Using the Disney Skyliner for a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group with 8am Park Opening

Today we tried something a bit different to help you in the never ending quest to plan how to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding group at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

With Disney’s Hollywood Studios opening at 8am, we wanted to see if the Disney Skyliner has become a viable option of transportation with the only goal being the acquisition of a Rise of the Resistance boarding group. In this post, we’ll cover the Disney Skyliner operating hours, expected crowds, how to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios from the Skyliner Resorts, and we’ll check in on the Rise of the Resistance boarding group process.

First off, we want to say that this is a success story, but only by the thinnest of margins. As you’ll see, just because we were successful doesn’t mean that you will be.

Let’s start at the beginning and the toughest question to answer: What time does the Disney Skyliner gondola system start running in the morning?

In short, the only way to know for sure is to either grab a Walt Disney World Resort times guide at the front desk or show up to the entrance to the Disney Skyliner and look for an A-frame board with the operating hours on it. Why Disney doesn’t provide an easier way to see the Disney Skyliner times is a complete mystery. They have bus arrival times available to guests staying at the resorts, you’d think throwing in a tab for Disney Skyliner hours would be elementary.

So, we set off for the Disney Skyliner station on Hourglass Lake, set between Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort. This will likely be one of the busiest stations as it relates to crowds pre-opening simply due to the size of each of the resorts.

We showed up at 7am, just 30 minutes before the Disney Skyliner would open for the day. Of course, 30 minutes might not seem like a lot of time in the greater context of Rise of the Resistance or rope dropping any other headline attraction at Walt Disney World, but waiting 30 minutes for transportation seemed a bit inconvenient, so we walked around for a bit considering there were only 4 families in front of us at 7am.

As a matter of fact, we resigned ourselves to not getting in line until the Disney Skyliner started running, allowing a couple hundred guests to get in line before us as we watched the line build.

The scene at 7:15am was considerably more crowded than the scene at 7am, but the amount of guests still seemed reasonable. We’re talking about more than one bus though at this point.

Everyone seemed to have the same plans of “7:30 or even a bit earlier”, or maybe the plan was actually 7am, but everyone was late. Either way, the line continued to build consistently over the next 5 minutes, stretching back towards Pop Century.

By the time we finally got in line at 7:28am, the line had stretched back to the pool area.

From our spot in line at 7:28am, it would take us 10 minutes to board at the Hourglass Lake station at 7:38am.

We were starting to get nervous about the viability of the plan, but we didn’t encounter any stoppage and found ourselves in the Caribbean Beach station about 5 minutes later at 7:43am. 15 minutes to get into Disney’s Hollywood Studios seemed quite doable, but it would be cutting it close.

As it turns out, the majority of guests were actually headed to Epcot, which meant that we were able to walk on to the Disney Skyliner route to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with no wait. We even got a gondola cabin to ourselves; something we thought would be impossible this early.

Another 5 minutes and we found ourselves walking out of the Disney Skyliner station at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 7:49am. 11 minutes until Rise of the Resistance boarding groups would open.

A modest bag check line greeted us with maybe 5-10 people in each line. In reality, we got unlucky and picked a slow lane, which took 5 minutes when it probably should have taken 2-3. Our only real hiccup so far, which meant that we were walking up to the main entrance with just 5 minutes to spare.

A larger-than-expected crowd was encountered at the touchpoints. We only really expected to see maybe 3-5 guests per touchpoint, but we got lucky with a good lane selection to the far right, which made up for our slow bag check.

We made it into Disney’s Hollywood Studios with less than 2 minutes to spare, and we were able to secure boarding group 22 for a party of 1.

Ok, time for a debrief and why we think anyone trying to use the Disney Skyliner gondola system to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding group is playing with fire.

First and foremost, our advice calls for an arrival to Disney’s Hollywood Studios of about 30-45 minutes before park opening. This is conservative as we’re writing advice for the masses, but arriving with 2 minutes to spare like we did this morning was cutting it way too close.

Second, just about everything went right for us. Sure, we didn’t jump right in line for the Disney Skyliner when there were just a handful of people in line at 7am, but we really wanted to put the system to the test which meant a more relaxed approach to the morning. In reality, maybe some of you reading this will jump in line right at 7am (or earlier) and use the extra 10 minutes to your advantage and have no problems with a boarding group. However, we’ve heard from many readers who have had a horrible start to their day due to either a lack of communication about Disney Skyliner operating hours or (even worse) a delayed opening that left guests scrambling for a bus or Uber. The Disney Skyliner gondola system just isn’t reliable enough when you’re playing a game of minutes. Don’t take our word for it though, Disney has placed signs at every Disney Skyliner station that warns guests about stops and delays.

Finally, and this isn’t a Disney Skyliner issue, but a Rise of the Resistance issue – the speed at which the boarding groups are fully distributed. According to the data, Rise of the Resistance boarding groups are being fully distributed quicker with 8am openings than with 7am openings. As a matter of fact, using the Disney Skyliner might have been more viable with 7am openings with 8am openings. Perhaps Disney will realize just how impossible they’re making it on guests with 7am openings and we’ll be able to put that theory to the test over Spring Break.

As for right now, we can’t recommend using the Disney Skyliner gondola system in your quest to get a Rise of the Resistance boarding group. The margins are just way too thin and that’s with just about everything going right for us. We recommend either using ride share, or hopping on a resort bus to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the morning with plenty of time to spare to secure your Rise of the Resistance boarding groups.

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Mike is the owner and writer for Visiting the parks daily allows him to keep up with the latest Disney news, reviews, and photos from around the Disney Parks

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  1. Thank you for testing this! Do you know why they don’t start running the gondolas 1 hour before park open, which would make it a viable option for both getting a BG & for RD? Do you know if they have any plans to extend the hours in the near future?

  2. I used the Chat feature on the app to find out the Skyliner hours the night before. Next morning we got to the line outside the Skyliner at about 7:20. Waited about 4 minutes hoping they’d actually start loading gondolas since empty ones were moving right along, but no. Decided not to risk it given what “felt” like a longish line, so we bailed and got an Uber. Arrived at 7:44 and, after picking the line with the slowest bag checker, tapped into the park at 7:55. And we got a boarding group no problem.

    I think if we’d gotten near the front of the gondola line it would have worked out, but they obviously need to start that Skyliner an hour before park open for HS and/or Epcot. Only 30 minutes before is utter nonsense.

  3. We were just there last week and the skyliner from the Riviera did not start until 8 am on the dot. We took it to Epcot right at 8am (first in line). However we decided to Uber to Hollywood.

  4. Just wanted to say I love your constant updates and tips for Rise of the Resistance. My mom and I are planning to come WDW December 2020, so this has been a huge help to monitor the trends and see what the best strategy is. Hope you keep it up throughout the year!

  5. Yes, traveling from Caribbean Beach would likely be better as there would be no gondola transfer. We did that last week and it took just 5-6 minutes to ride from CBR to Hollywood Studios.


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