Friday, July 13, 2012

Will roller coasters be made extinct by the ADA?

According to the Los Angeles Times, two amputees are suing Universal Studios Hollywood because they could not ride the roller-coaster there, and they are claiming a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This is interesting timing. While on my recent 7-park roller coaster tour of the US, I had similar thoughts about this very topic. I was about to step onto a hyper coaster at Carowinds and I thought to myself, "how can this ride ever be made accessible to someone who needs an equivalent experience?"

One of the key words here is "equivalent." For simulator rides, there are non-motion versions. But I don't know of any roller-coaster "equivalencies." Maybe they could build non-motion simulators for those who can't ride the regular coaster?

My thoughts while I vacation didn't stray much further, but I wondered if this had been fully tested in court yet. If the eventual rulings on this case in Hollywood indicate the ADA was violated, does that mean all roller-coasters have to be made more accessible than they are already? If yes, could that lead to simply shutting down coasters? Certainly some coasters would be easier to render fully accessible than others.

Obviously, I'm not a lawyer. I'm not that well-read on the ADA either, for that matter, so I welcome commentary that sheds light on how much accommodation is needed at any given attraction.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.