Disney Skyliner (Gondola Transportation System) Read Post 1 Now Open!

ProgressCity

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
If nothing else, improved communication could have kept people from overloading the emergency call buttons making them pretty much worthless. They could have easily told people that RCFD was aware of the situation and onsite, so there's no need to call 911 or press the emergency call button. They could have explained that they were working on getting the system running so they could evacuate at the station. Letting people know that EMTs were waiting at the station with fully stocked medical kits should they require attention could have calmed a lot of people (thinking about people who may need insulin or things like that). Then they could have asked people to only use the emergency call buttons if someone in their gondola required immediate medical attention and then have an EMT standing by to speak with anyone who did need medical attention.

These are obvious, easy things that could have made the situation better and probably would have actually resulted in a quicker resolution because there would have been less chaos.

What has me baffled is if the 3 hour delay really was to evacuate one gondola that had a medical emergency, wouldn't it have been quicker to just evacuate at the station? Once they realized there was going to be no quick, easy way to evacuate a specific car (which they should have figured out long before this weekend) why did they even bother? A lot of people are making it sound like a success because they never intended to evacuate the whole line, it just took them 3 hours to evacuate one car, and I have no idea how that's better.

I don't think most people are concerned by the fact that the gondolas stopped or even that some cars collided. We're all adults and understand that things happen. What's concerning is the apparent lack of a coherent and efficient plan for dealing with these inevitable issues. There's no reason to think that the gondolas won't eventually have an issue in the middle of a hot day and Disney has given no indication that they are able to deal with that scenario.

I think they can get the mechanical aspects of the Skyliner up and running again fairly quickly, but they need to come up with some way of making sure the emergency kits are always stocked when needed, which may involved retrofitting the gondolas with a sensor or something to alert a CM when a kit has been tampered with, I don't know.
 

ProgressCity

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Exactly. My friend's panic attack was specifically linked to thinking that she was going to have to climb down a ladder onto a boat to evacuate, so if they had told us that they were going to get us back to the station for regular unloading as soon as the medical emergency had been taken care of, my friend would have been okay. But we didn't know what method they were planning to use to get us off and that lack of communication directly caused her panic attack.
For me, that uncertainty would have been panic inducing too. Tbh, it would be difficult for me to evacuate because of my fear of heights. I'm pretty sure I'd be able to do it, but there are people who I'm sure would freeze up in that situation and it's not always easy to know how you'll react. I repel off of cliffs but sitting high in a stadium and looking up at the ceiling will make my knees completely give out. The body's weird. (Kind of like how it's weird that some people can ride the craziest roller coaster but can't handle a simulator. You never know until you experience it.)
 

MeridaAnn

AP Holder, Disneybounder, and Cosplayer
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
How many of the gondolas were stopped over the water? Is there more water along the Epcot/CBR line than the bit near the Friendship boats? We haven't ridden the Skyliner yet.

Also, I am aware of the barge that was built for water evacuations over Hourglass Lake. Was something similar built for the bit of water near Epcot? I'm not aware that there was but it could be I just haven't heard of it.
Our car was the one over the canal at the Epcot entrance. I'm not sure about the other water locations. I've read elsewhere that the boat & ladder would only be for the ones over the lake, so I'm not actually sure what the official plan is for the spot where we were. It's possible that a bucket lift could have reached us from the side, but I'm not sure.

I took these photos the next morning to show where our car was during it all:
20191006_094623.jpg 20191006_094505.jpg
(Sorry, not sure why that second one's sideways. It's turned the right way in my phone...)

Our car had a wrap on it, so pictures didn't turn out well from inside, but this is the best one I have showing our view from inside, looking toward Epcot:
20191005_212232.jpg
 
  • Krandor

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2014
    The fact there was an incident doesn't bother me. Things happen and a lot of times you'll run into things once you put things under load you don't necessarily see during testing.

