2017 Fact Sheet
Morgan’s Wonderland is one of many highly visible initiatives of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation to promote inclusion and to help those with special needs. Encompassing 25 acres, the unique, colorful, safe and affordable theme park offers fun for all ages and abilities. It’s located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive in what once was the Longhorn limestone quarry.
Non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland is the very first theme park of its kind. Now in its eighth season, the park has welcomed more than a million guests from all 50 states and 65 other countries. Admission for those with special needs is free; admission fees for accompanying family members, friends, caregivers and the general public are nominal.
Visit www.MorgansWonderland.com for the latest information on operating days, admissions and special events. News releases and high-resolution photos are also available on the website.
TripAdvisor has ranked Morgan’s Wonderland in the top 25 theme parks in the U. S., the only non-profit to achieve this lofty recognition, and VacationHomeRentals.com, an affiliate of Trip Advisor, has named Morgan’s Wonderland the “best family attraction” in Texas.
The guiding principle for Morgan’s Wonderland is inclusion. “Morgan’s Wonderland is a special place where anyone can have fun,” says Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, “but it was created with special-needs individuals in mind. Morgan’s Wonderland is just like any other theme park except for the added benefit of a culture and environment that assures 100 percent enjoyment by everyone who enters through our Welcome Center. Unfortunately, countless children and adults with special needs do not have access to facilities that can help them fully enjoy outdoor recreation. We truly believe Morgan’s Wonderland is beginning to change that.”
History and Background
In 2005, Hartman sold his successful homebuilding business to establish The Foundation so he and his wife, Maggie, could pursue their dream of helping children and adults with special needs. Their devotion to this cause is inspired by their 23-year-old daughter, Morgan. Her soaring spirit despite physical and cognitive challenges sparked within the Hartmans a deep desire to create Morgan’s Wonderland, a haven not only for those with special needs but also for their families, caregivers, friends and the general public. Morgan’s Wonderland opened March 3, 2010, and celebrated its grand opening April 10, 2010, with NBA legend David Robinson and actress Eva Longoria as special guests.
Completely wheelchair-accessible, the $34 million park features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-event center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
2017 at Morgan’s Wonderland
Morgan’s Inspiration Island
In spring 2017, Morgan’s Wonderland will unveil the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park – Morgan’s Inspiration Island. The $16-million, multi-acre attraction will enable family members, regardless of age or ability, to cool off and beat the summer heat by splashing and playing together. Morgan’s Inspiration Island will feature five tropically-themed splash pads, the River Boat Adventure ride and support facilities.
In keeping with the Morgan’s Wonderland mission of inclusion, wheelchair guests that may have previously been unable to visit a splash park will have the opportunity to privately transfer out of their chairs into waterproof chairs. This will give them the opportunity to enjoy Morgan’s Inspiration Island and not risk damage to their personal wheelchairs.
Other 2017 Highlights
Whirling Wonder, a five-and-a-half-story-high Ferris wheel that’s festooned with lights and visible at night from nearby IH 35, recently joined the Morgan’s Wonderland family of wheelchair-accessible rides.
“The Magic of Friendship” is a new interactive variety show in which guests learn the art of making friends and all about inclusion through the power of magic. The production stars Morgan’s Wonderland puppet favorite Hartman and puppeteer-magician The Astonishing Mr. Pitts.
Leading an ever-expanding entertainment lineup is “The Wonder Squad,” four Morgan’s Wonderland super heroes – Morgan, Rocket, X-Ray and Jette – who don’t let their physical or cognitive special needs hold them back, along with Uno, the super seeing-eye dog. Instead, the costumed Wonder Squad shows how disabilities can become “super abilities” as they interact with park guests. The phenomenal foursome also is available for community appearances at hospitals and other venues throughout South Texas upon request via the Morgan’s Wonderland website.
Butterfly mascot Joy – along with sidekick Professor Von Flutterwing – also makes appearances at Morgan’s Wonderland and at community events. The multi-colored costumed character eagerly greets guests and poses for photos. Butterfly theming throughout the park reminds guests that – just like butterflies – individuals with and without special needs can emerge from their “cocoons” and soar to new heights of achievement.
Morgan’s Wonderland will continue to collaborate with its neighbor and partner – the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teleton USA (CRIT) – in offering families whose children are undergoing treatment a recreational and therapeutic outlet. See page 4 of this fact sheet for more information.
Morgan’s Wonderland has introduced memberships offering unlimited admissions to the park during the 2017 season and other money-saving benefits. Military and senior discounts are also available. Details can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.com.
