Day #12: Give with Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, TX

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were an amusement park for children with special needs? A park where kids with cognitive disabilities, orthopedic impairments, developmental delays, autism, cerebral palsy, down-syndrome, and seizure disorders could play and go on rides…just like any other child.

There is such a place…a remarkable place…a magical place where dreams come true. Nestled just outside of San Antonio, Morgan’s Wonderland is about to enters its second season. Tim & I (and the girls) toured the park this morning – and we came away misty-eyed and motivated.

We also met Gordon Hartman, the founder of the park. His humility and passion for the project seemed evident as we shook hands. Gordon named the park after his daughter Morgan (now age 17). Funding for Morgan’s Wonderland began with an initial gift of $1 million from Gordon and Maggie Hartman in love and admiration for Morgan. As a non-profit, the park also receives donations from organizations and individuals.

The best thing about the park is that it is exceptionally well-designed. The 25-acre park has a strong Disney-like atmosphere with a number of attractions and activities, including a wonderland express train ride, a carousel, a butterfly playground, an off-road adventure ride, and SO MUCH more. ALL of the attractions are wheelchair accessible, even the swings!

The park is designed to be inclusive so that all kids will love it. Our girls were definitely captivated by the park. If we were local to the area, I think we’d take them there often. To give them a super fun place to play AND to teach them how to interact with people who live life differently.

Morgan’s Wonderland is the first park of its kind in the world specifically designed for the recreation and enjoyment of individuals with special needs. And guess what? Admission is FREE for special needs friends…and only $10 for people accompanying a special needs individual. General admission is $15 (little ones 2 and under are free).

You might think that the low price of admission is indicative of the quality of the park…but the opposite is actually true. The park is a masterpiece – well-thought-out, beautiful to behold, and a “wonder” on so many levels.

Our family walked all over downtown San Antonio today. We went on a boat ride along the River Walk, explored museums, and dined at the top of the Tower of Americas. But the truth? None of those things could hold a candle to Morgan’s Wonderland. The power of the park’s mission and the grandiosity with which it is carried out is exceptional.

Have we convinced you to visit yet? We certainly hope so. Thus far, the park has received visitors from 45 states and 9 countries (and it’s only in its 1st season!).

One last thing – the park needs 100,000 volunteer hours annually. If you live in or around San Antonio (or if you will be vacationing/wintering in the area), we encourage you to visit the park for yourself. You’ll want to be a part of it – we’re pretty sure of that.

Have you visited Morgan’s Wonderland? If so, what was your experience like?

Comments

  1. This place looks and sounds incredible!! I worked with special needs children for a few years, and would have loved taking them somewhere like this. It is a wonderful thing that your family is bringing attention to such worthy causes.

  2. I have not visited Morgan’s Wonderland, but I heard about it on KLOVE (the radio station) last year and was blown away by their mission. I LOVE that this park has been created and that they have made it specifically for people with special needs. What an amazing gift and experience!

  3. What an inspiring post! The photos really bring it to life! I’ll pass this along to all my friends in San Antonio.

    As an FYI, Mara Kaplan does a great job of gathering information on accessible playgrounds on her site, http://www.accessibleplayground.net/?page_id=155 — at the top, you can see the directory of parks by state.

  4. I just saw this playground on the news, and I was blown away. The swings that are wheelchair-accessible are awesome! I wish I lived closer to San Antonio. What a wonderful place to volunteer!

  5. Vicarious Chelsea says:

    Ah-mazing!
    I wish I lived nearby to help with those volunteer hours that they need! What a beautiful concept (and a shame there aren’t more)!

    • I agree! One of the first questions that I asked was – “Are there plans to expand and make other parks throughout the country?”

      Our tour guide said that the founder was pretty busy with the current park since it is so new, but that there are many interested individuals/groups who have expressed interest in doing something similar.

  6. This is marvelous!!! Thanks for telling us about it!

  7. Have you heard of Morgan's Wonderland (@MorgansWndrlnd)? It's an amusement park for people w/ special needs. http://bit.ly/dPCppc

  8. Janelle - The Opinionated Mama says:

    How neat! I had no idea something like this existed! What did you guys do there? Are you “giving” by telling their story? I think this is all amazing!

    • The park was actually closed when we visited. It officially opens for its second season on March 4th.

      We gave by hearing the story and passing it on. We’re learning that’s a very powerful way to give (and a doable way when you have two little ones in tow!).

  9. That is so cool! It reminds me of a camp that I worked at with a college group one time. It was a summer camp style place, but totally for kids with disabilities. All the paths were level and paved, all the cabins where completely wheelchair accessible, etc. When you stop and think about it there are really a lot of things that are hard for kids who aren’t able bodied to do. :(
    Yay for this place!

  10. I just found your blog – WOW! You are like minded people… Jesus lovers!

    We have adopted 11 children … some of whom have special needs. If we ever make it to TX, we plan on visiting this park! Thanks for blogging about it :) I’ll be watching to see if you ever make it to MI … the snow should melt soon! LOL!

    Blessings,
    Kim

    • We’re so glad you found our blog (and we just discovered yours as a result). What a beautiful family you have – 11 children loved beyond measure because of your bravery. Thank you for the example that you are.

  11. Great idea! What kinds of things did your family do while volunteering?

  12. Wow! This place looks amazing! So as not to forget to come back and comment later, I’ll leave a quick one now. This place has me totally inspired. I know a lot of kids andtheir families who could really benefit from visits there. I will have to work on making some serious connections. Thanks guys!

  13. What an Awesome Place! I don’t have much “influence” but this is definitely a post I’ll be sharing and a place I will remember.

  14. I am so excited to hear about this place. I am an amusement park fanatic and am so happy to hear that now there is a park that can bring joy and happiness to kids with disabilities. Thank you for sharing their story. I will pass it along to my FB friends.

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