2019 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 the Longhorn limestone quarry.
Non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland is the very first theme park of its kind. Now in its tenth season, the park has welcomed more than 1.6 million guests from all 50 states and 73 other countries. Admission for those with special needs is free; admission fees for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public are nominal.
Visit www.MorgansWonderland.com for the latest information on operating days, admissions and special events. News releases and high-resolution photos are also available on the website.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island
On June 17, 2017, Morgan’s Wonderland unveiled the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park – Morgan’s Inspiration Island. The $17-million, multi-acre attraction enables family members, regardless of age or ability, to cool off and beat the summer heat by splashing and playing together. Morgan’s Inspiration Island features five tropically-themed splash pads, the River Boat Adventure ride and extensive support facilities.
Guests in wheelchairs that may have previously been unable to visit a splash park have the opportunity to privately transfer out of their chairs into three types of waterproof chairs – one of them the PneuChair™ powered by compressed air and developed by Morgan’s Wonderland in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh. This gives guests the opportunity to enjoy Morgan’s Inspiration Island and not risk damage to their personal, battery-operated wheelchairs.
Recent Awards and Recognition
The World Waterpark Association presented its 2017 Leading Edge Award to Morgan’s Inspiration Island for its unique design and revolutionary waterproof wheelchairs. In addition, readers of USA Today voted Morgan’s Inspiration Island as best new water attraction of 2017 in the paper’s 10Best competition. In September 2018, TIME Magazine named Morgan’s Inspiration Island to its list of 100 World’s Greatest Places. San Antonio Magazine bestowed its 2019 Best of the City Award on Morgan’s Inspiration Island for “Best Theme Park Concept.”
Both Morgan’s Inspiration Island and Morgan’s Wonderland received the 2018 Barrier-Free America Award presented by the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The guiding principle for Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island is inclusion. “These unique parks are special places where anyone can have fun,” says Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, “but they were created with special-needs individuals in mind. Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island are just like other theme parks 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 and Morgan’s Inspiration Island are changing 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 25-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 $36-million park features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-event center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
2019 at Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island
From May 2 through 5, Morgan’s Wonderland will host the Special Olympics Texas 2019 Summer Games. This will mark the Games’ 50th anniversary and the first time the Games will be held in San Antonio. It’s estimated the event will attract as many as 10,000. This includes athletes with special needs from all across the state, coaches, parents, volunteers and spectators. The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation has signed on as presenting sponsor for the 2019 Summer Games.
Morgan’s Wonderland guests will get to enjoy the new Microsoft Experience at Sensory Village, featuring areas with interactive play elements designed to stimulate the senses. Microsoft has updated Sensory Village, which became an instant hit when Morgan’s Wonderland opened in 2010, with the latest in Microsoft Xbox One X technology. The Microsoft Experience includes a unified hub for devices that help make gaming more accessible for gamers with limited mobility, plus Xbox Game Pass providing access to more than 100 games.
Princess Esperanza, newest Ambassador of Friendship and member of the Wonderland Royal Court, will make her debut. Her name in Spanish means “hope,” and she hopes that individuals with autism can find their voices and discover the beauty of inclusion. She will happily greet guests, pose for photos and answer questions about autism. Other members of the Wonderland Royal Court to make their debuts in 2019 include Princess Violet, who also will focus on inclusion; mermaid Princess Makana, whose name means “gift” in Hawaiian, who will welcome guests to Morgan’s Inspiration Island; and Duke Huggington, who will share warmth and hospitality throughout the parks.
Morgan’s Wonderland has gained an international reputation for being ultra-accessible™, or posing no barriers to those with physical or cognitive disabilities, and now that same passion has been incorporated into a major upgrade of the park’s website, www.MorgansWonderland.com. It greatly enhances the ability of guests to locate Morgan’s Wonderland digitally on the Worldwide Web, and improvements now make the site more mobile-friendly.
The Welcome Center, entry point for both Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island, has been expanded to include a new VIP entrance. The reconfiguration is designed to facilitate quicker and smoother entry of guests into the parks. Also, a shop with gifts, souvenirs and snacks has been renovated and enlarged for guests’ convenience.
Morgan’s Wonderland and Broadway Bank of San Antonio have partnered to introduce Banking for a Cause, an opportunity for the community at large to financially support Morgan’s Wonderland and the special-needs community through a checking and debit-card program. Participants will have different options to contribute as well as receive benefits for joining the program.
The Main Street Pavilion on the shoreline of the scenic Morgan’s Wonderland catch-and-release fishing lake has been enclosed, air-conditioned and equipped with audio-visual gear to accommodate birthday parties and other special events for up to 80 guests.
