Paper: Disability and participation in amusement attractions

Woodcock, K., 2018. Disability and participation in amusement attractions. Journal of Themed Experience and Attractions Studies 1, 38-53. Link

Eligibility to participate on an amusement attraction may be limited for patrons with certain characteristics, including size, age, disability, and health conditions. Human rights and equal access laws increasingly mandate the inclusion of people with disabilities in as many activities as possible, although safety is an accepted basis for exemption. This paper reports on practices and evidence pertaining to eligibility and safety of patrons with disabilities, including a content analysis of status quo criteria from 100 amusement ride manufacturers’ manuals and prevalence of references to disability in reports of serious and fatal injury. The analysis found that restrictive criteria exclude people with disabilities broadly, while permitting other vulnerable populations to self-determine their participation. Publicly available injury data do not provide evidence to justify the extent of mandatory exclusion. Self-selection appears to be sufficient where it is used but expanding self-selection will require more communication to patrons about the functional requirements of each ride.

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.