I had heard about this water park that opened for kiddos with special needs, but didn’t know the back story. So wanted to share their story on my site because it turns out the water park was inspired and created by a father who has a daughter with special needs. The water park is inclusive for people with all abilities, and it is next to a theme park that is accessible to all individuals as well!
Above is a photo of one of the rides at Morgan’s Inspiration Island. Click photo to find out more about the ride.
Highlights from a People Magazine article:
When Gordon Hartman watched his then-12-year-old daughter, Morgan, have trouble making friends in a swimming pool during a family vacation, he was heartbroken.
The incident led Hartman to search for a public space where Morgan, who is on the autism spectrum and experiences a cognitive delay, could play with others who knew how to interact with her. Hartman soon realized such a place didn’t exist.
Hartman is the founder of Morgan’s Wonderland, an ultra-accessible theme park in San Antonio, Texas, where people with or without disabilities can play together. It’s a place of total inclusion — a park where there are no barriers from keeping anyone from playing with each other.
“It’s a park for 100 percent of the people, not one for 90 or 80 percent of them, it’s for everybody, no matter how acute their special need may be,” Hartman tells PEOPLE. “That’s what my dream was.”
Among many attractions, Morgan’s Wonderland includes a fully-accessible train, playground, and Ferris wheel. The water park features a wheelchair-accessible river ride and areas with warm water to help those with muscular conditions. The park also provides special wrist bands that can track the whereabouts of visitors, which is handy for those with autism, who are often considered flight risks.
Morgan’s Wonderland has had more than a million visitors since it opened, and one-third of its staff includes people with special needs. Admission is free for anyone with a mental or physical disability. But the parks are funded through donations, and Hartman says they operate at a loss — losing about $1 million a year — and they largely depend on fundraising.