Disney’s Skyliner service is a game-changer when it comes to transportation at Walt Disney World. So whether you’re taking a ride for enjoyment or traveling to a desired destination, you’ll want to use the Skyliner during your next vacation.
This article will look at the Disney Skyliner Resorts in detail. We’ll discuss the hours of operation for the Skyliner along with the travel times between the different gondola stations.
Since the Skyliner opened a few years ago, I’ve used it many times. So many times, I’ve had several unique experiences to share with you.
Not only that, I’ve used the stopwatch on my phone to record the Skyliner travel times between the different resort and theme park stops.
Of course, I can’t tell you how long you’ll have to wait in line to board the Skyliner. But I can give you an idea of how long it will take to reach your destination.
For those who haven’t ridden the Skyliner, I want to share my initial experience to prepare you. The first time I boarded a Skyliner gondola, I was excited. But when we initially took off, I became more nervous than I had anticipated.
With that being said, those nerves wore off rather quickly. Instead, I found myself overwhelmed by the stunning aerial views of the surrounding Disney Resort hotels.
When I last updated this article, I wrote about how the newness hadn’t worn off. However, that has now changed.
This last Christmas, my son was visiting with me. We took the Skyliner from Hollywood Studios to Caribbean Beach one afternoon. When we took off, he mentioned how it still made him nervous.
At that time, I smiled and realized that I didn’t think anything about riding it anymore. So even though it took a while, I can say I have finally gotten used to riding the Skyliner and love it.
This article was updated on March 1, 2022.
Disney Skyliner Resorts
Guests staying at the following Disney World Resorts will have immediate access to a Disney Skyliner station.
Additionally, guests staying in the Epcot Resorts Area around Crescent Lake are within walking distance to the Epcot Skyliner station. That station sits just outside the International Gateway entrance to Epcot.
Those hotels are the following:
Skyliner at Caribbean Beach
Caribbean Beach Resort is the central gondola station for the Disney Skyliner system. You can think of Caribbean Beach as the central hub or stopping point for the Skyliner. All of the travel lines eventually lead back to it.
To simplify things, Caribbean Beach is the only station that will take you directly to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
Guests coming from Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Riviera will have to disembark their gondola when they reach Caribbean Beach.
From there, you’ll have to board a new gondola car to either Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot.
The only exception is guests of Riviera Resort can join a direct line to Epcot from the resort.
When you leave the Caribbean Beach headed to Epcot, you will drop back down and cycle through the Riviera Resort’s station. However, you remain on board as you proceed to Epcot.
Or you can disembark at Riviera if you are visiting the resort.
The Skyliner station at Caribbean Beach travels to the following locations:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Riviera Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
- Pop Century Resort
The most important thing to be aware of is that three lines feed into Caribbean Beach. Therefore, anyone coming into this central hub at Caribbean Beach must disembark their gondola cabin and re-board to their next destination.
That is unless you are staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and walking back to your room.
Skyliner at Riviera
As mentioned above, the Riviera Resort offers a direct Skyliner line to Epcot. Therefore, if you leave Riviera, your destination options are Epcot or Caribbean Beach.
As you approach the Skyliner from the Riviera, the line on the resort side goes to Caribbean Beach.
And if you’re going to Epcot, you’ll walk around to the opposite side of the station. You can easily get in the wrong line if you aren’t paying attention here.
On the way to Epcot, you’ll encounter a turn station above the Buena Vista Drive and Epcot Resorts Blvd intersection. Here the gondola will slow as it approaches the turnaround. Then you’ll go through an area where it changes direction.
Shortly after that, you’ll drop down over the France Pavilion and arrive at Epcot’s International Gateway. From here, you can enter Epcot or visit the resorts in the surrounding area.
Guests traveling from Disney’s Riviera to Hollywood Studios will board a gondola from the resort to Caribbean Beach. At Caribbean Beach, you’ll exit and join the line for Hollywood Studios.
Additionally, you can walk between the Skyliner stations at Caribbean Beach and Riviera. However, it is a fairly long walk between them.
Related: Disney’s Riviera Resort Review
Skyliner at Pop Century and Art of Animation
Guests staying at Disney’s Pop Century or Art of Animation Resorts will find a similar experience. These resorts share a pick-up and drop-off station located on the bridge across Hour Glass Lake.
Skyliner guests will travel to Caribbean Beach’s main station from these resorts. There, they will depart their gondola and get in line for Epcot or Hollywood Studios.
The main difference here is that there’s no option to walk to the main Caribbean Beach station from the value resorts. While these Disney value resorts sit pretty close to Caribbean Beach, no adjoining walkway connects them.
The ride between the two values and Caribbean Beach’s station is approximately five minutes. Here’s a look at the station.