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 5 of this fact sheet for more information.
Community-Based Instruction trips to Morgan’s Wonderland for elementary school students constitute an extension of the classroom. Eleven education stations have been set up around the park, and each lesson or activity is based on the corresponding, state-mandated TEKS requirements. Two new lesson plans developed in conjunction with Region 20, Education Service Center have been added for 2019. Schools can qualify for either the park’s group admission rate or a grant-funded admission rate.
Morgan’s Wonderland will serve as San Antonio headquarters for Best Buddies, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Events during the year will bring together those with and without IDD to make connections and form friendships. For more information, visit www.BestBuddies.org.
Beginning in April, on the first and third Fridays of each month, the Caregiver Coffee and Conversation group (moms, dads, grandparents) offers an opportunity to gather for coffee and make new friends while their children or grandchildren have fun in the park. Also beginning in April, on the second and fourth Fridays of each month, Senior Friday offers senior citizens discounted admissions and the opportunity to enjoy the park in the interest of recreation and fitness.
Morgan’s Wonderland works closely with Scouts in helping them complete requirements for the disability awareness badge, and the park proudly serves as a Girl Scouts Community Partner. All scouts who visit the park with their groups and take part in sensitivity training receive complimentary Morgan’s Wonderland patches.
Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island offer memberships for unlimited admissions to both parks during the 2019 season and other money-saving benefits. Military and senior discounts are available on single-day admissions. Admission details can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.com.
2019 Special Events
For added guest enjoyment, Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island offer special events and activities all season long. These include:
- March 1 – Opening of 2019 season at Morgan’s Wonderland.
- March 11-16 – Daily operation and special entertainment for spring break.
- April 5 – Caregiving Awards dinner and presentation presented by The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation.
- April 20 – Easter Festival.
- April 22 – Texas Cavaliers River Parade as part of Fiesta San Antonio (to benefit Morgan’s Wonderland).
- April 28 – Fiesta Wildflower Ride cycling event benefitting Morgan’s Wonderland.
- May 3-5 – Special Olympics Texas’ 50th Summer Games at Morgan’s Wonderland.
- May 11 – Opening of 2019 season at Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
- May 18 (Armed Forces Day) – Welcome Home event for veterans sponsored by South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
- June 10 – “Sheriff for a Day” in cooperation with Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
- July 4 – 4th of July Salute to the military and first responders.
- Sept. 21 – Free to Soar Gala fundraiser benefitting Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
- Oct. 31 – More Delightful Than Frightful Halloween benefit for the San Antonio Food Bank in cooperation with Rotary Clubs in Greater San Antonio.
- Nov. 29 – Opening of 2019 “A Wonderland Christmas,” colorful lights, seasonal decorations and special holiday entertainment on select evenings through Dec. 23. (The Shakespeare in Wonderland ensemble will present “Much Ado About Nothing” to kick off the holiday celebration.)
Group Special Events
Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island regularly host group events such as corporate gatherings, banquets, galas, seminars, fundraisers and training sessions, 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. Either or both Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island can be reserved for very large groups. Information about group special events and park buyouts is available at (210) 637-3447.
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; and the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teleton USA (CRIT USA).
The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland
In 2011, The Academy began offering academic and life-skills training to young people with special needs. This school, which has benefitted hundreds of students, will continue operating until June 2019. Then, in the future as plans become final, an announcement will be made about another cutting-edge venture that can assist literally thousands of children and adults with special needs. For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderland.academy.
Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletónUSA
The CRIT (Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletónUSA), or CRIT USA, is a non-profit rehabilitation center for children who are born with or who have suffered neurological, muscular or skeletal disorders and injuries. TeletónUSA 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 Para Sports)
Thanks to generous donors, STRAPS now offers athletes of all ages with physical disabilities the opportunity for sports competition in 12 programs – wheelchair soccer, powerchair soccer, Paralympic soccer, goalball (a sport developed for individuals with visual impairments), wheelchair football, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair softball, Boccia, track and field, sit volleyball, wheelchair rugby and adaptive crossfit. STRAPS is already a recognized community partner of the United States Olympic Committee (Paralympic Division) as a U. S. Paralympic Sports Club. STRAPS athletes strive to improve their quality of life through adaptive and Paralympic-style sports. They also 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
Make a tax-deductible donation; serve as a park volunteer; schedule a special event at Morgan’s Wonderland or Morgan’s Inspiration Island; tell family and friends and thus help spread the word about Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island and Wonderland, Texas.