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New Segway tour gives guests unique views of Epcot

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I took my first-ever ride on a Segway through the crowds at Epcot this week, and I have to say, the prospect was a little daunting. I mean, how many guests can you clip before they expel you from the theme park?

Rest assured, though, that safety is a top priority at Walt Disney World, so cast members are not going to allow you to do anything too risky.

I was signed up to take Epcot's new "Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream Segway Tour," which debuted on Sept. 17. This guided tour starts in Future World and then covers most of World Showcase in the three-hour experience. Beginning Sept. 28, times for the three-hour experience shift because of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; you may start at 7:45, 8:30 and 9 a.m.

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My fellow travelers and I met at Guest Relations inside the park, where we checked in, signed a waiver and were asked to select from two breakfast options, which would be ready for us after our training. The offerings include a full breakfast platter or lighter fare with a pastry and fruit, plus a beverage of your choice. I was very happy to see plenty of caffeinated options for my morning commute.

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Afterward, it was time to head over to Innoventions West for our training. The seven of us first were fitted with helmets, and we listened to a cast member explain the basic operations of the Segway. Then, we had to face the thrill (or our fears, depending on how you look at it) and get on the two-wheeled vehicles.

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The Segways really are not complicated to operate, but you do have to get used to balancing on a moving platform, which at first is harder than it looks. You ride forward by pressing your toes down and leaning your whole body ahead, and you stop by leaning back on your heels. (When you book this tour, the reservationist will tell you to wear flat-bottom shoes.)

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Epcot's Segways are programmed to only go 6 miles per hour, so you're not going to be racing the monorail, but you still can get hurt if you're not paying full attention and remaining balanced. For this reason, guests riding on Segways are not allowed to have anything in their hands, such as cameras or cell phones, or any purses, backpacks or fanny packs on their bodies. There is a pouch attached to the front of the Segway where guests are asked to put such items, and the weight limit for them is 10 pounds.

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During the practice session, we learned to propel ourselves backward and forward, go up and down ramps, duck under drooping tree branches, and even complete an obstacle course with cones. Not one of us fell off the Segways or crashed them into anything. Off to a good start!

Next, our tour guide led our parade of Segways out into Epcot and over to The Land pavilion for breakfast. It was exhilarating and at the same time nerve-wracking. Remember the first time you drove a car, and you worried about everything that could go wrong? I just knew some little princess was going to jump in front of my Segway and I wouldn't be able to stop in time. Of course, that never happened because the two guides with our group helped warn guests about our approach.

We rode our Segways "backstage" and parked by the door to The Land that is near the restrooms on the ground floor. We were taken to a reserved seating area and served the breakfasts we ordered. At first, I hoped we could skip the breakfast so we would have more time to ride, but I realized that after the practice, our legs and feet already were a bit stiff and sore and we needed a break. The previous Epcot tour did not include breakfast, though the price was the same.

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About forty minutes later, our guide gave us headsets and we got ready to tour World Showcase. The headsets are another new addition and really worked well. They were small enough to be unobtrusive and they allowed the participants even at the back of the line to hear the guide. The tour itself takes about an hour, beginning at the Mexico pavilion and traveling around to Canada. The guide points out interesting historical facts and details about Walt Disney's plans for each country in World Showcase. In addition, the tour is designed to allow riders to test their newfound skills with such activities as "slaloming" through the columns in Italy, navigating the winding path through the miniature village in Germany and circling through The American Adventure gardens.

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The guide takes everyone to one location for a quick stop and will take photos of guests on their Segways, if they wish. All too soon, it's time to return to Innoventions West and park the Segways.

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"Keep Moving Forward: See the World, Share the Dream Segway Tour" is $99 plus tax. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members will receive a 15 percent discount and Disney Visa Card members get a 20 percent discount.

This Segway tour is limited to those 16 and older. (Guardians must be present for ages 16 and 17.) Participants also must weigh between 100 and 250 pounds and are required to sign a waiver. To book, call (407) WDW-TOUR (939-8687).


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Comments (10)

Guest1:

Are the helmets actually necessary? They're actually only standing about 6" off of the ground. Can people not walk/run without helmets? Our society is really getting litigious.

mbarron:

Thanks for the update on the newest version of the epcot segway tour. My husband and I did the early morning tour in September of 2011 (minus the breakfast that was not included last year) and we had a great time. The guides were helpful and informative and I would highly recommend this tour to guests of all ages.

David:

Probably a bit early for this, but would love to hear from anyone who took both this and the previous version to see if there are any major differences between the two tours other than breakfast. Took the old tour last year - would definitely do another segway tour but if it's basically identical, I might do a different one.

KRISTIN: Besides the addition of breakfast, the tour now uses headsets and stops in almost all of the countries. Previously, riders only stopped in a handful of the countries. Guests I rode with who had done the old tour said they really liked this one better.

Jeffrey Beauchamp:

To Guest 1: You're probably one of those people who would never wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or buckle their seat belt in a car. It's not litigious, it's common sense. Six feet is plenty far enough to suffer a severe head injury if you fall. Use your head . . . wisely!

Carol Pollard:

We took this tour Sept. 19 and loved it!! The training was sufficient and our tour guide was very knowledgable. Thought we would spend more time on the Segways, but actually the time spent was enough, our feet were starting to ache. The next day we took the Segway tour that is offered at Fort Wilderness campground. Another wonderful experience!! I would recommend both of these tours.

Adam August:

Can a rider with only one (right) hand operate a Segway?

Jay:

Were they distributing the exclusive tour pins? Thanks!

KRISTIN: Yes, but they were not in yet and are being mailed to participants.

Cara Richards:

In reply to the comment above questioning the use of helmets, I would say they are most definitely necessary. My hubby and I did this tour a few years ago and we have a guest on the tour who took a nasty tumble from the Segway and literally propelled themselves through the air, landing very heavily on the concrete. I think he could have very well injured himself quite badly had he not been wearing the helmet!

Cindy Hershey:

We have done both of the tours and prefer the original for time and new for content. The breakfast, for us, was a waste of 45+ minutes of the 3 hours the tour lasted. Having the chance to ride Segways is the best part of the tour. I always come away wanting one - my feet and ankles say no way.

My husband and I are in two of your pictures. I'm in black and he's in white in the two training photos

It was great to meet you at the meet and greet.

KRISTIN: What a coincidence! Great to meet you, too. :)

Cindy Hershey:

That is my husband (in yellow) and me (in black) in the two training pictures!

We enjoyed both the original for time and the new for content. The 45+ minutes we spent on the breakfast part of the tour was a waste for us. With breakfast, the amount of time on the Segways was about the same as the original tour. The time would have been better spent riding the Segways. We did enjoy the little bit of added content for some of the countries that weren't really covered in the original tour.

Finally, kudos to Allears.Net for being more current on info for this tour than Disney Dining and the Platinum itinerary planners. I knew they were both wrong because Allears.Net is never wrong, but they assured me they were right.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2012 7:13 AM.

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