/ Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

One of Walt Disney World’s original attractions, the Skyway was a 5-minute long cable-car style ride that ran between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, passing over much of Fantasyland including Cinderella’s Golden Carousel tent, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon, as well as the Grand Prix Raceway in Tomorrowland. In fact, it was one of only two attractions located in Tomorrowland on opening day (can you name the other one?)

The attraction was listed twice on park guide maps – it was listed as the Skyway to Tomorrowland from the Fantasyland terminal, and as the Skyway to Fantasyland from the Tomorrowland terminal. Guests boarded the Skyway in Fantasyland from a loading area themed like a Swiss chalet, and from an area west of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland.

The attraction was open year round until dusk, and closed temporarily during rain storms or high winds. The one-way ride required a “D-Ticket” and took an almost 90-degree turn as it passed near the Grand Prix Raceway. On November 9, 1999, the slow-loading and slow-moving Skyway closed for good, joining its Disneyland counterpart, which closed exactly five years earlier. The Skyway in Tokyo Disneyland closed in November, 1998.

The towering pylons were removed, as were the planters and fountains, which made up their base. Look carefully at various locations on the ground in Fantasyland and see if you can find the small circles of stones which mark where the towers once stood.

In addition to its unique, 90-degree turn, and presence in two lands in the Magic Kingdom, it also gave Guests a series of amazing vantage points and views of the park.

For example, here are a few looks at Fantasyland in ways that you may have never seen before. Notice anything different in these photos (other than the fact that you’re looking at it from above)?

Point out some of the changes from these photos to the present in the Comments section below, and share your memories of the Skyway. Is this something you wish could return?

Above photos courtesy of Tara Lenharth



31 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Wayback Machine – Views from the Skyway”

  1. mary tesch says:

    I loved the Skyway. That is one of the attractions that I truly miss. Thanks for the pictures. They bring back great memories.

  2. Amy Z says:

    My how the area surrounding Dumbo is now so much different!! The picture shows fewer Dumbo than the ride currently has now; looks like the old que had a few circular coverings resembling the “big top” theme; now as you know there’s a much longer que area that’s covered & if my memory serves right goes up onto a higher platform.

    I fondly remember riding the Skyway when I was about 9 years old. Each time I see the old loading station in Fantasyland I am taken back to that time in my life.

    Thanks for sharing these with us Lou!

  3. Anne says:

    That sure brought back a ton of memories! Look at 20,000 Leagues! And the clothing – haha! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Corinne says:

    I have fond memories of riding the Skyway with my dad as a child, too bad they took it down.

  5. Susan says:

    I have pictures like that from 1975,

  6. Wendy Neeld says:

    What a blast from the past! My parents were never “ride” people (they did attractions), but my mom loved that skyway. It’s the first ride memory I have of the Magic Kingdom, and I’m saddened every time I see the remains of the station in Fantasy Land at WDW.

    Do I think it should come back? No, not really. Much as I love the nostalgia of the attraction, I don’t see a need for the additional transport between fantasyland & tomrrowland, and the cars certainly weren’t themed to fit in with the landscape…

  7. Sue VanVleet says:

    I loved the skyway! We rode it a lot, but only on slow days when the line wasn’t too long. Probablythe last time I rode it one of my companions had one of those “dumb tourist” moments. As the CM was opening the door so we could exit at Tomorrowland and saying “watch your head,” one of my friends promptly stood up and bumped his head in the doorway. We all got a big laugh out of that! It was a unique, low-key ride for Disney.

  8. Michael says:

    WOW, Really miss this, but miss the 20000 Leagues ride (those subs looked so cool!!) more now that these images have been posted (thanks for sharing)

  9. Iris says:

    Oh boy, this fantastic ride closed a month or so before we traveled to WDW for the first time. My twins were 5 years old then and I know that they would have enjoyed this little trip across the Magic Kingdom.
    It’s always so sad when attractions “go away” but then, for the most part, the imagineers ad Disney replace them with something pretty good. The TTA is one of my favorites πŸ™‚

  10. Tara Lenharth says:

    Glad you could use the pics, Lou. Thanks. I am thrilled to share them everyone!

  11. Thanks for sharing these pictures! Took me back to my childhood which is why I like WDW so much. What a great community you’ve build here Lou!

