Disney World Skyliner Gondola Abruptly Stops, Stranding Passengers in Air


Vacationers riding a new aerial gondola system at Walt Disney World in Florida on Saturday night were stranded in the air for several hours after a malfunction brought some of the gondolas to a halt.

The Disney Skyliner gondola system opened on Sept. 29. Three independently running sections carrying 300 gondolas in total connect Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and three Walt Disney World resorts, according to Disney World.

Passengers who were in the gondolas on Saturday said one of the sections came to an abrupt stop around 8 p.m. Pictures posted on social media showed several gondolas scrunched together at one of the system’s five stations in an apparent collision.

In a statement on Sunday evening, Disney World said a team was “diligently looking into the cause of last night’s malfunction.” In the meantime, the whole gondola system was shut down.

“We express our sincere apologies for the inconvenience and continue to work with each guest individually,” Disney World said.

What many hoped would be a brief service interruption ended up lasting more than three hours. Several people called for help on social media. Ryan M. O’Reilly, the secretary of the union that represents firefighters at Walt Disney World, said emergency medical workers received phone calls about anxiety attacks.

Mr. O’Reilly said passengers in six gondolas were rescued by firefighters, who used special equipment attached to a truck to lift them out.

George Wallace, 28, from Moscow, Idaho, said he was on vacation with his wife and two children when the gondola they were riding in came to a “sudden stop.”

The family didn’t think anything was wrong at first, but then a loud message started playing in the gondola, telling them to stay seated and that there was an emergency pack — containing water, notepads, some bags and a glow stick — under the seat.

“In the moment it was definitely scary because it was the first time I had ever been on the Skyliner, in addition to it being only a few days old,” Mr. Wallace said in an email. He added: “My kids were crying for a while and my wife became very anxious. We started to use the glow stick and notepads to try and calm the kids down.”

The gondola started moving again after 11 p.m., Mr. Wallace said.



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