    However, I do think the communication was pretty bad though I don't think some of it was intentional. Sounds like there were multiple groups (RCFD, PR, and CMs) each doing their own thing without a lot of communciation between each other. The "nobody was in the crashed cars" thing is obviously the worse and what I would bet happened is something like the CMs got those cars evacuated quickly and then when whoever was relaying information to PR got on-site saw the cars empty and reported that. CMs may have been busy dealing with the incident.

    I do understand not wanting to tell people there was a crash while they were on the line. Airlines do similar things in that if there is a recent crash they won't have the news channels on and people see another crash before boarding their flight. However a little more detail espcially about the medial issue especially when they are watching people being evaulated would help. "why are they exacuating them and not us? if they are evacuating the line must be major? etc etc"

    I also think that disney trying to play semantics with incident vs accident and "unexpectd downtown" just reads like stuff coming from lawyers and I just don't think that is helpful. I know lawyers want to help protect the company but something like that is so transparent as to what they are doing it doesn't look good from a PR standpoint.

    So I think the biggest issues are procedural - different departments communicating, having a clear message for people, and not let lawyers completely run the show on verbage. All I think can be worked out. Communication between all the departments involved was clearly lacking.

    Though what i do wonder though is if it might not have been faster to just get the line restarted vs trying to evacuate the single car which may go back to lack of coordination - RCFD gets the call and so immediately jumps into action with no or limited discussion with gondola people on quickest/best way to handle it. Though it's also possible that thought the evac would be quickest but then with the issue on finding cars turned out not to be.

    Still lots we don't know but for me it looks like multiple groups working without much coordination between the groups.
     

    Krandor

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2014
    Our car was the one over the canal at the Epcot entrance. I'm not sure about the other water locations. I've read elsewhere that the boat & ladder would only be for the ones over the lake, so I'm not actually sure what the official plan is for the spot where we were. It's possible that a bucket lift could have reached us from the side, but I'm not sure.

    I took these photos the next morning to show where our car was during it all:
    View attachment 442420 View attachment 442424
    (Sorry, not sure why that second one's sideways. It's turned the right way in my phone...)

    Our car had a wrap on it, so pictures didn't turn out well from inside, but this is the best one I have showing our view from inside, looking toward Epcot:
    View attachment 442425
    My understanding is the ones over water on epcot line would be a zipline evac.
     

    NotUrsula

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2002
    You know, it seems to me that Reedy Creek could have easily used a drone to find that cabin where the 911 call originated. They knew the general area. All they would have had to do is have the 911 operator ask the caller to flash an SOS on their phones at the windows, then sent a drone to look for the signal. This is the kind of thing that a small camera drone can do VERY well, and I think it's strange that no one seems to have anticipated using them for situations where they needed to see inside a cabin. Disney prides itself on Imagineering -- but they can't manage simple outside-the-box problem anticipation? Of course, once they get those number stickers onto the cabin bottoms, this will be less of an issue in future, but I still think that drones should have a place in Skyliner safety and maintenance.

    One thing I'm not completely clear on: did the 911 call to Reedy Creek come in before the Riviera line blockage happened, or after? I've heard that an ambulance was blocking the maintenance access at Riviera. If that is true, that would indicate that the EMT's originally intended to (meet and) treat the caller at the station.

    Various RC personnel have said that the aerial rescue procedure was hampered by repeated conflicting instructions from the Skyliner crew about holding off starting the climb to the cabin because they were about to restart the line momentarily. If THAT is true, then I'm reminded of the sort of nonsense you hear when grounded at an airport: "Even though you have been sitting on this taxiway for 3 hours and are 55th in line to depart, we can't possibly go back to the gate to let those folks who have already missed their connections get off the plane (or bring in food for the rest of you), because they could re-open the airspace at any time, and we have to be ready right away!"

