Devoted dad spent $51 million creating theme park for his disabled daughter

  • Texas dad Gordon Hartman designed and built a fully-accessible theme park for his disabled daughter
  • Morgan’s Wonderland opened its doors in 2010 and cost more than $30 million to build
  • He’s since expanded the project to include a water slide as well as opening a purpose-built sports center

Published on Jul 02, 2024 at 2:40 AM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jul 03, 2024 at 11:35 AM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

A dedicated dad decided to build a theme park after he realized there were no fully accessible ones for his disabled daughter to use. 

Gordon Hartman, from Texas, opened up Morgan’s Wonderland – named after his daughter Morgan Hartman – in 2010. 

He was inspired to open the park following an incident in a swimming pool on a family holiday when Morgan, who was then 12, approached a group of kids to try and make friends.

After Morgan approached the group, the kids moved away and soon exited the pool. 

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Hartman believes the children didn’t know how to act around someone with a disability.

Following the day at the pool, Hartman and his wife Maggie attempted to find places where Morgan would be welcomed but soon discovered no such place existed. 

So – he decided to build it. 

It’s the first ever to be designed with disabled people in mind

Morgan’s Wonderland was ‘the world’s first Ultra-Accessible, fully-inclusive theme park designed with individuals with special needs [sic] in mind and built to be enjoyed by everyone’. 

“We wanted a theme park where everyone could do everything, where people with and without special needs [sic] could play,” Hartman told the BBC in 2017. 

Hartman, who previously worked as a property developer, kicked off his grand plans in 2007.

He enlisted the help of doctors, therapists, parents, people living with disabilities, and people who didn’t live with disabilities to ensure the park was top-notch. 

And it’s fair to say, he smashed it. 

The 25-acre site, in San Antonio, Texas, cost $34 million – and houses just about every attraction you could hope for.

There’s a Ferris wheel, miniature train, carousel, and an adventure playground – each of them specially designed to be fully accessible to everyone.

In 2017, Hartman added a $17m water park – Morgan’s Island – which is, of course, fully accessible. 

The park has undergone several expansions

And he didn’t stop there. In 2021, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports opened its doors, as well as Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, a ‘102-acre recreational oasis on the northern outskirts of San Antonio that year-round offers an Ultra-Accessible, fully-inclusive summer-camp-type experience’.

With enough room for 525 campers, of all ages, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp features ziplining, horseback riding, archery, and swimming – to name just a few.

Hartman insists on keeping entry prices to his parks low – so that they are truly accessible to all and has welcomed visitors from across the world.

The parks are partially funded through the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, to which Hartman and his wife have personally donated a staggering $102 million.

The couple are also on the Just Giving Pledge, meaning they have signed up alongside the likes of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates, to donate at least 95 percent of their wealth.

You can find out more about Morgan’s Wonderland and The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation here.

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Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.