Learn About Morgan’s Wonderland and Its Wheelchair-Friendly Rides

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There are hundreds of different attractions that tourists and locals can visit in Texas, and while there are some that have already become very popular due to it being a part of the state’s history and culture, there are a few attractions that are gaining traction in recent years. One of these relatively new attractions in Texas is Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park that was founded in 2010 in San Antonio, Texas.

What’s interesting about this theme is that it is accessible to disabled individuals, which means that they get to go inside the park for free. Here are the things you need to know more about Morgan’s Wonderland and its accessibility-focused rides.

Gordon Hartman’s Inspiration for Morgan Wonderland

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Morgan Wonderland was the idea of Gordon Hartman, who once owned a homebuilding business but decided to sell it in 2005 to establish The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which is a non-profit organization run by Hartman and his wife. This specific foundation aims to aid children with special needs. Hartman personally knows how difficult it is to get help and assistance for those children, as his own child, who is named Morgan, also has special needs.

According to Hartman, he became inspired to build an accessibility-focused theme park when she saw her daughter Morgan approaching a group of kids playing with a ball in a hotel’s swimming pool. When Morgan approached the group, the kids immediately took their ball and never played with her. It was at that moment that Hartman felt that kids would often misunderstand people with special needs.

In order for kids (and even some adults) to understand those with special needs more, Hartman decided to create a theme park that enables people with and without special needs to bond and enjoy various rides and attractions.

Morgan’s Wonderland officially opened on March 3, 2010, and during its opening, Hartman presented popular actress Eva Longoria and NBA legend David Robinson as special guests. Since then, the park has already attracted more than two million guests not only in Texas and the United States but also in other countries around the world. [1] Because of the success of Morgan’s Wonderland in its first two years of operations, Toyota partnered with the park to become its long-term sponsor.

The Popular Rides and Attractions at Morgan’s Wonderland

In Morgan’s Wonderland, you will find plenty of rides and attractions that are accessible to all, including kids with special needs. Here are some of the best rides and attractions that you can check out at Morgan’s Wonderland.

Ultra-Accessible Carousel

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This 36-foot-in-diameter carousel features not only the usual horse statues that kids can ride on but also special chariots that can be ridden by kids and adults that use wheelchairs. While there are some carousels in other theme parks that have chariots, what makes the chariot of Morgan’s Wonderland different is that it moves up and down like the horse statues too. People that are sensitive to lights may also enjoy this carousel, as the ride doesn’t have too many brightly colored lights that can cause discomfort to their eyes. [2]

Butterfly Playground

The Butterfly Playground is specially designed to provide an accessible play place for children with disabilities and special needs. In this playground, you will find wheel-chair accessible playscapes, sensory panels, elevated puzzles, and more. There are also four types of swings found in the playground, and these are the molded bucket seat, wheelchair swings, seated swings, and tire swings.

Wonderland Express

Wonderland Express is a train ride that has multiple rail cars with special wheelchair-accessible ramps. The tracks of the train ride go around the 8-acre lake within Morgan’s Wonderland. The 8-acre lake is actually man-made although it is managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife, a department within the Texan government that is responsible for taking care of the theme parks, state parks, and wildlife in the state. [3]

The Wharf

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The Wharf is an accessibility-focused wooden pier that is located near the man-made 8-acre lake. This specific attraction will make guests feel like they are on an actual pier where they can catch and release fish. Besides catch-and-release fishing, The Wharf also features water cannons that can be aimed at targets and benches where you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

Off-Road Adventure

The Off-Road Adventure is a ride wherein kids and adults can hop into a vehicle that follows a track near the carousel. This ride has a built-in ramp at the entrance so that guests in wheelchairs will be able to ride the car. What’s neat about each car in the ride is that it can accommodate up to four people, so families will be able to enjoy the ride together.

Whirling Wonder

One of the most iconic rides at Morgan’s Wonderland is the Whirling Wonder, a colorful Ferris wheel that offers a panoramic view of Morgan’s Wonderland and nearby areas. This Ferris wheel is 46 feet in diameter and was designed and manufactured by Zamperla, an internationally known manufacturer of rides. [4] The Whirling Wonder features 12 gondolas that can accommodate wheelchairs for kids and adults.

