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Segways @ DCA by Jonathan

So a few weeks ago I got the unique opportunity to take a test tour of Disney's California Adventure on a Segway. Yes I said Segway, and yes I said ago. It is supposedly modeled after the EPCOT one but I haven't been on that so I can't draw any direct comparisons. The introduction presentation (PowerPoint) was obviously from there as it still had the EPCOT logo. [**Geek's Note: We have taken the Around the World @ EPCOT twice. Click here to read the geek's review **]

First off, upon arrival at I believe 6 in the morning (might have been 7 or 8 but I can't remember - point is, it was really early for a Saturday) we were led to a lounge where they had a demo Segway and a PowerPoint presentation. They gave us an introductory talk about how the Segway works, safety and all that good stuff you'd expect to get before being handed the keys to a $4000 machine. When this was finished, we walked over to that round sort of area by the water in DCA across from the Boardwalk. There they had 11 Segways leaning up against the rails, one for each participant and one for the tour guide. They positioned us in the "swim lanes" they had created with tape on the ground and they began handing the machines over to us. They held our hand (figuratively) as we learned to maneuver the machines then they had us to some follow the leader stuff around cones, in and out of cones, etc. Additionally they simulated overhead objects for us to dodge and showed us how to dismount and walk our Segway over unstable ground conditions. At this point, we were ready to begin the tour.
Keep in mind this was extremely early in the morning so the park was not yet open and work crews were still painting, cleaning, and doing whatever it is that work crews do. I'd like to think they were installing magic but hey I'm a Disney Geek (obviously). We were told that the finalized tour would also take place in an unopened DCA. We rolled along, still getting used to the Segway and started off going through some of the wilderness trails (not sure what they are called). Basically at each section of the park the guide would stop us and give us a little speech. For the most part he simply described the rides and the areas of the park but every once in a while he would impart some interesting factoid such as the early edition Wizard of Oz book in the lobby of the Hollywood Tower of Terror or the fact that the guest book there has the signatures of the Imagineers who made the ride. We continued through each portion of the park, wind in our helmets, with the occasional stop to listen to the guide. At one point we made a stop by the entrance of the park so that we could show off our newfound riding skills and wave to the patrons waiting to enter the park. We took a restroom break over in a Bug's Life then continued on our way. When we got to the boardwalk, we were allowed a good 10-15 minutes to just ride around on the Boardwalk doing whatever we wanted. I tried to get on some rides with the Segway but apparently they are for people only (I didn't really).

Our tour was coming to an end. We got back to where we started and they had a photographer there to take some group pictures, one of which I included (bad quality and all compliments of my MacBook iSight instead of a flatbed scanner). We were then led on a couple more follow the leader runs and then sadly the tour was over. We drove our Segways backstage where we handed over our keys (they had to have security pry them from my hands). Walking back towards the entrance of DCA, the first entrants into the now open park were scurrying past us to be the first on the rides. We had a discussion about what we thought of the tour and were given DCA Segway Tour pins (photo included)... too bad I don't collect pins.

The whole experience was great. What a great chance to ride a Segway, visit the park, visit the park when it's closed, and wear a silly helmet. Our tour guide and instructors were all extremely kind and enthusiastic. Not at our guide's fault, but I was a bit disappointed at the actual "tour" part of the experience. It was targeted more towards introducing the participant to the park and I needed no introduction. I would have enjoyed more factoids or Hidden Mickey discovery or something like that. However we were told that the tour is not set yet and that they are contemplating two different tours. One for introducing the park and one for people like me (and I'm guessing you, if you are on disneygeek.com). I'd give the whole thing two Mouseketeer ears up (three if I had an extra). The final tour would also have a permanent indoor location for Segway training. Assuming the tour gets picked up, which I'm guessing it will, I would definitely check it out despite the obnoxiously early start time.



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