Chapter 4: Amusement Rides

4.1 Number of Facilities

Existing Facilities

Using the methodology described in Chapter 2, we estimated there were 372 amusement parks in 2001.41 We conducted an internet search to find more information about the amusement parks and divided the facilities into the following categories based on the number of amusement rides: large (generally more than 30 rides), medium (16 to 30 rides), small (6 to 15 rides), and very small (less than 6 rides).42 See Table 4.1.43

Table 4.1 - Existing Amusement Parks

Park Size Number of Parks
Large 68
Medium 71
Small 82
Very Small 156
TOTAL 377

We estimated the number of new amusement rides that these amusement parks add to their facilities each year based on the internet search.44 See Table 4.2.45

Table 4.2 - New Rides: Existing Amusement Parks

Park Size Number of Parks New Rides Frequency New Rides Per Year
Large 68 2 every year 136
Medium 71 1 every year 71
Small 82 1 every 2 years 41
Very Small 58 1 every 4 years 15
TOTAL 263

New Construction

Very few new amusement parks are constructed each year. Three new large facilities, three new medium facilities, and one new small facility opened between 1999 and 2001. Most of the new very small facilities operate kiddie rides. For purposes of this assessment, we assumed one of each size facility would be constructed each year. We estimated these new amusement parks would have 75 new amusement rides based on the following assumptions: the large facility would have 40 amusement rides, the medium facility would have 25 amusement rides, the small facility would have 10 amusement rides, and the very small facility would have 5 amusement rides. See Table 4.3.46

Table 4.3 - New Rides: Existing and New Amusement Parks

Park Size Existing Parks New Parks Total Per Year
Large 136 40 176
Medium 71 25 96
Small 41 10 51
Very Small 15 5 20
TOTAL 343

Small Entities

Using the methodology described in Chapter 2, we estimated small entities operate 81 percent of amusement parks.

4.2 Final Guidelines

Table 4.4 summarizes the final guidelines for amusement rides.

Table 4.4 - Final Guidelines: Amusement Rides

Section Requirement

15.1.1 General

Application

Exception - Mobile or portable amusement rides

Exception - Amusement rides controlled or operated by the rider, amusement rides without seats, and amusement rides designed primarily for children

Newly designed and constructed and altered amusement rides must comply with 15.1.

Mobile or portable amusement rides are not required to comply with 15.1.

Amusement rides controlled or operated by rider, amusement rides without seats, and amusement rides designed primarily for children, where children are assisted on and off the ride by an adult, must comply only with 15.1.4 and 15.1.5.

15.1.2 Alterations

Application

Alteration to existing amusement ride is alteration subject to 15.1 if ride’s structural or operational characteristics are changed to extent that ride’s performance differs from that specified by manufacturer or original design criteria, or load and unload area of ride is newly designed and constructed.

15.1.3 Number Required

Scoping

Each amusement ride must provide at least one wheelchair space complying with 15.1.7, one amusement ride seat designed for transfer complying with 15.1.8, or one transfer device complying with 15.1.9.

15.1.4 Accessible Route

General

Exception - Slope

Exception - Handrails

Exception - LULAs and Platform Lifts

Amusement rides must be served by accessible route when in load and unload position. Any part of accessible route with slope greater than 1:20 must comply with ramp requirements.

Where compliance is not structurally or operationally feasible, 1:12 maximum slope does not apply in load and unload areas or on amusement rides. Slope of ramp must not exceed 1:8.

Where compliance is not structurally or operationally feasible, handrails are not required in load and unload areas or on amusement rides.

Limited use/limited application elevators (LULAs) and platform lifts permitted to be part of accessible route serving load and unload areas.

15.1.5 Load and Unload Areas

Maneuvering Space

Load and unload areas serving amusement rides required to comply with 15.1 must provide maneuvering space complying with 4.2.3 and space must have slope not steeper than 1:48.

15.1.6 Signage

General

Signage must be provided at entrance of queue or waiting line for each amusement ride identifying type of access provided. Where accessible unload area also serves as accessible load area, signage must be provided at entrance of queue or waiting line indicating location of accessible load and unload area.

15.1.7 Amusement Rides with Wheelchair Spaces

Floor or Ground Surface

Exception - Gaps

Clearances

Exception - Securement Devices

Exception - Repositioning Wheelchair Spaces

Exception - Head Room

Openings

Approach

Companion Seats

Exception - Shoulder-to-Shoulder Seating

Floor or ground surface of wheelchair spaces must have slope not steeper than 1:48 and be stable and firm, when in load and unload position. Floors of amusement rides with wheelchair spaces and floors of load and unload areas must be coordinated so that vertical gap between floors is within plus or minus 5/8 inches and horizontal gap is not greater than 3 inches under normal passenger load conditions, when amusement rides are at rest.

