The world's first amusement park for people with disabilities opened in Texas - ForumDaily
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The world's first amusement park for people with disabilities opened in Texas

Morgan's Wonderland, San Antonio, Texas, is the world's first ultra-accessible and fully inclusive theme park, reports USAToday.

People enjoy the ride on a carousel during a sunny afternoon

Photo: iStock.com/Nikada

“We made sure the park was thoughtful and functional for everyone, so guests with special needs could enjoy it just like everyone else,” the founder said Morgan's Wonderland Gordon Hartman. Read about the best amusement parks in the USA in our article.

For example, Morgan's Wonderland has the Rocket's Sky Flight Adventure. It includes a boarding area for guests who need to transfer from wheelchairs to specially designed seats with seat belts. These straps can support guests who lack upper body control. There is space for hanging oxygen cylinders near the seats. The attraction is equipped with a very smooth braking system. How to buy tickets with discounts to amusement parks, see our material.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in four adults in the United States has some degree of disability.

History of Morgan's Wonderland

The concept for Morgan's Wonderland is inspired by an incident the park's founder witnessed during a family vacation in 2006.

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Morgan, Hartman's 12-year-old daughter, has a rare condition called Tatton-Brown-Rahman syndrome. The National Institutes of Health describes it as overgrowth and mental retardation syndrome.

“One of the consequences of the disease in her particular case is the cognitive level. It corresponds to the development of a 4-5 year old child,” Hartman explained.

They were relaxing by the pool when Morgan noticed children playing with a ball nearby.

“My daughter just hit the ball. These kids, very good kids, grabbed the ball and got out of the pool very quickly,” Hartman recalled that story. “They were scared because they didn’t understand why Morgan came up to them silently, why she didn’t say, ‘Hey guys, I just want to play.’” She couldn't express her thoughts in words. Hitting the ball was her way of saying, 'Can I come with you?'"

Hartman sold his successful real estate empire and decided to devote the second part of his career to serving people with special needs.

“I started thinking, well, why don’t we create a place where people with and without special needs can come together and play in an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable?” - he remarked.

Morgan's Wonderland is not just for the disabled

Only about 20% of the park's guests have a disability, like Emma Rodriguez's daughter Melanie.

“Our six-year-old girl has a lot of sensory issues due to autism. She is afraid of many things. Park officials are doing a lot of customizing the site to make it family-friendly, Rodriguez said. “Even the little things are very well thought out.” This place is suitable for everyone.”


There is one additional benefit for park guests. According to Hartman, this is a “learning opportunity.”

“People usually don’t understand how children with autism behave, what breakdowns they have,” Rodriguez emphasized. “They perceive such a child as capricious, that he is simply being raised incorrectly, and he must cope with it. But here in the park you can see children not only with Down syndrome, but also with physical disabilities and other types of disabilities.”

Selya Santillan-Masse brought her 2-year-old daughter Petra to Morgan's Wonderland for exactly this reason.

“I want her to get this experience of communicating with other people, with children with special needs, so that she understands that there are other people, that this is not bad and not strange. I wanted her to understand: they are different, and I am different, and here we are having fun,” admitted Selya.

Prices at Morgan's Wonderland

One day input at Morgan's Wonderland it costs $24 for most guests ages 14 to 61. For children 3-13 years old and adults over 61 years old - $16.

In addition, a package rate is available for access to Morgan's Wonderland and the adjacent water park.
Admission to both locations is free for guests with special needs.

“That’s been our policy from the beginning because we don’t want the price of admission to become an economic barrier,” Hartman argued.

“Morgan is one of the lucky ones because she has doctors, she has a therapist. She has loving parents and a home in which she can live. She has everything for a comfortable life. It's really the exception rather than the rule when it comes to people with special needs,” he said. “Everyone should have such opportunities.”

How many attractions are there in Morgan's Wonderland?

Morgan's Wonderland features more than 25 ultra-accessible attractions, play areas and interactive elements.

The zipline is the only attraction that requires guests to transfer from wheelchairs. On other rides they can ride in their strollers, such as the Ferris wheel and the train ride. They have access to the new 4-D cinema.

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“It used to be that when someone was in a wheelchair, they would just sit and watch others have fun,” Hartman said. “We asked a company that makes 4-D cinemas to work with us on improvements. We were able to put the wheelchair on the platform. Now all people have the opportunity to fully have fun.”

Morgan's Wonderland contribution

Since the park opened in 2010, many attraction manufacturers, theme park representatives and organizations have turned to Morgan's Wonderland for advice on accessibility and inclusion issues.

In addition to the amusement park and water park, Morgan's Wonderland has opened a camp, a sports complex and a Multidisciplinary Care Center. Experts are working to open an outpatient surgery center, a special needs care facility, a fitness center and an institute.

The company plans to open its first fully inclusive hotel in the coming years. In addition, negotiations are underway to open a second park.

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