North Miami Beach's paraplegic mayor said his pleasant Thanksgiving weekend at Walt Disney World Resort turned into a demeaning experience after park officials harassed him because of his high-tech wheelchair.
According to Mayor Myron Rosner, theme park employees at both Epcot and Animal Kingdom questioned his use of his $30,000 iBOT 4000 — a four-wheeled vehicle capable of balancing and moving on only two wheels.
Rosner, paralyzed during a construction accident, prefers to ride on two wheels — allowing him to be eye-level with his wife, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel.
But park employees mistook his wheelchair for Segway, according to Rosner and a Disney World spokeswoman.
In front of his wife and four children, park employees demanded Rosner lower himself and use four wheels, citing a Disney policy that prohibits the use of Segways, which it deems as unsafe.
"I was totally harassed by Disney World. It was a nightmare for my wife, myself and my four children," he said. "They gave me the impression I was not welcome here."
That's not the case, spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez said.
Employees were simply confused, mistaking the wheelchair for a Segway.
"The guest was provided with conflicting guidance. We apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused," she said.
In 2007, three disabled people filed a lawsuit against Disney for not allowing Segways at its parks. The lawsuit was recently settled out of court, but the Segway ban remains.
Unlike a Segway, which is used while standing, Rosner's iBOT 4000 keeps the driver seated.
Rosner said Monday he plans to file lawsuits against Disney for what he called an embarrassing experience.
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