Sometime in fall 2019, we should be able to look to the skies above Walt Disney World and see the Disney Skyliner in action. The gondola-style transportation system, now under construction, will connect two theme parks with select on-property resorts. Now that one of the capsules has been shown off to the public — folks attending last weekend’s Destination D event put on by D23 fan club got a gander — let’s review what we know.
- The Skyliner will connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Epcot; Disney’s Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach resorts; and Disney’s Riviera Resort, a proposed Disney Vacation Club site.
- The last of the support poles have been installed, reported Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, experiences and consumer products. The threading process for the cable that runs between them has been started, he said. (It’s been said to be 6 miles of cable.)
- The designs for the loading stations, also under construction, will be individualized.
Chapek, on at least two occasions, has emphasized the trees surrounding the Epcot stop, which will be back by the International Gateway on the World Showcase side. He also mentioned a Tinseltown theme and a unique view of Tower of Terror upon approach to Hollywood Studios via Skyliner. (Some might say the view from the monorail looking down into the workings of the Contemporary Resort or other monorail hotels hurts the magic, but let’s not pre-judge.)
- During Destination D, a capsule stood in the corner of the conference room. It showed Pluto on one side and then Chip and Dale on the other. A photo with Chapek on the official Disney Parks Blog showed Mickey Mouse (winking and with a camera) and Minnie Mouse — on the back side. (M&M were drawn in the style of the current shorts, a look we’ll also see in the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction coming to Hollywood Studios.)
Other visual themes revealed via the Disney blog include Goofy, Belle and Beast and Haunted Mansion hitchhikers.
- The capsule was closed up tight, with darkened windows and a real-life security guard on duty. We were instructed not to get too close. To my eye, the capsule looks to be less than 10 feet tall, and it would probably seat four grown-ups on each side. Photos I’ve seen online (thanks to craftier photographers) back that up, with flat benches on either side seen. Those pics also make me wonder about essentials like double-wide strollers and knees.
- One thing we didn’t see: any signs of air-conditioning on the capsule. A Walt Disney World spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that the gondolas would not have AC. The cabins were “specifically tailored to provide a comfortable ride for our guests in the Florida climate,” she said. The units will use cross-ventilation for sufficient air flow and reflective windows to prevent direct sunlight, she said.
Each capsule in the Skyliner system will be wheelchair-accessible, she said.