Get a Sneak Peek Inside the First Water Park for Special Needs Kids

Morgan’s Inspiration Island will open to all in spring 2017.

Morgan's Wonderland

The former businessman and philanthropist Gordon Hartman was on vacation with his family when he had the idea. He noticed that the three other children at the hotel pool were avoiding Morgan, his only daughter, who has cognitive and physical challenges. He wondered: What if there were a place to play that was accessible and fun for people of all abilities?

That was in 2005. In 2010, Hartman opened Morgan’s Wonderland in Wonderland, Texas, an amusement park that hosts fully accessible rides and complete wheelchair access. And this week, Hartman announced an expansion: the world’s first fully accessible water park.

The $9.9 million, 4-acre attraction, called Morgan’s Inspiration Island, will include a river boat adventure ride and five water play areas. Every part of the park will be wheelchair-accessible, Hartman says, and visitors will be offered waterproof wristbands with tracking technology, so that parents can keep tabs on their kids as they enjoy the rides. The water will also be temperature controlled, so that children with sensitive skin can still play.

"Shipwreck Island", via Morgan's Wonderland

“Those who have special needs and those who don’t have special needs would join together and play,” Hartman said at the water park’s unveiling event Tuesday. “But those who may have a special need, whether it be physical or cognitive, will be able to enjoy every element of this park. There will be no limitations.”

Hartman and his team have worked with medical specialists and therapists to design the water park’s elements, and the businessman reports he is collaborating with university researchers to develop specialized waterproof wheelchairs.

"River Boat Adventure", via Morgan's Wonderland

“Our guests in expensive motorized wheelchairs can’t afford to get them wet,” Hartman explained in a statement, “so we’re planning on having special Morgan’s Inspiration Island wheelchairs available along with spacious private areas where guests can be lifted out of their wheelchairs into our waterproof wheelchairs.”

"Calypso Cove", via Morgan's Wonderland

The San Antonio Express-News reports Morgan’s Wonderland hosted more than 500,000 guests from all 50 states and 50 countries in its first five years of operation.

via Jason S Campbell / Twitter

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