Yester World
at Magic Kingdom Park

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Werner Weiss

Get ready to ride in a Skyway gondola for a birds-eye view of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland at the Yester Magic Kingdom. Your one-way journey can begin in either land. Let’s start in Fantasyland.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1996

Fantasyland Station

The line moves slowly because this isn’t a high-capacity ride. Eventually, it’s your turn. A Cast Member pulls a gondola onto a stationary overhead rail. He opens the door for you. Have a seat! Each gondola can hold four adults or 700 pounds. If four of you board, two of you face forward and the other two face backward.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Two photos by Allen Huffman, 1996

Ascending (left) for a view of the Cinderella Castle Cake (right)

After closing the door, the Cast Member pushes your gondola onto the moving cable. Your gondola rocks back and forth a bit and ascends high into the sky above the park. Your aerial tram ride has begun.

Enjoy the view! You can’t miss the world’s largest birthday cake—the 189-foot-tall Cinderella Castle Cake—although it looks less like a cake from the Yester Fantasyland side than from the front.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1996

The view toward Tomorrowland

This is hardly a thrill ride by the usual definition. But if you’re afraid of heights, there’s a thrill element here—especially if you’re facing backward and your gondola suddenly rocks back and forth because you’re at a support tower that you didn’t see coming. Gasp!

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Four photos by Allen Huffman, 1996

Flying over the lagoon

There’s so much to see. It’s like being a bird in flight. The aquamarine 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon is crystal clear, even though the Jules Verne-style submarines stopped operating in 1994.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1996

The L-turn

Now comes the most unusual part of this aerial journey. Your gondola descends almost to ground level (where a Cast Member waves to you), makes a right turn toward the Tomorrowland terminus, and ascends for another, shorter aerial segment.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Photo by Allen Huffman, 1996

Descending to the Tomorrowland terminus

The ride takes less than five minutes but is quite exhilarating. Who says every attraction has to tell a story? Sometimes it’s just about the experience—and flying like a bird above the Yester Magic Kingdom is a delighful experience.

The Skyway connecting Tomorrowland and Fantasyland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was one of the original attractions when the park opened on Friday, October 1, 1971. Technically, it was two attractions—Skyway to Fantasyland and Skyway to Tomorrowland.

The Skyway was built by Von Roll of Bern, Switzerland, which built similar sky rides for over 100 amusement parks, theme parks, and exposition grounds. The first Von Roll sky ride in the United States was the Skyway at Disneyland in 1956. Each gondola in the original Disneyland version was round, had a center post, and held only two guests. These gondolas were often called “sky buckets” because of their appearance. In the 1960s, Disney Legend Bob Gurr designed new gondolas which doubled the guest capacity from two to four, eliminated the center post, and improved the appearance—all without raising the weight.

Skyway at Magic Kingdom Park

Copyright 1994 Walt Disney Productions

Fantasyland in 1994—very different from Fantasyland today

After operating for more than 28 years, the last day of operation of the Magic Kingdom Skyway was Tuesday, November 9, 1999—exactly five years after the one at Disneyland closed.

An article in the Orlando Sentinel on Nov. 11, 1999 (“Sun Sets on Skyway Ride at the Magic Kingdom”) included Disney’s official reason for the closing:

“It’s part of our ongoing efforts to phase out some of the older attractions and introduce new things to keep our parks exciting for our new and repeat visitors,” Walt Disney World spokesman Diane Ledder said Tuesday. “It’s just something whose time has come.”

Disneyland in California closed its Skyway ride in 1994.

The Magic Kingdom Skyway, which has been running since the park’s opening in 1971, will be replaced by another attraction, but Ledder would not say what it would be or when it would open.

The ride’s closing is not a result of any concerns about its safety, Ledder said.

“Certainly, it was one of the older rides,” Ledder said. “This was based on our guest evaluations and our desire to renew things and keep them fresh.”

So now you know why Disney eliminated the Skyway at the Magic Kingdom—to keep the park exciting and fresh!

However, no new attraction came to Magic Kingdom Park until May 23, 2001, when The Magic Carpets of Aladdin opened in Adventureland.

Theme park watchers had a different explanation for why the Skyway closed: business economics. The cost of operating and maintaining the attraction was high in relation to its hourly capacity.

Tokyo Disneyland also had a Skyway between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. It operated from the park’s opening day, April 15, 1983, until November 3, 1998.


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Updated June 8, 2018.