Walt Disney World Skyliner gondola system to open September 29

Posted Thursday, July 18, 2019 8:59 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Walt Disney World announced that its new gondola system, which connects Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and four resorts, will open on September 29, 2019.

Thursday, July 25, 2019 12:14 PM

I've seen estimates that the gondolas will travel at 11 miles per hour. That's not a lot of air flow.

+1Loading
Friday, July 26, 2019 2:39 PM

I agree with Vater and bigboy that it sucks, but you have to question why someone would go to an outdoor theme park if they can't handle the weather. Most people could probably handle a car without AC if the vehicle was always parked indoors and your total trip time was always 20 minutes or less. That's basically the design of the Skyliner.

Each span is designed for a line speed of 1,000 fpm (11 mph), so the wind effect in the cars should feel cooling even if in reality it really isn't.

The interior of the cars will receive partial shade from the roof and the window treatments further reduce the amount of sun reaching the interior.

Disney's spent considerably more on the terminal designs to include two carrier paths so they can have a separate load-unload path for guests that require extra assistance. The carriers that go on this path will stop completely, while the carriers that use the main path will have continuous loading-unloading. This should significantly reduce slowing or stopping of the gondola line, which will help maintain capacity and keep the ride time between the terminals close to expectations.

Another factor I think Disney considered is that peak traffic on the Skyliner will likely be heaviest in cooler times of the day- morning hours and after dark.

Air conditioning the individual cars is costly, complicated, inefficient, and they don't work well. The carriers aren't well insulated or sealed to contain the cool air and about every 5-9 minutes the doors swing wide open to the elements. In order to effectively air condition you really need indoor stations. The entire addition of ac really adds to the operational and maintenance costs.

The reality is most passengers will spend an average of about 10-11 minutes on the line. The longest possible route is 20 minutes. Will air conditioned bus service remain an option? I suspect so.

Last edited by egieszl, Friday, July 26, 2019 2:40 PM
+1Loading
Saturday, July 27, 2019 9:32 PM

Brian Noble said:

One of the best lines I ever heard in the Disney fan community: "There is no pixie dust in transportation."

Clearly, that person has never taken a Minnie Van.

Best 2 things we decided to do on this trip - Minnie Van from the airport to Boardwalk, and then utilizing the Minnie Van service to/from Magic Kingdom. At closing, when they’re packing the buses like sardine cans, and the lines are 40 minutes long - I’m completely comfortable with spending a bit of cash to get back to the resort in under 20 minutes.

Sure, I could take a regular Lyft/Uber, but that required getting to the TTC, where the Minnie Van picks up and drops off right at the bus stop. I suppose I could hoof it to the Contemporary, but meh. Minnie Vans get to take the bus only lanes and entrances too.

+2Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 11:40 AM

Raven-Phile said:

Clearly, that person has never taken a Minnie Van.

Best 2 things we decided to do on this trip - Minnie Van from the airport to Boardwalk, and then utilizing the Minnie Van service to/from Magic Kingdom. At closing, when they’re packing the buses like sardine cans, and the lines are 40 minutes long - I’m completely comfortable with spending a bit of cash to get back to the resort in under 20 minutes.

Sure, I could take a regular Lyft/Uber, but that required getting to the TTC, where the Minnie Van picks up and drops off right at the bus stop. I suppose I could hoof it to the Contemporary, but meh. Minnie Vans get to take the bus only lanes and entrances too.

I haven't found many scenarios where the added expense of the Minnie Van is justified (over Lyft/Uber), but this is probably one of them.

Starting a few years ago, I started using Uber more and more to get around WDW and in many situations, it is clearly the way to go if you want to circumvent the buses, especially during peak times. From the MK, I typically hoof it over to the Contemporary and Uber it from there....it really isn't that far of a walk. But the added convenience of being able to be picked up/dropped off at the MK with a Mini Van is a deal maker in my mind.

+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 11:51 AM

It’s not THAT far of a walk, I’ve done it plenty of times from Top of The World Lounge and back, but at 12:30 AM, even that extra 10 minutes is just... too much.

