Disneyland Segway Ruling Stands as Victory for Disabled Mom

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Disneyland's Segway policy must balance the rights of disabled visitors with the theme park's safety concerns, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overruled a lower court that found Disneyland's Segway ban complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Associated Press reports. While Disneyland doesn't allow Segways, it does offer wheelchairs and scooters for disabled guests, pursuant to federal law, Disney's lawyers argued.

But that doesn't go far enough, the Ninth Circuit held.

"Technological advances didn't end with the powered wheelchair," the court's Disneyland Segway ruling held, according to the Los Angeles Times. "As new devices become available, public accommodations must consider using or adapting them to help disabled guests."

In the lawsuit, a disabled mom with muscular dystrophy claimed she was unlawfully denied the use of her Segway during her daughter's birthday visit to Disneyland. The woman needed the two-wheeled device to move around and watch her kids, the Times reports.

Title III of the ADA requires businesses that offer "public accommodations" such as retail stores, hotels, and theme parks to provide equal access to disabled patrons.

But the law further imposes a duty on Disneyland to take "reasonable steps" to make its disabled patrons' experiences "less onerous and more akin to that enjoyed by its able-bodied patrons," the Ninth Circuit held.

That's why the disabled mom must be allowed into Disneyland with her Segway, unless Disney can prove it can't be done safely, the Ninth Circuit ruled. The case now goes back to the lower court, to give Disney's lawyers a chance to offer such proof.

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