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?
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