PHOTOS: Disney Skyliner Gondola Testing Passive Ventilation System for High Temps on Hollywood Studios Line

Now that the Disney Skyliner gondolas are all finally unwrapped, they’re finally getting a breather in the heat.

Rising temperatures in Orlando means it’s time to test just how well this passive ventilation technology really works. Today on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios line, all gondolas had their vents fully opened during testing:

You can see that there’s three vents on the front of the gondola, two larger ones on the back, and one on the side. The vents open up about 90 degrees to allow for better airflow, not unlike old-school Jalousie windows that are common in so many older Florida homes.

(The main advantage to these is the ability to be left partly open during heavy rain while still allowing air flow. This has yet to be tested once it starts raining sideways, as is the norm during Florida storms.)

The windows may seem tiny from afar, but a closer look at a Skyliner gondola shows that they’re much larger than they seem. The vents seem to take up about half the gondola exterior on each side.

As we got to see during a tour of the gondola interiors, that bottom strip below the Disney Skyliner logo also acts as a lower ventilation system, with perforated panels embedded within.

Testing might include unseen thermometers inside each gondola gauging max temperatures throughout the journey down the line and back.

Whether these passive ventilation windows will be able to be controlled from the inside, by the Skyliner operators remotely, or simply flap around at the mercy of the day’s relentless winds is still unknown, but the more we get to see of them, the more our fear of melting subsides.

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  1. So what do you do when it stops and your stuck for a few minutes to a few hours?

    1. Probably the same thing people do whenever they get stuck on the monorail for hours.

    2. I’m right there with you Scott, inwoukd like to have some one put a thermometer in one while it’s running around and track the temp

    3. You melt. It’s not even hot yet. Test this in August and you will see that the moderately dehydrated Disney goer may not do well in this.

    4. They likely have a dual or triple motor system that would allow the the system to continue moving despite individual motors failing. I am positive they thought of something to avoid passengers being stuck in the middle. It is too obvious and to big of an issue to miss/ignore.

    5. Fire Department has already practiced evacuation using large buckets on trucks. Not sure what the plan is over water.

    6. Depends on who gets stuck:
      If you’re not Tom, you have everyone in the gondola sing “It’s a Small World”.for however long it takes to get the gondola back up and running. If you’re Tom Corless, add it to the maintenance report on If you Bob Chapek, charge everyone in the gondola $129 (before AP discount) and call it a “special ticketed event”.

  2. The vents are manually open/closed by the passenger. Remote controlled vents is a big safety issue. And why would vents flap around in the wind? That’s a safety issue as well. Do car windows flap around in the wind?

  3. Reading this article brought something to my attention… What will it be like when (not if, when) high winds from a supercell comes through quickly and all the passengers are blown all over the place while they wait for the storm to pass or IF Disney keeps the gondolas running as they rock and roll while traveling?… This scenario is bound to happen, and I wonder what WDW’s safety protocols will be regarding this inevitable and regular scenario? People will be caught on these things in high winds pretty frequently…

    It makes me still wish, giving Walt’s love of trains, that WDW would have spent the money and built a comprehensive elevated train system not unlike Chicago’s “L” system using remakes of trains from every era of locomotive history… Not to mention elevated train systems are very efficient and relatively inexpensive to add onto, have many switch tracks, or even change the line when and if it interferes with future property expansions…

    Basically, I think this gondola system was a mistake…

  4. What does Disney do when these things turn into ovens at 92 degrees and full humidity?

  5. So the vents allow in 90 degree 100 percent humidity air. Sounds refreshing.

  6. The more I see of this, the more I realize just how cheap Disney went on this system, why wouldn’t they opt for the AC system that is an option on these given the Florida heat? I. The end they will have to retrofit these at a much, much higher cost.

    1. I don’t think AC is best in this heat. AC works two ways – it removes humidity and cools the air. To do that efficiently, the area being cooled must remain closed. These gondolas will be opening and closing every 5-10 minutes, letting right back in the FL heat and humidity, thus creating a system where the AC has to work even harder to keep the space cool. Imagine your car… You get in at home, ride to work 20 minutes away, it gets – and STAYS – nice and cool. Imagine now, you’re in your nice cool car, and you make a few stops (the grocery store, the gas station, the dry cleaners)… is the car EVER as cool as when on that 20-minute direct drive? No. Because of what I’m explaining.
      The smartest way to cool a space like these gondolas is exactly what they’re doing – breezes and cross-ventilation. People can squawk all they want, it won’t change science.

  7. Any idea if they’ll be operating them in stormy conditions? Rain I can understand, but lightning or high winds and I could see it getting shut down.

  8. Whenever I go on the gondola during the day in summer, I will bring the following for in case the gondola gets stuck:
    1. a spray bottle
    2. 4 bottles of water
    3. a gallon zip lock bag of ice that I will get from the hotel ice machine and throw away later.
    And I will only go from Caribbean Beach to Pop Century to hotel hop, that’s it. A 5 minute trip.
    Even Disney is preparing for a stuck gondola by practicing emergency evacuation procedures. That will rarely happen, but if it does, you can bet it will take a long time to evacuate 300 cabins one at a time.
    Travelling in the evening should be fine.
    Travelling during lightning storms: tell the family to lean towards the middle of the gondola, away from the walls/doors/windows of the gondola. It’s the same advice for cars during lightning. I go to WDW in September and there is always lightning somewhere, and being that the gondola is high up, it is a better target for lightning than the pools.

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