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First Ultra-Accessible Family Fun Park at Morgan’s Wonderland

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Located on 25 acres in San Antonio and labeled “the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park,” Morgan’s Wonderland looks like any other fantastical fun land for children and adults alike. The key word there, however, is ‘alike’, the meaning of which, according to the dictionary is ‘of or similar to’ and ‘the same’. The patrons that this Shangrila-of-sorts is built for would like nothing more than to be able to experience and enjoy a family vacation the same as everyone else, and in this special-needs-focused, barrier-free fun zone, they can!

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Photo: blueribbonnews.com

Morgan’s Wonderland is the brainchild of Gordon and Maggie Hartman, philanthropists and founders of the theme park and play land designed for those with physical challenges and cognitive delays. Named for their daughter, who herself faces similar challenges, the park is designed with its visitors in mind – a place where everyone, regardless of limitations or barriers can enjoy access, atmosphere and sensory amusement without giving thought to or trying to accommodate a limit or a barrier of any sort. With its more than double-wide wheelchair accessible paths, rides that accommodate support chairs and mechanisms for children and adults, as well as a special “Sensory Village” for family fun inclusive of those that have special needs, the park has been designed with emotional and physical acceptance and access in mind.

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In April 2010, this unique park opened its doors, welcoming more than 500,000 guests from all states as well as 54 countries. Anyone with a special need – for whom the park was designed – was admitted for free and continues to be so. The original vision of establishing a special place where “the common element of play creates an atmosphere of inclusion for those with and without disabilities, encouraging everyone to gain a greater understanding of one another,” has since grown, like many great visions do.

In 2010, STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex was simultaneously opened by the Gordons next door to Morgan’s Wonderland, and since then, the launching of The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a school for students with special needs, has also become a reality. The 75-acre soccer facility hosts practices, league play and tournaments for teams from across the state of Texas and was the springboard for ‘Soccer for a Cause’ – a community-wide effort to bring pro soccer to San Antonio resulting in the city acquiring a franchise in the North American Soccer League (NASL). That franchise (the Scorpions) in 2012, received presenting sponsorship from Toyota for a new stadium complex, who also announced the very same for Morgan’s Wonderland through a long-term philanthropic agreement. Toyota’s sponsorship, together with STAR’s as well as the Scorpions’ net profits assist non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland to meet its operating expenses and expand programming and services for those with special-needs.

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Photo: lunaarchitecture.com

Continually looking ahead, the Gordons are now in the midst of developing plans for the world’s first splash park for special-needs individuals. Similar to Morgan’s Wonderland, this new park is planned to be ultra-accessible and feature tropical-themed water play components for all to enjoy alike; alike, as in, ‘the same’ as everyone else. For more information on Morgan’s Wonderland, please visit their website at www.morganswonderland.com.

References:
www.morganswonderland.com
www.oprah.com