Our June 2019 Walt Disney World construction updates & photo reports continue with the Skyliner gondolas. This month, we take a look at all of the lines testing and every station in close to finished form. We’ll visit Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Caribbean Beach, Riviera Resort, and both Art of Animation & Pop Century to check out the work!
As you can see from the photo above, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Skyliner station has had its final details and signage revealed, show lighting is on at night, and cabins are in the station. That construction wall could drop tomorrow and the station could begin operations. It’s that close and I’m really hyped.
I know I share this enthusiasm every month, but I’m serious. Now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open (well, one version of it), this is the next big thing about which I’m excited. For me, the Skyliner is up there with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and above Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Tron Lightcycle Power Run, and the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster…
This should dramatically improve the transportation at two of my preferred resorts, and also make leaving Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a good meal easier. Additionally, I’m entering my “I’m getting too old for long lines; I’d rather sit and watch things” years. I’m looking forward to grabbing a lounge chair at Banana Cabana and watching the Skyliners glide above Barefoot Bay. It’s sort of like watching the monorail circle the Magic Kingdom resorts, but with a constant stream of vehicles.
In fairness, I don’t think the Skyliner is going to be perfect, and do have some worries about it. Not about the cabins being too hot or unsafe, but how they will handle crowds at peak times. If there are any lines whatsoever, I also anticipate going between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be more hassle than it’s worth.
There are a lot of rooms at Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach, and although the gondolas have a pretty high, constant capacity, I could still see backups and lines developing right as the post-Fantasmic or Epcot Forever surge hits. Although I’ve been doing my best to encourage people not to be scared of the Skyliner, a small part of me is secretly (well, I guess not anymore) hoping that a lot of people continue to use the buses for whatever reasons.
Over the weekend, we made several sunset visits to the parks to capture the Skyliner in all of its glory. We’ll start by continuing with Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where there really isn’t much more to say…
As you can see from the last photo, the signage has been revealed and this station is more or less ready to go.
While the Skyliner station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios could conceivably open tomorrow, that’s obviously not going to happen. Primarily because the other stations aren’t ready.
Although testing has begun at Epcot (you can see cabins in the station here), it’s not ready–and probably won’t be for a couple of months.
The problem here isn’t the station itself; it’s the new bag check area that’s being constructed.
In this photo taken from France, you can see work on the new turnstiles and bag check area.
They’re still moving dirt at this point.
On the walk between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the turn station can be spotted.
This has been in finished form for almost a year, and has moved on to safety testing.
Moving on to Caribbean Beach and Riviera Resort.
Here, we won’t see any gondolas overhead, and that’s basically they’re all in the storage bay behind the main Caribbean Beach station. You’ll see this area if you look right as you enter the resort, and it’s truly a sight to behold when full.
Some minor work still to be done at the Caribbean Beach station, but it’s more or less good to go.
To reiterate, this will be the main Skyliner station, connecting to Art of Animation/Pop Century, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
In this closer look, we see how that’ll work.
On the far left are gondolas from the AoA/Pop loop. It’s difficult to see, but in the back middle there are gondolas from DHS. On the right, Riviera Resort.
Over at Riviera Resort, things are pretty far along.
That path in the foreground will connect the current walkway around Barefoot Bay that passes the Aruba buildings. On the other side, there’s another pathway connecting to the Riviera. That one is covered, which is how you tell that the Riviera is a Deluxe. 😉
From across the water over by Banana Cabana and Sebastian’s Bistro.
It’s interesting that the show lighting/lamp posts are already illuminated here. Looks nice, though.
This is a new photo of the Art of Animation/Pop Century station, even if it looks exactly like what we’ve been sharing the last several months.
Suffice to say, this is another one where the walls could come down tomorrow and this would be ready to greet guests.
The top section being illuminated at night is a nice touch.
I’ve said it before, but this is the best fit for the Skyliner. The station fits the surrounding architecture, the Skyliner doesn’t go over or near guest rooms (so no visual blight from the support pillars), and there will be great kinetic energy from the path around Hourglass Lake.
Finally, we do have something new from Art of Animation and Pop Century–this evacuation boat.
This just appeared recently and, to our knowledge, no evacuation tests have been conducted with it yet. Some land evacuation testing has occurred over by Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but we’re assuming more still needs to occur before the Skyliner is ready for prime time.
Between that and Cast Member training, we could still be looking at a while before the Disney Skyliner gondolas are ready to roll. I remain hopeful that the system is online by August 29, 2019 (or at least the lines that connect to Disney’s Hollywood Studios), but there are a few hiccups at this point that we’ve noted here that could cause that opening date to slip into September or October. We’ll continue to monitor the Skyliner progress around Walt Disney World and will keep you updated!
When do you think the Skyliner will debut? Thoughts on evacuation testing, training, or anything else that needs to be done before the system can debut? Do you expect a park closing exodus leading to long lines at the Epcot and DHS stations? Any other thoughts on the Skyliner? Will you be using it, or sticking to buses? 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!