“This is inclusion in action,” said Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which developed and operates Morgan’s Inspiration Island along with the adjacent Morgan’s Wonderland, an accessible amusement park that opened in 2010. Because both parks are fully accessible, those with disabilities and those without can easily share in the experience.
“We need such places to remove barriers and to engender better understanding between those with and without disabilities and special needs,” said Hartman, who was inspired to build both parks by his 23-year-old daughter, Morgan, who has cognitive and physical disabilities.
“Morgan truly has been the catalyst for every project we’ve pursued to help the special-needs community,” he said. Before building Morgan’s Wonderland, Hartman traveled across the country searching for accessible theme parks, but did not find any that were fully inclusive to those with and without disabilities.
“During our travels, we noticed that the vast majority of facilities serving special-needs individuals tended to be in obscure locations, out of sight and thus out of mind,” he said. That’s why they decided to build Morgan’s at the intersection of two major highways in San Antonio and market it as a place for everyone. The foundation put in additional years of work and research to develop the new water park.
“We called on doctors, therapists, special-ed teachers, parents of children with special needs and caregivers, to name a few. We took their ideas and then worked with various experts and suppliers in the water-park industry to transform dreams into the reality that is now Morgan’s Inspiration Island,” he said.