ORLANDO, Fla. – Theme park attendees were ushered away when a dragon float in the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom caught fire Friday afternoon, filling the air with thick black smoke.
Video from a News 6 viewer shows the steampunk-style dragon -- a representation of Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” -- with bright orange flames gushing from near its nape and horns as the float inched past the Hall of Presidents about 3:18 p.m.
"I think we have a problem, the dragon's literally on fire," a guest says in the video.
Video courtesy of Holly Roberge
Holly Roberge, who is visiting Orlando from Canada with her husband, said she first started to notice something wasn't right when the dancers and performers kept glancing back at the dragon. Then it started spewing what looked like oil from its head and ash started to fall from the machine, she said.
"Then it's, like, his head was on fire. He wasn't breathing fire anymore, his head was just engulfed in flames," Roberge said.
She said guests temporarily panicked when they realized something was wrong with the float.
"Once you realize the head was on fire, then all of a sudden everyone started screaming and running away," Roberge said, noting that she was about 10 feet away from the dragon and could feel the heat from the flames.
Cast members shooed parade attendees away from the malfunctioning float, while the dragon continued to move its head up and down and play music as its head was ablaze.
Within minutes, a Disney employee with a fire extinguisher doused the flames.
Roberge said she was worried that the float could potentially explode, but Walt Disney World officials said no employees or guests were injured during the incident, which was quickly addressed.
They added that operations remained normal throughout the rest of the park, although the parade did end early because of the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Roberge said the aftermath was cleaned up within an hour.
"It made this trip very memorable," she said.