Walt Disney World Gondola Update

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the newly opened Skyliner at Walt Disney World had an incident Saturday night that left riders stranded for hours. Here is the latest information from The Orlando Sentinel.

Disney Skyliner cabins on the Epcot line remain motionless Monday, October 7, 2019, after the new gondola transportation system at Walt Disney World shut down late Saturday night, trapping guests on the ride.
Disney Skyliner cabins on the Epcot line remain motionless Monday, October 7, 2019, after the new gondola transportation system at Walt Disney World shut down late Saturday night, trapping guests on the ride. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)

On Saturday night, hundreds of Disney-goers were stranded in the air as the new gondolas suffered a shutdown

Here’s what we know about what happened and the questions that are still unanswered.

Disney World gondola shutdown strains theme park’s rescue efforts

Q: What caused the problems?

A: Disney is investigating and has not said what happened.

Q: So what is Disney saying?

A: There were no reported injuries. There was not a power shortage. In an official statement on Sunday night, Disney said “We have a team diligently looking into the cause of last night’s malfunction on the Epcot line of the Disney Skyliner.”

Q: Where did it happen?

A: The gondola line in question connects Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort with Epcot. There’s another station along the way at Disney’s Riviera Resort, a property scheduled to open in December. (There are also lines serving Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, as well as its Pop Century and Art of Animation resorts.)

Riders on Disney World’s new gondolas stranded for hours; Skyliner now closed

Q: When did the gondolas open?

A: The Skyliner debuted to the public Sept. 29, so the problems occurred on its seventh day of operation.

Q: How long were people stuck on the Disney Skyliner?

A: Some visitors remained in the 10-person cabins for up to three hours Saturday before the line started moving again.

Q: How did people react?

A: Some people went on social media to document the experience in real-time and voice their frustrations of being stuck for hours. It became a situation ripe for snarky memes. One Winter Garden family kept the moment light, yelling down at people below to throw up snacks and enjoying the view of the theme parks’ fireworks in the distance and doing Disney singalongs.

Disney Skyliner preview: Answers to questions that have been up in the air

Q: Was it hot in there?

A: The cabins are not air-conditioned, but the incident was after sunset, which helped keep temperatures down. The units have vents in the walls, allowing a breeze to come through.

Q: How did people finally get down?

A: Reedy Creek firefighters who cover Walt Disney World responded to the scene and helped evacuate several cabins, one union fire official said. The department has access to high-rise ladder trucks to rescue people, but they did not need to use a barge on the water or ropes as evacuation methods, the official said. Some people reported their cabins slowly begin working again, and they were able to finish the rest of their ride and then exit at the station.

Q: What did the gondola’s builder say?

A: Doppelmayr, the gondola’s Austrian-based manufacturer, has not responded to messages for comment Sunday and Monday.

Q: Why did Disney World build gondolas?

The 300-cabin gondola system gives Disney World guests a new aerial view of the resorts, theme parks and the grounds. The Skyliner offers Disney an alternative way to transport hotel guests to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The gondolas came online as Disney’s Monorail fleet ages.

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