Where compliance is not structurally or operationally feasible, ramps, bridge plates, or similar devices complying with 36 C.F.R. 1192.83(c) permitted.

Wheelchair spaces must provide 30 inches by 48 inches minimum clear width and length measured to 9 inches minimum above floor. Where wheelchair spaces entered only from side, amusement rides must be designed to permit sufficient maneuvering space for individuals using wheelchairs to enter and exit rides. Objects permitted to protrude 6 inches maximum along front of wheelchair spaces where located between 9 inches and 27 inches above floor. Objects permitted to protrude 25 inches maximum along front of wheelchair spaces where located more than 27 inches above floor.

Securement devices permitted to overlap required clearances.

Wheelchair spaces permitted to be repositioned mechanically or manually.

Head room provisions do not apply to wheelchair spaces.

Where openings are provided, entry must provide 32 inch minimum clear opening.

One side of wheelchair space must adjoin accessible route.

Where interior of amusement ride is greater than 53 inches, seating is provided for more than one rider, and wheelchair is not required to be centered within ride, companion seat must be provided for each wheelchair space. Where shoulder-to-shoulder seating is provided, companion seats must be shoulder-to-shoulder with wheelchair space.

Where shoulder-to-shoulder seating is not structurally or operationally feasible, compliance required to maximum extent feasible.

15.1.8 Amusement Ride Seats Designed for Transfer

Clear Floor or Ground Space

Transfer Height

Transfer Entry

Wheelchair Storage Space

Clear floor or ground space complying with 4.2.4.1 must be provided in load and unload area adjacent to amusement ride seats designed for transfer.

Height of amusement ride seats must be 14 inches minimum to 24 inches maximum above load and unload surface.

Where openings are provided to transfer to amusement ride seats, space must be designed to provide clearance for transfer from wheelchair to ride seat.

Wheelchair storage spaces complying with 4.2.4 must be provided in or adjacent to unload area for each amusement ride seat designed for transfer. Spaces must not overlap any required means of egress or accessible route.

15.1.9 Transfer Devices for Use with Amusement Rides

Clear Floor or Ground Space

Transfer Height


Wheelchair Storage Space

Clear floor or ground space complying with 4.2.4.1 must be provided in load and unload area adjacent to transfer devices.

Height of transfer device seats must be 14 inches minimum to 24 inches maximum above load and unload surface.

Wheelchair storage spaces complying with 4.2.4 must be provided in or adjacent to unload area for each transfer device. Spaces must not overlap any required means of egress or accessible route.

 

4.3 Alternatives

Table 4.5 presents the alternatives considered in the proposed guidelines and final guidelines. The significant comments raised during the public comment period are summarized in the preamble to the final rule, along with the Access Board’s assessment of the comments and the reasons for selecting the alternative adopted in the final guidelines. The Access Board minimized the significant economic impact of the final guidelines by allowing designers and operators of new and altered amusement rides the choice of providing at least one wheelchair space, or an amusement ride seat designed for transfer, or a transfer device. The final guidelines also allow designers and operators greater flexibility in applying ADAAG to new and altered amusement rides. No other significant alternatives were considered or rejected.