Educational Field Trips for elementary school students constitute an extension of the classroom. Each activity and lesson is based on the corresponding, state-mandated TEKS requirements. Two new lesson plans have been added for 2017. Schools can qualify for either the park’s group admission rate or a grant-funded admission rate. The Morgan’s Wonderland website contains specifics.
On the first and third Fridays of each month, the Moms’ Coffee and Conversation group (dads are welcome, too) enables moms to gather for coffee and make new friends while their children have fun in the park. On the second and fourth Fridays of each month, Senior Friday offers senior citizens discounted admissions and the opportunity to enjoy the park’s many amenities in the interest of recreation and fitness.
Morgan’s Wonderland works closely with Cub Scouts in helping them complete achievements, requirements and electives, and the park proudly serves as a Girl Scouts Community Partner. All scouts who visit the park with their groups receive complimentary Morgan’s Wonderland patches.
2017 Special Events
For added guest enjoyment, Morgan’s Wonderland offers special events all season long. These include:
- March 10-19 – Daily operation and special activities for spring break.
- March 22 – 2nd Annual Super Hero Bash fundraiser sponsored by Morgan’s Advocates.
- April 1 – Hand in Hand fashion show benefitting The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland.
- April 15 – Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt.
- April 30 – World Wish Day sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- May 20 (Armed Forces Day) – Welcome Home event for veterans sponsored by South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
- July 4 – 4th of July Salute to the military and first responders.
- Sept. 30 – Free to Soar Gala fundraiser benefitting Morgan’s Wonderland and The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland.
- Oct. 31 – More Delightful Than Frightful Halloween benefit for the San Antonio Food Bank in cooperation with Rotary Clubs in Greater San Antonio.
- Friday and Saturday evenings from Nov. 24 through Dec. 16, plus Dec. 18-23 – “A Wonderland Christmas,” colorful lights, seasonal decorations and special holiday entertainment.
Group Special Events
Morgan’s Wonderland is the center of a family fun destination now known as Wonderland, Texas. The former Longhorn Quarry is also the location of The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a school for students with special needs next door to the theme park; Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park due for completion in spring 2017; and the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of Teleton USA (CRIT USA).
The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland
The Academy, which opened in August 2011, is a unique, nationally-accredited, non-profit learning environment that enables students with special needs ages 12 to 24 to reach their maximum individual potential. In addition to academic instruction, The Academy focuses on equipping students with life skills that will help them become productive adults. Since The Academy is located next door to Morgan’s Wonderland, students get to take their physical-fitness classes in a theme park! Visit www.MorgansWonderland.academy for more info.
Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA
A relative newcomer to Wonderland, Texas is the CRIT (Children’s Rehabilitation Institute of TeletonUSA), or CRIT USA, a non-profit rehabilitation center for children who are born with or who have suffered neurological, muscular or skeletal disorders and injuries. TeletonUSA is an extension of Mexico’s Teleton Foundation that has successfully constructed, opened and operated 21 CRITs throughout that country. Located next to Morgan’s Wonderland, CRIT USA is the first such center in the U. S. It’s an $18.5-million, state-of-the-art, outpatient medical facility that’s currently welcoming patients from Texas and 40 other states. The 45,000-square-foot CRIT USA opened in November 2014.
Morgan’s Wonderland has partnered with CRIT USA to offer additional rehabilitation opportunities for patients and a recreational outlet for families whose children are undergoing treatment. Typical physical therapy sessions make use of outdoor playground equipment and other attractions at Morgan’s Wonderland. For more information, visit www.CRITUSA.org.
STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports)
Thanks to generous donors, STRAPS now offers athletes of all ages with physical disabilities the opportunity for sports competition in eight programs – wheelchair soccer, powerchair soccer, Paralympic soccer, goalball (a sport developed for individuals with visual impairments), wheelchair football, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair softball and Boccia. STRAPS is already a recognized community partner of the United States Olympic Committee (Paralympic Division) as a U. S. Paralympic Sports Club. STRAPS athletes strive to improve their quality of life through adaptive and Paralympic-style sports. They also pursue scholarships to play Paralympic sports in college and membership on Paralympic national teams. Additional information can be found at www.STRAPSsports.com.
How Interested Individuals Can Help Morgan’s Wonderland and/or The Academy
Make a tax-deductive donation to Morgan’s Wonderland or The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland; serve as a park volunteer; schedule a special event at Morgan’s Wonderland; tell family and friends and thus help spread the word about Morgan’s Wonderland and Wonderland, Texas.