The best way I can explain using the Skyliner from Pop Century or Art of Animation is to know you’ll always have to get off at Caribbean Beach. Then you’ll get in line for your next destination.
Make sure to consider the fact that both of these resorts share one line to board the Skyliner gondolas. So if you’re headed out at park opening, be prepared to wait in a reasonably long line.
Occasionally, you might encounter a sign that indicates additional bus service is running. For example, the sign below states, “Due to high demand for Disney Skyliner, direct bus service is available to/from Epcot and to/from Disney’s Hollywood Studios for your convenience.”
Related Resort Reviews:
Disney’s Skyliner hours typically correlate with the operating hours of the theme parks. Usually, the Skyliner begins running one hour before park opening and an hour or so after park close.
Hours are posted outside the various Skyliner stations at the parks, indicating if the system is running on a reduced schedule.
Additionally, the Skyliner does begin running early enough to accommodate guests taking advantage of early theme park hours.
And it will run late enough to accommodate guests who have access to extended evening hours. If the Skyliner closes early for some reason, buses will take you back to your resort.
Speaking of the Boardwalk, allow me to share what happens when the Skyliner goes down. I was leaving a few minutes before Epcot closed one evening.
I had taken the Skyliner from Riviera to the park earlier that afternoon. Sometime between my arrival and closing, the system went down for the evening, unbeknownst to me.
When I exited Epcot, cast members were directing guests to walk to the Boardwalk to catch a bus. The other option was to walk back through the park and catch a bus from the front entrance.
Since I was near Boardwalk and familiar with the area, I ventured in that direction.
Unfortunately, I met a reasonably angry crowd at the Boardwalk bus stop. Some were complaining that they had been waiting for over 30 minutes.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long because two buses pulled up a few moments later. But then I had to ride that bus to Pop Century and Art of Animation before going to Caribbean Beach.
Not only that but instead of taking us to the different bus stops, we were dropped off at the Skyliner station at Caribbean Beach. From there, I had to walk back to the front of the resort where I had mobile ordered food.
And when I exited the bus, there were still guests waiting to go to Riviera!
My best advice when things like this happen is to remain patient. If this happens again, I will probably take a car service from one of the resorts back to where I’m staying.
Truthfully, I could have walked back to Caribbean Beach faster than I made it that evening, given a better walkway was in place.
Overall, I guess it was good I had the experience to share with you. But it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I didn’t have a sleeping child to carry as many others did.
To date, this was the worst experience I’ve had with the Skyliner. And I’ve had plenty of bad experiences with buses and the monorail over the years.
So I’m not saying this to make you nervous. Instead, I hope if you read this review and a similar situation happens, you’ll at least have a few ideas of your options.
Skyliner Travel Times
While wait times for the Skyliner can vary depending on how many guests are waiting, travel times are usually fairly consistent.
Travel Times for the Skyliner are approximately:
- Between Epcot and Disney’s Riviera Resort (10 minutes)
- Riviera to Caribbean Beach (5 minutes)
- Caribbean Beach to Art of Animation and Pop Century (4 minutes)
- Between Caribbean Beach and Hollywood Studios (8 minutes)
If you would like a little more data, on one afternoon, I left Epcot and traveled to Art of Animation via the Skyliner. Here’s how that experience went:
- At 5:27 p.m. I boarded a gondola from Epcot.
- The doors opened at Riviera Resort at 5:37 p.m. (10 minutes)
- Exited at Caribbean Beach at 5:42 p.m. (5 minutes)
- Boarded from Caribbean Beach to the Values at 5:43 p.m. (1 minute)
- Arrived at Art of Animation (and Pop Century) at 5:47 p.m. (4 minutes)
Therefore, it took approximately 20 minutes to leave Epcot and arrive at the values. For comparison, I time the same route on the way back to see any variance.
- Boarded Art of Animation at 6:31 p.m.
- Arrived and exited Caribbean Beach at 6:35 p.m. (4 minutes)
- Boarded new gondola at 6:35 p.m. (1 minute)
- Went through Riviera at 6:39 p.m. (4 minutes)
- Arrived at Epcot at 6:48 p.m. (9 minutes)
That time around, I came in at a record 18 minutes. I don’t think you’ll do better than that, but you are more than welcome to try.
Although I’ve already mentioned it, I think it’s important to reiterate that you will likely encounter long lines to board the Skyliner at certain times of the day. Especially within two hours of park opening and immediately around park closing.
There have been a few times that I’ve had to wait for the Skyliner longer than I would have liked. For example, on my last stay at Caribbean Beach, I ended up waiting over 15 minutes in a line that didn’t move.
I had stayed in the Aruba section of Caribbean Beach, which sits next door to the Riviera Skyliner station. Therefore, I used the Riviera station to travel to Epcot.