    The story with Reedy Creek and staffing levels is something that I'm taking with a tiny grain of salt. The Firefighters Union and Disney have been in a full-on fight over their contract for some time now; it is natural that each side is going to try to throw shade on the other in order to gain ground in that fight. If the NTSB gets involved (and it seems to me that they should, because there was a possible equipment failure), then we will hear how that actually went because the communications transcripts will be public record; otherwise I suspect we will never really know if all that was true. (I did find a good neutral article about the conflict in Insurance Journal, from last June: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2019/06/04/528278.htm)

    PS: About the emergency kits: Perhaps simply putting a seal on them and marking them with dire warnings (pretend dye packs, anyone?) will help deter some would-be pilferers. It would probably also help if they cannot be perfectly closed up again once opened (perhaps by putting in some inflated device that automatically opens) Sometimes, scaring people straight works fairly well! (OTOH, an enticing -- and portable- tool box under a seat is just too easy for a lot of people to resist. It may be that some of them ended up opened because a child got into them and the parent let them keep what they found.
     
    Last edited:

    Ms.Minnie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 29, 2004
    Zipline evac? Oh my, I can't imagine that every visitor would be able to handle that. I'm hoping that what happened the other night will be an isolated occurrence but I do think some visitors should think twice before riding the Skyliner just incase it does happen again. I know I wouldn't want to have to use a zipline to evacuate, I guess it's enter at your own risk...:crazy2:
     
  • Krandor

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2014
    Various RC personnel have said that the aerial rescue procedure was hampered by repeated conflicting instructions from the Skyliner crew about holding off starting the climb to the cabin because they were about to restart the line momentarily. If THAT is true, then I'm reminded of the sort of nonsense you hear when grounded at an airport: "Even though you have been sitting on this taxiway for 3 hours and are 55th in line to depart, we can't possibly go back to the gate to let those folks who have already missed their connections get off the plane (or bring in food for the rest of you), because they could re-open the airspace at any time, and we have to be ready right away!"
    That actually sounds very plausible to me. I'm sure they don't want to have to do the ladder rescue if they can avoid it since it is going to be more dangerous especially for somebody having an issue. At the same time, it is possible at riveria they were having issues determining how long it would be to get it re-opened resulting in a situation where it was tougher to decide to start the ladder evac or wait for line to restart.
     

    Krandor

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2014
    Zipline evac? Oh my, I can't imagine that every visitor would be able to handle that. I'm hoping that what happened the other night will be an isolated occurrence but I do think some visitors should think twice before riding the Skyliner just incase it does happen again. I know I wouldn't want to have to use a zipline to evacuate, I guess it's enter at your own risk...:crazy2:
    Yeah there is a pic here. https://www.reddit.com/r/backstagemagic/comments/coqvu8
     

    NotUrsula

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2002
    That actually sounds very plausible to me. I'm sure they don't want to have to do the ladder rescue if they can avoid it since it is going to be more dangerous especially for somebody having an issue. At the same time, it is possible at riveria they were having issues determining how long it would be to get it re-opened resulting in a situation where it was tougher to decide to start the ladder evac or wait for line to restart.
    Oh, it's plausible, but if true, it goes to show that even INTERNAL communications were withholding full information. If someone had told the firefighters something like "we have X number of cars blocking the line at Riviera, and it's going to take at least 45 minutes to clear them, and another 20 to get the target cabin to the ground", then the firefighters could have made a proper reasoned decision about whether or not to start the climb. I also feel that in a situation like this, provided that the firefighters' incident commander is given as much information as is known, if he/she decides to proceed with the rescue, then that professional decision should be the one that controls the situation. Everyone else should defer. You have to have a clear chain of command to prevent time and effort wasted.
     
  • jknezek

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 19, 2016
    That actually sounds very plausible to me. I'm sure they don't want to have to do the ladder rescue if they can avoid it since it is going to be more dangerous especially for somebody having an issue. At the same time, it is possible at riveria they were having issues determining how long it would be to get it re-opened resulting in a situation where it was tougher to decide to start the ladder evac or wait for line to restart.
    Yep. The old chicken or egg problem. And because this is the internet.... this is 100% made up...

