Kids, water parks and summer just go together. The laughter and the splashing and the fun are a hot-weather staple. But water parks aren't necessarily accessible for people with disabilities.
A new water park, Morgan's Inspiration Island in San Antonio, is designed for people of all ages and abilities. The park sits next to Morgan's Wonderland, a 25-acre fully accessible theme park that opened in 2010.
“Like Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is not a special-needs park; it’s a park of inclusion,” Gordon Hartman, philanthropist and developer behind the park, said in a statement. “Both were designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment.”
There are five water play areas in the park featuring geysers, water cannons, pools, jets, rain trees and buckets that tip over. There's also a River Boat Adventure ride that takes visitors through a jungle setting as animals and birds call out in the background. In one of the play areas, the water can be warmed up so that guests who have a sensitivity to cold can comfortably play and splash around.
Everything is accessible by wheelchair, and the park also offers special waterproof wheelchairs propelled by compressed air. The park suggests using the specially designed "PneuChair" so visitors don't damage the expensive battery-powered wheelchairs they rely on.
Both parks were inspired by Hartman's daughter, Morgan, who has special needs.
“We decided to call it Morgan’s Inspiration Island because Morgan truly has been the catalyst for every project we’ve pursued to help the special-needs community,” Hartman said.
Admission to the park is free for anyone with disabilities, although the park suggests online reservations. (For people who do not have special needs, admission to the water park is $12 for children and $15 for adults.)
Hartman said the park was also designed with water conservation top of mind. Water will be continuously filtered and recirculated and stored in large underground tanks when the park is not in operation.
Hartman said the developers consulted with doctors, therapists, special education teachers, parents and caregivers on the park's design, and people with disabilities have tested the fun prior to opening day, which is June 17.
“Morgan’s Inspiration Island — like Morgan’s Wonderland — will concentrate on inclusion and inspire guests with special needs to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities,” Hartman said. “Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater appreciation of one another."