  12. Sharon&Randy says:

    I remembered the Skyway. To me that was like the scariest ride.
    I hate heights!! I always think it is going to fall!! πŸ™‚

  13. James says:

    Seeing that beautiful lagoon for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea makes my heart ache. It was my favorite attraction and the first attraction that I ever went on at Walt Disney World.

  14. Greg says:

    The thing I noticed most when looking at these pictures (at least the older 1970’s pictures) is how empty the park was, but my memory was that there were a lot of people in the park back then.

  15. Erikk says:

    I loved this ride. Me and a bunch of friends almost got kicked out of the park for pouting water on one of the sponsors of our band trip. It was funny because he thought it was funny too…even though the cast member didn’t.

    Wish it was still there, they closed it about 3-4 months after we were there.

  16. jonathan says:

    Great pictures and great memories!
    When Pirates of the Caribbean was first opened you could see it from the skyway. I was amazed how big the ride was from above. Later trees obscured the view. My kids and I took the ride 10 years ago for the last time. It was worth the 15 minute wait for a sky car.

  17. Caryn says:

    I WISH the crowd levels were that low again – fantastic wayback look!!!

  18. Sheila says:

    Never got to ride it. Wish I did. But I remember bringing my husband for the first time to WDW, and wanting him tio ride 2o,ooo leagues, only to find out it had closed. Can’t wait to show him the pictures from that view. Love seeing the clothes too.

  19. chrissy&tayen says:

    why, oh why, did they do way with this?

  20. Valerie says:

    What fantastic pictures! I especially liked the pictures of 20,000 Leagues as I don’t remember that area from when I was a kid so it’s nice to finally see what it looked like.

    I have a horrible sense of direction so a question here – on the 7th picture, as we look at the back of the Castle, there are tons of trees to its right. That doesn’t seem right – there should be something there now (present day) – so what’s missing?

    Thanks for again for sharing both Lou and Tara πŸ™‚

  21. Vickie says:

    Great memories. I loved the skyride. I used to wish they would paint scenes from movies on the roofs of some of the buildings. This would be something special for those rode it. Kinda like hidden treasures. It would have been a great way to hide more mickeys too.

  22. John Hayes says:

    Our last ride on the Skyway was on the last day of vacation in the summer of 1999. We just happened to board the ride just before the fireworks show and were witness to the show from the best seats in the Magic Kingdom. I will cherish that memory for a lifetime.

  23. Ashleigh K. says:

    I miss the skyway! They still have one at Cedar Point so they’re still safe or whatever! Bring it back!

    My photo of the castle cake from the skyway

  24. Rose says:

    WOW, the views are amazing. I wish I got to go on it. Now the area is stroller parking. And now I remember what that place was.

  25. Deveney says:

    I am amazed at all the lines of strollers in front of PPF. Somethings NEVER change, they just multiply. They should have a land just for strollers. LOL.

  26. laclairebear says:

    I’m so sad!!! Never had the chance to ride Skyway, but have heard on several Pod casts different people talking about it; now I know why. How wonderful this would be to have back, and such a loss to not have. I still think there is a place in that park for such a ride, just with a few modifications. Has anyone started a petition yet?

  27. Mike MacDonald says:

    My wife and I rode this on our honeymoon back in 1991. I have video of it Lou, if you’d like to see it. Apart from the breathtaking views, the highlight of the video is my wife shrieking all the way through it as she didn’t enjoy the ride at all πŸ™‚

  28. PoohCrew says:

    I loved the pictures. I rode the Skyway with my Grandma back in 1975. I was visiting her in Florida, and it was one of her favorite rides. So many memories and happy to remember way back when. Thank you.

  29. Carmen says:

    Wow … one can actually have walked through the park without continuosly bumping into people back then. Of course, other changes over time that can be noted are Ariel’s Grotto (which has come and gone), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the two SkyWay stations and the supports throughout the park.

    One disadvantage to the Skyway seldom noted is that it gave a view of the tops of many attractions to the extent that they were now seen as commercial structures and not so much as magical attrations. A sort of behind-the-scenes look that Disney himself felt was to be avoided at all costs.

  30. B. C. says:

    I use to love this ride . It gave you such a view . I have been going to Disney since it opened but for the life of me …I can not think of where the two stations were where you got on and off. I know where about but not exactly. Is there any parts of the stations still standing like the Swiss looking chalet. I think I see it when I am there but can’t remember so well. If those buildings are still there, what are they now ? Thanks for any info.