Architects Inspire Fun & a Good Soak at San Antonio Theme Park

Architects Inspire Fun and a Good Soak at San Antonio Theme Park, Splash Park

Add a whimsical architectural design, eye-popping candy colors, gallons of water and squeals of delight from happy children and you have the makings of an award-winning splash park for children of all ages.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island in San Antonio is the newest addition to 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland theme park. The ultra-accessible™ 4-acre splash park was designed specifically for children and adults with disabilities, their families and friends. The tropically-themed complex features accessible splash pads and a river ride built for wheelchairs. The park even has waterproof wheelchairs powered by compressed air that allows the rider to experience gentle sprays or a spontaneous soaking from huge dumping buckets. For many children, this is the first time they have been able to enjoy so many features of a water attraction, and if pictures and videos are any measure, the park is really making a splash!

Luna Middleman Architects, representing a recent merger of two of the most-established architecture firms in San Antonio (Luna Architecture + Design and MDN Architects), created the park design, which has netted numerous awards.

According to firm owner Robert Luna, “The opportunity to design a theme park with inclusivity and seamless accessible transitions that can embrace everyone was our greatest challenge while we were creating Morgan’s Wonderland. However, we found if you love people and have compassion for those who have physical or cognitive disabilities, this task became an enjoyable breakthrough in our design process and proved that when you face an obstacle… you find the solution or just create it! The same was true in our design of Morgan’s Inspiration Island.”

Among its many awards, the splash park has received a prestigious recognition from the Paralyzed Veterans of America for its 2018 Barrier-Free America Award that honors excellence in the philosophy and execution of accessible design principles. In 2011, Accessibility Professionals Association (under its former name) and the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities lauded the Morgan’s Wonderland effort with their annual award in Austin, Texas.

Morgan’s Wonderland and ultimately Morgan’s Inspiration Island came about as a frustrated father watched as his own special-needs daughter Morgan was snubbed during a vacation by kids playing in a hotel swimming pool. San Antonio businessman Gordon Hartman decided to use his business acumen and a chunk of his own money to build $36-million Morgan’s Wonderland, which opened in 2010. He followed a similar game plan prior to the 2017 opening of $17-million Morgan’s Inspiration Island – consulting with doctors, therapists, parents, educators and people with special needs on what an ultra-accessible splash park would include. Today, a variety of donors, foundations and corporations supports these non-profit enterprises.

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