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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Disney reveals new details on their upcoming Skyliner transit system

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA DISNEY
  • Photo via Disney
The Disney Skyliner, Walt Disney World’s ambitious new aerial gondola system, opens in less than two months, and we’re starting to learn more details.

With construction of the new transit system now wrapping up, Disney is shifting its focus to operations. Initial testing has been ongoing for just over six months. Recently, the Reedy Creek Fire Department tested evacuation drills, including those over the water.

Then last week, Disney posted a job listing that revealed many new details. The now-deleted job posting mentioned that Cast Members assigned to the system could expect to work as early as 5 a.m. and "as late as 3am, 4am, or 5am."

The Skyliner will likely have a similar operations schedule to the Monorail, which, according to Disney, “operates from 30 minutes prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing.”

The 5 a.m. times point to the ‘Extra, Extra Magic Hours’ scheduled for Disney’s Hollywood Studios this fall. Beginning Sept. 1 and running through at least early November, the park will be opening at 6 a.m. for on-site guests due to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land. Both Epcot and DHS remain open past midnight on select nights throughout the year, most notably on New Year’s Eve and for special events like Disney After Hours.
click to enlarge The Caribbean Beach station of the Disney Skyliner - PHOTO VIA DISNEY
  • Photo via Disney
  • The Caribbean Beach station of the Disney Skyliner
Also similar to the Monorail, the Skyliner will necessitate a transfer when guests are moving from one park to another. Taking the place of the TTC, the Skyliner will require all guests to transfer at the Caribbean Beach station, which also includes the back-of-house operations and maintenance center for the gondola system.

All three lines will include a stop at the Caribbean Beach station, with only the Caribbean Beach to Epcot line having a third pass-through station. The Caribbean Beach to Hollywood Studios and the Caribbean Beach to Pop Century/Art of Animation line will include just two stations, one at each end of the line, similar to the Epcot to TTC monorail line. All of the stations are custom-designed to fit into their location’s theme, except for the off-the-shelf Boardwalk angle station where no loading/unloading will take place.

With a theoretical hourly capacity of 4,500 passengers (actual capacity will likely be closer to half of this) across nearly 300 cabins and with the unique dual-loading ability, the Disney Skyliner is expected to be one of the busiest aerial gondola systems in the world. More than half of the cabins will be dedicated to the Epcot to Caribbean Beach line, the longest and most complicated of the three lines.

  • Image via Kono_In_Orlando | Twitter
Manufactured by Doppelmayr, who also designed the ropeway system for the Hogwarts Express funicular at Universal Orlando, the Disney Skyliner uses the company’s D-Line Monocable Detachable Gondolas (MDG) system with Omega Class IV cabins. Doppelmayr has spent decades updating the systems, creating what is said to be one of the most reliable mass transit systems in operation.

click to enlarge The DHS station for the Disney Skyliner gondola system - PHOTO VIA DISNEY
  • Photo via Disney
  • The DHS station for the Disney Skyliner gondola system
The system will connect 6,700 hotel rooms with two major theme parks on routes that are currently served only by buses. With nearly 500 buses in its fleet, Walt Disney World already has one of the largest bus systems in the nation, but continued growth around the resort has strained the system.

If the Skyliner is successful, a second phase connecting to the Wide World of Sports, All-Star resorts, and possibly Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom Lodge is expected. A line connecting to Disney Springs has also been mentioned by insiders, though autonomous bus systems via the bus dedicated lanes installed in recent years near Disney Springs may be used instead.

The grand opening of the gondola system is slated for Sept. 29. For now, like nearly all Disney World transit, the gondola system will be complimentary for guests.

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