Gordon Hartman was unsatisfied with the typical water park.
Water parks are a fun way to cool down in the summer heat, but they’re often not very inclusive for people with special needs. Hartman decided to change that.
His daughter, Morgan, has a cognitive disability that makes it hard for her to communicate. In watching her try to interact with other kids, he realized he wanted to create spaces where she — and other kids like her — were able to easily join in on the fun, ABC News reports.
Hartman went on to build Morgan’s Wonderland, an amusement park in San Antonio, Texas, that opened in 2010. It features rides and attractions specifically designed for guests with disabilities.
Once the amusement park was open, Hartman set his eyes on water parks. For the next five years, he and his team worked with therapists, caregivers, parents, doctors, and water park experts to completely rethink what a water park could be for people with disabilities.
They broke ground in November 2015 and finally had their grand opening on June 17, 2017.
What they created is a stunning facility designed to make sure everyone can have fun.
It’s called Morgan’s Inspiration Island, and while there are accessible options in other water parks, Inspiration Island’s dedication to inclusiveness goes beyond the pale.
Instead of steep-walled pools, guests can get soaked on splash pads instead, which are much friendlier for people with limited mobility.
They can rush through rain curtains and geysers or take a spin behind (or in front of) a water cannon.
Spacious walkways and play areas make sure everyone can move around without restriction. There are also private areas for transferring in and out of wheelchairs as well.
Waterproof wheelchairs make sure technology doesn’t limit access either.
For guests with battery-powered wheelchairs, getting hit with a water cannon might seem like a terrible idea. That’s why the park teamed up with the University of Pittsburgh to create a waterproof version. The chairs, called the PneuChair, run on compressed air, not electricity, so a dip in the pool is perfectly safe. They’re also designed to be lightweight and fast-charging to make sure the guests don’t have to wait to have fun in the sun.
Parkgoers can enjoy a warmer water temperature at the reef exhibit to make it more tolerable and comfortable.
Meanwhile, waterproof RFID-enabled wristbands help parents keep track of children.
The wristbands make sure that if a kid wanders off, it’s easy for parents to find them again.
Normal water parks can get overwhelming. At Morgan’s Inspiration Island, they’ve created plenty of quiet, private spaces for guests to step away when they need.
The park also purposefully caps the number of guests they let in at a time to make sure it never gets too crowded. People can make reservations online ahead of time.
The park is even economically-accessible — anyone with special needs is admitted free of charge. Being in Texas, water conservation is important too. The park is designed to continuously filter and recirculate its water, providing a clean, refreshing experience while also wasting as little as possible.
For Hartman, designing this park was about making sure everyone has a place to play and have fun.
“Morgan’s Inspiration Island is not a special-needs park; it’s a park of inclusion,” Hartman said in a press release.
Everyone is welcome here, and through their empathetic, thoughtful approach, they really do mean everyone.