Skyliner Sip & Snack Strategy
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 Christmas Yuletide Tour or now using the Skyliner gondolas as a means of exploring and eating, there’s a lot of “free fun with transportation.” (Updated September 18, 2022.)
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.
Many of you have probably never visited these resorts. Well, now you can with this Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll or Disney’s Gondola Gastro Glide itinerary! This provides a plan for a progressive eating experience, enjoying fun, food, drinks, and dessert at Walt Disney World’s Skyliner resorts.
You might 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.
In short, this is a great fun and free (well, aside from the food and drinks–but the activity itself is free, unlike going to the parks) way to enjoy your non-parks days at Walt Disney World. Let’s 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. (The Skyliner station is outside the park, so no need to enter…unless you want!)
If you are planning to visit DHS before starting 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. From there, continue to Pop Century via Caribbean Beach’s Skyliner Hub…
Disney’s Pop Century Resort – This resort doesn’t have the strongest reputation among Walt Disney World dining options, but we think there are some diamonds in the rough here. At sunset or dusk, the Petals Pool Bar right outside the lobby is another favorite spot of ours. We usually grab a snack from inside and eat it out here, enjoying the ambiance.
As for Everything Pop Food Court, there’s almost always an intriguing seasonal dessert (or 3!) here. Normally, the iconic item we recommend is the Tie-Dyed Cheesecake (a must-have if you’ve never tried it). If that’s not available when you visit, consider the Cookies ‘n’ Cream Mickey Cupcake.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Next, we head across Generation Gap Bridge for Art of Animation. There, you’ll find Landscape of Flavors which is one of our favorite food courts in all of Walt Disney World, albeit with a more limited lineup than normal.
If you’re going for something substantive, the Seared Salmon or Tandoori Chicken are winners. If you’d rather do a light treat…like dessert…see what seasonal items are available.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – This is the whole reason this Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll exists in the first place and, we used to have a trio of my favorites here. Unfortunately, both Spyglass Grill has had its menu dumbed down since reopening. There’s no longer any reason to make a special trip over there.
On the other hand, Sebastian’s Bistro has reopened and is better than ever before, offering the best dinner deal in all of Walt Disney World! Unfortunately, it’s a family style meal that’ll leave you stuffed. (Well, “unfortunately” isn’t the right word…but for the purposes of this plan, it’s not exactly ideal!) While you absolutely should take the time to eat at Sebastian’s Bistro, it’s not great for a multi-stop meal.
Maybe that’ll be your takeaway from this Skyliner Sip & Snack Strategy–to dine at Sebastian’s Bistro and just check out the other resorts, walking off that glorious meal. If you instead opt to skip that, you’ll still want to walk over towards Old Port Royale.
Here, you’ll 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.
Disney’s Riviera Resort – From Old Port Royale, you’ll want to continue around Barefoot Bay towards Riviera Resort, which is home to a wealth of dining options. We’d recommend either Topolino’s Terrace for a fancy meal or the Primo Piatto counter service restaurant for something less expensive.
At Topolino’s Terrace, we like the Beets Barigoule (it’s shockingly delicious…and gorgeous), Rigatoni, Braised Lamb Shank, and Filet Mignon. Of the desserts, the only thing on the current menu that we’ve ordered is the Pistachio Mousse (pictured above), which is also fantastic.
At Primo Piatto, we’re fans of the Sausage and Pepperoni Hearth-Baked Pizza, Croque Monsieur, Spicy Italian Sandwich, Grilled Vegetable Skewer, and Tuna Niçoise Salad. (If you’re super early and arrive for breakfast, the Croque Madame and Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes are both highly recommended.)
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 – Once you’ve had a hearty meal at Riviera Resort, you’ll want to stroll over to the Skyliner station to catch the gondola 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 Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. With Ample Hills Creamery now permanently closed, Beaches & Cream is once again the go-to dessert spot at Crescent Lake. Here, we either recommend finishing the Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll with a bang, by ordering the Kitchen Sink–a monstrous creation that serves four (although I’ve eaten one almost entirely by myself on more than one occasion). Alternatively, our top pick for more modest appetites is the No Way Jose.
We’re also big fans of the milkshakes served at the walk-up window next to the main restaurant. While these might look like photogenic monstrosities meant for social media rather than consumption, most of the ones we’ve had are actually quite good. They change seasonally, so we don’t have any specific recommendations–but the Christmas Cookie Butter one is typically fantastic!
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!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
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!
Great post! Another item for the list, I love the bread pudding at Banana Cabana bar. Huge serving, took home leftovers, was just as good the next day. (Also fun to time your Skyliner ride to coincide with Epcot fireworks — the view from the Caribbean Beach stop to Epcot was great!)
That’s the same bread pudding at Sebastian’s Bistro, and I agree, it is amazing! Good tip!
Hello, I have been using your touring itineraries to help navigate numerous Disney and Universal trips, thanks for all the helpful hints, I have a question. I am wanting to use the gondolas to enter Epcot thru the international gateway to get a jump on the crowds to get in line for Remy’s. We are going the middle of August and both Hollywood Studios and Epcot open at 830a, so i was thinking I would park at Hollywood studios at like 730a and catch the gondolas to Epcot international gateway in order to be there by 8a. Do you think this plan would work? Do the gondolas run that early? Thanks
We are planning to go to WDW this Spring and have worked in 3 “non park” days to our trip. This post is very helpful for us as we have never been. I love that you have laid out the itinerary plus food and drink suggestions. For our planning purposes, I wonder if you know what the estimated time frame would be for this Skyliner tour?
Love this post! My family would love to do this in a non-park day. Thanks for all of the info.
We love top of the world at California Grill. The sushi is to die for. We also love geyser point it’s a real good place to watch the fireworks and have a drink and some appetizers. Polynesian is a great place to go for sushi and a fruity cocktail. I appreciate all your information and we will definitely check out some of the other hotels.
We are hoping to be down in WDW Jan 20-24 and will be staying at the Beach Club. Can you go to Caribbean Beach and Riviera to do the sip and stroll without reservations? I was thinking of the going to Geyser Point at Wilderness Lodge but since they don’t take reservations and I think you can only get to that resort with a dining reservation that would not work. Your posts have been most helpful in understanding the current environment at WDW. Thank you!