Morgan's Wonderland

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Morgan's Wonderland
Morgan's Wonderland Logo.jpg
Morgans Wounderland Entrance.jpg
Entrance of Morgan's Wonderland
Slogan Where Everyone Can Play
Location San Antonio, Texas, USA
Coordinates 29°32′20″N 98°23′31″W / 29.539°N 98.392°W / 29.539; -98.392Coordinates: 29°32′20″N 98°23′31″W / 29.539°N 98.392°W / 29.539; -98.392
Opened March 3, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-03-03)
Visitors per annum 500,000
Area 25 acres (0.10 km2)[1]
Website www.morganswonderland.com

Morgan’s Wonderland is a 25-acre non-profit theme park in San Antonio, Texas for guests of all ages and abilities. The ultra-accessible park, which opened in spring 2010 on the site of the former Longhorn Quarry, was developed by Gordon Hartman, a former home-builder from San Antonio; his daughter, Morgan, now 24, who deals with cognitive and physical challenges, inspired creation of the park.

Morgan’s Wonderland is the first theme park of its kind in the world, and has welcomed more than a million guests from all 50 states and 71 other countries.[1] Completely wheelchair-accessible, the $34 million park features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre catch-and-release fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-event center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.

The organization’s mission statement is: “To provide a safe, clean and beautiful environment free of physical and economic barriers that all individuals – regardless of age, special need or disability – can come to and enjoy,” and is often accompanied by the motto, “Where Everyone Can Play!”

Admission for guests with special needs is free; and admission fees for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public are nominal.

History[edit]

In 2005, Hartman sold his successful home-building business to establish The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation so he and his wife, Maggie, could pursue their dream of helping children and adults with special needs.

During a family vacation, Morgan wanted to play with kids tossing a ball in a hotel swimming pool, but when she approached them, they abruptly took their ball and vanished. “I’ll never forget the look of anguish and dismay on Morgan’s face, so I decided there had to be a way to bridge the gap of misunderstanding about people with special needs. That incident was the tipping point for Morgan’s Wonderland and ultimately Morgan’s Inspiration Island,” Hartman said. [2]

On March 3, 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland opened, followed by a grand opening celebration on April 10, 2010, with NBA legend David Robinson and actress Eva Longoria as special guests.

On June 17, 2017, Morgan's Wonderland unveiled a major addition -- Morgan's Inspiration Island splash park.

Because of the emphases on inclusion, the two parks have earned national and international acclaim. In 2017, the World Waterpark Association bestowed its Leading Edge Award on Morgan's Inspiration Island for ultra-accessible design and revolutionary waterproof wheelchairs. Morgan's Wonderland was proclaimed "Park of the Year" at the 2017 Golden Ticket Awards presented by Amusement Today, a publication covering the international theme parks and amusements industry. Both parks received the 2018 Barrier-Free America Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization headquartered in Washington, D. C. In August of 2018, Morgan's Inspiration Island was named one of "The World's Greatest Places" courtesy of TIME Magazine. [3]

Attractions[edit]

The Off Road Adventure Ride

Rides custom-designed to accommodate wheelchair riders means that every family member can enjoy the fun. Adapted rides include the Wonderland Express train, with a half-mile of track that wraps around the park’s scenic lake; the Off-Road Adventure, where guests can test their driving skills in sporty all-terrain-type vehicles; the Whirling Wonder™ Ferris wheel, with a dozen brightly colored gondolas that rise up to 5 ½ stories high for panoramic views of the park; and a carousel, offering all kinds of horses and other animals ready to be ridden. The latter sits flush with the ground and has “chariots” that move up and down as the carousel turns, giving those in wheelchairs the same sensation as guests riding horses.

At The Wharf that juts out into the lake, guests can captain their own remote-controlled pirate ships or enjoy catch-and-release fishing for catfish or bass. There’s also the Sensory Village™, a cluster of storefronts with activities to encourage imaginative play and stimulate all the senses.

After playing in either of two expansive, shaded playgrounds or on a large variety of swings (including wheelchair swings), guests can enjoy a family picnic at the covered Picnic Place. Families have the option of purchasing snacks and drinks at Morgan’s Wonderland or bringing food with them to the park.