The Minnie Van from the airport was AMAZING, but expensive. We did it because it’s our honeymoon, and that’s all about special experiences. The problem is, I really liked it, and don’t think I ever want to take Magical Express from the airport to the resort ever again. All the time in line, boarding the bus, waiting, stopping at several resorts along the way and waiting more for people to get hire luggage, etc.. just doesn’t interest me. We walked to level 2, met our cast member, who brought us to the secret loading area, asked us what movie we’d like to watch when we climbed in the Premier Suburban, with all the chocolates, mints, and smart waters we wanted (alcohol would have really sealed it) we wanted - and we were at the Boardwalk, in the pool, drink in hand, within 45 minutes including changing and checking our luggage with bell services.

Im going to guess ty experience is similar with a regular Lyft, minus the amenities and special certificate you get from the Minnie Van, but it’s probably about 1/3 the cost, too.

+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:17 PM

We're not exactly "frequent flyers" to WDW (2 trips in the past 4 years, with another upcoming this June), but I don't recall ever waiting in any type of line for the buses at all, whether that was from the airport to Art of Animation, from the resort to the parks in the AM, or coming back at night. I do remember worrying it would be a huge pain-in-the-ass, and also remember being shocked (at first) at how efficient it was...and this was with a double-jogging-stroller in tow, which thank God we are finally over.

I know...individual trips are anecdotal, so maybe the norm for the buses is more chaotic, but our two sorta-recent trips were pleasantly surprising, and this involved getting up to be at the parks' openings in the morning and staying till closing...at least for Epcot and MK. Maybe it just works great at Art of Animation?

We're back at Art of Animation in about 6 months...I look forward to grabbing my coffee and stepping out of my window onto the gondola. I was really happy they connected our "home base"...at least for one more trip...with these.

11 mph isn't fast, but it's a great speed to get a breeze. Ever stand in a consistent 11 mph wind? That feels great.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:28 PM
+1Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:28 PM

Buses come on an average of every 20 minutes. They get packed like sardine cans, and you either cram in and not breathe or the bus ride, or you get stuck waiting for the next one. When there are 2 bus loads worth of people in front of you, that’s 40 minutes of just waiting to get on a bus - when you’re hot, tired and a little hungry, it makes for a terrible experience.

We walk to both Epcot and Hollywood studios, so we are spoiled with that. Animal kingdom generally isn’t as bad as MK when trying to come back for the night, but if you do miss that bus, you’re still standing there for that 20 minutes, whereas an Uber/Lyft or Minnie Van is there is under 5 minutes, and you’re guaranteed a seat and no physical contact with people you don’t know.

+1Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:51 PM

I remember when we stayed, we learned that the Art of Animation Resort actually has it's own designated fleet...just for A of A. Maybe that's why the flow was better there?

We definitely missed a bus or two in the AM, but there was always a bus stacked behind the one that was filling up, so even if you missed it, you just got on the one that was waiting for you. The one worry I had was exactly what you were describing...missing a bus and then waiting. Now were we crammed in there? Yes. But there was never a wait of any kind, even when you missed a ride.

The Minnie Van sounds like a great option...if you're not at Art of Animation ;)

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:53 PM
+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 1:28 PM

They all have a dedicated fleet during peak times, but when it slows down, they will share. Unfortunately, even during slow times, a busy week pops up out of nowhere and it gets... kind of bad. Mostly just at MK, though.

+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 1:47 PM

Alton Towers rarely run their similar system when temperatures hit 30°C/86°F, I think due to potential discomfort during a long stoppage and their inability to get water etc up to the cabins.

+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 5:28 PM

I agree with most of the comments regarding the Magical Express.

The whole process just feels painfully slow. From having to wait for the bus, queuing, boarding, getting jammed into a full bus, and having to stop at multiple resorts, etc. For whatever reason, I always seem to be staying at the last resort being dropped off.

I get why they do this, but on the return side, you feel like you get to the airport hours before your departure flight. Again, I get it, MCO can be wildly unpredictable checking in and getting through security, and WDW isn't about to push the envelope with guests missing flights. But everything about the Magical Express just feels painfully slow.

However, it does get you from point A to point B for "free", which we all know we are paying for it one way or another.

Now that Uber/Lyft does airport transfers, for me, it's just worth the $40 to Uber/Lyft and ride in comfort and on my own time table. And I have TSA Pre-check so I can cut my departure out of MCO a bit closer.