    20 minutes after the accident:

    RCFD: "Ok, we are on scene and about to start the rescue pursuant to the first 911 call. Be advised more calls are coming in."

    Maintenance: "Wait, don't start yet. We think we can restart the line and have everyone unloaded at the stations. We need a few minutes...." 20 minutes later... "Nope. Start that evac."

    RCFD: "Got it. Going to take 30 minutes to position and get up there. We have a backlog of 911 calls now."

    Maintenance: "It's going to take how long? Hang on, we're going to try something else, don't start yet..." 20 minutes later... "Nope, that wasn't it. Ok, start the evac."

    RCFD: 20 minutes later... "Um... we went up the wrong car. Darn hard to see in the dark here. Nice people though. We need to shift down the line. It's going to take 15 minutes to get set up. 911 is inundated with all the people who saw us trying to evac. Lots of people getting upset."

    Maintenance: "Wrong car? Geez, ok, we thought of something else to try while you are moving..." 20 minutes later.... "Nope, sorry. Still jammed. Go ahead with the evac."

    RCFD: "Ok. Give us 20 minutes..." "Uggh. Wrong car again. Where are these people?"

    Maintenance: "Again? What are you doing out there?"

    RCFD: "Hey... if you idiots had painted the numbers on the bottom of the cars we wouldn't have to climb all the way up there to figure out where they are. Moving one car south again. Going to take 15 minutes to reposition."

    Maintenance: "Ok. We are going to clear the blue car. We've got that figured out. Give us 20 minutes...." 30 minutes later... "We cleared the blue car. We need to get the rest of them lined back up and test the line. Diagnostic are about an hour. Go ahead and evac again."

    RCFD: "Up we go. Getting good at this. 10 minutes this time. Right car. We'll get them down...." 20 minutes later. "Got them down. Took a long time to get someone down from up there though. We have cleared the first evac but about 50 more evac calls came in. It's like they are wondering what we are doing here and have some way to communicate with each other. Do we need to start doing this systematically?"

    Maintenance: "Get positioned to start but we think we can clear the line. 30 minutes to start."

    RCFD: "Ok. Will take 30 minutes to reposition to the front of the line anyway."

    Maintenance: 45 minutes later. "Got it moving slowly. We will clear the lines and offload as the stations."

    RCFD: "Ok. We will have EMTs standing by."

    Meanwhile in the cabs... "We hope you are enjoying your views of the Walt Disney World Resort from our exciting and innovative new transportation experience! We have momentarily paused your journey. Please enjoy this extended time to make dining and Fastpass reservations through My Disney Experience. Coming soon! An exciting new opportunity to share adventures with Remy in the French Pavilion, experience the galaxy with those amazing Guardians, and eat among the stars! Don't forget to watch for our new premium Galaxy's Edge Adventures and the astounding new spaceship cruising hotel!

    Repeated over and over for hours...

    Meanwhile in the Disney call center.... "Crap, crap, crap, crap... Incident, not accident, no injuries. Empty cars. Deny people, deny! This is a happy place! HAPPPPPYYYYYY....."
     

    sponica

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2017
    Meanwhile in the cabs... "We hope you are enjoying your views of the Walt Disney World Resort from our exciting and innovative new transportation experience! We have momentarily paused your journey. Please enjoy this extended time to make dining and Fastpass reservations through My Disney Experience. Coming soon! An exciting new opportunity to share adventures with Remy in the French Pavilion, experience the galaxy with those amazing Guardians, and eat among the stars! Don't forget to watch for our new premium Galaxy's Edge Adventures and the astounding new spaceship cruising hotel!

    Repeated over and over for hours...

    That seems worse than getting stuck in that last room in its a small world.
     

    mshanson3121

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2015
    Yep. The old chicken or egg problem. And because this is the internet.... this is 100% made up...

    20 minutes after the accident:

    RCFD: "Ok, we are on scene and about to start the rescue pursuant to the first 911 call. Be advised more calls are coming in."

