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THEME PARKS


The rides are built to ensure that everyone can enjoy them together; (Above) all activities are accessible to people in wheelchairs


The desire to make the project happen meant that from Hartman’s original idea to opening took only 39 months, despite the complications of creating something new. “If we ever ran into a problem, the desire to overcome the obstacle was so strong that it was never really an issue – we overcame every problem,” says Hartman.


THE RIDES One such problem could have been building the theme park itself and creating the rides. To avoid this, Hartman bypassed conventional theme park consultants, in case they tried to convince him to build a standard park and retrofit it, and instead hired people who weren’t biased in any direction of how things should be done. “None of our business acquaintances, contractors, manufacturers or vendors had experience in this, but they wanted to get involved,” says Hartman. “Everything we created was being made for the first time. We knew we’d make mistakes as we were trying new things and were prepared


156 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


to keep trying until we got it right.” Three rides were custom-designed for the park by Chance Rides and a lot of time went into ensuring they looked like regular rides, as opposed to rides for people with special needs. The carousel is sunk into the ground so that people in wheelchairs can access it. The wheelchair is secured to a platform, themed like a dragon to match the other animals on the carousel, which goes up and down so that person gets the same motion and experience as the people going round on the horses. Benches have been suspended between the centre of some animals, which, again, go up and down, so people who aren’t able to climb onto a horse are still able to have just the same experience. On all rides, lights flicker before they


start to indicate to people who are hearing impaired that motion is about to begin. For the visually impaired, a tannoy announcement counts down to the start of the ride so guests can anticipate the movement as it starts.


Suggestions of a rollercoaster were instantly rejected. “There’s no way I can design a rollercoaster that goes upside down and is going to be safe for every one of my special needs guests,” explains Hartman. “At Morgan’s Wonderland, every ride in our park can be experienced by everybody. I’m not going to put something in here that excludes some of our guests.” Rather than requesting a patent on the rides, Hartman is keen for Chance Rides to replicate them: “The company now has a new product which enables wheelchairs to be put on any carousel. The next time anyone’s building a carousel, anywhere in the world, Chance Rides can ask if they want one that’s wheelchair accessible. We’re trying to push this out to all parks.”


ADMISSION PRICES Admission to Morgan’s Wonderland is free for guests with special needs. For others, admission fees are minimal. As a result, the park doesn’t make money – in fact it loses money, which is why the revenue


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