A Disney World vacation should bring joy, laughter, and happiness. For some, heading to The Most Magical Place on Earth yesterday would become a nightmare.
Orlando International Airport, or MCO, sees millions of Guests pass through its gates year after year. As one of the United States’s major airports, MCO is generally where those hoping to visit the Central Florida theme parks arrive for and depart after their vacations. That means Orlando International Airport is usually full of Disney and Universal fans decked out in Minnie Mouse ears or waving wands from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; there is even a Disney Parks store on site.
Flights arrive from around the world at Orlando International Airport, but one aircraft would not make it, leaving Guests struggling to carry out their Disney vacation.
Related: “Absolute Hell” as Guests at Disney World Resort Face Extreme Circumstances
On March 1, 2023, a flight from Dallas to Orlando was grounded at Jacksonville after an overhead bin caught fire during the flight. Operated by Spirit Airlines, the airplane left Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in North Texas and had to emergency land in Jacksonville, Florida, never reaching its final destination of Orlando.
Spirit flight 259 got into difficulty when a battery pack overheated, causing a fire in the compartment. The cabin crew was able to put out the fire while the aircraft was still flying before firefighters boarded the plane when it landed in Jacksonville. According to Click Orlando, the plane was able to taxi to the terminal, with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department confirming at least ten people had been taken to the hospital.
A passenger of Spirit flight 259, Joseph Fleck, was on his way to Disney World with his children. He shared clips of the incident on Twitter:
We are safe after a scary fire broke out during our @SpiritAirlines flight. We made a quick decent and emergency landing into Jacksonville. After waiting for over an hour they grounded the plane and we had to find our own way to Orlando. All rental cars were sold out. $250 uber
We are safe after a scary fire broke out during our @SpiritAirlines flight. We made a quick decent and emergency landing into Jacksonville. After waiting for over an hour they grounded the plane and we had to find our own way to Orlando. All rental cars were sold out. $250 uber pic.twitter.com/miFrR2bPKq
— Joseph Fleck (@nottajshow) March 1, 2023
The culprit for the fire starting was a battery-powered vape connected to a power pack. Rocco Chierichella, a retired New York firefighter, was on the plane with his wife. Along with the cabin crew, Chierichella jumped to action to stop the fire from spreading. The report says the retired firefighter recalled someone shouting “fire!” as the plane dropped altitude. Chierichella told Click Orlando:
“Smoke was billowing out of it. And what it was, was a battery-powered vape tied to a battery charging inside the compartment. Very dangerous. And it ignited a piece of luggage next to it.”
Fleck shared his family’s arrival at Walt Disney World Resort. He said:
#greatful [sic] our lives flashed before our eyes for a few seconds yesterday
#greatful our lives flashed before our eyes for a few seconds yesterday. pic.twitter.com/MeNVUPmXTx
— Joseph Fleck (@nottajshow) March 2, 2023
Related: Family In Turmoil After Walt Disney World Vacation Drama
While there are many things at Disney World that may cause issues for Guests, it is not uncommon for disaster to strike before a Guest has even stepped foot into the Resort. Thankfully, it wasn’t the tragedy it could have been, and those that were hospitalized because of the fire will hopefully make a full recovery.
Spirit released a statement shortly after the incident took place. A spokesperson for the company said:
We thank our crew and Guests for their quick actions to ensure the safety of everyone onboard, and we thank first responders for meeting the aircraft. We are arranging alternate transportation for our Guests from Jacksonville to Orlando.”
Has your Disney World vacation ever been hindered by an incident like this? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!
Walt Disney World Resort boasts four theme parks: Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park. It also features two Disney water parks, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, and the retail and recreation area, Disney Springs. A valid ticket, as well as a Park Pass reservation, is needed to enter each Park and Park Hopper hours begin at 2 p.m. daily.