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!
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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!
Hey, we were planning for Disney Springs for our arrival date (Dec 26, 2020), but might do a little gondola sip and stroll….it will be late though, and we might just want some snacks and drinks! Where can we park for free and do the gondolas?? Also, can we go into hotel lobbies and eateries without reservations at those resorts? Thanks!
Can we now (post COVID) go into the resorts like this without having a dining reservation? And any options for kids that you recommend? We have a resort day and the kids would love just riding the Skyliner but I wanted to know if we could actually see the resorts too?
Are you currently able to go into resorts (when not a guest at that resort) without a dining reservation?
Thank you so much for this article! We have always been more focused on table-service restaurants using the DDP but with your suggestions we’ll try these wonderful quick-service options!
This article is wonderful. My only question is can you make this in a format that is easier to use and follow? This could be either on line or a printable format. Love your input.
Does the Yacht Club connect directly to the Skyliner?
Almost, you have to walk the path around Crescent Lake past beach club, etc, over to the Epcot International Gateway entrance. according to google maps, about a 5 minute walk.
The Skyliner Sip and Stroll is a game changer. We just got back from 10 days at the Beach Club. We spread our dining out over several days though. Using the International Gateway station we hit Riviera 4x, Caribbean Beach, Pop Art of Animation and then walked to YC and BW. The food at the Quick Serve at Riviera was excellent. Well worth the 10 minute Skyliner ride as the selections at BC are pretty meger. The salad nicoise and chicken sandwich with artichoke were the standouts. At Banana Cabana we went for a late night cocktail and a slice of Key Lime pie. At Pop and AOA we just stopped in for treats on Valentines Day. It was fantastic to have access to so many different options within 10 min of our hotel room. Also highly recommend the Prime Rib Sliders at Crews Cup and the Rum Dole Whip on the Boardwalk. Our next stay is at the RIviera in August and can’t wait to have all these choices again.
Looking forward to our Aug CBR 2 week stay. We’ll have a few non park days to do just this! I’m looking forward to some dining options along the Boardwalk, and YC BC. Also the Skyliner will give easy access to the DHS bus loop for more dining options. Love Capt Cooks food options.
We visited Ample Hills Creamery this summer and tried the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake sundae on your recommendation. Last week I had a dream where I was irrationally and aggressively yelling at my husband and dear friend for stealing my Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. Do yourself a favour and enjoy that sundae.
Love all of your blogs and I’m looking for a pub crawl/ dinning tour option for adults. I’m looking for an alternative to dessert party I want food/ snacks/ destinations. I need all your savvy advice. I will be there with my hubby in the spring 2020 for about 5 days and would like to plan a few nice outings
Skyliner down again tonight at Epcot, this time before 6 pm. 2 nights in a row–I don’t think this is a reliable transit method yet.
Unbelievable! They still haven’t figured it out yet ??? A Disney Vacation is a Lot of Money for most folks, and using WDW Transportation should be Reliable, I would not be a Happy Camper if I found the system down, or worse, got stuck on it, during a visit, there is no excuse for the system not to function reliably!
Was anyone stuck on it ? That is my worst fear ! We are going in November 2020. Thanks
Goofy’s Gastric Glide–Sign me up. I’m in.
On another note, fireworks here for the kick off of NYC Marathon just ended, and I’m wishing I was at Disney for Wine and Dine Half.
…and many thanks for the helpful heads-up today. We’ll be at the Poly that week so…
No comment allowed for the trump post? Ah com’ on. I get it Tom but all I wanted to post is this non partisan comment: all high level politicians please refrain from impacting hard working american’s vacations. Have your events at camp David or some other non vacation destination. I know the impact it has. Thank you
A few words to add to your next Skyliner review. Before exiting Epcot for skyliner make sure it is operating. It was ‘down’ last night early. No signs in Epcot so we walked to InternationalGateway only to reach Skyliner itself to learn if closure. Not only did we waste time and energy with extra walking, we had to go through security again for bag check to get back in park. Talking to security folks. I gathered these unexpected closures have been common. To return to Pop Century we now walked back to main gates and buses. They should put signs before you exit park on Skyliner status but do not. It seems to me the unexpected closures mean these gondolas are not really quite ready for prime time.
