There seem to be several misconceptions about the DOJ's position and the issues in the WDW Segway lawsuit.
DOJ's position in the lawsuit was that the court should reject the proposed class action settlement between the plaintiffs and WDW. DOJ cited "procedural problems" such as an
overbroad class definition that improvidently covers Disney’s resorts nationwide, overly expansive release provisions that impermissibly waive class members’ claims outside the scope of the underlying complaint, and the lack of any mechanisms for enforcement or compliance
This is pretty much legal wonkism and I apologize for it. As to substance, DOJ objected to the settlement because:
Approval of the Disney Class Settlement Agreement at this juncture would thus frustrate the regulatory process by “freezing” in place Disney’s blanket policy banning Segways from all Disney resorts and theme parks since the agreement has no end date. To be sure, there are strong views on all sides regarding the extent to which mobility devices such as EPAMDs/Segways should be accommodated by Title III-covered facilities as reflected in the diversity of opinions expressed by Segways-related comments in response to the Title III NPRM.
And, in fact, during the hearing on whether the settlement should be approved, WDW put on substantial evidence as to why it concluded that Segway use in WDW would be unsafe. WDW's brief after the hearing made the following points about safe operation of a Segway:
- Is the safety risk inherent in the Segway’s two-wheeled balancing technology, which causes the rider to lose control and fall in certain circumstances (see infra Section II.D), acceptable in the world’s most populated theme parks?
- In a themed environment where guests are walking in different directions and focusing on the attractions and entertainment, is it reasonable to allow a two-wheeled mobility device that travels at approximately three times the average walking speed?
- Does a Segway provide access to the Disney Resorts which is not available with other alternative mobility devices?
- How and where can Worldco store Segways for guests while they are on rides without attracting the attention of other guests, including children, who may attempt to stand on the device and injure themselves as a result?
- What is the cost of training and having available additional employees to move a Segway from the start of each ride to the end of that ride where it can be returned to the guest?
- How can the Segway operate safely after dark without a light, like the light designed for the ESV and ECV?
- How can Worldco reliably confirm that a guest’s Segway has been properly serviced and maintained consistent with the manufacturer’s requirements and recall notices?
- How can Worldco determine whether a Segway owner with a mobility disability has the minimum strength requirements set by the manufacturer to operate the device safely (ascending and descending stairs without holding onto a handrail) without asking the person about the nature of the disability?
- Is it reasonable to allow a stand-up mobility device in a populated theme park that would not be deemed safe under the RESNA standards?
- Because the Segway can travel up to 12.5 mph, how can Worldco effectively enforce a reasonable speed limit for Segways inside the resorts?
- Is it acceptable to allow on sloped queue lines a mobility device that has no braking or anti-rollback mechanism?
Ultimately, the court did not approve the settlement because it determined the people suing could not show the use of a Segway was "necessary to afford access to Disney’s Parks." This is the issue currently on appeal. I don't think DOJ has taken a position in the appeal. I'm having trouble accessing the court's computer right now, however, but I'll check tonight.
I know a lot of folks here dispute a lot of Disney's points. That is great. Folks are entitled to their own opinions. I'm just trying to clarify what actually happened in the lawsuit.
As to other points, I don't think it all that significant that WDW employees use Segways or that Segway tours are offered before the park opens. These are different situations. WDW has a lot of ways to control how their employees use Segways in a theme park. Employers permit employees to do a lot of things that they don't let customers do.