The problem here is that many guests come from Caribbean Beach on their way to Epcot. These gondolas drop into the station, the doors open, and the guests stay on board to travel to Epcot.
In the meantime, Riviera’s line for Epcot begins to build since there aren’t any empty gondolas coming from Caribbean Beach.
Now, this isn’t an issue all of the time. But if you are trying to get to a park close to opening, you’ll more than likely run into these same issues.
I have stayed at Riviera Resort and Caribbean Beach since the Skyliner opened to familiarize myself with how well it all works.
This particular day, when the line wasn’t moving, I ended up leaving and driving my car to the park.
On a good day, the lines are constantly flowing. However, there are times when the system slows for accessibility reasons.
Riding the Skyliner
Before we wrap things up, I wanted to provide you with a walk-through of what it’s like to ride on the Disney Skyliner. That way, if you haven’t ridden before, you’ll be prepared.
As you approach the Skyliner, a cast member will direct you to stand on a specific marker. It’s important to know that the gondolas move very slowly, but they do not stop.
So when it’s time to board, it’s time to board.
You’ll step into the gondola and keep moving directly to your seat. If you are anything like me, you’ll want to sit facing forward in the direction you are headed.
This might not be a big deal to most, but some of you will want to remember that when boarding. You will probably encounter a brief pause after you are seated as you watch the gondola ahead of you take to the sky.
As you sit there, it will appear that the gondola ahead has gotten relatively far ahead of you. At that point, your gondola will do the same.
Initially, there’s a bit of a rocking motion as your gondola ascends. And all at once, you’ll find yourself up above everything else.
These views of Disney are unlike anything you’ve seen before. In the distance, you’ll see the Swan and Dolphin hotel. And the Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror sits upon the horizon.
You’ll pass others traveling in the opposite direction.
An audio recording plays in the background inside the gondola, pointing out various landmarks below.
There’s an emergency kit underneath the seat of the gondola. Hopefully, you won’t ever have any use for it.
Coming into Epcot, you’ll be able to see into the newer expansion of Epcot’s France Pavilion, where Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is located.
Make sure to stop in at La Creperie de Paris for some crepes on your visit.
The Skyliner at Disney closes in the event of inclement weather. One evening I could see sheets of rain coming down not too far ahead.
And then we made the turn to Epcot, where the skies are always sunny. Well, at least to me, they are.
These are the kind of views that could move you to tears. How lucky we are to have a place so special to visit here in Florida.
I hope you will enjoy your rides on the Disney Skyliner.
Final Thoughts on the Disney Skyliner
Disney’s Skyliner is an excellent addition to Walt Disney World. After riding it a time or two, you’re sure to become a pro at the whole traveling by air thing.
Don’t hesitate to plan a ride on the Skyliner where you did a little resort hopping. I’ve been known to ride the Skyliner over to the resorts on Crescent Lake just for the fun of it.
My favorite time to ride the Skyliner is at sunset. The views are astounding, and it doesn’t cost anything to ride whether you’re staying at one of the resorts or not.
Some will even take the Skyliner between Hollywood Studios and Epcot for fun. Epcot is usually open later, so if you have the park hopper ticket, you can make a trip of it.
However, you can walk or boat between the two parks as well.
Related: Disney’s Friendship Boat Service
I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn your way around Disney as much as possible before your vacation. It’s a good idea to make a list on your phone of all the transportation options that will be available at your resort and where they’ll take you.
It would be very frustrating to stay somewhere like Port Orleans French Quarter and not know boat transportation to Disney Springs in your backyard.
Related: Disney Springs Transportation Guide
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the Beach Club bus stop over the years and someone walks up looking for the bus to Epcot. The walk to Epcot from the Beach Club is less than five minutes.
Don’t get me started about the monorail debacles I witness regularly. No, the resort monorail that you’ve ridden around the same Magic Kingdom loop at least twice is not on its way to Epcot. Instead, you have to exit and catch a different monorail to get to Epcot.
Related: Disney World Monorail Guide
But I get it. A trip to Disney World can be overwhelming.
Visitors who aren’t practiced or adequately informed of their transportation options before visiting can easily waste a lot of valuable touring time.
Please don’t be one of them!
For more information, all of our transportation articles are available here. Or you might enjoy some of the following popular articles:
- Disney World Resort Reviews
- Disney Restaurant Reviews
- Disney Loungefly Backpacks Guide
- Best Restaurants at Disney Springs
- Disney World Character Dining Guide
In the comments: What are your thoughts on the Disney Skyliner? Have you had the opportunity to take it yet? We would love to hear your thoughts on riding it or what you anticipate. Are you staying at one of the Skyliner Resorts?