Call her a catalyst, a spark, an inspiration. Morgan Hartman doesn’t realize it, but her ability to smile through physical and cognitive challenges spurred her parents – Gordon and Maggie Hartman – to do things never before accomplished for individuals with special needs and their families. Morgan not only inspired the creation of a one-of-a-kind theme park but also a unique school and other initiatives benefitting the special-needs community.
The tipping point occurred in 2005 when Gordon observed Morgan wanting to play with other vacationing kids at a hotel swimming pool, but the kids were leery of Morgan and didn’t want to interact with her. Then and there, Gordon resolved to create opportunities and places where those with and without disabilities can come together not only for fun but also for a better understanding of one another. That led to the construction of Morgan’s Wonderland in an abandoned quarry in Northeast San Antonio. It’s apropos that the butterfly is the symbol of this unique theme park; soaring to one success after another is now commonplace.
When it celebrated its grand opening April 10, 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland became the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment. The completely wheelchair-accessible park features more than 25 elements including rides, playgrounds and other colorful attractions. From the very beginning, anyone with a special need has been admitted free of charge, no questions asked.
It is Morgan’s fervent hope that everyone with a special need – young and older, healthy or ailing, introspective or outgoing – will be touched in a very special way by Morgan’s Wonderland: a shrine of inclusion, an oasis of friendship, an unforgettable wonderland…Morgan’s Wonderland!
Native San Antonian Gordon V. Hartman is a philanthropist and former businessman who at the age of 15 started his own landscaping business while attending a local seminary. By age 19, he had saved enough to begin his home-building business, and by age 23, he had started a land development company. Founded in 1983, Gordon Hartman Homes built housing for low- to moderate-income families. Over the next 22 years, Gordon grew his company into the largest locally owned home-building and land development enterprise in San Antonio.
Since 2005, Maggie and Gordon Hartman and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation have committed more than $50 million for the betterment of those with special needs. In 2007, he recognized the tremendous need for fully accessible outdoor recreational facilities, so he made another dream come true – the April 2010 grand opening of Morgan’s Wonderland. Two years later, global automotive giant Toyota, a leader in mobility solutions for drivers with disabilities, opted to become the presenting sponsor of Morgan’s Wonderland under a long-term philanthropic agreement with Gordon.
Vision and Mission
Everyday we work to provide a special place where smiles and laughter lead to wonderful memories with family members, friends and caregivers. We want Morgan’s Wonderland to be a place where the common element of play creates an atmosphere of inclusion for those with and without disabilities, encouraging everyone to gain a greater understanding of one another.
Morgan’s Wonderland is just like any other theme park except for a culture and environment that assures 100 percent enjoyment by every person who enters through the Welcome Center. Unfortunately, countless children and adults with special needs do not have access to facilities that enable them to fully enjoy outdoor recreation. Morgan’s Wonderland has begun to change that.
To provide a safe, clean and beautiful environment free of physical and economic barriers that all individuals – regardless of age, special need or disability – can come to and enjoy.