Tourists who planned on enjoying a relaxing ride on one of Disney World’s newest modes of transportation received an unexpected jolt as the passenger lift system suddenly stopped working. Passengers were left hanging in the air for more than three hours due to the system malfunction.
The Skyliner gondolas take park visitors from their hotels directly to the Disney theme parks. At the time of the Skyliner malfunction, passengers were being carried between Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Epcot.
Six passengers from one gondola cabin required emergency rescue assistance. Osceola and Orange county fire departments were called to the scene to assist in the evacuation. A passenger who was stranded three stories off the ground in one of the gondola cabins, said the fire departments arrived approximately 45 minutes after the ride came to a sudden halt.
It took an additional two hours before all passengers could be evacuated. One reason for the slow evacuation had to do with passengers being so high off the ground, they could only evacuate two at a time.
One person was taken to the hospital shortly after being evacuated from the Skyliner, two more passengers were taken to the hospital at a later time. The situation could have been much worse given the temperature that day. However, since the incident occurred after sunset, the time of day helped keep temperatures in the gondolas down. The gondolas themselves are not air-conditioned, and only have vents in the cabin walls.
Currently, there is an investigation as to what caused the Skyliner gondolas to system malfunction. Disney Skyliner opened on September 29, 2019, with five stations located at resorts and theme parks in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Skyliner had only been working for approximately a week before the incident occurred, and it is unclear how long it will be shut down while the park investigates further.