Entrance of Morgan's Wonderland
|Slogan||Where Everyone Can Play|
|Location||San Antonio, Texas, USA|
|Area||25 acres (0.10 km2)|
Morgan's Wonderland is a 25-acre, ultra-accessible theme park in San Antonio, Texas, that was designed with special-needs individuals of all ages in mind and built to be enjoyed by everyone. The park, which celebrated its grand opening in April 2010, was developed by philanthropist Gordon Hartman, a former homebuilder who -- along with his wife, Maggie -- decided to devote their energies to help the special-needs community. Their daughter Morgan, who deals daily with physical and cognitive challenges, inspired the creation of Morgan's Wonderland.
The completely wheelchair-accessible theme park offers more than 25 rides, playscapes, gardens and other attractions. It includes a carousel, Off-Road Adventure SUV ride and miniature train that travels almost a mile around the park's eight-acre catch-and-release fishing lake. The carousel sits flush with the ground and has "chariots" in which wheelchairs can be secured and move up and down as the carousel goes round and round. There are traditional and adaptive swings, and there's the Sensory Village consisting of storefronts (auto repair shop, grocery store, theater, TV station, etc.) that stimulate the senses and encourage interactive play.
Generally speaking, Morgan's Wonderland is open on various days from March through December, and anyone with a cognitive or physical challenge is admitted free of charge. The park also has outlets for snacks and beverages, however guests are permitted to bring their own food and eat in the shaded comfort of the Picnic Place.
Also in 2010, Hartman opened the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex adjacent to Morgan's Wonderland. This 75-acre facility hosts practices, league play and tournaments for teams across Texas. He also launched Soccer for a Cause, a grassroots effort to establish pro soccer in San Antonio that led to the creation of the San Antonio Scorpions. The Scorpions began North American Soccer League play in spring 2012 and, a year later, moved into their new home -- 8,000-seat Toyota Field.
All net profits from STAR Soccer, the Scorpions and Toyota Field go to non-profit Morgan's Wonderland to help defray operating expenses as well as expand programs for the special-needs community. Hartman, who as owner of the Scorpions does not benefit financially from the team or stadium, announced that Soccer for a Cause raised almost $700,000 during the 2013 season. This unique business model utilizing pro soccer to generate financial support for those with special needs is a first in the world of professional sports.
In August 2012, global automotive giant Toyota not only announced its presenting sponsorship of Toyota Field, which can host concerts and special events as well as athletic competitions, but also became presenting sponsor of Morgan's Wonderland under a long-term philanthropic agreement.
Another outgrowth of Morgan's Wonderland is Monarch Academy, a school for students with special needs that Hartman opened in August 2011. It's a unique learning environment next to the theme park that enables students from ages 12 to 24 to reach their maximum individual potential.
Hartman also has played a key role in facilitating the construction of CRIT (Centro de Rehabilitacion Infantil Teleton) Texas, a $17 million clinic close to Morgan's Wonderland serving children with physical challenges, autism and cancer. Modeled after successful CRITs in Mexico, Central American and South America, CRIT Texas is the first CRIT rehabilitation center to be built in the U. S. This joint venture of the Teleton USA Foundation and Univision Communications is scheduled to open in fall 2014.
More information about Morgan's Wonderland is available at www.MorgansWonderland.com.
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