Last weekend, my friend Sara and I had the absolute pleasure of riding on Disney Skyliner!
This new transportation system opened originally at Walt Disney World Resort on September 29, 2019. The system operated for about a week before it closed temporarily for a system update. Disney Skyliner re-opened on October 14, 2019 with a modified schedule. I was so happy to hear that Disney Skyliner would be up and running during our girls' weekend getaway to Walt Disney World!
Our very first ride took place on Friday, October 18, 2019, when we departed the station at International Gateway at Epcot and rode over to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. There weren't very many people in line to ride, and we boarded the gondola with just two other guests for the ride.
The gondola took us up fairly quickly, but it wasn't scary or sudden. Being up above Epcot was exhilarating! After so many months of anticipation, the day was finally here, and the experience, for me, more than lived up to my expectations. Once we were up in the air and en route, it was so quiet, so still and calm, and a wonderful break from the excitement and bustle of the theme parks. There was a lovely breeze through the gondola, and we were very comfortable and felt very safe. A friendly voice came over the intercom to point out landmarks and the station ahead. It's very easy for guests to navigate the system...all it takes is listening to the instructions once you're alight.
On Monday, we rode the other two lines of the Disney Skyliner system, heading from Disney's Hollywood Studios back down to the station at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, where we transferred to the line that would take us to Disney's Art of Animation Resort and Disney's Pop Century Resort.
Real Ride Times on Disney Skyliner
I kept track of our ride times on Disney Skyliner. Here's what we discovered.
Ride Time Summary
Can you see what a difference this will make for guests who are accustomed to waiting a lot longer to ride to these theme parks by bus?
Traveling from Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort to Epcot
6:38 pm--Departed Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
6:41 pm--Arrived at Disney's Riviera Resort station. Did not disembark.
6:42 pm--Departed Disney's Riviera Resort.
6:47 pm--Reached Disney Skyliner turn station. This is not a station where guests depart, but a station where the gondolas change direction toward Epcot.
6:50 pm--Arrived at Epcot's International Gateway.
Traveling from Disney's Hollywood Studios to Disney's Pop Century Resort & Disney's Art of Animation Resort
10:33 am--Departed Disney's Hollywood Studios.
10:38 am--Pulled into Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort station. Disembarked and walked over to the other line servicing Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
10:39 am--Boarded gondola and departed Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort.
10:42 am--Arrived at Disney's Pop Century Resort & Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Traveling from Disney's Pop Century Resort & Disney's Art of Animation Resort to Epcot's International Gateway
10:45 am--Departed Disney's Pop Century Resort & Disney's Art of Animation Resort
10:48 am--Pulled into Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Disembarked and walked to the other line servicing Disney's Riviera Resort.
10:52 am--Boarded gondola at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, headed toward Disney's Riviera Resort.
10:54 am--Arrived at Disney's Riviera Resort. Did not disembark.
10:56 am--Departed Disney's Riviera Resort.
10:59 am--Arrived at Disney Skyliner turn station.
11:03 am--Arrived at Epcot's International Gateway.
A few other notes about riding Disney Skyliner:
There is an internal bus station at the Skyliner station at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. This means you may disembark from the gondola, then wait for an internal bus to take you over to your section of the resort or to Old Port Royale. However, we found it was not too far to simply walk, and was faster than waiting for the bus. Some guests will definitely prefer to wait for the bus, which would be very handy if need be.
There is a Joffrey's coffee station at the Skyliner station at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort.
The gondolas do not stop for you to board them, but move very slowly.
A Disney Cast Member will ask you how many guests are in your party, and direct you to a specific gondola to ride. They seem to spread folks out among the gondolas rather than put 8 or 10 people in one gondola. Most of the time it was just my friend and I in the gondola, or perhaps one or two other guests were with us.
It is easier to see out of the gondola windows if there is not a character wrap on the glass.
The temperature inside the gondola was lovely, with a breeze coming in. The temperature was above 85 F on the days we rode, and it still felt cool inside.
The station at Epcot's International Gateway is outside the gates of the park, so the Disney Skyliner can be used by folks who aren't using a park ticket that day. For example, you may be staying at Disney's Pop Century Resort, but having a meal on Disney's Boardwalk. The Skyliner would be the ideal form of transportation. Just hop off the gondola and walk the path over to your restaurant on Disney's Boardwalk.
Have you been a passenger on board Disney Skyliner yet? What did you think?
I know, you love Disney's Magical Express. You love receiving those special, yellow luggage tags. You anticipate receiving that Mickey mail containing your confirmation, and when you get off the plane at Orlando International Airport, you love how it feels to skip the baggage carousel and head right over to the ground level of Terminal B to join that magical bus line.
Going forward, there's another magical option for your family to get from Orlando International Airport to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
A Minnie Van!