Tom, I think Disney took your Sebastian’s Bistro review to heart. The dessert menu now has a chocolate pudding, and has switched to “Mile High Key Lime Pie” instead od the key lime pop thingies. The goat curry doesn’t look like it’s on the menu as a full entree; only available as part of the sampler now. But it’s Disney, so I bet they’d still hook you up with an entree version if you asked.
Our last trip to Walt Disney World was November of 2015. We splurged on a stay at Beach Club and while we enjoyed it, AoA will always be our “home” resort. The food court and theming at AoA were exactly what we wanted/needed. The ability to please kids from age 5 to two “foodie” adults in the food court was incomparable and absolutely not possible regarding Beach Club’s quick service offerings. However, now that the AoA menu has lost so many of our faves (Caprese Sandwich, Surf and Surf Burger, build your own pasta) we found ourselves at a loss regarding our March 2020 trip! We had planned to make use of the gondolas from Caribbean Beach to AoA to pick up all of our old favorites for late night poolside dining. Your post makes me feel better about our food options at Caribbean beach. Still sad about that Surf and Surf burger though!!!!
Oh no! Not the pasta bar! It was so popular, doesn’t make sense they took it out. Hopefully POR still has theirs.
This is so perfect, thank you. As a group of four old broads, all sisters, I was planning an out-of-park lazy day of eating and drinking during our late January trip, and incorporating the Skyliner works great. Any specific adult beverages we should consider along the way? We often share between us which means we cover a lot of eating and drinking. Many thanks for your blog. My notes are full of your suggestions!
Until Disney’s Riviera Resort opens, this itinerary is light on drink suggestions because there really aren’t many good options at any of the existing pool bars (I think it’s pretty much all the generic menu). The best options for that will come around Crescent Lake, at the very end of the itinerary.
So maybe start with food and finish with drinks…or do the itinerary in reverse?
Decent options available at Abracadabar once you get to the Boardwalk!
If you plan on getting wasted, make sure to bring an emergency, ahem, barf bag with you. I can’t imagine it would be pleasant to be stuck on a gondola with a puddle of sick in the middle.
We have breakfast reservations at Cape May in a couple of weeks. We had planned to visit Art of Animation just to stroll the resort (our kids love the decor!), then use the skyliner to get to international gateway/beach club, and then skyliner back to AOA to leave. Will they not let you park there anymore to explore the resort since the skyliner is open?
Will they not let you park there anymore to explore the resort since the skyliner is open?
At least as of right now, they will not. I suspect that’s because parking at these resorts would be an easy way to circumvent parking fees for guests staying off-site.
If you have a reservation at beaches and cream can you access the whole skyliner system at Epcot gateway?
Thanks for the feedback! I guess we will just park at beach club since we have a reservation and then take the skyliner in the opposite direction to see AoA
The name options are the best. Laughed out loud at Gastro Glide
“It’s common for Value Resorts to get some incredible limited time offerings—better than what winds up at the Value Resorts. ”
I think you mean better than what ends up at the Deluxe Resorts?
Correct. (And thanks for the heads up–fixed it!)
We are going to try out the Skyliner for the first time on November 14th, and so were excited to read this! Thanks for the info! Quick question regarding crowds that weekend. Which would have more crowds? MVMCP on that Friday, or the next day (Sat), with the extra hours in the evening? Wanted to do the Christmas party but don’t think I want to brave the crowds. Thanks!
I’m excited to try out the gondolas, but when my daughter was little she actually looked forward to riding the buses! It was a form of transportation we dont’ take in our normal lives and she thought it was fun.
It’s sad to hear that the AoA food court has gone downhill. We haven’t eaten there in years, but it was wonderful shortly after it opened.
Hi Tom, thank you SO MUCH for your blog. I’ve been combing it throughly. I’m coming from Australia in 52 days (and counting) with hubby and child. We are SO EXCITED. We would like to try the skyline, I assume anyone staying at a resort can? We are staying at the contemporary resort. cheers, Em.