Disneyland lets visitors ride a tram, a monorail, a trolley and spinning teacups — but they can’t use a Segway, even if they are disabled.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals told the theme park Wednesday that it was time “The Happiest Place on Earth” studied the idea.
“Technological advances didn’t end with the powered wheelchair,” a three-judge panel said, overturning a lower court’s decision in favor of Disney.
The case was brought by Tina Baughman, who wanted to celebrate her daughter’s eighth birthday at Disneyland. Baughman suffers from limb girdle muscular dystrophy, which makes it difficult for her to walk or rise from a seated position. She explained her disability to Disney and asked to be able to use a Segway, a two-wheeled transportation device operated in a standing position.
Disney refused, and Baughman sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In ruling for Disney, the lower court noted that the park permits disabled visitors to use wheelchairs and scooters. But the 9th Circuit said federal disability protections require more than assuring mere access.
“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.