This year I fulfilled a dream and finally visited Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio Texas. Sadly, it was for a work trip, so I didn’t have the joy of seeing Braeden enjoying the facilities, but it was exciting to see many families accessing the world’s first Ultra Accessible Theme Park. Morgan’s Wonderland is one of the best examples of how one person can gather a community to contribute to building something that is truly inclusive and accessible. I am thrilled to finally bring you a review of Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island. Sit back, take a read and prepare to be wowed.
The world’s most accessible theme park – Morgan’s Wonderland
Morgan’s Wonderland is the creation of Gordon and Maggie Hartman and came about after they witnessed their own daughter Morgan, who lives with both physical and cognitive disabilities, being excluded from a game when their family was on a holiday/vacation. Gordon had the idea of building a theme park where everyone could play and be included and the seed for Morgan’s Wonderland was planted. Thanks to consultation with the San Antonio community the design for Morgan’s Wonderland has taken into consideration a range of disabilities and needs. It is this consultation and an understanding that no one size fits all that has made Morgan’s so accessible.
Morgan’s Wonderland boasts 25 wheelchair accessible rides and when I say wheelchair accessible, I mean that the ride has been adapted so a wheelchair user can remain in their chair and experience the ride as others do. A fantastic example of this is the carousel which is fitted with unique mechanics that allow a wheelchair user to experience the rise and fall of the carousel as a person would if able to ride one of the horses.
The Whirling Wonder Ferris Wheel wheel offers a carriage which can accommodate a wheelchair user. There is a size test carriage before the ride so guests can see if the dimensions of the carriage can accommodate their wheelchair.
Even when it comes to going on safari, wheelchair users can remain in their own chair.
Where there was an obstacle to inclusion, Gordon and his team found a solution to ensure that families could enjoy every ride together.
Morgan’s Wonderland offers a range of swings and a playground with wheelchair access.
Sand tables, water play and even diggers are positioned to ensure children of all abilities can play side-by-side in an accessible environment.
When I headed indoors at Morgan’s Wonderland I found plenty of quieter activities including adaptive switch gaming, sensory activities and tactile walls.
Role play is available in the grocery store where guests can shop and scan items as either a customer or a store assistant.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island
Morgan’s Wonderland was a success and gained attention around the world for its inclusive elements but perhaps even more impressive was the expansion of the park to include an extensive water park, Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
This is where my mind was blown. As the parent of a son with a disability I know how tough it can be to access water play without a water wheelchair.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island doesn’t only include manual wheelchairs but specially designed pneumatic wheelchairs that allow power wheelchair users the opportunity to be independent and power around the water play areas.
Wheelchair valets are on hand to greet guests and assist with finding the appropriate equipment to ensure access to the water park is possible for all.
The range of equipment on offer is dazzling with the walls of the storage room filled with side laterals, neck and lateral beaded support cushioning and harnesses.
All of these can be added to the various water wheelchairs to make them more supportive and comfortable for the user.
Multiple change rooms fitted with an adult-size change table with hoist are available for guests visiting Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
For guests who need a warmer experience there is a warm water water park at Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
Many children, and adults, enjoy the anticipation of the water barrel at a water park filling above them before dumping its contents as it fills to overflowing and tipping. At Morgan’s Inspiration Island the water bucket has been fitted with a bell which rings so guests with a visual impairment are aware of the imminent water dump.
My visit to Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island was a highlight of my time in San Antonio, Texas. For years I’d watched videos on Facebook and Instagram of families enjoying the facilities but seeing it in action for myself beat everything I’d seen. Meeting Gordon Hartman, the man behind the world’s most accessible theme parks, was an absolute delight. It is a reminder of what is possible in this world when a community get behinds a fantastic idea. And the best bit, I hear there is more to come! Stay tuned and follow Morgan’s Wonderland to learn more.
Read more about Morgan’s Wonderland on its website.
I was a guest of Morgan’s Wonderland but as always my opinions are my own and I think the facilities speak for themselves.
MAC – Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland
While in San Antonio, Texas I also had the pleasure of touring the MAC – Multi Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland which offers comprehensive health care facilities for people living with a disability. I was once again wowed by this facility which shows a deep understanding of the challenges and frustrations many people face when navigating the healthcare system with their loved one with a disability. It’s worth a read to see what healthcare can look like and how many of the challenges can be mitigated with a different way of caring. You can read my review of the MAC in this blog.