Under normal circumstances, Morgan’s Wonderland, San Antonio, Texas, would be hosting special events in celebration of the unique theme park’s 10th birthday, however the Covid-19 health emergency that forced temporary closing has prompted the park to mark the milestone with a dramatic display – a Beacon of Hope and Inclusion.
“Each evening between now and the end of April, we will use a high-powered beam to illuminate our ‘Taking Flight’ bronze sculpture at the entrance to Morgan’s Wonderland and send a shaft of light upward into the night sky,” said Gordon Hartman, who created The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation in 2005 to benefit the special-needs community. “This beacon stands not only for what our inclusive park has accomplished over the past 10 years but also expresses hope for a bright future once we’ve overcome the current pandemic.”
Created by sculptor Doug Roper, 25-foot-tall Taking Flight depicts a butterfly spreading its wings as it prepares to take to the air from a pair of outstretched hands. It symbolizes the ability of those with special needs to soar beyond their physical or cognitive challenges at the ultra-accessible park, the only one of its kind in the world. In other words, children and adults with special needs can do as much and have just as much fun at Morgan’s Wonderland as those without disabilities.
“We hope our Beacon of Hope and Inclusion will be an inspiration to everyone as together we do whatever is necessary to support each other and look to brighter days ahead,” Hartman said. “Our fervent hope is that Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park and new Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex will be able to reopen in the very near future.”
“We really didn’t know what to expect when we opened Morgan’s Wonderland 10 years ago,” Hartman acknowledged. “However, so many wonderful things have happened at Morgan’s Wonderland, and there’s much more to come. Since the park opened, we’ve welcomed approximately 1.9 million guests from all 50 states and 76 other countries.”
Non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland offers more than 25 attractions including wheelchair-accessible rides, playgrounds and gardens for the enjoyment of guests young and older. This past year, TripAdvisor inducted Morgan’s Wonderland into its Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame. The Texas Governor’s Committee on People With Disabilities also presented its highest lifetime-achievement honor – The Governor’s Trophy – to Gordon Hartman and Morgan’s Wonderland.
Hartman and wife Maggie always cite daughter Morgan as the catalyst for creating Morgan’s Wonderland. “Her soaring spirit despite physical and cognitive challenges since birth created within us a deep desire to help children and adults with special needs,” Hartman said. “Inclusion is the mission of Morgan’s Wonderland. Our vision is to play an instrumental role in helping establish more ultra-accessible places where those with and without disabilities can come together for fun and a better understanding of one another.”