A small moment at a hotel pool changed Gordon Hartman's life forever. The businessman was vacationing with his family, and his daughter Morgan was enjoying the pool with some other children. While Morgan lives with physical and cognitive challenges, she was always a bright, happy child. So Hartman was upset to see other children in the pool avoiding her, and acting nervous around her.
Then and there, Hartman says he decided that to create a place for children with mental, physical and developmental disabilities to play and connect with each other.
His dream came true in 2010 with the opening of Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, the world's first "ultra-accessible" theme park.
Like any other amusement park, Morgan's wonderland has rides, attractions, games and entertainment. But unlike pretty much every other park, all of Morgan's Wonderland is wheelchair accessible. The park is designed to be inclusive, but built to be fun for everyone.
Even better, since the park opened any child with "special needs" has been given free admission - no questions asked. Over the years, the park has become a great place for children who are often excluded from the fun of an amusement park trip to have fun and just be kids.
Now, the park is getting even better with the addition of a specially-designed water park.
Click to learn about all of the water park's cool features!
Hartman and the staff at Morgan's Wonderland take their jobs very seriously, so they made sure that their new water park - named Morgan's Inspiration Island, in honor of Hartman's daughter - doesn't cut any corners. Park staff consulted with a team of doctors, educators, parents and developmental disability experts design a park where everyone is welcome.
The new section has a tropical-themed layout, and features a huge 7-story lighthouse and an 8-acre catch-and-release fishing pond.
The park also features some impressive high-tech safety measures.
Visitors receive radio-frequency wristbands, which lets parents track their children anywhere in the park. One of the new attractions, Rainbow Reef, also features warmer water, because some children are sensitive to cold temperatures.
Guests can also exchange their fragile and expensive high-tech wheelchairs for specially designed "PneuChairs" that use compressed air. That way, parents won't stress about damaging the chairs.
Morgan's Inspiration Island has already opened, but if you want to visit book in advance, because the park limits visitors to prevent attractions from feeling crowded.
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