Pirate Island

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The Pirate Island, much like The Wharf, is connected to the man-made 8-acre lake inside Morgan’s Wonderland. However, instead of being a simple fishing pier, Pirate Island is a pirate-themed attraction that features pieces and decorations that are fun to play with. In this attraction, you may even see softshell and hardshell turtles just hanging out by the rocks at the edge of the lake.

Water Works

If you want to enjoy more water-related activities, then you can visit Water Works, an attraction within Morgan’s Wonderland that is composed of ten interactive elements, which include pipes, recessed bases, and balls that you can launch in the air with the use of the Water Works’ geysers. Water Works is basically a fountain that can be interacted with, as you can control which geyser you want to use for launching or firing the plastic balls.

Sensory Village

The Sensory Village, as its name already suggests, is an attraction that enables kids and adults to use and stimulate all of their senses for doing various activities. In the Sensory Village, you will find four main areas, the Exploration Rooms (featuring arts and crafts), the Shadow Room (has interactive displays that can be moved), the Microsoft Experience (where kids can learn computer tricks), and the Village Market Grocery Store (filled with faux grocery items).

Starlight Amphitheater

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The Starlight Amphitheater is where many of Morgan’s Wonderland’s interactive performances and showcases are presented. This amphitheater sits along the shore of the man-made lake and it usually showcases family-friendly shows with different themes. There are wheelchair-accessible ramps in the audience area of the amphitheater so that kids and adults with special needs will be able to sit comfortably on the seats or benches. If you have the budget, you can even rent the Starlight Amphitheater as a private event venue for birthday parties, wedding receptions, and more.

Other Areas in Morgan’s Wonderland

Besides the ten rides and attractions that we have mentioned, there are also other areas near Morgan’s Wonderland that are connected to the theme park but offer a different set of attractions. Here are the other areas that you can visit near or in Morgan’s Wonderland.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island

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Morgan’s Inspiration Island is an accessibility-focused splash park. In case you don’t know, a splash park is a type of theme park that features different kinds of swimming pools that feature various designs and themes. The best themed pools that you can find in Morgan’s Inspiration Island are Calypso Cove (a forest-themed pool), Shipwreck Island (a pirate-themed splash pad), River Boat Adventure Ride, and Will’s Hang Ten Harbor (a surf-themed splash pad). Morgan’s Inspiration Island opened on June 17, 2017, and is designed to be accessible for people in wheelchairs or those that have muscular conditions. [5]

Morgan’s Wonderland Sports Complex

The Morgan’s Wonderland Sports Complex opened in 2021 and is supposed to be used for para sports, which are sports that are played by people with special needs or disabilities. The sports complex features football fields and baseball fields that are wheelchair-accessible, as well as basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts that can be used for para sports tournaments or leagues.

Morgan’s Wonderland Camp

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Morgan’s Wonderland Camp opened in 2022 and is designed to be a park and camping site that can serve approximately 500 campers. [6] The camp has an accessible camping program that is suitable for people with special needs that want to experience what an authentic camping experience is like. Besides being a camping site and park, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp is also the location for the San Antonio Food Bank’s kitchen. The San Antonio Food Bank is a non-profit organization that provides food for more than 500 charitable groups and organizations in San Antonio and Southwest Texas.

Multi-Assistance Center

The Multi-Assistance Center or MAC is an area near Morgan’s Wonderland that is built to offer medical services for people with special needs or disabilities. The center was opened on October 2, 2022, and as of its opening, it is offering same-day surgery, dental care, and therapeutic care to its patients. [7]

If you are living in Texas or are planning to visit the state with friends or family members, Morgan’s Wonderland is arguably one of the best places to visit there. If you have a loved one with special needs, then going to the said theme park would be worth it, since it is one of the few theme parks where people with special needs will be able to enjoy all of the rides and attractions.

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