In addition to becoming one of the most-ridden gondola systems when it opens this fall, we now know the Disney Skyliner will also be among the most colorful. After nearly two years of construction, cabins are finally out and about on all three new gondola lines spanning Walt Disney World Resort.
The cabins crisscross between the world’s seventh and ninth most-visited theme parks plus four resort hotels. Last week, Disney and Doppelmayr removed protective covers from 55 cabins that will service Hollywood Studios, revealing a cornucopia of colors and characters.
There are eight core colors including multiple shades of blue and red. Some cabins are monotone while others feature Disney icons from across nine decades. Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Toy Story and Winnie the Pooh are just some of the storied franchises highlighted on gondolas.
The cabins are highly customized Omega IV models manufactured in Switzerland by CWA. Each features a total of six windows that open on three sides. In the below video, Walt Disney World Resort Senior Vice President Thomas Mazloum shows off the inside of cabin number one, which sports wooden bench seating. “Each cabin can accommodate up to 10 guests, including those traveling with wheelchairs or assistive devices,” notes a Disney Parks Blog post. “And with the system constantly in motion, guests will arrive at their selected destinations in minutes while enjoying the comfort of cabins specifically tailored for the Florida climate.”
Does anyone have a guess what the black box under one of the benches is? Maybe a defibrillator?
Above is the first photo I’ve seen with the entire system in one frame. That’s eight stations, 49 towers and nearly 300 cabins.
The Epcot line alone features approximately 175 gondolas, two terminals and two angle stations – all with one haul rope.
The International Gateway station looks spectacular day and night with custom artwork.
The Skyliner will likely open before the construction is complete on the upcoming Ratatouille Adventure ride, giving riders a unique view of construction as they approach or depart Epcot.
The Boardwalk angle station also looks amazing at night. Cabins detach and slow down here but not as much as they do at the boarding stations.
Construction fencing is down and the D-Line station looks as at home amid palm trees as it would in the Alps.
Gondolas gain significant height as they pass over gas and fire stations on the way toward Disney’s Riviera Resort.
The Riviera angle station will also service portions of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort with loading and unloading in both directions.
After a second sharp angle change, cabins again ascend to clear multiple wings at Caribbean Beach.
The Trinidad hub is being tested and landscaped while crews put finishing touches on its market-themed structure.
The gondola to Hollywood Studios has consistently been furthest along in construction and this is where cabins are now uncovered.
Crews are down to the final pieces at Hollywood Studios with signs ready to be unwrapped. Can you spot Disney’s code name for the Skyliner project?
I still have yet to see a video of the double loading in action. In a project full of firsts, this is perhaps the most innovative feature. What I have noticed is cabins traveling at different speeds in different sections of terminals to accommodate close spacing.
The Pop Century and Art of Animation line was the second to spin with carriers and also features around 55 Omegas and double loading.
Another major development the past few weeks was evacuation practice near Hollywood Studios. Disney has purchased a 60 foot boom lift that can reach stopped cabins and carry up to 3,000 lbs.
It’s clear the company is taking no chances and spending a ton of money in the name of safety. A custom pontoon boat has been outfitted with twin outboard motors to evacuate cabins on Hourglass Lake if necessary.
Reedy Creek Fire Rescue has also been spotted approaching cabins with its 116 and 173 foot ladder trucks. The firefighters’ union went to the media last week asking for more staff, specifically citing the Skyliner as one reason why.
We’re just a few short months away from the Skyliner joining decades of transportation innovations at Walt Disney World. From the famous monorail system to a fleet of 400 buses, 37 ferries and new Uber-like “Minnie vans,” Disney Transport is already among the top mass transit systems in the country. I’m excited for gondolas to take the Most Magical Place on Earth to new heights come fall.