Morgan’s Wonderland: A Theme Park Like No Other

Mom and dad play with their toddler, who has Down syndrome.

What Is Morgan’s Wonderland?

In addition to being a photographer, I am also a mom to two amazing kids with special needs. So I was thrilled when I first learned about Morgan’s Wonderland. It is the world’s first ultra-accessible theme park designed with people with special needs in mind. We have been there a few times now. The park hosts the annual Christmas party for the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas. Our little guys are still tiny and aren’t yet able to take full advantage of the park, but all of our kids love going. And I’m especially grateful we have this resource as our twins grow.

A Theme Park Like No Other

Morgan’s Wonderland is a theme park like no other. We are so lucky to have it right here in San Antonio! It’s a place where kids and adults with special needs can go and have fun without worrying about any limitations.

Gordon Hartman opened Morgan’s Wonderland in 2010. He saw his own daughter Morgan, who has a cognitive and physical disability, struggle to find a place to play, and she was his inspiration. Morgan’s Wonderland is not any ordinary theme park; it’s a place where people with disabilities can feel included and where they can enjoy rides and activities that were once thought impossible. The park is fully wheelchair accessible, and all the rides and attractions are designed with people of all abilities and mind. They have even created a waterproof wheelchair that allows people to go on water rides and have fun in the park’s splash pads. They offer unique features like Braille signage, a 3-D park model, and a service-animal rest area to make the park fun and accessible to guests who have hearing loss and visual impairments.

Identical twins with Down syndrome sit on their dad's lap and smile at the camera. Morgan's Wonderland is a great resource for special needs families in South Texas.

A Wonderland of Things To Do

The park has a wide range of activities and attractions. They have traditional theme park rides like a Ferris wheel and roller coaster. They have sensory experiences like a butterfly playground and music garden, as well as a whole Sensory Village. There is an accessible train that takes visitors on a tour of the park. There is also a fully accessible carousel that includes wheelchair seating. They even have wheelchair swings.  They also have three food shops and a gift shop.

Inclusive Programming at Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan’s Wonderland also offers a variety of programming designed specifically for visitors with special needs. For example, the park closes to the general public to hold a sensory-friendly day every month. They adjust the park’s lighting and sound effects to create a more welcoming environment for visitors with sensory issues.

A teenage girl who is a member of the DSASTX poses in San Antonio. Morgan's Wonderland hosts the DSASTX Christmas Party each year.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island

The park is also home to Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a fully accessible waterpark that opened in 2017. Morgan’s Inspiration Island is designed to be accessible to people of all abilities. Everyone can enjoy a variety of water rides and activities. TIME Magazine even named Inspiration Island on their 2018 “World’s Greatest Places” list..

Not surprisingly, the park has received numerous awards and recognition for it’s innovative design and dedication to creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. But I don’t really care about all that. I’m just so excited that we have this phenomenal resource right here in our own city. And I hope to see the park’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility serve as a model for future parks around the country.

The Best News Yet

Here’s the best part: admission to Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island is ALWAYS FREE to guests with special needs. How amazing is that? It’s also free for kids under age 2, and they have a variety of season pass and membership options, as well as single day tickets.

If you’re a special needs family and feel like family pictures just aren’t in the cards for you, come talk to me! I’m a special-needs-friendly, inclusive photographer. Different abilities don’t freak me out! We CAN capture beautiful, love-filled images of your family, and I’d be honored to get to help you through the process.

Interested in learning about some other places to spend a fun day in San Antonio? Check out a few round-up posts:

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