Table 4.5 - Amusement Rides Alternatives

Item Proposed Guidelines Final Guidelines
Rides Covered No exceptions for mobile or portable rides, or kiddie rides. Exception for mobile or portable rides. Kiddie rides only required to comply with accessible route provisions and provide maneuvering space in load and unload area.
Scoping At least one wheelchair space and one transfer seat required per 100 seats on a ride. Exception permits two transfer seats where not structurally or operationally feasible to provide wheelchair spaces on a ride. Designers and operators have choice of providing at least one wheelchair space, or ride seat designed for transfer, or transfer device per ride.
Alterations Modifications to ride that affect or could affect usability subject of guidelines. Modifications to ride’s structural or operational characteristics that change ride’s performance from that specified by the manufacturer or original design criteria subject to guidelines. Existing rides also subject to guidelines if load and unload area newly designed and constructed.
Accessible Route No exceptions. Where compliance with accessible route provisions not structurally or operationally feasible, exceptions permit steeper slope (not to exceed 1:8) and no handrails in load and unload areas. Exception also permits limited use/limited application elevators (LULAs) and platform lifts as part of accessible route serving load and unload areas.
Wheelchair Spaces Minimum wheelchair space must be 36 inches wide and 48 inches deep. Where space entered from side only, space must be 60 inches deep. Minimum wheelchair space must be 30 inches wide and 48 inches deep. Where space entered from side only, sufficient maneuvering space must be provided to permit individuals using a wheelchair to enter and exit ride. Exception permits space to be mechanically or manually repositioned. Protrusions permitted along front of wheelchair space for distance of 6 inches maximum between 9 inches and 27 inches above the floor, and for distance of 25 inches maximum more than 27 inches above the floor. Exceptions also permit securement devices to overlap required clearances, and exempt space from headroom provisions.
Companion Seats Where seating for more than one rider provided, companion seat must be provided for each wheelchair space. Where shoulder-to-shoulder seating provided, companion seats must be shoulder-to-shoulder with adjacent wheelchair spaces. Where interior of ride greater than 53 inches, seating provided for more than one rider, and wheelchair space not required to be centered within ride, companion seat must be provided for each wheelchair space. Where shoulder-to-shoulder seating provided, companion seats must be shoulder-to-shoulder with wheelchair space. Where shoulder-to-shoulder seating not structurally or operationally feasible, exception permits compliance to maximum extent feasible.
Transfer Seats/
Ride Seats Designed for Transfer
Clear floor space must be provided with longer dimension parallel to the unobstructed side of transfer seat, located within 3 inches from seat, and extend 12 inches beyond back of seat. When in load and unload position, entry with at least 36 inch wide opening must be provided and positioned parallel and adjacent to longer dimension of clear floor space. Transfer seat must be 17 inches to 19 inches above load and unload surface, and end of transfer seat adjacent to clear floor space must be unobstructed when in load and unload position. Clear floor space must be provided adjacent to ride seats designed for transfer. Where openings are provided, space must be designed to provide clearance for transfer from wheelchair to ride seat. Ride seats designed for transfer must be 14 inches to 24 inches above load and unload surface.
Transfer Devices No provision. Flexibility provided for designers and operators to develop transfer devices as an alternative. Transfer devices can be integral part of the ride, or permanent or temporary part of facility. Clear floor space must be provided adjacent to transfer device, and transfer device seats must be 14 to 24 inches above load and unload surface.
 

4.4 New Construction Impacts47

Load and Unload Areas: Accessible Route

The final guidelines require load and unload areas for new amusement rides to be served by an accessible route. The internet search showed that amusement parks are applying existing ADAAG scoping and technical requirements for an accessible route to the load and unload areas of most new amusement rides. Many large and medium amusement parks have brochures available for guests with disabilities describing the accessible ride features. Large and medium amusement parks usually have queues or waiting lines leading to the load areas that are ramped when there are changes in level. Many load and unload areas are at ground level and do not need ramping. Some new amusement rides are on platforms and have stepped entrances to the load and unload areas. These platform type amusement rides are more common at medium and smaller size amusement parks, but may be found at some large size amusement parks. In the absence of the final guidelines, we assumed an accessible route would not be provided to new platform type amusement rides with stepped entrances. We assumed 10 percent of new amusement rides in large amusement parks (18 new rides per year) and 30 percent of new amusement rides in medium and smaller amusement parks (50 new rides per year) would be platform type amusement rides with stepped entrances. We assumed half these amusement rides would have a vertical level change up to 3 feet and would need a ramp. The cost for an exterior ramp with a 3 foot vertical rise ranges from $4,000 to $6,700.48 We assumed the other half of these amusement rides would have a vertical level change between 3 feet and 5 feet and would need a platform lift. The cost for an exterior platform lift with a 5 foot vertical rise ranges from $12,000 to $15,000.49 The upper range of the total annual costs would be $0.73 million. See Table 4.6.

