A little bit of nostalgia will be in play when Disney Skyliner opens Sunday, connecting two parks and four hotels at Walt Disney World by a system of gondolas reminiscent of the Skyway that once connected Tomorrowland and Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
Instead of a theme park ride, the gondolas will be part of Disney World’s transportation system, providing a free lift between Epcot (the International Gateway entrance), Hollywood Studios, Pop Century Resort, Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort and Riviera Resort, a new Disney Vacation Club hotel that will open Dec.16.
The gondolas don’t look much alike, though. The old ones were plain and small, seating only four riders, and were open air. The new ones are glassed in, with vented windows, and will seat up to 10 people. Some are decorated with Disney characters or scenes.
The aerial tram has about 300 gondolas operating on six miles of cable, with three lines that converge at a hub at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Skyliner is meant to provide guests with an original means of transportation and great views, especially of the two parks. “It’s the most magical flight on earth,” said Dean Huspen, Skyliner’s principal architect. “We want the transportation aspect of the guest experience to be magical as well.”
Each of the five stations (the Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts share a station) was designed to complement its surroundings. So the station at Caribbean Beach Resort picks up the metal roofs and Caribbean colors of that hotel, while the station at Riviera Resort mirrors that hotel’s European theme, such as the mansard roof and ornamental iron work.
“It is very important to us that they respond to their environments,” Huspen said in an interview outside Hollywood Studios, as gondolas slid into a station behind him that mirrored the Art Deco style of the theme park’s main entrance.