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Riding a Segway at Epcot

Imagine our surprise when, on a recent visit to Epcot, we were suddenly surrounded by lots of people riding Segways, as we stood outside the Innoventions Pavilion.

What is a Segway, you may ask? Well it’s a fantastic little gadget made to transport you around – not on the road, of course, and here its designed to take you ‘behind the scenes’ in the World Showcase. It is actually a personal transporter, with two wheels, on which you have to balance.

It was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001, and designed to be used on sidewalks rather than on roads. We once saw a business man in Orlando riding along on one of these machines, in peak hour. Believe me, he was definitely going faster than us, stuck in our car! There are actually computers and motors in the base of the Segway which keep it upright all the time.  When you lean forwards the machine goes forwards, and when you lean backwards it goes backwards.  There is a platform in the middle of two wheels which you stand on, and a T-shaped handle in the middle, which you use to steer left and right. They have electric motors which allow it to travel at speeds up to 12.5 miles per hour

These Segways at Epcot were certainly causing a stir, and people were stopping to photograph them as they passed by. Disney offer an orientation session first in Innoventions, so that you can learn how to ride this quite unusual form of transportation. There is a special centre within Innoventions which is set up for the Segway tours.

It was great to see them all lined up ready for use. For safety you have to wear helmets, and you watch a video as the guide explains how to control the Segway. Then you have to practice before you are all taken out to tour the World Showcase. They look pretty difficult to handle at first, but we were surprised at how confident the riders were as they toured Epcot with their guides. The best bit, once you have got the hang of staying on them and steering them, is that you get to ride around World Showcase before all the other people in the park are allowed in, which is a nice feature of the tour. The tour guides also give interesting facts about each country, and you get to see all the preparations that take place before the general public arrives.

The tours are called ‘Around the World at Epcot’ and cost $85 including taxes. The minimum age is 16 and those under 18 have to have a signature from a parent or legal guardian before they are allowed to ride. Of course, only those in good health are allowed to ride, and the maximum weight is 250lbs.

There are 4 tours each day, at 7.45 am, 8.30 am, 9.00 am, and 9.30 am.  Entrance to the park is not included and is extra.

I know I can’t wait to try this innovative tour. Having spoken to someone who had taken part, the only downside is that you may have achey legs and feet after two hours of standing, but I think it would be well worth the discomfort just to experience this amazing form of transport, and to be able to tour the World Showcase before the crowds arrive.

Rita Fraser

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