Table 4.6 - Costs: Accessible Route

Item New Rides Per Year Unit Cost Total Costs
Ramp 34 $4,000 - $6,700 $.14 - .23 million
Platform Lift 34 $12,000 - $15,000 $.40 - .50 million
Total $.54 - .73 million

Load and Unload Areas: Wheelchair Turning Space and Storage Space

The final guidelines require load and unload areas for new amusement rides to provide a wheelchair turning space. Where an amusement ride seat designed for transfer or a transfer device is provided, a wheelchair storage space must be provided in or adjacent to the unload area. Amusement parks are permitted to use the same area for accessible loading and unloading. Using the same area for accessible loading and unloading may provide greater wheelchair turning space adjacent to the amusement ride and eliminate the need to move a wheelchair from the load area to the unload area where an amusement ride seat designed for transfer or a transfer device is provided. We assumed providing a wheelchair turning space and a wheelchair storage space would have minimal impact on most new amusement rides. New platform type amusement rides with stepped entrances may need to provide additional space in the load and unload areas. The cost of providing the additional space is $1,175.50 Using the same assumptions as were used for providing an accessible route to the load and unload areas of new platform type amusement rides with stepped entrances, we estimated the total annual cost for 68 of these rides would be $0.08 million.

Amusement Rides: Wheelchair Access and Transfer Access

The final guidelines allow designers and operators to decide which of three types of access is appropriate for new amusement rides: a wheelchair space, an amusement ride seat designed for transfer, or a transfer device. A wheelchair space may be appropriate for less dynamic amusement rides with wider bases. An amusement ride seat designed for transfer may be appropriate where the ride seat is between 14 inches and 24 inches above the load and unload surface, allowing an individual to transfer directly from a wheelchair to the ride seat. A transfer device may be appropriate where the ride seat is outside the range for an amusement ride seat designed for transfer, and an individual needs something to facilitate the transfer from a wheelchair to the ride seat. A transfer device may be an integral part of the amusement ride such as a sill of the ride vehicle, or a separate piece of equipment such as a lift or a transfer platform and transfer steps. The seat of the transfer device must be between 14 inches and 24 inches above the load and unload surface. As manufacturers design new amusement rides, they will consider the feasability of incorporating wheelchair spaces and amusement ride seats designed for transfer into the new designs. The cost of incorporating accessibility into the design of a new amusement ride will be reflected in the cost of the ride. Many new amusement rides are manufactured from existing designs and it may not be feasible to modify those designs. For those new amusement rides, a transfer device may be appropriate.

For purposes of estimating the costs of providing access to new amusement rides, we assumed a transfer device would be provided for all new amusement rides. Several transfer devices have been developed for other applications and may be adapted for amusement rides.

  • Transfer system for swimming pools. This device consists of a platform 16 to 18 inches above the pool deck that allows users to transfer from their wheelchair to a transfer platform and lower themselves into a pool by a series of transfer steps. A device with 7 transfer steps for use with a 4 feet deep pool costs $2,600. A device for use with an amusement ride would not need as many transfer steps.
  • Lift for spas. This device can be used with above ground spas. It has 180 degree rotation and can clear a 42 inch high wall. It costs $2,000.
  • Mechanized seat for airplane boarding. This device has a hydraulic system that can raise or lower the seat from heights between 18 inches to 28.5 inches above the floor. It costs $1,500.

The amusement ride industry is innovative and will develop appropriate transfer devices for new amusement rides. The development costs may be incurred by amusement ride manufacturers or other industries that develop the transfer devices and sell them to the amusement parks, and will be reflected in the cost of the product. For the purposes of this assessment, we estimated the transfer devices would cost $5,000, and the total annual cost for 343 new amusement rides would be $1.7 million.

Signs

The final guidelines require a sign at the entrance of the queue or waiting line for each new amusement ride indicating the type of access provided (e.g. wheelchair access, transfer access). Where an accessible unload area also serves as the accessible load area, the sign must indicate the location of the accessible unload area. The cost of providing a sign is $100 per ride, and the total cost for 343 new amusement rides per year is $0.03 million.

4.5 Alterations Impacts

The alterations impacts are minimal. A modification to an existing amusement ride is considered an alteration only if the ride’s structural or operational characteristics are changed to the extent that the ride’s performance differs from that specified by the manufacturer or the original design criteria; or if the load and unload area of the ride is newly designed and constructed. Amusement parks that relocate existing amusement rides at their facility, or purchase used amusement rides would have to comply with the final guidelines only if one of these conditions is met.

4.6 Total Costs

For amusement rides, the total annual compliance costs are $2.5 million. See Table 4.7.

Table 4.7 - Annual Compliance Costs for New Rides

Item New Rides Per Year Cost (millions)
Load and Unload Area: Accessible Route 68 $0.73
Load and Unload Area: Wheelchair Turning and Wheelchair Storage Space 68 $0.08
Transfer Devices 343 $1.70
Signs 343 $0.03
Total $2.5 million