Acts of Kindness
Loving father builds $51 million amusement park for special needs daughter
It's a theme park where his daughter, Morgan, and other people with disabilities, can have fun.
Rebecca Reid
10.05.21

All parents want to create a world where their child feels loved and accepted.

For parents of special needs children, this is especially important because they are equally deserving of happiness despite their physical or mental disabilities.

For Gordon and Maggie Hartman, they did more than just hope their special needs daughter would be accepted, they took action to make it a reality.

After vacationing at a hotel in 2005, the family noticed that other kids were keeping their distance from their daughter, Morgan, while at the hotel pool. That experience had a profound impact on Gordon and he set out to help Morgan who was born with a form of autism.

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

Gordon and Maggie’s vision was to create an amusement park designed for people with physical and cognitive challenges.

“Morgan is just a wonderful young lady. When you meet her you will always get a smile and she will always want to offer a hug. But there were so many times we couldn’t take her places.” – Gordon Hartman

When Gordon and Maggie searched for a place where Morgan could feel like an equal and have fun, they realized that “such an inclusive place didn’t exist.”

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

Many people would simply accept this and move on but not the Hartmans.

Gordon made the decision that he would build a place himself. He sold his construction business in 2005 and created The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation to help people with disabilities.

His experience as a property developer was extremely useful for creating the plan for an all-accessible amusement park. “We wanted a theme park where everyone could do everything, where people with and without special needs could play,” Gordon Hartman

After much planning and preparation, Morgan’s Wonderland was built on an abandoned quarry near San Antonio.

With a butterfly as its logo, Morgan’s Wonderland was the very first theme park ever built specifically for the special needs population. It opened its doors on April 10, 2010.

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

With splash pads, miniature train, Ferris wheel, playgrounds and other attractions, Morgan’s Wonderland is a blast and is entirely wheelchair accessible.

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

There is no entrance fee for people with special needs.

“I realized Morgan was one of the lucky ones because she had many of the things she needed. I didn’t want cost to be a barrier for others with special needs.” – Gordon Hartman

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

Kids and adults can also enjoy Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the waterpark at Morgan’s Wonderland.

To be fully inclusive, Gordon wanted the special needs community to be able to work at the park. There is also a school that special needs children can attend.

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

Gordon knows exactly how important this park is to other special needs families.

“A man came up to me at Inspiration Island and just held my hand,” he said. “He pointed to his son, who has acute special needs and started crying. He said he hadn’t been able to play in water before.” – Gordon Hartman

YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland
Source:
YouTube screenshot - Morgans Wonderland

When Morgan visits the park, she is the main attraction.

Gordon says that kids flock to Morgan when she visits the park and that she is like a local celebrity. She can be found in her favorite spots…on the swings and in the sand zone.

“She talks more now and most of her physical issues have been taken care of through numerous surgeries. We’re so proud of how far she has come.” – Gordon Hartman.

Now watch the video about this amazing theme park.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Rebecca Reid
hi@sbly.com
Rebecca Reid is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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