    Maintenance: "Wait, don't start yet. We think we can restart the line and have everyone unloaded at the stations. We need a few minutes...." 20 minutes later... "Nope. Start that evac."

    RCFD: "Got it. Going to take 30 minutes to position and get up there. We have a backlog of 911 calls now."

    Maintenance: "It's going to take how long? Hang on, we're going to try something else, don't start yet..." 20 minutes later... "Nope, that wasn't it. Ok, start the evac."

    RCFD: 20 minutes later... "Um... we went up the wrong car. Darn hard to see in the dark here. Nice people though. We need to shift down the line. It's going to take 15 minutes to get set up. 911 is inundated with all the people who saw us trying to evac. Lots of people getting upset."

    Maintenance: "Wrong car? Geez, ok, we thought of something else to try while you are moving..." 20 minutes later.... "Nope, sorry. Still jammed. Go ahead with the evac."

    RCFD: "Ok. Give us 20 minutes..." "Uggh. Wrong car again. Where are these people?"

    Maintenance: "Again? What are you doing out there?"

    RCFD: "Hey... if you idiots had painted the numbers on the bottom of the cars we wouldn't have to climb all the way up there to figure out where they are. Moving one car south again. Going to take 15 minutes to reposition."

    Maintenance: "Ok. We are going to clear the blue car. We've got that figured out. Give us 20 minutes...." 30 minutes later... "We cleared the blue car. We need to get the rest of them lined back up and test the line. Diagnostic are about an hour. Go ahead and evac again."

    RCFD: "Up we go. Getting good at this. 10 minutes this time. Right car. We'll get them down...." 20 minutes later. "Got them down. Took a long time to get someone down from up there though. We have cleared the first evac but about 50 more evac calls came in. It's like they are wondering what we are doing here and have some way to communicate with each other. Do we need to start doing this systematically?"

    Maintenance: "Get positioned to start but we think we can clear the line. 30 minutes to start."

    RCFD: "Ok. Will take 30 minutes to reposition to the front of the line anyway."

    Maintenance: 45 minutes later. "Got it moving slowly. We will clear the lines and offload as the stations."

    RCFD: "Ok. We will have EMTs standing by."

    Meanwhile in the cabs... "We hope you are enjoying your views of the Walt Disney World Resort from our exciting and innovative new transportation experience! We have momentarily paused your journey. Please enjoy this extended time to make dining and Fastpass reservations through My Disney Experience. Coming soon! An exciting new opportunity to share adventures with Remy in the French Pavilion, experience the galaxy with those amazing Guardians, and eat among the stars! Don't forget to watch for our new premium Galaxy's Edge Adventures and the astounding new spaceship cruising hotel!

    Repeated over and over for hours...

    Meanwhile in the Disney call center.... "Crap, crap, crap, crap... Incident, not accident, no injuries. Empty cars. Deny people, deny! This is a happy place! HAPPPPPYYYYYY....."
    :worship:

    Where's the laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes smiley?
     

    Krandor

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2014
    Oh, it's plausible, but if true, it goes to show that even INTERNAL communications were withholding full information. If someone had told the firefighters something like "we have X number of cars blocking the line at Riviera, and it's going to take at least 45 minutes to clear them, and another 20 to get the target cabin to the ground", then the firefighters could have made a proper reasoned decision about whether or not to start the climb. I also feel that in a situation like this, provided that the firefighters' incident commander is given as much information as is known, if he/she decides to proceed with the rescue, then that professional decision should be the one that controls the situation. Everyone else should defer. You have to have a clear chain of command to prevent time and effort wasted.
    That is making one big assumption - that they knew exactly how long it would take. They may have thought 30 minutes then ran into a complication and so forth. It is really hard in a situation like this to know for sure how long it will take especially since nothing like this had happened before so there was not even a frame of reference of "a normal situation like this should take 45 minutes to an hour and half depending on x,y,z".
     

