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O


pened in April 2010, Morgan’s Wonderland was designed to be accessible free by all special needs individuals


and to be enjoyed by everyone. Featuring 25 rides and attractions, the US$35m (£22m, E27m), 25-acre theme park in San Antonio, Texas, US, has attracted more than 300,000 guests from all 50 states and 40 other countries. One family even moved from California to Texas so that they could bring their family to the park on a regular basis. And it’s all thanks to a girl named Morgan.


It was seeing his daughter


Morgan, who has cognitive delay, struggling to interact with other children on a family holiday that gave Gordon Hartman the determination to create an attraction everyone could enjoy together. “It wasn’t that these children didn’t want to play with her,” Hartman recalls. “But Morgan has a hard time with some forms of communication at times and was unable to convey her desire to join in. The children didn’t know how to respond, as they’d never played with someone with special needs. Morgan, who’s now 19, has an incredible attitude and a very upbeat approach to life and it’s a shame not everyone gets to enjoy that.” Hartman’s vision was an ultra- accessible family fun park, aptly called Morgan’s Wonderland, which would welcome all, regardless of their abilities, and integrate special needs people with able bodied visitors to eliminate any awkwardness or stigmas that may exist. Such a park had never been created


Gordon Hartman’s vision is now a reality www.leisurehandbook.com


before, so Hartman set out to convince people that it was needed and also that it needed funding.


(Above)


Morgan Hartman, who has cognitive delay, inspired her father Gordon to create a theme park that all people can access and enjoy (top)


SOAR His fi rst step was to put in $1m (£623,500, E765,500) to get the process started. “I’d been in the home building and land development business for 23 years and had the opportunity to sell all my companies. This gave me the means and the time to focus all my energy on creating a park for Morgan and people like her,” he says. Next, Hartman set up Sports Outdoor And Recreation (SOAR) Park, Inc, a non- profi t organisation, and acquired more than 100 acres in an abandoned limestone quarry on San Antonio’s north-east side.


LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014 153


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