Parenthood
Dad builds massive $35 million theme park so kids with special needs like daughter can feel included
It broke dad's heart when he and his family were on a family vacation and he noticed his daughter, Morgan, struggling to make friends at the pool. So he came up with a solution: he'd build Morgan her very own all-inclusive theme park.
Cherie Gozon
05.23.22

Nothing could ever compare to a parent’s love. They would do anything and everything to provide for our basic needs and even more.

For parents who have children with special needs, giving them the best life that they deserve comes with many challenges. No matter how you provide them with their needs, the world could be harsh on them, and that’s beyond your control.

Unsplash - Nathan Anderson
Source:
Unsplash - Nathan Anderson

Here’s a story of how Gordon Hartman went to all lengths to make sure his daughter, Morgan, would enjoy life the best way possible.

Gordon’s love for Morgan

Morgan was twelve years old when Gordon realized that the world could be too harsh for children like her. She is on the autism spectrum with cognitive delay, but she is the sweetest and most friendly child to those who know how to interact with her.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

They were on a family vacation when he saw Morgan having difficulty making friends in the pool. All the other kids in the people didn’t know how to act around her. This broke Gordon’s heart and sparked a calling in him.

The dream of inclusivity

Gordon looked for other public parks and recreational spaces that would cater to children with special needs. He soon found out that there’s no such place, even from the international perspective. His frustration was the fire he needed.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

He sold his homebuilding business to have enough funds to start what he dreamed for Morgan. He consulted with engineers, architects, designers, and potential investors to create something monumental: Morgan’s Wonderland.

Welcome to Morgan’s Wonderland

Gordon and his team came up with Morgan’s Wonderland, an all-accessible theme park where people can play and have fun together. Situated in San Antonio, Texas, the park is open to everything with or without disabilities.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Children and adults with special needs can enjoy all the fun rides and games for free. All rides are also wheelchair-accessible, so even those with limited mobility can enjoy them.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Gordon’s dream was to create a safe space for everything to interact and enjoy each other’s company without any barriers. He made that dream come true not only for Morgan but for thousands of kids who might find this place a breath of fresh air.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island

Morgan’s Wonderland was a huge success, and because of that, other investors and nonprofit organizations thought it deserved an expansion to cater to more families. That’s when they built Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a fully-accessible water park.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Just like Morgan’s Wonderland, the rides are wheelchair-friendly. There’s also a place for warm water baths to help those with muscular conditions.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

Another inspiring thing about both recreational parks is that one-third of their staff are those with special needs.

At a loss but winning

Gordon said that the theme parks are funded only through donations. He said that they operate at a million-dollar loss per year and are hoping that more donations would come in so they can serve the public better.

YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - Inside Edition

But despite that, we know they are winning in life.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Cherie Gozon
hi@sbly.com
Cherie Gozon is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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