Disneyland Must Consider Allowing Segways, Court Rules

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The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling, saying Disney now must "consider using or adapting" new technologies to assist the disabled.

Segways -- those two-wheeled, upright people-movers that have never really caught on much beyond the D.C. police and lazy-sightseer communities -- have had a troubled history with The Happiest Place on Earth. But a new ruling from a three-judge panel may lead to a reversal of the park's ban on the vehicles.

Some background: Disneyland simply hates the contraptions, which can reach speeds of about 12.5 mph -- fast enough to wipe out an entire family of dwarves in one fell swoop.

That much was clear from a case brought against the park by Tina Baughman, a woman who suffers from muscular dystrophy. For Baughman, the Segway is a lifesend, allowing her to experience the wonders of Walt Disney's utopic attraction with the ease of a non-disabled visitor.

When Baughman's daughter requested a visit to Disneyland on her eighth birthday, she asked the park if she could use a Segway. Disney refused.

The LA Times reports that a lower court had initially ruled in favor of the entertainment megalith, citing that disabled visitors were welcome to use wheelchairs and scooters instead. But in the new ruling, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, on the grounds that federal disability protections "require more than assuring mere access."

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

It now falls to Disney to explore Segway implementation further, and specifically what risks they might introduce to their crowded tourist mecca.