On a side note, if you don't have TSA Pre-check....it's the best money that you can spend; even if you only travel a couple of times a year.

+1Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 8:37 PM

I haven't stayed on property in years, but I never waited excessively for buses ever, whether it was Pop Century or Beach Club. Those are my anecdotes.

The ride share services are making the pick up areas a mess now. It's particularly bad at Animal Kingdom.

+0
Sunday, July 28, 2019 8:46 PM

Raven-Phile said:

They all have a dedicated fleet during peak times, but when it slows down, they will share. Unfortunately, even during slow times, a busy week pops up out of nowhere and it gets... kind of bad. Mostly just at MK, though.

Just for the hell of it (and because we're heading there again), I called Art of Animation, and they told me they have their own fleet all year, which is one of the perks of staying there. No sharing with any other resort. When you stay there, there are no stops at any other resort to or from the airport, or between the parks. It's point A to point B your entire trip no matter when you stay. That's what we experienced a couple years ago, and it sounds like it's still the same.

Of course, this means nothing unless you're staying there, which isn't for everyone.

Just saying...if you crazy kids have your own little ones, Art of Animation has family suites with a separate bedroom (and bathroom) for mommy and daddy.

And a gondola.

As far as the airport...Magical Express has been nothing but seamless on our trips. We either fly out of Akron/Canton or Pittsburgh, so TSA takes less time than it took me type this post, but at busy airports I can totally see a justification for a TSA Fastlane.

STAR WARS TANGENT: I also asked about Galaxy's Edge with regards to our trip, and learned a couple things. Unlike Disneyland, they plan on opening both the Millennium Falcon ride and Rise of the Resistance (I know, non-news to some of you) on August 29th. With regards to the Fast-Pass system, they are unsure when it will start to be implemented for the two attractions. She said they are watching and learning from Disneyland's experience, and will be implementing the same system in place there (resort guests getting the first dibs) with time allowances in the park.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, July 28, 2019 9:41 PM
+1Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 10:07 PM

The monorail resorts all have a single Magical Express bus, unless they have a full bus for one resort - then they will dedicate more buses to others. The 3 Epcot resorts have one much the same, too. When I stayed at Coronado the very first time, ME stopped at Caribbean Beach first. Disney doesn’t run Magical Express - MEARS does, so they go where the traffic requires.

For parks/resort busing, the Epcot area resorts only have to go to 2 parks and Disney Springs, so they can share the same amount of buses that one of the other resorts have as their dedicated system, because they have less places to go.

Regardless, Len Testa’s crew did a survey of over 250,000 Disney buses, and found that they average 17 minutes between them regardless of where you’re at. When the bus queue is fully done then some, that’s at least a 34 minute wait if you’re at the end of it. Then you have to take the amount of people on the bus into account.

You can deny the wait times, but last week was full of large tour groups, and MK was open until 11, with Magic Hours until 1AM - so the place was mobbed, and I was completely over it by 12:30. There is no way in hell you were going to convince me to stand there’s dripping with sweat, for 2+ bus loads of people, waiting to get back to the Boardwalk.

+1Loading
Sunday, July 28, 2019 11:13 PM

Oh, I will convince you....

+0
Monday, July 29, 2019 8:41 AM

Raven-Phile said:

Disney doesn’t run Magical Express - MEARS does, so they go where the traffic requires.

Well that explains why (most of) the drivers are so miserable.

+0
Monday, July 29, 2019 9:35 AM

Only been on Disney property once, in 2013 or 2014. Stayed at Art of Animation and had a very similar experience as OhioStater. Dedicated buses that, while full, were almost stacked in the morning and night.

+0
Monday, July 29, 2019 10:54 AM

It seems that the obvious solution would be to run more buses during peak hours. Why would they stick to the 20 minute cycle at park closing time? That does not seem very logical, er, magical.

+0
Monday, July 29, 2019 10:59 AM

More buses means more drivers, and more maintenance. That’s my best guess.

Why spend more when there are suckers like me who will pay for convenience?

+0
Monday, July 29, 2019 12:08 PM

OhioStater said:

11 mph isn't fast, but it's a great speed to get a breeze. Ever stand in a consistent 11 mph wind? That feels great.

Ever sit in a car on a 90 degree day and go 11 mph? That doesn't feel great.

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2019, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...