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'I think she might have a seizure:' 911 calls released in Disney gondola rescue

Guests spent hours stuck on Skyliner

ORLANDO, Fla. – Guests were anxious, hot, screaming, crying and begging for help when the Skyliner at Walt Disney World got stuck for hours days after the new gondola system opened.

The most harrowing of the dozen 911 calls that were placed during the Oct. 5 power outage came from an 11-year-old girl who was worried about her mother, who has epilepsy and anxiety.

In the hourlong call, the girl begged for help more than 15 times. Between sobs and screams, she told the operator that she was worried about her mother.

"It's anxiety, but I think she might have a seizure soon. She needs an ambulance," the girl said.

As the conversation went on, the girl's anxiety grew, and so did her mother's.

"I cannot live without my mom. Get her out of here as fast as you can, people," the girl said 26 minutes into the call.

She said her mother was "freaking out" and too petrified to move. The operator cautioned against giving the woman any food or water, so instead, guests resorted to fanning her with some paper to help her cool down.

By 45 minutes into the call, the girl declared it "the worst day of (her) life."

"Isn't Disney supposed to the happiest place on earth?" she asked. "What happened to the happiest place on earth?"

The call ended after about an hour with the girl and her mother still on the gondola, although rescuers were nearby attempting to get them out.

The woman wasn't the only one who reported medical issues. A man called 911 to report that his 32-year-old wife, who has a history of heart problems, passed out and was "burning up."

"She's not going to last long," he said.

The woman could be heard sobbing in the background.

Along with concern for his wife, the man also expressed frustration with the lack of communication about the situation.

"I'm just getting really concerned now. It's nearly two hours," he said.

Another man was worried about his 88-year-old mother, who appeared to be rapidly overheating. He was tempted to pry open the gondola's door himself because it was so close to the platform.

"She's completely alert, she's just getting panicky," he said.

Firefighters had the doors open by about seven minutes into that call.

The problems didn't end even after the riders were rescued.

A cast member called 911 to report that she was with a 36-year-old guest at Disney's Riviera Resort station who had just passed out. According to the call, the man regained consciousness only to pass out again.

"The situation escalated," the cast member said.

Records show the outage began at about 8 p.m. and the gondolas started moving again by around 11 p.m.

Disney officials have not said how many guests were rescued or what exactly caused the power outage, which happened six days after the attraction's debut

Reedy Creek Fire Department officials said one gondola with six people inside had to be evacuated. Fire officials worked late into the night in order to perform the evacuations.

Guests who called 911 wondered why the rescue took so long.

"You would think Disney would be prepared for everything," one woman said.


About the Author:

Adrienne Cutway

Adrienne Cutway joined News 6's digital team in October 2016 to cover breaking news, crime and community interest stories. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel.

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