Morgan’s Wonderland

Since our family typically makes two trips to San Antonio each year, we like to plan activities that we can all enjoy. We had heard about Morgan’s Wonderland and seen some touching news clips about moms sharing how special it was for their children in wheelchairs to get to swing for the first time. Our most recent visit to the park was the forth time we’d been. We typically go on Sunday to ensure that it’s not crowded. Camden was uneasy at the start of our initial visit to Morgan’s Wonderland. Sometimes the unfamiliar is unsettling for him. At the end of that first experience, I recall walking out of the park and just how upset he was to leave. Yay! We had found something he enjoyed, and we knew we’d be back.

Morgan’s Wonderland is referred to as an ultra-access family fun park, which means that all areas are all accessible for everyone.  The founder, Gordan Hartman, is a business man and the father of Morgan, who is a 20-year-old young lady with special needs.

I really enjoyed these videos that were put together to give more info about the park.

  • Morgan’s Wonderland KSAT Special (part 1)
  • Morgan’s Wonderland KSAT Special (part 2)
  • Morgan’s Wonderland KSAT Special (part 3)

Entrance is free for those with special needs. Kids under 11 are $10, and everyone over 11 is $15. We actually purchased the ten-visit ticket this time for $80, which comes out to be $8 per visit. There is no expiration. Now I just have to not lose the card.

After you pay, they’ll give GPS bands to all who want or need them. This helps you keep track of your child at all times. You can go up to any Location Station, scan your GPS, and find out where everyone is in your party. The bands also connect to various cameras in the park that will snap pictures of you when on the rides. Then those pictures are emailed to you. Pretty neat. Our Camden doesn’t like things on his wrists like that, and the workers were super understanding about it and didn’t push.

You can read about the various park attractions and rides here.

The Sensory Village is nice (especially during triple digits since it’s indoors). There’s a cute little grocery store, an auto zone area, a sensory theater that responds to your movements, and a super cute weather station where you can see yourself on screen. My pics from this trip are less than stellar, but it’ll give you an idea.

Sensory Village Collage
Sensory Village

The Butterfly Playground is kind of what sold me on getting the ten-visit ticket. I was iffy since I am not sure how much longer the kiddos will enjoy Morgan’s Wonderland, but figured even if we just come and enjoy the amazing playgrounds (my photos do not do it justice at all), it’ll be worth it to me. There is tons of stuff to play on. On this trip, my boys LOVED the spinning seats. I was seriously nauseous just watching them. Bleh!

Butterfly Playground
Butterfly Playground

The Wonderland Express and Depot is probably Camden’s favorite part of the park. He’s been interested in trains for a long time, but due to his gravitational insecurity, Camden was not keen on the idea of riding on a train. We once thought it would be splendid to take the DART rail from our area into downtown. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb move. That did not go well. Camden is also a visual stim guy (meaning that he enjoys watching things pass quickly in front of his face) and he preferred to just watch. Our first trip to Morgan’s Wonderland, we decided we were going to get him on the train one way or another. It may sound mean to make him do something that he was nervous about, but as his parents we love and care for him and have seen that sometimes he just needs a gentle nudge. We figured he might fuss the first time we put him on the train, but since we were in good company with other noisy kiddos, it was worth a shot. Morgan’s Wonderland is certainly a place where you don’t have to worry about people staring at your, judging you, or thinking you/your kid/your family is odd. The trip around the track, Camden had me in choke hold. He found comfort in my hair, and I also brought along his popcorn for his reinforcer. As soon as he made it around, he wanted to go again. Success!! The great thing about the park, or at least when we are there on Sundays, it’s not too busy. We can ride that train as many times as we can stand it. The whistle is loud, so for kiddos with sound sensitivities, they’ll probably want their noise-cancelling headphones nearby.

Fun on the Wonderland Express
Fun on the Wonderland Express

I apparently didn’t get many pictures of the Off-Road Adventure Ride this time. You hop in and the kids can pretend to steer. There is a photo opportunity (utilizing your GPS band) on this ride.

Off-Road Adventure Ride
Off-Road Adventure Ride

The “Taking Flight” bronze sculpture is, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the park. A local artist sculpted it. It’s a butterfly flying out of hands. Very pretty, and it kind of chokes me up every time I see it. Just the idea of helping our kids grow and reach their fullest potential. I always try and get a picture of the boys in front of it. Here are some from various visits.

Taking Flight Sculpture
Taking Flight Sculpture

The carousel was another ride, like the train, where we had to nudge Camden a bit. He always enjoyed watching, but was uneasy about riding. The cool thing is that not only do they have wheel-chair accessible animals, they had animals that didn’t move up and down. This was great for our boy! Once he built up confidence riding on the animals that didn’t go up and down, he moved on to the ones that did. I’d kind of forgotten how excited we were to see him ride that first time. Another neat thing about the park and the carousel is that you can stop if you need to. If you see that it’s just not going well at all, they’ll stop the ride. Again, I don’t have many shots from the carousel ride on this trip, so I’m mixing some various trips.

Carousel Rides
Carousel Rides

The Wharf is a shaded pier-type area where you can fire off the water cannons and go fishing. They use to have remote controlled boats for use, but they weren’t there last time. Both boys enjoy shooting the water cannons at the metal objects in the pond. Carson wanted to fish this time. They have workers nearby that can help kids put on the bait. It was a fun new experience. When we were there, they also had several baby turtles that you could touch and observe.

The Wharf
The Wharf

Pirate Island is another play area in the park. Super cool and a bit different from the other one. Camden always shows interest in the pirate statue.

Pirate Island
Pirate Island

Water Works is an interactive array of water-related gizmos such as squirting pipes and spinning water wheels, plus special dams that control water flow. All of it is specially designed with many sensory activities involving lights, sound and tactile features, and of course it provides full wheelchair access to all the wet and wacky fun!

 

Water Works
Water Works

Sand Circle and the Musical Garden are fun. Carson loves to bring his monster trucks to drive around in the sand, and the boys enjoy using the diggers to scoop sand.

Sand Circle and Music Garden
Sand Circle and Music Garden

After our recent trip to Sea World, Morgan’s Wonderland may not be as exciting in comparison. It’s certainly got special memories for our family, as Camden was able to participate in and try things that he hadn’t before. It’s also nice to support the founder, Gordan Hartman’s, vision. And it’s definitely relaxing to be at a place where all people are accepted and you don’t feel judged. During one of our visits, it rained pretty hard. The gym there was open so we went in and played with the balls while we waited. Several basketball teams where all the players were in wheelchairs came in to play. It was really neat for us to see how skilled the players were. I see us making many more memories here in the future. So glad that Gordon Hartman chased his dream!

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