2016 Fact Sheet
Morgan’s Wonderland is one of many highly visible initiatives of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation to promote inclusion and to help those with special needs. Encompassing 25 acres, the unique, colorful, safe and affordable theme park offers fun for all ages and abilities. It’s located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive in what once was a quarry.
Non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland is the very first theme park of its kind. Now in its seventh season, the park has welcomed more than a million guests from all 50 states and 65 other countries. Admission for those with special needs is free; admission fees for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public are nominal.
VacationHomeRentals.com, an affiliate of Trip Advisor, has named Morgan’s Wonderland the “best family attraction” in Texas, and TripAdvisor itself has ranked Morgan’s Wonderland in the top 25 theme parks in the U.S., the only non-profit to achieve this lofty recognition.
The guiding principle for Morgan’s Wonderland is inclusion. “Morgan’s Wonderland is a special place where anyone can have fun,” says Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, “but it was created with special-needs individuals in mind. Morgan’s Wonderland is just like any other theme park except for the added benefit of a culture and environment that assures 100 percent enjoyment by everyone who enters through our Welcome Center. Unfortunately, countless children and adults with special needs do not have access to facilities that can help them fully enjoy outdoor recreation. We truly believe Morgan’s Wonderland is beginning to change that.”
History and Background
In 2005, Hartman sold his successful homebuilding business to establish The Foundation so he and his wife, Maggie, could pursue their dream of helping children and adults with special needs. Their devotion to this cause is inspired by their 22-year-old daughter, Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite physical and cognitive challenges sparked within the Hartmans a deep desire to create Morgan’s Wonderland, a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers, friends and the general public. Morgan’s Wonderland opened March 3, 2010, and celebrated its grand opening April 10, 2010, with NBA legend David Robinson and actress Eva Longoria as special guests.
Completely wheelchair-accessible, the $34 million park features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre catch-and-release fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-event center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
2016 at Morgan’s Wonderland
Joining the Morgan’s Wonderland family of wheelchair-accessible rides is Whirling Wonder, a five-and-a-half-story-high Ferris wheel that’s festooned with lights and visible at night from nearby IH 35.
Morgan’s Wonderland will continue to collaborate with its neighbor and partner – the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teleton USA (CRIT) – in offering families whose children are undergoing treatment a recreational and therapeutic outlet. See page 4 of this fact sheet for more information. .
Leading an expanded 2016 entertainment lineup is the “Wonder Squad,” four Morgan’s Wonderland super heroes – Morgan, Rocket, X-Ray and Jette – who don’t let their physical or cognitive special needs hold them back. Instead, the costumed Wonder Squad shows how disabilities can become “super abilities” as they interact with park guests. The phenomenal four also is available for community appearances throughout South Texas upon request via the Morgan’s Wonderland website.
Butterfly mascot Joy makes appearances at Morgan’s Wonderland and at community events. The multi-colored costumed character eagerly interacts with guests and poses for photos. Butterfly theming throughout the park reminds guests that – just like butterflies – individuals with and without special needs can emerge from their “cocoons” and soar to new heights of achievement.
“Hartman’s House” is a new interactive puppet show that focuses on a young boy with special needs and his family. Each episode presents the characters and audience with a challenging situation; together, they use imagination and inspiration to make each circumstance a celebration of inclusion.
Morgan’s Advocates is a newly formed support group that generates additional revenue for programs at Morgan’s Wonderland and The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland. Click here to learn more.
Educational Field Trips for elementary school students constitute an extension of the classroom. Each activity and lesson is based on the corresponding, state-mandated TEKS requirements. Classes can qualify for either the park’s group admission rate or a grant-funded admission rate. The Morgan’s Wonderland website contains specifics.
On the first and third Fridays of each month, the Moms’ Coffee and Conversation group (dads are welcome, too) enables moms to gather for coffee and make new friends while their children have fun in the park. On the second and fourth Fridays of each month, Senior Friday offers senior citizens discounted admissions and the opportunity to enjoy the park’s many amenities in the interest of recreation and fitness.
