Thursday, July 26, 2012

Disney Parks Told to Consider Use of Segways

Disney Parks Told to Consider Use of Segways


Tina Baughman wanted to celebrate her daughter’s 8th birthday at Disneyland. Tina has disabilities that make it difficult and painful for her to rise from a sitting position. She uses a Segway to get around instead of a wheelchair. The main reason is rising from a sitting position after sitting for a prolonged period of time causes pain. Disneyland officials told her she could not use her Segway. She was told she would have to either walk or if she could not walk rent a wheelchair or scooter even though she explained sitting caused her pain.

Tina took Disney to court over the American’s with Disability Act and tried to get the policy changed. Her suit was dismissed and she lost. The lower court felt Disney had other options for her to get around. She appealed the ruling and July 19th, 2012 the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling and told Disney to study the issue further and reconsider.

"Technological advances didn't end with the powered wheelchair," a three-judge panel said, overturning a lower court's decision in favor of Disney.

"As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests have an experience more akin to that of non-disabled," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the court.

Disney must show, based on actual risks, why Segways would be unsafe in the park, the panel said. The case now returns to district court.

"We have every confidence that the organization that, half a century ago, brought us the Carousel of Progress and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln can lead the way in using new technology to make its parks more welcoming to disabled guests," Kozinski wrote.

I can see many reasons for a disabled person wanting to use a Segway instead of a wheelchair or even a scooter. When you are sitting in a chair you spend the day looking at people’s butts. (Sorry to be so indelicate.) Would that be your view of choice? You are often over looked because people don’t bother to look down. You don’t have the feeling of self-confidence, self-respect and pride because you can’t look people you are speaking with eye to eye. Wheelchairs and scooters have a wider base and it is hard to get them through lines without bumping into things. When in shops you can’t see what is on the higher shelves and sometimes the isles are so small you can’t even get into them. Wheelchairs are exhausting to use. Either you tire yourself pushing yourself around or you tire a friend or family member by having them push you. In a wheelchair you may even choose not to go to some areas of the park because of the hills you would have to traverse.

Now you might say if she can stand to use a Segway all day why not just walk? Well some people can stand but walking tires them. You still might have trouble with steps/stairs or even grades. Every person’s disabilities are different and there is no one size fits all tool for helping them. What works for one person may not work at all or only help a small bit for another.

For all the reasons to say yes to the Segway there are real concerns about the safety. The creator of the Segway, Jimi Heselden died in a Segway accident. They do move a bit faster than an electric scooter and do not stop quite as quickly. Segway’s are not as easy to steer as a scooter. A scooter handles almost like a bike or car as far as how you change directions. A Segway’s direction is changed by leaning in the direction you wish to go.

I believe that overall the Segway is no more dangerous than a scooter when used in Disneyland. I believe Disney was wrong to tell her no in the first place. I hope that Tina gets to come back to Disneyland and use her Segway soon. I hope she has many happy visits wheeling around the park and showing Disney and the public at large that disability or not you can still enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth.

Some of the information in this story came from the following link.
The majority of this aritcle is my opinion on the use of the Segway in a Disney Park.


  1. Now that Disney allow Segways and wheelchairs inside the theme park, I think more and more people with or without disability would go there.

  2. I am one of the visitors of your site. I hope you will show more such material or data to put in our use.

  3. I think Disney is right..With all the other options there isn't that much to worry about if you are out of control..on the other hand if you lose control with the segway you will be mowing people down...If the speed to could be regulated then it would not be that big of an issue...I believe the speed and stopping could causemajor problems.


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