We love Walt Disney World transportation (well, not the buses) and we love using it for leisurely days outside the theme parks. Whether that mean riding the monorail or boats around for our Yuletide Tour or now using the Skyliner gondolas as a means of exploring and eating, there’s a lot of “fun with transportation” to be had at Walt Disney World.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Skyliner gondolas connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Disney’s Riviera Resorts. With the exception of the last one, these are all Value or Moderate Resorts, which are not typically what Walt Disney World visitors seek out for hotel hijinks.
If you’re a high roller used to staying at the Grand Floridian or Polynesian, perhaps you’ve never visited these resorts. You might even wonder why you should visit–what these “lower tier” hotels hold of interest. Quite a lot, actually!
For one, there’s little rhyme or reason as to the seasonal desserts that end up at each resort tier. It’s common for Value Resorts to get some incredible limited time offerings–better than what winds up at some of the Deluxe Resorts. There are also some great permanent menu items at these hotels to which we’ll direct your attention.
For another thing, every Walt Disney World resort has worthwhile themed design. It’s no secret to regular readers that Caribbean Beach Resort is one of our absolute favorites at WDW, and Pop Century is up there as one of the places we’ve stayed most. In fact, one of the reasons we were anxiously awaiting the Skyliner is so that it would expose a new set of guests to a couple of resorts we love.
The great question was what to name this culinary crawl: Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll or Disney’s Gondola Gastro Glide. I still prefer the latter, although there are some doubts that it might sound too much like a laxative pitch. Sorry, I know that’s something that probably can’t be unheard.
Now that things have gone downhill in a hurry, let’s change gears, cut to the chase, and begin our Skyliner Sip & Snack “Stroll,” gliding around the gondola resorts…
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – We’ll start at DHS just for the sake of convenience. If you’re doing a day outside of the Walt Disney World parks, it still makes sense to go here first due to transportation and parking restrictions at the Skyliner resorts.
If you’re an Annual Passholder or are planning to visit the parks as part of this Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll, we’d refer you to our Best Disney’s Hollywood Studios Snacks post. Our top recommendation for something sweet is the Carrot Cake Cookie; for something savory (or boozy), you can’t go wrong with literally anything at BaseLine Tap House.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort – Everything Pop doesn’t have the strongest reputation among Walt Disney World food courts, but we think it’s an under the radar gem. For one, there’s almost always an intriguing seasonal dessert (or 3!) here. For another, there are iconic items like the Tie-Dyed Cheesecake (a must-have if you’ve never tried it). The Oatmeal Cream Pie is also arguably a sleep pick here.
If you’re there in the evening, the dinner menu at Everything Pop has a surprisingly strong selection of comfort food favorites. (We’d probably hold off on a full meal for now.) At sunset or dusk, the Petals Pool Bar right outside the lobby is another favorite spot of ours.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Next, we head across Generation Gap Bridge for Art of Animation. There, Landscape of Flavors used to be one of our favorite food courts in all of Walt Disney World. Emphasis on used to be. The menu has been dumbed-down of late, to the point that there’s really nothing on the lunch menu that we’d strongly recommend.
If you’re going for something substantive, the Mongolian Grilled Fish or Tandoori Boneless Chicken Thighs are winners (but not so good that we’d actively recommend a full meal here). If you’d rather do a light treat…like dessert…see what seasonal items are available. Failing that, the hand-scooped gelato bar or Italian Float (vanilla gelato topped with double espresso) would be our top recommendations.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – This is the whole reason this Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll exists in the first place and, frankly, I’m downright giddy about sharing a trio of my favorites here. The main reason we didn’t recommend a full meal at any of the stops above was because there are much better options here.
After exiting at the Skyliner hub, walk east towards Trinidad. Pretty much directly across the water from the Skyliner station, you’ll find Spyglass Grill, which is one of the most underrated counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. There, we’d recommend Chorizo Burger, which is as good (or better?) than anything at D-Luxe Burger. The other menu items–including breakfast, if you go early–are solid, as well.
Next, walk over towards Old Port Royale and make a stop at Banana Cabana Pool Bar. This is one of our favorite lounges in all of Walt Disney World. The menu is nothing that’ll wow you, but the ambiance (with views of both the pool and across the water–perfect for sunsets!) is impeccable, and the Cast Members here are an absolute delight.
Stay at Banana Cabana (or the long chairs overlooking Barefoot Bay) as long as necessary to work up an appetite again. Trust us on this one.
Finally, do dinner–or at least appetizers–at Sebastian’s Bistro. In case you missed our full, glowing Sebastian’s Bistro review, this is one of our new favorite dining spots at Walt Disney World. And one that’s woefully underrated.
At minimum, order the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls. Beyond that, the Taste of the Caribbean is a great way to try a trio of menu favorites. If you’re less adventurous, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the Grilled Skirt Steak. Sebastian’s Bistro might be a bit dull thematically, but the menu is top notch–give it a try!
Disney’s Riviera Resort – From Sebastian’s Bistro, you’ll want to continue around Barefoot Bay towards Riviera Resort, which is home to a wealth of dining options. If you only did appetizers before and are in the mood for a progressive dinner, we’d recommend either Topolino’s Terrace for a fancy meal or the Primo Piatto counter service restaurant for the Grilled Hanger Steak (pictured above).
If you already had a full meal and are just looking for drinks or desserts, check out Bar Riva or Le Petit Café. The latter of which is a stylish patisserie with satisfying specialty coffee drinks, exquisite pastries, and late-night drinks and small plates, in a Parisian setting inspired by the 1970 animated classic, the Aristocats. Some caffeine might be in order to perk you back up after all that eating–because we’re not done yet!
Epcot’s International Gateway – Whether you visit the new Disney Vacation Club resort or note, you’ll want to stroll over to the Skyliner station at Disney’s Riviera Resort and catch that to Epcot’s International Gateway. There, you’ll have two options. The first is to enter World Showcase and grab a dessert of your choosing. (Nearby France is a can’t miss choice.)
If you’re doing this on a non-parks day, instead wander over to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. There you’ll find Ample Hills Creamery, which is basically a Disney Legend in culinary form. There, you’ll want to order the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Sundae, which is right up there with the Snuggie as humankind’s greatest achievement of the 21st century. It’s the perfect nightcap.
Ultimately, this is a lot of eating, drinking, and resort hopping. In addition to dining and drinking at each of these Walt Disney World hotels, we hope you take the time to wander and explore their grounds, especially if you’ve never spent any time at them.
Even if you don’t want to, you’ll probably have to walk around a bit to shake off the food coma and work up your appetite to power through this Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll. If you try even half the foods on this list, we think you’ll have a pretty awesome experience!
What are your must-eat or drink menu items on the Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll? Anything–or anywhere–we didn’t mention that you think is worthy of inclusion? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!