The Disney Skyliner has been operational for less than a year, with significant downtime due to COVID-19, but it is never too early to dream of an expansion. Having been there and ridden the Skyliner, it is easily the best transportation method available at Walt Disney World. For the most part you ride with just your party, you don’t wait for traffic lights, and you don’t have to wait 10 minutes for a monorail to get there and wondering if you’ll have to wait for the next one.
This has probably been my biggest beef with going to Walt Disney World for a while now: it takes forever to go anywhere. You can easily spend hours on a bus moving from one park to another, or just going to and from the park and your resort. I know you don’t have to jump from park to park, but even just getting on the bus in the morning is a pain.
You have 100s of guests all trying to cram into one bus with strollers, wheelchairs, scooters, and bags. Add COVID-19 into the mix and you are packed into a petri dish like a can of sardines. A biological disaster with an airborne disease.
This is why an expansion is not just an exciting scenario, its almost necessary. Surface sanitation isn’t improved, but air quality and social distancing is. Like my mom used to say “don’t touch the handrails, they’re dirty.” My solution to this is to just have clean wipes available for guests in the cars so they can wipe down anything they touch or want to touch, ala most gyms.
The Disney Skyliner currently serves 7 resorts in the Epcot/Hollywood Studios resort area. These are the Yacht & Beach Club, Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin, Riviera, Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. If you’re staying at one of these resorts, you have a fast transportation method to resort hop or get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
All told, you have 9,087 rooms connected to the two parks. This has already alleviated quite a bit of congestion on the roads, and decreased the amount of time it takes to get somewhere if you’re on one of these lines.
But what if we almost doubled the amount of rooms that could access 3 parks? I would be willing to bet that the environmental and energy efficiency costs would certainly be worth the cost of a Disney Skyliner Expansion. For the current lines, our estimated cost to build the Disney Skyliner was between $8 million and $33 million.
If we used the same methodology to construct an expansion (again this is just our guess or what we think would be best). We see a total new line distance of 6.88 miles. This would also see some of the current stations get reworked to add the new point to point lines we envision would be added.
Now to describe why I picked the route that I did… I used a little bit of an old school traffic flow, not necessarily shortest distances. A lot of the maps I see floating around go based off of shortest distance between stops with almost everything still flowing into the Caribbean Beach stop. In my opinion, this would be a crowd control nightmare to have this be your only multi-stop area.
Instead, keeping the All Star resorts (All Star Sports, All Star Music, All Star Movies) with Art of Animation and Pop Century makes the most sense with the traffic being able to flow away from Hollywood Studios and Epcot if they are going to Animal Kingdom.
The way the Caribbean Beach stop is currently set up makes sense from the standpoint of handling the traffic coming in from the 3 current lines, but adding more into it would make JFK airport look like the mecca of crowd control.
So, without further adieu, my proposed lines would be:
|Riviera Resort||to||Disney Springs West|
|Art of Animation/Pop Century||to||All Star Resort Complex|
|All Star Resort Complex||to||Animal Kingdom Park|
|Animal Kingdom Park||to||Coronado Springs Resort|
|Coronado Springs Resort||to||Epcot|
Now, my reasoning for this above makes sense when you break it into context. Hollywood Studios was built as an end of line stop, not a transfer area. Building over the park to get to Animal Kingdom would be aesthetic suicide.
Instead, we have the Epcot station able to expand to add a separate line to Coronado Springs, a separate line to Animal Kingdom (more on that below) from Coronado Springs, a separate line from Animal Kingdom to the All Star Complex, and another line from All Star to Art of Animation.
Now, if you are staying at Art of Animation or All Star, does it make it a pain in the butt to get to Hollywood Studios or Epcot? Absolutely. But we also have to remember that these are value resorts and it is already a pain in the butt to ride the buses, so it makes sense from a complete picture point of view. Also, Disney has to justify the moderate and deluxe resort prices as well.
Earlier I mentioned separate lines from Coronado to Epcot and Coronado to Animal Kingdom. The explanation for this is the possibility of a further expansion to the Ticket and Transportation Center. I would imagine this will still be the last leg of an expansion and the reasoning is again, a crowd control nightmare.
Something would have to be changed at the TTC and Magic Kingdom to make this work without putting a million people into the current monorail system. It is already a complete nightmare leaving the Magic Kingdom after the Happily Ever After show. Take away most of the buses and filter all of those people onto the already mile long monorail line and you have a complete disaster.
Again, the idea of the Disney Skyliner isn’t to completely get rid of the bus system, just get enough people away from it that the guest experience is better. Imagine if you could go from Animal Kingdom to Epcot for dinner without having to wait 20 minutes for a bus, then another 25-30 minutes on the bus. Instead you could hop on a Skyliner car, switch cars once and make it there in around 20 minutes total.
How much would a Disney Skyliner expansion cost?
Using my route, an expansion would cost between $20.64 million and $82.56 million. When you break down the benefits of getting rid of most of the buses that would normally be running, this does seem like a solid investment for Disney to make. Especially with the positive reception that the existing Disney Skyliner has gotten so far.
Have you ridden the Disney Skyliner? Let us know in the comments what you thought of it! Megan and I loved the fast travel and great views we got from being on it! If you haven’t ridden it, will you?