Morgan's Inspiration Island News Releases
In the News
New water park eliminates barriers for people with special needs
By Silvia Foster-Frau, Staff Writer
June 18, 2017
Morgan's Inspiration Island: The world's first wheelchair-accessible water park opens this weekend
by Julia Buckley
June 16, 2017
World's first water park for people with disabilities is literally the coolest thing ever created
by Katie Dupere
June 15, 2017
Morgan's Inspiration Island Is the World's Firest Accessible Water Park
by Jordan Davidson
June 13, 2017
Air-Powered Waterproof Wheelchairs
2017 Fact Sheet
Morgan’s Inspiration Island is the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park where guests of all ages and abilities can get wet and have fun together. The park is located in Northeast San Antonio next to 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland, the first-of-its-kind-in-the-world theme park situated in what once was Longhorn Quarry at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive.
Like non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland that opened in 2010, Morgan’s Inspiration Island admits anyone with a special need free of charge. The focal point is a seven-story lighthouse with a rotating beacon on top that can be easily seen from IH 35 a half-mile away.
“In many ways, creating Morgan’s Inspiration Island felt a lot like it did when our team designed and built Morgan’s Wonderland with special-needs individuals in mind – it had never been done before,” said philanthropist Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. “We really didn’t know what was going to happen when we opened Morgan’s Wonderland in 2010, but it has far exceeded all our expectations. So we took that inclusive concept and added water to create a $17-million, completely-accessible splash park. The total Morgan’s Wonderland-Morgan’s Inspiration Island investment exceeds $50 million.”
Twenty-three-year-old Morgan Hartman, daughter of Hartman and wife Maggie, deals with both cognitive and physical challenges. She inspired the creation of Morgan’s Wonderland and other initiatives aimed at helping the special-needs community. The guiding principle for all these endeavors is inclusion. Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals with hearing and visual impairments and even people on ventilators, can play alongside one another and gain a greater understanding of each other. Because the parks are free of barriers, special-needs guests will be inspired to do things previously thought to be beyond their capabilities.
“Over a three-year period, we brainstormed with water park consultants from Texas, Arizona, Florida and Canada as well as local doctors, parents, special-needs therapists and caregivers,” Hartman said. “We believe this new attraction will be tremendously popular because even children and adults in wheelchairs can have fun in the South Texas sun. We decided to call our new attraction Morgan’s Inspiration Island because Morgan truly has been the catalyst for every project we’ve pursued to help the special-needs community,” Hartman noted.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which will be situated between Morgan’s Wonderland and the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex, overlooks the theme park’s 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake.
Groundbreaking for Morgan’s Wonderland was held Nov. 10, 2015, and construction began in January 2016.
Six major elements comprise the tropically-themed Morgan’s Inspiration Island paradise:
Rainbow Reef, a warmed-water splash pad, is designed for guests of all ages that may not be able to tolerate regular water temperature – even in the heat of the San Antonio summer. Certain medical conditions cause muscle pain or contraction when an individual is subjected to non-heated water. Presented by Whataburger, Rainbow Reef has many custom water features, designed exclusively for Morgan’s Inspiration Island, including a huge spouting octopus, a starfish, a sea turtle and a colorful lineup of six giant squirting sea horses. There are also interactive water features and a variety of geysers that will provide splashy fun for all ages and abilities.
Central to the Calypso Cove music garden splash pad is a large tree with rain-curtain effects coming from its branches. Beneath the alternating branches, there are two chime-like musical instruments as well as a brightly colored frog and butterfly sitting atop two giant “mushroom” rain trees. Additionally there are smaller mushrooms, which mimic drums, and a large xylophone that looks like a moss-covered log. Interactive pools and falls and a variety of geysers make this a fun combination of water play and musical creativity.
Hang Ten Harbor, a surf-themed splash pad, features a continuous, 20-foot-in-diameter water wave with a surfer and his dog riding happily on top. This giant water dome allows guests to run in and out under the arching water. The main wave is surrounded by custom features including squirting surfboards and palm trees, interactive spinning umbrellas and thatched-hut-themed rain trees.
The Shipwreck Island splash pad includes an accessible pirate ship with a giant dumping water bucket on top, plus water cannons and a double slide. A shipwreck and four large pirate cannons allow for endless water battles. This pad also has two small islands, complete with squirting treasure chests and palm trees, plus a cluster of foaming water geysers.
Harvey’s Hideaway Bay, presented by the Harvey Najim Family Foundation, offers a giant tree house with jungle theming such as climbing monkeys. It also includes a dumping water bucket on top, several interactive water features and mini water cannons lining the edge of the accessible ramp. Several opposing cannons on ground level allow for fun water skirmishes. Additionally, there are many custom water features including a smaller “Kids Only” water fort, a cluster of bubbling geysers, squirting palm trees filled with tropical birds, dumping banana buckets, a slithering snake in a tree and a bright jungle frog on a log.
The River Boat Adventure ride, presented by H-E-B, twists and turns for more than five minutes through a jungle setting with bird and animal sounds in the background.
Just like Morgan’s Wonderland, every element is wheelchair-accessible, and RFID coverage will encompasses both Morgan’s Inspiration Island and Morgan’s Wonderland so guests can interact with technology and parents can easily ascertain the whereabouts of their children and other members of their party at a Location Station or on their smart phone.
In addition to splashy attractions, Morgan’s Inspiration Island offers the Rusty Anchor Galley Grub and Little Italy Bistro food outlets for snack foods and beverages, the Surf Shack Gifts and Gear sundries shop for souvenirs, water shoes, sunscreen, swim diapers, etc., a viewing deck, an air-conditioned party/meeting room and private cabanas for rent.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island has been designed with water conservation in mind. The almost 27,000 gallons of water used in the various play elements is continuously filtered and recirculated, and it’s stored in huge concrete underground tanks with a combined capacity of 30,000 gallons when the park is not in operation. Fifteen pumps that can move 9,600 gallons per minute circulate water throughout Morgan’s Inspiration Island.
Special Waterproof Wheelchairs
The Morgan’s Inspiration Island team has collaborated with the Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh to develop the PneuChair™, a revolutionary waterproof wheelchair propelled by compressed air. Without heavy batteries and electronics, the PneuChair™ weighs about 100 pounds overall in comparison with battery-operated chairs of up to 400 pounds and takes just 10 minutes to recharge compared to 8 hours to charge an electric mobility device. It’s also easier to maintain and repair. PneuChairs™ produced by Stealth Products of Burnet, Texas, are available for Morgan’s Inspiration Island guests on a first-come, first-served basis.
Morgan’s Inspiration Island also has worked with Convaid Products of Torrance, Calif., and Ki Mobility of Stevens Point, Wis., on two other waterproof wheelchair designs – a push-stroller type for guests needing assistance from a caregiver for mobility and a rigid-frame, manual wheelchair for guests who can push themselves. Stephen McCune Co. Inc., of San Antonio has custom fit all the chairs with a color coding for quick sizing recognition.
All in all, guests in expensive motorized wheelchairs who can’t afford to get them wet can transfer into waterproof wheelchairs in a spacious private transfer/changing area.