The Story of Morgan's Wonderland
Every day we work to provide an extraordinary 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 while 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 entering the Welcome Center. Unfortunately, countless children and adults with special needs do not have access to facilities that enable them to enjoy outdoor recreation fully. Morgan’s Wonderland is changing that every day.
Call her a catalyst, a spark, an inspiration. Morgan Hartman doesn’t realize it, but her ability to smile through physical and cognitive special needs spurred her parents – Gordon and Maggie Hartman – to do things never before accomplished for individuals with special needs and their families. Morgan inspired the creation of a one-of-a-kind theme park and other initiatives benefiting the inclusive community.
The tipping point occurred in 2006 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 and Maggie resolved to create opportunities and places where those with and without disabilities can come together for fun and better understand 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 on April 10, 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland became the world’s first theme park designed with individuals with special needs 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 sincere hope that everyone with a special need – young and older, healthy or ailing, introspective, or outgoing – will be touched extraordinarily by Morgan’s Wonderland: a shrine of inclusion, an oasis of friendship, an unforgettable wonderland…Morgan’s Wonderland!
Native San Antonian Gordon V. Hartman sold his highly-successful homebuilding business in 2005 to pursue his and wife Maggie’s dream of helping children and adults with special needs. He proceeded to build nonprofit Morgan’s Wonderland, still the world’s first and only Ultra-Accessible™, fully-inclusive theme park.
The phenomenal success of Morgan’s Wonderland – almost 3 million guests from all 50 states and over 120 other countries through park visitation and special events – encouraged Gordon to add award-winning Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Sports complex, year-round Morgan’s Camp and Morgan’s MAC (Multi-Assistance Center). This latest venture involves more than 30 community-based organizations that provide both medical and non-medical services to children and adults with special needs. Morgan’s MAC sets a new standard for delivering coordinated care in an inclusive atmosphere through the guidance and follow-through of specially-educated team members known as Navigators.
All of Gordon’s innovations – and more to come – comprise Morgan’s, the umbrella organization that strategically coordinates planning, fundraising, marketing and communications for all its “family” members. In every endeavor, Gordon emphasizes the importance of inclusion, bringing together those with and without special needs and disabilities for interaction and a better understanding of one another. In addition to his many accomplishments through Morgan’s, Gordon has worked closely with governmental and community leaders on improvements that further add to San Antonio’s growing reputation as “Inclusion City, USA.”
The inspiration for all that Gordon has accomplished is his 30-year-old daughter Morgan, who’s dealt with physical and cognitive special needs since birth. In the beginning, Gordon’s guiding motto was: “Together, we CAN make a difference!” As a result of many successes and lots more to come, that motto now is: “Together, we ARE making a difference!”
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