Disney’s new air gondolas break down just one week after opening

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Walt Disney World visitors experienced a lot more “downtime” than expected after the park’s brand new cable car system broke down just a week after launch.

The Skyliner air gondolas, which opened to visitors last week, suffered a malfunction Saturday night, prompting firefighters to lift people from cars to bring them safely back to the ground. Riders reported being stuck as long as three hours, and according to reports they were told by staff to open emergency kits while awaiting evacuation.

There were no reported injuries.

In an official statement, Disney officials said that one of the new cable car system routes “experienced an unexpected downtime.”

Aaron Murray, one of the park-goers who was stuck in a gondola with his girlfriend and six other people, said on Sunday that the long wait and lack of communication was the most frustrating part of the incident.

“They didn’t really say the reason that was causing the delay. The message that just kept coming over again and again is that they were sorry for the delay,” Murray said. “We were getting better information off of Twitter.”

The gondola behind them was assisted first possibly because there was a person that needed help, he said. Murray said he saw a woman being placed on a stretcher.

Murray recently moved to the Orlando area from Missouri and became a Disney pass holder. He was hoping to catch the new ‘Epcot Forever’ nighttime show on Saturday.

“We were trying to celebrate at Epcot, and we ended up seeing ‘Epcot Forever’ but from the sky,” he said. “We could barely see it.”

The Skyliner air gondolas opened to visitors on Sept. 29. The cable cars whisk visitors from hotels to theme parks three stories above the ground while going 11 mph. No more than 10 people are allowed in each cable car. There are almost 300 air gondolas, allowing the cabins to handle about 3,000 people an hour. They are painted with neon colours and with the images of almost two dozen Disney characters.

With file from The Associated Press

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