Unique Morgan’s Wonderland Park Welcoming Special-Needs Guests
SAN ANTONIO – The fun has begun at Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park specifically designed with special-needs individuals in mind. The unique and colorful 25-acre park is open as follows until May 28: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Summer hours of operation will be extended.
Admission for special-needs guests is free; admission for accompanying family members and friends is $5 per person. For parties that do not have those with special needs in their group, general admission is $15 per person.
“Morgan’s Wonderland is a special place where anyone can have fun,” said philanthropist Gordon Hartman, president and CEO of the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, “but it was created with special-needs individuals in mind. We’ve taken an abandoned rock quarry in Northeast San Antonio and transformed it into an outdoor recreation oasis for those who suffer from cognitive and physical challenges.
“Unfortunately, countless children and adults with special needs do not have access to facilities that can help them fully enjoy outdoor recreation. We truly hope Morgan’s Wonderland will begin to change that.”
The inspiration for the park came from Hartman’s 16-year-old daughter Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite personal challenges sparked within Hartman a deep desire to create a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers and invited friends. “Inclusion is the overarching objective for Morgan’s Wonderland,” he explained. “Our vision is to play an instrumental role in helping establish more ultra-accessible family fun parks throughout the nation.”
Morgan’s Wonderland, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-events center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
Signature elements include rides that can accommodate wheelchair-bound guests; the Sensory Village™, a cluster of themed spaces such as an auto fix-it shop, grocery store and TV station that offer sensory stimulation through colors, lights, sounds and textures; and the Sand Circle™ play area, where even kids in wheelchairs can scoop up sand and be part of the fun.
In contrast, the nearby Garden Sanctuary offers a quiet retreat in the heart of the park, and its semicircular Memorial Wall will be engraved with names of loved ones with special needs who have passed away.
Other park features include Braille signage, a 3-D park model, 18 ADA-compliant restrooms, a first-aid station, vending machines and seven acres of free parking. The special- events center as well as pavilions and picnic areas can be reserved for birthday parties, family gatherings, fundraisers and other special events.
Morgan’s Wonderland guests are required to pre-register and make a reservation online or by phone before arriving at the park, said Dave Force, general manager. The purpose is to prevent overcrowding and to ensure adequate numbers of staff members and volunteers are on hand to accommodate guests’ needs.
“As our guests arrive, they’re assigned special RFID (radio frequency identification) wristbands,” he added. “Location station monitors are situated throughout the park. By simply scanning his or her wristband, a member of a group can quickly locate others in the group if they become separated. The wristbands not only provide comfort and security against a child getting lost, but they also help guard against the possibility of a child leaving with a stranger or leaving the park alone.”
In 2007, the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation was instrumental in the creation of SOAR (Sports Outdoor And Recreation), a non-profit organization to raise funds for building Morgan’s Wonderland. Construction on the $32 million park began in spring 2009.
Morgan’s Wonderland is part of a larger 106-acre sports venue to encourage inclusive recreation whereby individuals of all abilities can play side-by-side. The nearby STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex offers 14 lighted soccer fields for tournaments, instructional clinics and special events. Proceeds from STAR go to support the operation and maintenance of Morgan’s Wonderland.
Morgan’s Wonderland is located in Northeast San Antonio just off IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderland.com, or call either (210) 495-5888 or toll-free (877) 495-5888.