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The Ups and Downs of Staying at a Walt Disney World Skyliner Resort: Riviera Edition

The Ups and Downs of Staying at a Walt Disney World Skyliner Resort: Riviera Edition IMG_6571-2

*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.

When the Walt Disney World Skyliner opened in 2019, a lot of people had a lot of strong opinions about it. Some thought the cars would heat up like ovens in the hot Florida sun. Some thought the aesthetics of the Skyliner against the skyline were ugly. And some thought the idea of a transportation system high in the sky of lightning-prone Florida was just a bad idea. However, at least one WDW contributor felt that the Skyliner was the best form of transportation at Walt Disney World and I agree that it is pretty great…when it works.

While I initially had my doubts about the aesthetics of the Skyliner, I have come to really appreciate the way it adds something special to the skyline around EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, as well as the hotels on the Skyliner.  And, after taking quite a few rides on the Skyliner, I never found it to be hot, even in August, when the temperature in Orlando is just slightly lower than the surface of the sun. However, when the Skyliner is a resort’s only form of transportation to EPCOT or Hollywood Studios, the Florida weather can really hurt the appeal of staying at a Skyliner Resort.

I recently stayed at Disney’s Riviera Resort, which has its own stop on the Skyliner, even though it’s a relatively small hotel, with only 300 rooms. I loved the Riviera – the overall theming was great, the rooms were nice, and my room was conveniently located close to the lobby, the pool, the restaurants, and the Skyliner station. This was my first time staying at a resort on the Skyliner. While there was bus transportation to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, the Skyliner was the only way to get to Epcot or Hollywood Studios.

My Experience

My family and I were in line and up next to board the Skyliner to Hollywood Studios, when the Skyliner cast member got the call that they were going to have to close for weather. He said when that happens, it’s closed for at least 30 minutes. We were disappointed, but safety comes first. We were assured buses would be coming and we should walk over to the bus stop, which we did. We arrived and waited there for what felt like quite a while. Eventually we found a cast member and he informed us that busses were not coming, that the Skyliner was back up and we should walk back over there. Well, we did, and I think you can probably guess that the Skyliner was not back up. At this point we were getting pretty cranky and tired of getting bad information.  So, we gave up and took an Uber to Hollywood Studios.

The Ups and Downs of Staying at a Walt Disney World Skyliner Resort: Riviera Edition Riviera-Skyliner-Station

This situation happened again when the Skyliner was closed for maintenance in the middle of the day, a few days later. That time, we went directly to an Uber. I didn’t bother complaining to the Skyliner or hotel cast members – these things are beyond their control. I did fill out a feedback form on Disney World’s website, but I even got the runaround there.  A day later, I received an automated response that I should be giving feedback through the Disney Vacation Club website instead (I think because I mentioned I was staying at the Riveria, which is a DVC resort, but I didn’t even use my DVC points for this stay). In any case, I did resubmit my feedback through that site as well and so far received no response.

Obviously, Disney cannot control the weather, and if something on the Skyliner needs to be fixed or maintained, it’s better to do so proactively versus having guests stuck on the Skyliner. However, there did not appear to be a good backup plan in place for when the Skyliner goes down.  Should busses be standing by, especially when bad weather is predicted or a known issue is identified? Maybe since Riveria is a smaller hotel, it doesn’t get prioritized for backup up busses?  If that’s the case, I would at least expect better communication about what guests should do to get themselves to a park instead of shelling out additional money to take an Uber. 

I’d love to hear other guests’ experiences staying at a Skyliner Resort. Pop Century and Carribean Beach are larger hotels – maybe they have a better backup system?  

Longtime Disney fan, DVC member, wife, and mom of two teenagers. Currently living in NJ until I retire early and move to the Disney Bubble permanently!


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