Entertainment[edit]

Interactive performance - 'Adventures of Captain Inclusion'
April 2018 Shakespeare in Wonderland - "As You Like It"

Everyone can play at Morgan's Wonderland, and everyone can enjoy the park's live entertainment, which demonstrates and celebrates inclusion. On select days of operation guests can expect meet-and-greets with park mascots and characters, live-action stage performances, interactive performances, street performers, and more. [4]

In the fall of 2015, Morgan’s Wonderland added The Wonder Squad to their in-park entertainment lineup. Composed of four super-heroes - – accompanied by “super-eye dog,” Uno – The Wonder Squad is known for “turning disabilities into SUPER abilities.”

  • Inspired by the real-life Morgan Hartman, Morgan is the heart of the Wonder Squad. Her cognitive delay is matched by her powers of love and healing. And her emotional gifts let her soar with wings like a butterfly.
  • Rocket has always believed that "just because you can't walk, doesn't mean you can't go wherever you want to go." A mechanical genius, Rocket built his own super-powered wheelchair to get around. He's the fastest on the scene, and his wit's is as quick as his wheels.
  • X-Ray has been blind since birth, but that doesn't stop him from seeing the good in everyone. With the help of his super X-ray goggles and his "super-eye dog," Uno, he's ready to charge into action and save the day.
  • Even with cerebral palsy, Jette has no trouble moving in style (thanks to a fashionable set of jet-powered crutches designed by Rocket). She's the brains of The Wonder Squad, and always tells people to think before they act, because "Every power needs a plan."

GPS adventure band[edit]

Early in the design of Morgan’s Wonderland, the public was asked to identify the most important thing the park should focus on. The number one response was safety. Safety was taken into consideration not only in designing the custom rides and playgrounds, but also in ensuring everyone (including special-needs guests and caregivers) stays within the park boundaries.

Thus, Morgan’s Wonderland uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology within each of its GPS Adventure Bands and its Location Stations. Each arriving guest is offered the option to wear a GPS Adventure Band; each band has a unique identification number that’s electronically assigned to the guest and his or her group. Scanning the band at either of the two Location Stations in the park displays the exact real-time location of each group member. [5]

The band also enables guests to take part in electronic activities. For example, scanning the band at the Auto Shop in the Sensory Village will enable a guest to use a finger to “paint” an onscreen vehicle and forward the finished graphic to an email address. Similarly, scanning the band at the Off-Road Adventure will result in the taking and sending of a photo of riders in a vehicle to the guest’s email

Sponsorships[edit]

Toyota Plaza in Morgan's Wonderland

On Aug. 28, 2012, Toyota was named presenting sponsor of Morgan’s Wonderland. Toyota shares a keen interest with Morgan’s Wonderland in helping people with special needs. Various vehicles adapted by Toyota to help physically challenged individuals can be seen on display in the park.

Educational programs[edit]

Each spring and fall, Morgan’s Wonderland hosts more than 8,000 elementary school children from over 130 schools for structured educational field trips that are tailored specifically to state-mandated TEKS requirements.

The park also works closely with Cub Scouts in helping them complete requirements and electives, and it serves as a Girl Scouts Community Partner. All scouts who visit the park with their groups receive complimentary Morgan’s Wonderland patches.

In 2017, Morgan’s Wonderland began The Wonderland Inclusion Tour, a road show that allows the park to spread its mission of inclusion and understanding into the community. Shows include dance parties, interactive puppetry, and anti-bullying presentations.

Wonderland, Texas[edit]

Morgan’s Wonderland is the anchor of a destination called Wonderland, Texas, which exists primarily for fun as well as helping the special-needs community. Other elements include The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a school for students with special needs; the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teletón USA (CRIT USA), a therapeutic center for youngsters with physical challenges; and Morgan’s Inspiration Island. Wonderland, Texas is also the home of STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports), which provides sports competition for athletes with disabilities and special needs.

The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland[edit]

In spring 2011, a group of families and friends met with the Hartmans to share dreams for their children with special needs. The group’s goal was to create a school in which every student from age 12 to 24 could reach his or her maximum potential. The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, which opened in August 2011, is the realization of that goal. In addition to academic instruction, The Academy through its Bridge Program focuses on equipping students with life skills that will help them become productive adults. Students directly benefit from their close proximity to Morgan’s Wonderland; they get to take part in physical education sessions at the theme park.

Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teletón USA (CRIT USA)[edit]

New to Wonderland, Texas is the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletónUSA, or CRIT USA, a non-profit rehabilitation center for children who are born with or who have suffered neurological, muscular or skeletal disorders and injuries. Located next to Morgan’s Wonderland, CRIT USA is the first of its kind in the United States. It opened in November 2014 and now serves hundreds of outpatients from coast to coast.

Morgan’s Wonderland has partnered with CRIT USA to offer additional rehabilitation opportunities for patients and a recreational outlet for families whose children are undergoing treatment. Typical physical therapy sessions make use of outdoor playground equipment and other attractions at Morgan’s Wonderland.

STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports)[edit]

Thanks to generous donors, STRAPS offers athletes of all ages with physical disabilities the opportunity for sports competition in eight programs such as wheelchair soccer, wheelchair basketball and goalball (a sport similar to soccer for visually impaired athletes). Veterans wounded in the line of duty who are undergoing treatment at the San Antonio Military Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid at nearby Fort Sam Houston represent some of the many STRAPS athletes who compete at Morgan’s Wonderland on a regular basis.

Morgan's Inspiration Island[edit]

Shipwreck Island
Will's Hang 10 Harbor

On June 17, 2017, Morgan’s Wonderland opened the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park – Morgan’s Inspiration Island. The more than 3-acre attraction enables family members, regardless of age or ability, to cool off and beat the summer heat by splashing and playing together.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island features five tropically themed splash pads. In addition to a fun-filled collection of colorful sea creatures, Rainbow Reef provides heated water for individuals who do not enjoy or who cannot physically tolerate non-heated water. Calypso Cove offers a musical rain garden, while Will's Hang-Ten Harbor has a large, continuous water wave as part of its surfer motif. Shipwreck Island resembles a pirate’s paradise, and Harvey's Hideaway Bay is the site of a giant jungle tree house. Morgan’s Inspiration Island also features an accessible River Boat Adventure ride.

In keeping with the Morgan’s Wonderland mission of inclusion and the desire to enable everyone to play, wheelchair guests that may have previously been unable to enjoy a splash park have the opportunity to privately transfer out of their chairs into unique, waterproof chairs. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy the splash park with their family and friends and not risk damage to their personal wheelchairs. [6]

Guest Using Tilt and Space Chair

Wheelchair Valet[edit]

Equipped with three types of waterproof wheelchairs that fit a variety of heights and sizes, Wheelchair Valet is home to seven ultra-accessible changing rooms, Hoyer lifts, and adult- sized changing tables for guest use. In keeping with the Morgan’s Wonderland mission of inclusion and the desire to enable everyone to play, wheelchair users have the opportunity to transfer into waterproof wheelchairs provided by the park, free of charge. The park also provides complimentary waterproof bags for ventilators and O2 water-collar covers for guests who need to cover tracheas.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island offers tilt and space chairs, manual / rigid chairs, and pneumatic wheelchairs (PneuChair™) – all in multiple sizes, on a first-come, first-served basis. [7]

Debuted at Morgan’s Wonderland on April 7, 2017, The PneuChair™ is a waterproof motorized wheelchair that runs entirely on compressed air. It was developed by the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL). The PneuChair™ allows independent play for guests as an alternative to their electric wheelchair. [8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bates, Claire (4 August 2017). "How one man built a $51m theme park for his daughter". BBC News. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  2. ^ www.ted.com. "You Only Are Disabled in an Environment that Makes You That Way". yout. TEDx Talks. Retrieved 23 July 2018. 
  3. ^ "The World's 100 Greatest Places". time.com. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 
  4. ^ Martin, Deborah. "Morgan's Wonderland Boosts its Entertainment Offerings". San Antonio Express News. Retrieved 24 July 2018. 
  5. ^ Shaw Brown, Genevieve. "World's 1st fully accessible water park opens in Texas". ABC News. Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  6. ^ Villafranca, Omar. "Father creates special water park named after his daughter". CBS Evening news. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Rosenburg, Tina. "A Place to Play, on Wheels or Feet". https://www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 24 July 2018.  External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ "PneuChair Unveiled at Water Park". http://www.herl.pitt.edu. University of Pittsburgh.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]