Morgan’s Wonderland works closely with Cub Scouts in helping them complete achievements, requirements and electives, and the park proudly serves as a Girl Scouts Community Partner. All scouts who visit the park with their groups receive complimentary Morgan’s Wonderland patches.
2016 Special Events
For added guest enjoyment, Morgan’s Wonderland offers special events all season long. These include:
- March 11-20 – Daily operation and special activities for spring break.
- March 19 – Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt in cooperation with KSLR Radio.
- April 29 – World Wish Day sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- May 21 (Armed Forces Day) – Welcome Home event for veterans sponsored by South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
- July 4 – 4th of July Salute to the military and first responders.
- Sept. 24 – Free to Soar Gala fundraiser benefitting Morgan’s Wonderland and The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland.
- Oct. 31 – More Delightful Than Frightful Halloween benefit for the San Antonio Food Bank in cooperation with Rotary Clubs in Greater San Antonio.
- Friday and Saturday evenings from Nov. 25 through Dec. 10, plus Dec. 16-23 – “A Wonderland Christmas,” colorful lights, seasonal decorations and special holiday entertainment.
Group Special Events
Morgan’s Wonderland regularly hosts group events such as corporate gatherings, club and organization get-togethers, banquets, galas, parties, proms, seminars and training sessions, receptions, dinners, weddings, quinceañeras and reunions, to name a few. Among several group-event spaces at Morgan’s Wonderland, the Event Center can accommodate sit-down meal functions for up to 500, and the entire park and all its attractions can be reserved for very large groups. Information about group special events and park buyouts is available here.
Morgan’s Wonderland is the center of a family fun destination now known as Wonderland, Texas. The former Longhorn Quarry is also the location of The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a school for students with special needs next door to the theme park; Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park due for completion in spring 2017; and the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teleton USA (CRIT USA).
The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland
The Academy, which opened in August 2011, is a unique, non-profit learning environment that enables students from ages 12 to 24 to reach their maximum individual potential. In addition to academic instruction, The Academy focuses on equipping students with life skills that will help them become productive adults. Since The Academy is located next door to Morgan’s Wonderland, students get to take their physical-fitness classes in a theme park! Visit www.MorgansWonderland.academy for more info.
Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA
A relative newcomer to Wonderland, Texas is the CRIT (Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA), or CRIT USA, a non-profit rehabilitation center for children who are born with or who have suffered neurological, muscular or skeletal disorders and injuries. TeletonUSA is an extension of Mexico’s Teleton Foundation that has successfully constructed, opened and operated 21 CRITs throughout that country. Located next to Morgan’s Wonderland, CRIT USA is the first such center in the U. S. It’s an $18.5-million, state-of-the-art, outpatient medical facility that’s currently welcoming patients from Texas and 40 other states. The 45,000-square-foot CRIT USA opened in November 2014.
Morgan’s Wonderland has partnered with CRIT USA to offer additional rehabilitation opportunities for patients and a recreational outlet for families whose children are undergoing treatment. Typical physical therapy sessions make use of outdoor playground equipment and other attractions at Morgan’s Wonderland. For more information, visit www.CRITUSA.org.
STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports)
Thanks to generous donors, STRAPS now offers athletes of all ages with physical disabilities the opportunity for sports competition in eight programs – wheelchair soccer, powerchair soccer, Paralympic soccer, goalball (a sport similar to soccer for visually impaired athletes), wheelchair football, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair softball and Boccia. STRAPS is already a recognized community partner of the United States Olympic Committee (Paralympic Division) as a U. S. Paralympic Sports Club. STRAPS athletes pursue scholarships to play Paralympic sports in college and membership on Paralympic national teams. Additional information can be found at www.STRAPSsports.com.
How Interested Individuals Can Help Morgan’s Wonderland and/or The Academy
Make a tax-deductive donation to Morgan’s Wonderland or The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland; serve as a park volunteer; schedule a special event at Morgan’s Wonderland; tell family and friends and thus help spread the word about Morgan’s Wonderland and Wonderland, Texas.