magic with custom vinyl prints that will feature various Disney characters on certain gondolas. (The one spotted being delivered didn't have characters on it yet.)
With an expecting opening about a year away we still have few details on the system, most importantly whether or not the new system will include air conditioning.
The Omega IV-10 SI D cabins are currently only in use in much cooler regions, such as Austria, though other systems, like the used Sentosa Cable Car in Singapore, have remained comfortable without an air conditioning system thanks to passive ventilation. The gondola cabin photographed on property looks like it has a similar passive ventilation system.
Disney’s system, likely to be one of the most recognizable in the world, features custom-built stations that are unlike anything else Doppelmayr offers. This may point to other custom features, such as the aforementioned air conditioning. Some may object to the passive cooling system, but it does seem like a better option than guests being forced to remove windows on the system when the AC breaks, as was the case recently on the monorails.
Other details have yet to be shared, including the daily hours for the system and numerous questions around loading procedures. Many of those specifics may not be worked out until the system is up and running. The Skyliner will surely be a hit, but with only two of WDW’s theme parks and just four of its resorts being linked via the new system, hopefully Disney doesn’t forgo the long-needed updates to its monorail and bus fleet.