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Walt Disney World's newest attraction isn't inside a theme park, but is, instead, a way to get to the theme parks. The Disney Skyliner connects four Walt Disney World Resort hotels to both Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios via gondolas that soar through the air. The system only opened up on September 29, but on Saturday night the line carrying guests to Epcot had some sort of major system failure, which led to a line stoppage that resulted in guests being stranded in midair for three hours and requiring evacuation of one gondola by the Reedy Creek Fire Department.
While no injuries were reported at the time of the system crash, it has now been revealed that one person was admitted to an area hospital, though they have since been released. Two days later, the entire Skyliner system is still shut down, with no indication of when it might reopen.
Reedy Creek spokesperson Eryka Washington told the Orlando Sentinel that one person who had been evacuated by firefighters requested medical attention. They were apparently treated and released, though its unclear how long they actually spent in hospital.
A single, non-serious, medical issue was probably about as close to a best case scenario as Disney could have hoped for under the circumstances. While glitches and breakdowns are part of standard operating procedure at Walt Disney World theme parks, nothing is going to work 100% of the time, it's another matter entirely when you're dealing with transportation. When that transportation potentially leaves you stranded in midair for a prolonged period of time, it's that much worse.
While I'm sure Walt Disney World was prepared for something like this potentially happening, there's only so much that can be done to deal with the worst case scenario. The gondolas are equipped with emergency kits, but that can only go so far. And of course, there was unlikely to be any belief that such a breakdown would happen so soon after the Skyliner began operation, or it would have undergone further testing.
Certainly, Walt Disney World wants to make absolutely certain that when the Skyliner comes back online, it functions without a problem so seeing the system remain down at this point isn't too shocking. Better to keep it down for a prolonged period then risk a second failure problem. On the plus side, while the Skyliner is technically a transportation system, it largely functions like an attraction, at Walt Disney World has plenty of people with experience to deal with a problem like that.
If there's a bright spot to this whole experience, it's likely that, now that Walt Disney World has gone through the experience of a major Skyliner shutdown, the park has learned what it did well, and what it could have done better, and will be implementing whatever fixes are necessary so that if and when this happens again, the guest experience is smoother. It sucks when your theme park experience doesn't go as you hope, but if problems are handled well, guests can still have positive experiences.
Walt Disney World says it is working with the guests that were stuck on the Skyliner to address the impact to their visit, so it looks like the park will do what it can to makeup for the inconvenience. I smell some free FastPasses.