    MeridaAnn

    AP Holder, Disneybounder, and Cosplayer
    Joined
    Oct 22, 2015
    My understanding is the ones over water on epcot line would be a zipline evac.
    Oh, wow. I personally would have found that kind of exciting, but I'm sure that would not have been a comforting solution for my friend.

    I do understand not wanting to tell people there was a crash while they were on the line. Airlines do similar things in that if there is a recent crash they won't have the news channels on and people see another crash before boarding their flight. However a little more detail espcially about the medial issue especially when they are watching people being evaulated would help. "why are they exacuating them and not us? if they are evacuating the line must be major? etc etc"
    The problem is, we already knew there was a collision. We had our phones and there were already multiple pictures on social media from different angles showing the impacted cars at the station. Disney's refusal to acknowledge it made us feel lied to and made us wonder why they were seemingly trying to cover it up. And beyond that, it was a very minor collision! No one was hurt! I don't see why they thought even for a moment they should pretend it didn't happen. There was nothing comforting about hiding it. They could have still used euphemisms as long as they acknowledged that it had happened. Something like "There is a backup at the Riviera station. We are working to clear the line as soon as possible so that we can continue your journey. We will keep you updated." (and then actually keeping us updated) would have been acceptable, but they gave us no information.

    Oh, it's plausible, but if true, it goes to show that even INTERNAL communications were withholding full information. If someone had told the firefighters something like "we have X number of cars blocking the line at Riviera, and it's going to take at least 45 minutes to clear them, and another 20 to get the target cabin to the ground", then the firefighters could have made a proper reasoned decision about whether or not to start the climb. I also feel that in a situation like this, provided that the firefighters' incident commander is given as much information as is known, if he/she decides to proceed with the rescue, then that professional decision should be the one that controls the situation. Everyone else should defer. You have to have a clear chain of command to prevent time and effort wasted.
    Yes, internal communication was definitely an issue in addition to the public announcements. Someone on the platform as we evacuated actually told one of my friends that there was only an electrical issue and that the photo online must have been Photoshopped. I find it hard to believe anyone would just make that up, so I'm assuming he only had Disney's first announcement to go by and hadn't been updated that there actually had been a collision. And this was someone who was assisting us as we finally exited the gondolas.

    Meanwhile in the cabs... "We hope you are enjoying your views of the Walt Disney World Resort from our exciting and innovative new transportation experience! We have momentarily paused your journey. Please enjoy this extended time to make dining and Fastpass reservations through My Disney Experience. Coming soon! An exciting new opportunity to share adventures with Remy in the French Pavilion, experience the galaxy with those amazing Guardians, and eat among the stars! Don't forget to watch for our new premium Galaxy's Edge Adventures and the astounding new spaceship cruising hotel!
    That seems worse than getting stuck in that last room in its a small world.
    Just to be clear, that was not a message that was played in the actual cars in real life.

    PS: About the emergency kits: Perhaps simply putting a seal on them and marking them with dire warnings (pretend dye packs, anyone?) will help deter some would-be pilferers. It would probably also help if they cannot be perfectly closed up again once opened (perhaps by putting in some inflated device that automatically opens) Sometimes, scaring people straight works fairly well! (OTOH, an enticing -- and portable- tool box under a seat is just too easy for a lot of people to resist. It may be that some of them ended up opened because a child got into them and the parent let them keep what they found.
    The emergency packs were attached to the seat with a plastic band of sorts that had to be broken to pull it out. So they already couldn't be put back exactly the way that they were found. It's awful, though sadly not entirely surprising, that people had previously opened them without actually needing them.
     

    StacyStrong

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 8, 2018
    Honestly, the more I think about it, the more it baffles me that they had a hard time locating a gandola.

    I just ... I can't understand it. 6 people in the car and not one person had a charged phone to stay on the line with dispatch?

    "We are between blah and blah. Orange car. I see you!!!!! No not that one. Move over a little bit!!!!!"
     


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