We pick things up on the morning of Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, at 8:17am, after taking a rare ride on the Disney Skyliner over here from Hollywood Studios. The previous post did not age well, of course, after some sort of an accident at the Riviera Resort station caused major delays, stranding some number of people up in the air for 3+ hours on Saturday night. The Skyliner has not reopened since then, as Disney looks into what caused the problem. My estimation is that it was due to some amount of user error. Reportedly, cast members are responsible for pulling and sending the cabins that are kept stationary for those who need more time to board or disembark. It would be easy to screw up this timing, where there’s a window of just a few seconds for the button to be pressed. Hundreds of other things could have also gone wrong.
Disney has not been particularly forthcoming about the incident, going so far as to demand media remove any mention of the word “accident” from articles about the…accident. They originally blamed the issue on a power outage. My guess is that the Skyliner will resume service on Wednesday or Thursday, but we’ll see what happens. A major incident, where some number of people had to be evacuated on the equivalent of a cherry picker, surrounded by fire trucks and police cars, is just about the worst case scenario. The Skyliner didn’t even make it a week.
It remains to be seen how much of an effect the accident has on your average guest. About 38,000 people die every year in car accidents here in the United States, but that doesn’t keep most of us off the road. While the 3-hour delay was certainly a terrible situation for those involved, virtually none of us experienced it ourselves. But the theoretical idea that you could be stranded up in the air for hours on end will certainly cause some number of people to avoid the new transportation system. For those intending to ride the buses from the Skyliner-connected resorts, it likely means more buses will be sent to serve even more people relying on ground-based travel.
Entering World Showcase first thing in the morning is always a picturesque experience, with the sun illuminating the bright blue sky and the breeze coming off the water.
We’ll take the Skyliner from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Epcot to see what we can expect at the International Gateway (IG) entrance at Park open. I wrote a preliminary review last week introducing what to expect from the new transportation system, along with some tips on how to best utilize it. I followed that up with a look at the Skyliner operating schedule over the next few months, and what it may mean for the future of the Studios’ Extra Magic Hours schedule and the potential for extended operating hours at a Park that now plays host to the Star Wars franchise. As we transfer from Hollywood Studios to the Caribbean Beach Resort, and then to the Riviera Resort and Epcot, I’ll add some updated thoughts on how things are going up in the calamitous cupboards in the sky. We’ll also check out some new park hopping opportunities that the Skyliner introduces and some alternative transportation options and touring strategies should the gondola system be down in the morning. Then we’ll see how things go entering Epcot with the potential for 25,000+ more people using the World Showcase entrance/exit in the Skyliner age with guests from Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Art of Animation coming this way.
Hollywood Studios continues to open at 6am for Extra Extra Magic Hours, which means the Studios’ Skyliner station opens at 5:45am, along with the line that connects the Park to Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. Above is the scene outside the Studios on Thursday, October 3rd, at 7:21am. That’s a little less than half of the way through the three-hour set of Extra Extra Magic Hours, and almost two hours after the Skyliner initially came online. Very few people are headed into the Studios, which is part of why our plan to ride Smugglers Run just before the Park opens to everyone at 9am works so well.
In November, this is the current Skyliner schedule, heading into and (more importantly) out of Hollywood Studios:
Since I don’t value my mental health or the number that I see when I log in to my bank account, we’re off to ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…with a dinner reservation.
ABC Commissary reopened back on June 2nd, after undergoing a refurbishment that lasted a little over a month. The chairs, tables, and carpet were replaced, along with what I’m guessing was their best attempt at removing 20+ years of tourist/blogger grime. You could probably make a quip about putting lipstick on a pig, but that seems offensive to the pig. Fortunately, the Commissary now “feels” less rundown than it would have as recently as April of this year. I don’t think they’re on the verge of selling prime beef, but the cafeteria vibe is lessened a bit with the introduction of the darker greens, blues, and blacks and we have a little more of an upscale feel. The faux marble look on the bottom right of the image, around the beverage station, is a nice touch.
All eyes have been on Disney’s Hollywood Studios since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened a little less than a month ago. Since then, most of our visits have focused on morning touring during Extra Extra Magic Hours. We first visited Smugglers Run first thing to see how the rope drop process to the far back regions of Batuu would go. We followed that up with a Toy Story Land rope drop to Slinky Dog Dash.
While a surprising number of people continue to choose Toy Story Land over Galaxy’s Edge first thing, heading to Andy’s Backyard continues to make the most sense. The walk is shorter and more pleasant. And even if you gingerly walk over and end up waiting 15 minutes for Slinky Dog, it’s about the same amount of time that you’d wait if you got in line after first riding Smugglers Run. As we learned from our many morning visits, actual waits for Smugglers Run are typically just 15 to 30 minutes between 8:30am and 9am, which is more than reasonable given how quickly the line moves and how much there is to see in the queue. Heading to Galaxy’s Edge after experiencing the other attractions will also give you ample time to explore the new Land after. If you were to start with Galaxy’s Edge at 6am, you’d probably want to move on right after finishing up with the ride and then you’d have to circle back around to look around later in the day, in turn taking even more time.
The website offers some preliminary thoughts on the Disney Skyliner, which officially opens on September 29th. The gondola system is currently testing with cast members and their friends, family, and vague blogging acquaintances. The picture above is from inside the gondola in the Riviera Resort turnaround on the way to Epcot.
Comfort is, of course, everyone’s paramount concern when it comes to the Skyliner system, given the fact that there is no air-conditioning or heating system within the individual cabins. I’m happy to impart that the temperature inside is relatively comfortable given the short transit times. In the heat, you’ll be most comfortable when there’s a natural breeze as there are plenty of vents to let in air. You can see those vents particularly well on the yellow gondola above. The glass is insulated with a reflective coating/sticker on the outside, which should help repel some of the heat.