On June 17, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a brand-new three-acre water park, opened in San Antonio, Texas. Though from far away it looks just like any other water park, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is groundbreaking for an important reason. The park has been carefully designed so that everyone can enjoy it.
Calling itself a “park of inclusion,” Morgan’s Inspiration Island is completely accessible to people with disabilities—and it’s the first water park like that in the world. The attractions, which include Rainbow Reef, Shipwreck Island, and even a boat ride, are all wheelchair-accessible. Though people of all ages and abilities are welcome, the park offers free admission to anyone with a disability.
The water park is an extension of Morgan’s Wonderland, a 25-acre accessible theme park. Both parks were founded by Gordon and Maggie Hartman. Their daughter, Morgan, has special needs, and they were concerned by how inaccessible many theme parks were for her. So they set out to create a park of their own, one where people of all ages and abilities could play and interact. Morgan’s Wonderland opened in 2010, and its huge success encouraged the Hartmans to add a water attraction. Before the water park’s official opening, the Hartmans invited members of the disabled community to try out the park and offer feedback. Teaming up with doctors, theme park experts, and special education teachers, they’ve created a seriously groundbreaking experience.
And it’s not just the concept that’s revolutionary—much of the technology is, too. The University of Pittsburgh helped create an innovative new wheelchair specifically for the park. Called the “PneuChair,” it is air-powered, lighter than battery-powered wheelchairs, and water-resistant. To accommodate guests sensitive to the cold, the park has a feature that quickly warms up the water temperature. And the park is conservation-conscious as well, filtering and recycling the water it uses.
Now that the park is open, Gordon Hartman hopes that Morgan’s Inspiration Island will live up to its name by “[inspiring] guests to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities.”
Extracted from Reader’s Digest