Saturday, November 12, 2011

Morgan's Wonderland: fully-accessible family fun park

Morgan's WonderlandA place where everyone can play.  It sounds like such a great place, but for parents of special needs children it can sometimes only seem like a dream.  It is so hard for parents of children with special needs to find a place that is completely accepting of their child.  

As many of you know our daughter was born with a condition called Rett Syndrome.  We have been blessed with having her in our lives.  She brings a joy to our life that we know we would not have without her (and Rett syndrome).We love to do things together as a family, but  I do have to admit that we have had a hard time finding an amusement park that could understand our unique needs.

Some amusement parks try, but their worker just don't understand what we have to go through day in and day out.  One amusement park gave us a pass so we would not have to wait in line.  That was nice since she would not be able to wait in a long line anyway.  When it came our turn to go on the ride, the operator said she could only take one passenger with her.  That meant that either I could go with her or my son could go with her, but not both of us.  So what is the point of having the pass if one of us still has to wait in line.  They just don't understand how hard it is for us.  We are not trying to "cut" in line to save time, my daughter body is weak and riddled with neurological dysfunction, to say the least.  She also has seizures, cannot sweat effectively and has little purposeful use of her hands (The list can go on and on depending on if she is having a good or bad day).

So we were so excited when someone told us about the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park, Morgan' s Wonderland located in San Antonio, Texas. Morgan' s Wonderland was built with the idea of total inclusion where people of all ages and abilities can come together and play in an exciting yet safe environment. Morgan' s Wonderland has over 25 acres of rides, attractions and activities for people of all abilities.  Check our their website to find out more.

Morgan' s Wonderland is the perfect fit for our family. We made reservation to visit and took the 2 hours drive to San Antonio, Texas.  (They ask its guest to make reservations prior to each visit by visiting their website, so that the park is never overcrowded.)   

The photo above is me with all three of my kids at the massive butterfly playground.  It is specially designed for individuals with cognitive and physical special needs.  It features include ramps with wide open spaces big enough for two wheelchairs to maneuver around.

The Butterfly playground has traditional swings, adaptive swings and wheelchair swings too.  My two youngest enjoyed the adaptive swings that have a back on them.  

Mare Bear's favorite was the Sensory Village's Fix-It Shop were she was able to go for a simulated test drive through San Antonio and the surrounding Hill Country.  
 The Sensory Village's Saddle-Up Stable reminded Mare Bear of her favorite activity, riding a horse.

 The Carousel is specially designed for individuals with physical special needs.  It has traditional animals that go up and down (some have back support).  It also has benches and wheelchair chariots that go up and down too. 

All aboard for the Wonderland Express and Depot.  This photo is my whole family enjoying a ride in the caboose.  This little train has multiple cars with specially designed wheelchair-accessible ramps for full access for everyone.  The train runs all the way around Morgan' s Wonderland.  As you are riding you will pass rest areas with the sights and sounds of  the different countries of Africa, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy and the Caribbean.

At the Wharf we all took a turn being captain, we controlled mini-ships around a mini-lagoon with our captain's wheel.  The oldest two and dad took their turn at a catch and release fishing, but they did not catch anything. 
Another favorite was the Water Works where the kids could all get wet, that is why we saved it for last.  Mare Bear enjoyed all the different sensory activities involving lights and sound but most of all she like the tactile features (like the one shown in the picture above).

You don't have to have special needs to enjoy Morgan' s Wonderland.  The park had many people of all abilities.  The volunteer's that worked there all had different levels of ability too.  It really is a park for people of all ability. 

It truly is "a place where everyone can play".