We love finding ways to experience Walt Disney World for FREE! Sometimes this involves a day at Disney Springs or the Disney Boardwalk. But, with the arrival of the new Disney Skyliner Gondolas, open September 29, 2019, we now have a slew of resorts, restaurants, and experiences to explore all without stepping foot into the Disney parks. So how do you have a Free Disney Day at the Disney Skyliner Resorts? You start at the Disney Boardwalk.
Riding the Disney Skyliner to the Disney Resorts
To get familiar with how the Disney Skyliner Gondola system is going to work, and make your life a whole lot easier, take a look at this post. If doing a non-park day at Disney is foreign to you, or seems ludicrous since you just spent all this money to go to Disney, let us break this down for you. Walt Disney World has oh so many things, some of which are FREE, that you can do WITHOUT A PARK TICKET.
For us, there are always times, either on arrival or departure days, or just days we know that are gonna be busy that we avoid the parks. Since you can experience every Disney resort without a park ticket, and Disney Springs we usually like to combine a few in a day. We have the Monorail Resorts, the Boardwalk Resorts and now the Skyliner Resorts.
Which Disney Resorts have the Skyliner?
Let’s make this simple. There are 4 resorts that have DIRECT access to the gondola system; Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century, and the Disney Riviera Resort. In addition to these 4 resorts, you can also stop at the Epcot International Gateway, and visit the Boardwalk Resorts. We’ve included what you can find at all the resorts near this new transportation system below.
What are the Disney Skyliner Resorts?
The Disney Skyliner has several stops, so our goal is to take advantage of every stop throughout the day. Here’s our stop lineup and what you can expect at each one. While each of these could probably warrant a whole day each, we’ll do our best to highlight the good stuff at each location.
- The Boardwalk
- Disney’s Riviera Resort
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort
After checking out all 4 stops you can return back to where you started.
Note: There is a connecting walk pathway from the Hollywood Studios entrance to the Disney Boardwalk. So, technically Stop 5 could be Hollywood Studios and you can walk back to the Disney Boardwalk to return to parking.
Ok, lets dig in!
Disney Parking Options for the Skyliner Resorts
To start your day you have a few options regarding Disney parking. The best option is to head to the Disney Boardwalk. Here you’ll find an overflow parking lot. You can just mention to the gate guard that you are visiting to explore the boardwalk area but not entering Epcot. If you’re more the nervous type and want to pay for park parking, then you’re best bet is to park at Hollywood Studios ( after paying for parking there) and grabbing the gondola at the station. Be sue to check out the Disney Skyliner Map in this post to get your bearings on where the gondola will take you.
The Disney Boardwalk Resorts
The Disney Boardwalk is accessible from the main parking lot or from the walkway leading from Hollywood studios. Here you’ll find The Boardwalk Inn, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club, and the Swan and Dolphin Hotels.
Belle Vue Lounge: Perfect for a quick breakfast, this little lounge is tucked on the second floor of the Boardwalk Inn. Complete with chess game tables, board games and a radio show in the background. Read our full review of the Boardwalk Inn, one of our favorite resorts!
The Boardwalk Inn lays claim to almost all of the restaurants on this side of the Boardwalk. You’ll find Trattoria al Forno, the Boardwalk Bakery and Flying Fish, among others. Here’s the complete list of the restaurants at Boardwalk Inn.
The Yacht Club
Beaches and Cream Soda Shop: Beaches and Cream is one of those hidden gem restaurants that only the locals seem to know about. Hidden behind the pool at the Yacht Club this ice cream shop serves lunch, shakes and has a to-go option too.
Ale and Compass: This is by far the most posh new bar we’ve found. Excellent atmosphere with gorgeous blue decor, consider this your grown up escape. If you long for days gone past where you could sit in a velvet chair in front of a servant-cleaned fireplace and sip your favorite scotch, then head on over to this bar. Fancy food and drinks await.
The Beach Club
If you’ve never been to the Beach Club, it’s time you go there. Even if just to smell the lobby, fragrant with aloe and cucumber. The beach club has large deck chairs available for lounging, and sometimes features impressive desserts in their gift shop. You’ll also find the seafood-centric Cape May for casual dining in a seaside like atmosphere. We also like to search for hidden mickeys at this resort, because they pop up in the most unexpected places.
Swan and Dolphin Hotels
We recently stayed at The Dolphin, and absolutely loved it. The easy access to the Boardwalk and parks is hard to beat. You can also plan on stopping at the Dolphin for a few of our favorite things.
Todd English Blue Zoo Lounge: For an extra grown-up bar experience, check out this very classy watering hole. Award winning, this restaurant features coastal cuisine. While kids are allowed, if you need a break from the little ones, they can head to Camp Dolphin during your dining experience.
Fuel: Complete with handcrafted coffees, bakery goods, and snacks this little market shop is a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch. Or even if you just need a little something to sip as you meander through the boardwalk.
You can also check out the smoothie bar and a complete list of all the restaurants you can find at the Swan and Dolphin here.
The Disney’s Riviera Resort
Disney’s Riviera Resort takes theming from the Italian and French Riviera. Gorgeous architecture in old world European style encompasses the whole feel of this resort. This is Disney’s newest resort, open in Fall 2019, and right next to Caribbean Beach Resort.
Topolino’s Terrace: This rooftop restaurant offers French and Italian regional dishes and amazing views. There is a prix fix character breakfast in the morning and signature dining experiences in the evening, during the fireworks seen from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios
Le Petit Café: You can grab coffees and wines from this lobby café.
Bar Riva: This bar is poolside with snacks and beverages in a casual atmosphere.
Primo Piatto: This quick service restaurant cooks up food for every meal and includes grab and go snack options as well. Check out the menu!
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Home to the new restaurant Sebastian’s Bistro, the Caribbean Beach Resort feels like the Little Mermaid’s dream come true. With beaches, long walking trails and outside dining, this resort can be visited any time of day for fun activities. As one of the larger resorts they also have bikes to rent for exploring. The casual island atmosphere is found everywhere here! You can head over to Spyglass grill, a little counter service tucked away for the locals, for a quick lunch. Or dig your feet in the beach sand and relax.
Disney’s Art of Animation & Pop Century Resort
Art of Animation and Pop Century share a Skyliner Gondola station between them. Found along the connecting bridge between the two resorts, this is a stop that has twice the dining, experiences and activities. You can spend time wandering through Pop Century’s decades of pop culture, or roam around Art of Animation finding the buildings that match your favorite films. We also love that this is the home to the S’more cookie.
Walt Disney World Without a Park Ticket
Hopefully reading this post has given you an idea of how to enjoy Walt Disney World without ever having to step foot in the parks. The resorts on the Disney Skyliner Gondola line really do give you some of the best experiences on Disney property. No matter where your free Disney day takes you be sure to check out the gift shops, snacks, restaurants and resort grounds. You’re sure to find something you love that will be perfect for next time you’re actually on a vacation at Disney.