Amusement Park for People with Disabilities

Jun 10, 2011
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Located in San Antonio, Texas, Morgan’s Wonderland is the first of its’ kind. It is the first and only amusement park designed for people with disabilities – both children and adults. Named after founder Gordon Hartman’s daughter (who has an intellectual disability), Morgan’s Wonderland aims to offer everything any guest might enjoy at a theme park, while also appealing to non-disabled visitors.

Morgan’s Wonderland is a 25-acre park that has devoted specific details for people with physical or mental disabilities, down to jungle gyms wide enough to fit two wheelchairs side-by-side, a “Sensory Village” that’s an indoor mall of touch-and-hear activities, and daily attendance limits -so the park never gets too loud or lines too long. The park has 20 attractions from active (Butterfly Playground) to easygoing (a train circling a mile-long loop through the park and around a lake). The park also features an ideal place for children with autism – the Sitting Garden.

Park admission is free for people with disabilities, and adults accompanying them are $10. Guests are given an electronic wristband that allows families and caregivers to keep tabs on their group in the park, and scanning the wristbands on some rides emails a free photo back home. Three out of every four visitors do not have disabilities.

Some of Morgan’s Wonderland Attractions:
-Sensory Village is a mechanic’s shop with tools mounted to a low table. A light touch of the drill triggers the crank-like sound of a bolt driving flush into an engine block. Next door is a pretend supermarket with plastic lobsters, ears of corn and cans of tuna, and cashiers who always hand back the right amount of invisible change.

-The most interactive attraction is a low-lit space with a touch-sensitive floor, giving the illusion of walking across a pond as the water ripples and colors burst with every step. White canvases on the walls, meanwhile, transform into butterflies chasing a shadow anytime someone steps in front of the projector.

-Sprouting from the sandboxes are “diggers” — think shovels and rakes — that can be operated sitting down from a wheelchair. Another nearby sandbox is elevated 4 ½ feet, next to a musical garden of giant xylophones and chimes. The chariots on the carousel are reserved for wheelchairs, and many of the horses are fitted with high back cushions for children who need the support.

The motto of Morgan’s Wonderland is even “Where Everyone Can Play.” Inclusion was important to Hartman, who on a family trip a few years ago, saw his daughter Morgan wanting to play with three kids tossing a ball in a pool but couldn’t interact. The kids, just as unsure how to interact with Morgan, stopped playing.

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Author: Jenny Carlton