Disney Skyliner Resorts A Free Disney Day

Disney Skyliner Resorts A Free Disney Day

We love finding ways to experience Walt Disney World for FREE! Sometimes this involves a day at Disney Springs or the Disney Boardwalk. And with the Disney Skyliner, 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? Let’s show you! 

Walt Disney World Skyliner

Where Can you get the Disney Skyliner?

There are many ways to get on the Disney Skyliner. Since you can ride the Disney Skyliner for Free, your task is simply to get to one of the Disney Resorts that are on the Disney Skyliner line. The best way to do this depends on where you are. 

  • If you’re a Disney Resort Guest, you can take a Disney Bus from your Resort to Hollywood Studios. At the entrance, you’ll see the Skyliner and can ride it from that stop. 
  • If you’re parking at Disney Springs, you can take a Disney Bus to Disney’s Art of Animation or Pop Century Resort to start at the beginning of the Skyliner line. 

Parking Options for the Disney Skyliner 

To start your day you have a few options regarding Parking at Disney World. The best option is to head to Disney Springs. Parking at Disney Springs is FREE and they have a Disney Bus station there. This allows you to take a Disney Bus to any Disney Resort. Be sure to check out the Disney Skyliner Map in this post to get your bearings on where the Skyliner will take you. And so you can decide where you want to start your skyliner tour.

disney gondola skyliner transportation guide spring 2019

Where Does the Disney Skyliner Stop?

If you want to get a handle on the Skyliner Loop and how best to plan your Disney Skyliner Resort Day, here’s the layout. The Skyliner visits two Disney Theme Parks and four Disney Resorts. The Skyliner starts at the Art of Animation and Disney’s Pop Century Resort shared station. From here, the Skyliner heads to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort; this is the HUB of the Skyliner, and you must disembark. At this station, you can choose whether to head to Hollywood Studios or EPCOT. The Hollywood Studios line is direct. If you’re hoping to explore Disney Skyliner Resorts, then take the EPCOT line. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. Art of Animation & Pop Century Resort Station
  2. Caribbean Beach Resort Station
    1. Choose Hollywood Studios Line
      1. Arrive at Hollywood Studios Station
    2. Choose EPCOT Line
  3. Take a Turn at Disney’s Riviera Resort Station
  4. Arrive at the EPCOT International Gateway Station & Disney BoardWalk Area
    1. Explore the Disney BoardWalk
      1. Disney’s Beach Club Resort
      2. Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
      3. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort
      4. Disney Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve Hotels
      5. Fantasia Gardens and Fairways Mini Golf

Where Should You Start on the Disney Skyliner?

It’s truly up to you. If you’re visiting the Disney Skyliner Resorts, we recommend starting at the beginning; at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This allows you the chance to see Art of Animation and cross the bridge to see Pop Century Resort, before getting on the Skyliner. As two of our favorite resorts at Disney World, you can browse the grounds, ride the surrey bikes, head to the gift shops, and grab food at the commissaries. Since this is the beginning of the line, if you don’t start here, plan to end here. You will need to disembark at the Caribbean Beach Resort Station either way. 

art of animation gondola skyliner

Riding the Disney Skyliner to the Disney Resorts

If doing a non-park day at Disney World 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 without a park ticket offers you lots of magical things to do, see, and eat. From watching animals roam on the savanna at Animal Kingdom Lodge to watching the jugglers on the Disney BoardWalk, there is so much to do that is quintessentially Disney outside of the parks. 

For us, there are always times, either on Disney arrival days, Disney departure days, or just days, when we know that is gonna be busy that we avoid the parks. Since you can experience every Disney resort without a park ticket we usually like to combine a few in a day. We have the Disney Monorail Resorts, the Boardwalk Area Resorts, and now the Skyliner Resorts all to add more magic to our Disney Trip, without costing us a cent!

Art of Animation Walt Disney World Resort Review

Which Disney Resorts have the Disney 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. Or head straight on to Hollywood Studios. 

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 are our Disney Skyliner Resort Stops and what you can expect at each one. While each of these could probably warrant a whole day, we’ll do our best to highlight the good stuff at each location. After checking out all 4 stops you can return back to where you started.

  1. Art of Animation and Pop Century Resort
  2. Caribbean Beach Resort
  3. Disney’s Riviera Resort
  4. The Boardwalk Resort Area
    • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
    • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
    • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort
    • Disney Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve Hotels

Can you get to the EPCOT Skyliner from the Hollywood Studios Skyliner?

