Paper: Determining participation eligibility for amusement attractions

Woodcock, K., 2015. Determining participation eligibility for amusement attractions. Procedia Manufacturing 3, 5389-5396.

Amusement attraction participation eligibility requirements may be expressed in terms of age, height, weight, health condition (dis)ability, and combinations of these, and potentially other criteria. Restrictive eligibility criteria can protect manufacturer and operator from liability for injury, since no guest could sustain injury without exposure to the ride. However, new forms of liability have emerged, through litigation under general human rights codes or specific regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This paper describes and compares two approaches to more specifically determining participation eligibility for guests with disabilities and health conditions: the medical approach and the human factors engineering approach. Although many conditions are manifest in a range of severities, the medical approach will either impose the most restrictive eligibility on all guests with the same disability type, or require park personnel to make diagnostic determinations outside their expertise, and requires compilation of data about every disability and condition. The human factors engineering approach identifies functions to be performed by the guest to fulfill the ride experience. Clear description of functions and risks will enable guests to determine whether they are able to safely ride, in consultation with their own advisors. The approach to determining eligibility affects not only whether a particular guest can ride, but also operational practices that affect guests’ relationship with the park.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (, and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.