Segway Speaks on Walt Disney World Lawsuit: Do Not Doubt Our Safety

In light of some concerns it has over the public perception of an ongoing lawsuit (as most recently reported on by the Orlando Sentinel here).

To summarize, a lawsuit was initially filed against Disney claiming that those who use the Segway for mobility purposes were being discriminated against when not allowed to take their Segway into the parks. Disney’s response is that a guest on a Segway can not be monitored and that it inherently poses a security risk to the safety of not only the guest using the device unsupervised, but the rest of the guests. In addition, the Segway units can travel faster than walking or, in particular, the ECVs that the park usually recommends, which essentially gives Segway riders a speed advantage. Segway’s response almost appears to speak out of both sides of the mouth since they obviously don’t want to offend Disney and hurt/jeopardize the longstanding relationship but they evidently take offense to the suggestion that the devices are in any way unsafe to anyone (when used properly), at least when taken out of context.

The full statement is as follows:

BEDFORD, N.H., June 3 — Segway feels that issues raised in a class action lawsuit against Walt Disney World Co. pending in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Mahala Ault et al. v. Walt Disney World Co.) may have caused some confusion about the safety of our Segway(R) Personal Transporter (“Segway PT”) product. The plaintiffs in this action allege that the policy of Walt Disney World Co. (“Disney”) not to permit two-wheeled vehicles violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). While Disney and the plaintiffs have reached a compromise in the lawsuit, some have objected to the settlement based on the premise that they prefer to use a Segway PT at the Walt Disney World Resort instead of the mobility devices permitted by Disney. Segway is not a party to this lawsuit and has not taken a position in this dispute. However, since the issue of safety has arisen in the context of the lawsuit, we are taking this opportunity to comment.

Segway believes that the Segway PT is safe when ridden in accordance with the User Materials and when the rider has received proper training. Disney has and continues to support the Segway PT product in the following ways: (1) Disney features our product in its Innoventions Exhibit at Epcot; (2) Disney operates tours for guests using our product at the Walt Disney World Resort; and (3) Disney employees use the Segway PT product every day as part of their work at the Walt Disney World Resort. In short, Disney and Segway have enjoyed a long relationship of Disney featuring and using Segway PT products in controlled circumstances.

Disney’s position in this lawsuit is that no two wheeled vehicles (including, but not limited to, the Segway PT, bicycles, and Razor scooters) should be permitted in its resorts for unrestricted and unsupervised use for safety reasons particular to its resorts. Disney’s use of our product in tours is monitored and the use by Disney employees is also managed.

Our goal in issuing this statement is to be clear about our position that the Segway PT product is safe when used as directed in a variety of settings. The Segway PT is used by police officers and security personnel in crowded areas such as arena and downtown events.

Segway has incorporated the concepts of universal design into its commercially-available products. That said, Segway products are not medical devices and are not FDA approved. Our products are designed for a person (any person, whether disabled or not) who can ascend and descend stairs without assistance and without the use of a handrail, who is capable of exercising good riding judgment, and who is capable of riding in accordance with our instructions. Segway also recommends in the User Materials to be courteous to others in the riding area and to obtain permission before riding on private property.

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