You can now confirm your family's reservation to hop inside a Minnie Van to ride directly from Orlando International Airport to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
I have experienced several rides in a Minnie Van, and what I love about this service is that, unlike Uber and Lyft, Minnie Vans are driven by Walt Disney World Cast Members. This means you'll receive the same high standard of service as a Minnie Van passenger that you're accustomed to throughout Disney property. Don't forget to ask your driver for a transportation collector card before you get out of the vehicle. And don't forget to take your phone with you...after all, you'll have a chance to charge it during your ride.
A few fine points:
This option will be added to the "Request a Quote" page, above.
What do you think? Would you love to take a Minnie Van from the airport to your resort on your next Walt Disney World vacation, or will you stick to using Disney's Magical Express?
I know what you're thinking... the words "free" and "Disney" don't often go hand in hand, am I right? This time, however, they actually do!
One of my favourite things to do when I'm down in Florida visiting Walt Disney World is to go resort hopping, and one of the resorts I love to visit the most is Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. This resort is so beautiful, with a cozy and comfortable atmosphere, authentic artwork to look at, and delicious food, not to mention the spectacular views of the savanna! Whether you are a guest of the resort or staying at a different Disney resort hotel, you are welcome to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge for a meal, cocktail or simply to enjoy the grounds and see all the resort has to offer. Here are just five of the fun activities you can do absolutely free when you visit this beautiful resort.
How do I get to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge?
Because Disney transportation buses do not go from resort to resort, you'll first have to get to one of Disney's theme parks. The natural choice here is to take a Disney bus from Disney Springs, one of the other theme parks or resorts to Disney's Animal Kingdom park. From there, you can easily hop on the bus over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is just a few minutes away. If you have a car, you can also drive over to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Unless you have a restaurant reservation, you may be charged a parking fee. You can also take Uber, Lyft or a Minnie Van and get dropped off right at the main entrance.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is divided into two sections: Jambo House and Kidani Village. Jambo House is the main resort and Kidani Village is the Disney Vacation Club section of the resort, which guests are also welcome to visit and stay at, availability permitting. When you take a bus to the resort, you can get dropped off at either of these locations. You can also travel between these sections by bus, but we've found it isn't too far to walk, and takes about fifteen minutes to get from one to the other.
1. Explore the Lobby
The first time I entered the main lobby of Jambo House at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, I literally gasped. The space is enormous, with a vaulted ceiling made to look like an African lodge. Sometimes I just sit and look up and marvel at how Disney was able to accomplish such an incredible feat of construction and decor. It's breathtaking in there, and with so many cozy places to sit, you'll have a lovely time just relaxing and taking in the atmosphere.
2. Take in the Savanna
When you walk through that main lobby toward the back, there is an enormous floor-to-ceiling window that looks out onto the savanna. You can head down the stairs there, and outside to the savanna! From this viewing area, you may see:
"Welcome friends of wildlife! To assist the animal care staff in maintaining the health and safety of the animals, please refrain from feeding the animals or dropping items into the habitats. Also, please do not attempt to approach or cross the barriers designed for guest and animal safety. Remember, if any guest attempts to harm the animals or their habitats, they will be immediately asked to leave the resort. Thank you for your help in making Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge a safe and magical place for everyone and every creature."
(Source: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge resort map for guests.)
3. Take a Tour of the Restaurants
At Jambo House, there are several restaurants, including Boma--Flavors of Africa, a popular buffet, and Jiko--The Cooking Place. If you plan to meet at the host stand in front of Boma at 4 pm, you'll be on time for the daily culinary tour of these two restaurants. You'll learn about the art and architecture of these establishments, and maybe even get a taste or two. This tour is probably not ideal for young children, but would be a great start to a Disney Date Night that features dinner at any of Jiko, Boma or Sanaa, which is located at Kidani Village.
4. Play at the Hakuna Matata Playground
If the culinary tour isn't up your kids' alley, the Hakuna Matata playground will be! Located beyond the main pool of Jambo House, this playground is designed for young children to blow off some steam. The playground features that spongey surface that kids and parents appreciate, with two climbing structures adjacent to the flamingo enclosure. Take a stroll around the Uzima Springs Pool (main pool) and you won't miss it. The playground is open 24-hours a day.
5. Simply Sit by the Fire
There are a few places you can sit and enjoy the ambiance of a fire at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. One of these spots is indoors, right in the lobby, just off to the side from Victoria Falls Lounge. The fireplace here features some really lovely tile work, and the cozy seating around it will definitely have you feeling relaxed!
The other spot where you can enjoy an evening fire is located just outside the rear entrance to the main lobby at Jambo House. Remember when I mentioned you can go down the stairs and outside to take a look at the savanna? Well, that's the same door you'll go out of to reach the fire pit.
Whether you are a guest of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge or simply visiting, you have to agree that there is a lot you can do while you're here! Have you stayed at this deluxe resort before? How did you enjoy your stay? I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.
For more photos of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, click here.
Would you like to take your family to stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge? Click here to request a free, no-obligation quote.
Amy is a former Disney Cruise Line cast member, Certified Cruise Counsellor and Vacation Specialist at Pure Magic Vacations.
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