No. The Epcot Skyliner does not connect to the Hollywood Studios Skyliner. You would have to take the Hollywood Studios Skyliner, back to Caribbean Beach Resort and then transfer to the EPCOT Line. However, there are two other ways you can get to EPCOT from Hollywood Studios. At the entrance of Hollywood Studios near the Bus station, there is a connecting pathway that leads to EPCOT from the Hollywood Studios. You can also take the Boat Ferry at the Hollywood Studios boat dock which will bring you back to the EPCOT Skyliner Station. 

Disney Art of Animation Review

Art of Animation Resort

If you’ve parked at Disney Springs and chose to start at the beginning, take the bus to Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to get started. This resort includes 4 areas themed to popular Disney films. The Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King are all found here. With a theme that includes larger-than-life illustrations across the sides of the building, and statues across the resort grounds, there are plenty of photo opportunities and things to see. Head to the commissary to grab a Disney refillable mug, so that you can grab a drink from each from each resort’s drinks station along the way. Art of Animation is home to the family suites at Walt Disney World, including the savanna-themed Lion King Suites. This resort is also home to The Little Mermaid Rooms.

Disney Art of Animation Review Disney Art of Animation Resort Disney Art of Animation Resort

Pop Century Disney Resort Review

Pop Century, Walt Disney World Resort Review

Pop Century Resort

Since Art of Animation and Pop Century share the Disney Skyliner Station, you can simply walk across the bridge of Hourglass Lake and see Pop Century Resort before you start your journey on the Disney Skyliner. Featuring decades of pop culture, Disney’s Pop Century Resort highlights trends from 1950- 1990 with buildings honoring swing dance and bowling, and giant big wheels and Mickey phones too. Such fun to explore, be sure to head to each area to see the themes. By far our favorite Disney Value Resort, this is such a fun place to visit and stay. We love the grounds, gift shops, and the commissary. Once you’re done exploring here, it’s time to head to the Skyliner and take a ride to Disney’s Caribbean Beah Resort up next. 

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Caribbean Beach Resort

Ah…there’s nothing like the islands, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has several. Split into different sections of the “Caribbean” marked by different colored buildings you can stroll the walkways around the resort, dip your toes in the sand, head to Banana Cabana Lounge for a drink, or into the Centertown Marketplace for a meal. Home to one of the best Disney restaurants, Sebastian’s Bistro, you can also grab a budget-friendly, table service, family-style meal here. Complete with jerk chicken and rolls, and pineapple bread pudding. Yum! 

You can also book a pirate cruise at this resort for a spin around the lake, or have a seat at the Movies Under the Stars that are played each evening. This resort is also home to the new 5th sleeper Little Mermaid Rooms at Disney World. Giving it even more of an island feel! 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. And you can even just walk to Disney’s Riviera Resort, right next door, our next stop on the Disney Skyliner Resorts Tour. 

Disney's Riviera Resort

Riviera Resort

As a Disney Deluxe Resort on the Disney Skyliner line, Disney’s Riviera Resort has the most to offer in way of entertainment, and food options. Surrounding a courtyard filled with activities you can find life-size chess and bocce ball, and games on the lawn. There are beaches here and loungers, and the chance to make s’mores over the fire in the evenings. With views of the lake and Caribbean Beach, it’s a beautiful place to visit. This resort takes its theming from the Italian and French Riviera. Honoring gorgeous architecture in the old-world European style encompasses the whole feel of this resort. 

You can also find some of the best coffee at Disney World here at Le Petit Cafe, a great quick-service lunch at Primo Piatta, and character dining at Topolino Terrace. As the signature restaurant at the Rivera, there’s a Topolino Terrace Mickey a la Art Character Breakfast and European cuisine for dinner.  Situated on the roof of the resort, if you’re dining here, you can see views of the lake and the fireworks nearby at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Once done here, you can head to the Disney Riviera Resort Skyliner Station and head to EPCOT. 

The Skyliner Station at EPCOT’s International Gateway and BoardWalk

The EPCOT Skyliner Station lets you off right outside of EPCOT’s International Gateway, at the back of the park. If going into the park, just turn left. You will need to go through security and have a parking ticket to do so. If you’re there to visit the Disney BoardWalk, once you get off of the Skyliner, turn right. Turning right off the EPCOT Skyliner leads you to the Disney BoardWalk. This area loops Crescent Lake, and houses resorts, restaurants, entertainment, and beaches. 

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Beach Club Resort

The first resort you come to once you have departed the Skyliner Station at EPCOT is the Beach Club Resort, on the right-hand side. 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. This resort boasts a courtyard area with seating, a beachfront with loungers, and one of the best Disney Gingerbread Displays for Christmas. Disney’s 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 Restaurant, featuring seafood 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.

