Picture, if you will, a Friday afternoon that functioned a bit more like a Monday morning–at least for one Orlando-area news station.
Late in the day on Friday, the station–Orlando’s WFTV Channel 9–reported on its website that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios had reopened following the rescue of 28 trapped guests by Reedy Creek firefighters. There was even a “breaking news” ticker scrolling across the top of the webpage that told the same story: the ride had reopened following the rescue of trapped guests from the Tower of Terror attraction.
In the same report, however, WFTV also stated that it was unknown if the fire department ever responded to the ride to help with the evacuation. We had to read that again. Guests were rescued by Reedy Creek firefighters. It’s not known if guests were rescued by Reedy Creek firefighters. Got it.
It was a strange situation, especially when it’s taken into consideration that the presence of first responders at a Disney World theme park is unmistakable, and in a dire scenario in which guests are trapped, firefighters work quickly to execute a timely rescue so that everyone is safe. How could that be counted as “unknown?”
Nearly immediately, WFTV redacted the report, and the link to the original story was disabled.
In a since-deleted post, WFTV updated its report, stating that Reedy Creek firefighters had not, in fact, assisted in the rescue and evacuation of guests from the Tower of Terror attraction. It has now been confirmed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (formerly the Reedy Creek Improvement District) that firefighters were not involved in the rescue or evacuation of the ride and that they did not enter the structure that houses the attraction.
As of the time of this publication, it isn’t clear whether a 911 call was ever placed to local authorities.
The happy ending to this strange scenario is that all 28 guests were evacuated from the ride, and no injuries were reported as a result of the presumed ride malfunction. The Tower of Terror attraction has resumed operation with higher-than-normal wait times, accounted for by the evacuation that played out on Friday afternoon.
It seems that Disney’s Hollywood Studios cast members were the heroes in this story.