Every so often something goes around on social media related to disabilities that gets posted to my page, or we get tagged in, repeatedly. Anyone else ever experience this phenomenon? There are a few videos I know by heart because of this: the track system to move from the bedroom to the couch, a type of harness that attaches to your front so your child gets the sensation of walking, and the ever popular Morgan’s Wonderland promotional video.
I used to say that I should charge a dollar for each Morgan’s Wonderland Facebook tag so our trip would be funded!
As it turns out, we did in fact make the trip to the amusement and waterpark. Not only that, but we ended up getting a waiver to fund the overhead tracking for the bedrooms/bathroom. I guess people should keep posting these to my wall after all. HA! (Now, does anyone want to strap a 5 foot young lady onto their front to give them walking practice?? Kidding! kind of…)
We planned our trip to San Antonio, Texas with several goals in mind: visit the downtown Riverwalk, the Alamo, eat Tex-Mex, relax and finally check out Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island. Unfortunately, as I reported over HERE, the trip did not go as planned. Nevertheless, we DID get to visit the amusement park.
Since Morgan’s Wonderland is North East of the city, I decided to leave our downtown hotel and made reservations in the Hill Country of Texas.
We decided to take our trip to the park over a long weekend with some flexibility in our schedule in case the weather didn’t cooperate. We also wanted to enjoy the hill country area of San Antonio and return to a relaxing resort and pool area each day. With the park closing at 5:00 pm during our days there, we needed something to enjoy after hours. Our hotel fit the bill!
That said, there are PLENTY of chain hotels and motels close to Morgan’s Wonderland, as well.
Before you make your way to the park, be sure to check online for ticket savings!
I usually check Groupon for tickets and activities before we take any trip or vacation. I search the city, click on the “things to do” category, and finally check for coupon codes. Be SURE you read the fine print. Sometimes there are only certain days or times you can use your Groupon or the search may have expanded to include other nearby cities that you weren’t planning to visit. As I check today, I see that there is a deal to Morgan’s Wonderland AND a code for an additional 25% savings! That will end, but it seems to reappear every so often.
Also, check the park’s website directly. They offer different return trip deals that may suit you better. Remember, you can do both the waterpark AND the amusement park or separate them out. The entrances are together so you can come and go easily from both.
*DON’T FORGET: persons with special needs get free admission, so you are only purchasing tickets for the accompanying party!
After studying our options, we chose to visit both in one day and return with the Groupon to whichever was our favorite.
We were fortunate to discover friends from back home in PA were also visiting the San Antonio area. They made time to join us for one of those days! Their son, Ben, of the Ellen Show fame (that was for you, Ben!!), works for an amusement park and was adding park visits to his grand list. I believe Morgan’s Wonderland was somewhere around park #36…? Having friends to share the experience with made the day more fun for sure!!
We decided we were most interested in the waterpark due to their water accessible wheelchairs. There are only a limited number of these in the world and Inspiration Island has several. The girls were excited at the prospect of driving through the water without fear of ruining their chairs. We headed to the waterpark gate first. The first thing we needed was to be fitted for these air-propelled chairs. Unfortunately we arrived during memorial weekend. My guess is, just like most every amusement park around the country, memorial weekend brings plenty of visitors but not a fully staffed park. Our friends were very patient while the girls were fitted by a lone employee.
The air propelled wheelchair was interesting to see, but the expected outcome did not match reality.
Once fitted in an air power chair we soon discovered the girls were not strong enough to propel the chair alone. The style of controller needed on an air propelled chair is not the same as a typical power chair. To be honest, it was disappointing. The girls had talked at length about driving themselves through the park. In addition, the power didn’t last long enough to make our full way around the water park. One by one the chairs began to sputter and die…and we waited for staff to bring push chairs instead. But that was still a nice perk since we didn’t need to get their own chairs wet.
Once they had their fill of getting wet and lunch to fill our bellies, we made the short walk to the amusement park side of Morgan’s Wonderland.
We hadn’t left as much time for the rides, but that worked out ok. In reality, there are not that many rides if you are thinking of it as a traditional amusement park. We quickly took in the train ride, ferris wheel and electric cars. The best part of that, for us, was that we did not need to transfer out of the wheelchairs. Each ride is intentionally made with the ability to accomodate wheelchairs. Additionally, the girls did not need to wait for one of them to complete the ride in order to have a turn in an accessible spot. We were able to load them into rides at the same time.
As our time was running our for the day, we did not prioritize the playground, carousel, swings, or sensory area. For some, they may be the best choices. Ours are all about rides.
There are a few other unexpected perks at Morgan’s Wonderland…things not typically encountered at amusement venues.
First, the parking is free. It is convenient and always without a fee. Another money saver: picnics are welcome. Bring your food with you and save some money…just leave glass at home. In general, that feeling of being mugged at every turn of an amusement park just isn’t an issue here. That was a great feeling. Even the souvenirs are reasonably priced. Score! Additionally, Morgan’s Wonderland makes it clear that everyone is expected to behave in a family friendly manner. I found that to be true.
So, are we headed back?
Probably not. I knew when we planned this trip that we were probably nearing the end of our opportunity to take the girls. It seems to be genuinely geared for children…or those who enjoy a calmer sort of day out. If this were a decade ago, and we lived nearby, I would not think twice about buying a yearly membership. It would be a great place to stop by, take friends, make friends, and generally feel a sense of belonging. But at this stage of life it was an interesting place to see for the day. We enjoyed our time there with friends.
That said, it is a fantastic model that would be neat to see in other states and communities.
I think the park has been successful at creating a space where all feel welcomed and included. While we may not travel to make another special trip, it would be neat to have it available in a local community. The park hosts different entertaining shows and events throughout the year. That can be enjoyable at any age!
I also see that Morgan’s Wonderland has begun to promote their NEXT area for inclusion: Morgan’s Wonderland Sports.
This area will accommodate adaptive sports, unified sports, and special events like dances and movie nights. Again, this seems like a wonderful way to include all ages in the mission of the park.
Morgan’s Wonderland Sports will provide 8,000 square feet of covered space for wheelchair sports – basketball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, pickleball (12 courts) and tennis (six courts). Two acres of concrete playing surface will be tinted to minimize heat from the sun and striped in accordance with regulation dimensions for the various sports. Hartman said one of the most-critical aspects of the project will be use of laser technology to pour 2,000 cubic yards of concrete and ensure the playing surface will be completely level. Weather permitting, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports will be ready for play in early 2020.https://www.morganswonderland.com/sports-news-release/
Support facilities will include special LED lighting for visually-impaired athletes, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, numerous water fountains, offices and sports fencing for tennis, pickleball and other sports to keep balls in play.
Looks like another social media blitz is coming my way! (hey friends, I saw it here first!) Enjoy! And thanks, Morgan’s family, for continuing the mission. I love how you think!
P.S. feel free to tag us in their next promotional sports videos …as long as you add a dollar to fund that next visit…;)