Disneyland Wins Another Ruling in Back-and- Forth Legal Battle Over Segways in Theme Park

The latest ruling in the back-and-forth case over whether Segways should be allowed to roam Disneyland has been decided in favor of the Happiest Parking Structure on Earth.

A three-judge panel of California's 4th District Court of Appeals ruled Disney's “undisputed expert evidence showed Segways cannot be used safely in Disneyland crowds due to its method of operation.”


R. Scott Moxley and I drag raced our Segways to see who would be the first to publish on the case when it was in federal court.

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(If that seems like overkills, keep in mind that Scott's was filed under the “Disney Dirt” category of Navel Gazing while mine was under “Dishney”–two totally different audiences.)

Anyway, this all began in 2006, when Tina Baughman, who suffers from limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, called Disneyland to ask if she could ride her Segway in the park. Disneyland officials replied two-wheelers like Segways are not allowed per park policy.

After some more back and forth, Baughman sued in 2007 under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California disability and civil rights laws. She claimed someone with her unique disability–weak large arm and leg muscles that only allow her to walk short distances with a cane and make it difficult to rise from a seated position as in a wheelchair–was being discriminated against via the Disney policy.

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney in Santa Ana removed the ADA portion of the suit in 2010, setting up last year's reversal by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which essentially ruled Disneyland should explore options, including Segways, for people like Baughman.

Actually, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, in his opinion, put the task to Disney Imagineers, citing all the great attractions they have developed over the years and writing, “As the man who started it all said, 'Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world.'” (Disney is said to be developing a four-wheeled device for stand-up riders.)

An Orange County Superior Court judge dispensed with Baughman's remaining claims before trial, finding that Disney proved Segways are inherently dangerous in a crowded park, much like the appeals court found recently.

“Disney produced expert evidence to the effect that Segways pose a substantial risk of injury in the crowded confines inside the park due to the vehicle's design,” Judge Eileen Moore wrote for the appeals panel. “Baughman did not counter this evidence with expert evidence of her own. Instead, she offered her own declaration to the effect that she has never had an accident on her Segway.”

Moore wrote the panel was also unconvinced by Baughman's argument that Disney is Segway's biggest customer as cast members ride them backstage, writing, “the issue is whether Segways can be used safely by guests inside the park.”

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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