Lonely Planet Writer

The world’s first fully wheelchair-accessible water park has opened in Texas

The world’s first fully-accessible theme park has just gotten even bigger and more exciting. Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio celebrated the opening of a water park this weekend, the only one built to be enjoyed by people of all abilities.

A little girl in a wheelchair enjoys the park preview
Morgans Inspiration Island is the first of its kind. Image by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics

The splash park, called Morgan’s Inspiration Island, sits above the park’s 8-acre fishing lake. The water park has a tropical theme and has five play areas and a river boat ride. It was built with consultation with water park experts, as well as doctors, therapists, teachers and parents. Guests with sensitivity to the cold can set the water to a warmer setting and the park even has a strict water conservation policy.

Both parks are built and run by the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation and the founder Gordon Hartman, was inspired by his daughter Morgan who uses a wheelchair. “Morgan’s Inspiration Island will concentrate on inclusion and inspire guests with special needs to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities,” he said in a statement.

The accessible water park has been designed for all ages and abilities. Image by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics
The accessible water park has been designed for all ages and abilities. Image by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics

“Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater appreciation of one another.”

“I’m excited to be able to go to a water park for the first time.”

Cory Lee, a blogger who writes about travelling while in a wheelchair, told Lonely Planet he was thrilled with the news. “I’m excited to be able to go to a water park for the first time”, he said. “Throughout my life, friends have always talked about how awesome water parks are and I’ve felt like I was missing out. When I visit Morgan’s Inspiration Island in a few weeks, I’ll finally get to experience that fun.”

A little boy enjoys the water park while in his wheelchair
The world’s first wheelchair-accessible water park opened last weekend. Image by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics

Cory – who documents his travel experiences on Curbfree with Cory Lee – sees the success of Morgan’s Inspiration Island as a sign of good things to come for travellers with disabilities. “I’ve seen coverage of it on every major news outlet, so hopefully other tourist attractions will see that and know that there is a huge interest in accessible attractions. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, but we’re so often under-served. Morgan’s is a prime example that if you build it, we will come.”

The park also comes with an added bonus for wheelchair-users; instead of using your own expensive chair, you can use an innovative waterproof wheelchair that uses compressed air to propel itself forward.

Two children play in Morgan's Inspiration Island
The wheelchair-friendly water park is now open to the public. Image by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics

Morgan’s Inspiration Island will open every day until mid-August and from then until the end of September it will be open every weekend. Prior booking online is strongly advised and, as with the Wonderland theme park, people with special needs will get free admission.