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Yacht Club

The second resort you’ll come to on the Disney BoardWalk is Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. This Disney Deluxe Resort is upscale, with lots of subtle Disney touches, that hail to the life of a yachtsman. Think lots of navy, stripes, and anchors. As one of the fancier resorts in this area, you can find the amazing Ale and Compass Restaurant here, featuring one of our favorite Disney World Lounges. 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. And if you’re looking for something easy and budget-friendly, Ale and Compass also has one of the best breakfasts at Disney World. 

Another fun place found at the Yacht Club is the Beaches and Cream Soda Shoppe. As one of those hidden gem restaurants at Disney World that only the locals seem to know about, you can get lunch, dinner, and milkshakes here. It’s also home to Mickey’s Kitchen Sink Sundae. Hidden behind the pool at the Yacht Club you can even grab to-go options here. Once you’ve had your fill, head over to the Disney Boardwalk Inn for your next Disney Skyliner Resort stop. Along the way, you’ll pass a slew of Disney BoardWalk restaurants, and games. 

The Disney BoardWalk 

As you stroll to your next destination on the Disney BoardWalk, you’ll notice the Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve Hotels in the distance, and the Walking Path from EPCOT to Hollywood Studios. But, we’re not done with the BoardWalk yet! Be sure to check out the Top 10 Things to Do on the Disney BoardWalk to get a feel for all the things you can do in this area. 

Here you’ll find Trattoria al Forno, one of our absolute favorite places for breakfast at Disney World and a great Italian dinner. There are gift shops with cute merchandise and specialty items. The Atlantic City Dance Hall, and Jellyrolls, the Dueling Piano Bar are both part of the nightlife in this area. And you’ll be able to check midway fair games, like basketball shooting games, whack a mole and more. 

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Boardwalk Inn, Disney Boardwalk Inn Resort Review, Walt Disney World Boardwalk, WDW Boardwalk area, Boardwalk Resort, Disney Boardwalk Resort

Boardwalk Inn

Up next on the right-hand side, is a stretch of colored buildings with storefronts below and rooms above. This is Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and hails from the shores of 1940’s Atlantic City. Featuring carousel theming, soft pastels, and an easy seaside fair-type atmosphere you can catch movies and yoga on the front lawn of this resort, and grab breakfast and drink refills over at the BoardWalk Deli. 

One of our favorite resorts at Disney World, the BoardWalk Inn also has Carousel Coffee, with quick to-go bites and specialty coffees. As well as Belle Vue Lounge, serving up drinks and old-time radio alongside chess boards, games, and books. With a very homey atmosphere, the Boardwalk Inn is the perfect place to relax. Here’s the complete list of the restaurants at Boardwalk Inn.

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Swan Hotel

Disney’s Swan Hotel is a boutique hotel, just outside of the BoardWalk gate, and walkable from the Epcot Skyliner Station. We love this resort for its easy vibes and coffee counter. Also offering to-go foods and snacks, we like stopping here for a quick bite if our day is packed. A Disney resort, you won’t see much “Disney” here, but it’s a nice departure if you’re looking for something upscale and quiet. Check out our Review of the Disney Swan Hotel for all the details. 

Disney Swan and Dolphin

Dolphin Hotel

Just across the walkway from the Swan is the Dolphin Hotel. Sister hotels, if you were staying here, you could share the amenities at both. The Dolphin is much larger than the Swan and home to business conferences, as well as vacationers. Here you can find the 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.

The Disney Dolphin Hotel also has 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. Be sure to stop by the little gift shop, and check out the avenue of trees that lead to the resort. In the evenings, the trees are lit up with a light show that dances to the music played in the courtyard. 

swan reserve lounge disney world

Swan Reserve Hotel

If you’re up for as much exploring as possible, you can go just a little farther to our last stop of the Disney BoardWalk Area Resorts; The Swan Reserve Hotel. While none of the Swan and Dolphin Hotels have the classic Disney commissary with a refillable mug station, you can still grab a drink here and take it easy. One of our favorites, this resort features a wonderful coffee cafe, outdoor seating, and next-door proximity to the Disney Fantasia Mini Golf Course at Disney World. A more upscale resort, you can also find a lounge right off the lobby and views of the BoardWalk and EPCOT from the roof. 

Finishing the Disney Skyliner Resorts Tour

Once you’ve visited everywhere you wanted to, you have a couple of options. If heading back to Disney Springs where you parked your car, you can grab a Disney Bus to Disney Springs, from any of these resorts, and just head back to your car. Or you can retrace all your steps and get back to where you started.

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 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 the next time you’re actually on a vacation at Disney.

Disney Skyliner Resorts Trip Free Disney Day


Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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