No parents like to see their child suffering. Some parents worry about whether or not their child will do well in school, or get a job that makes them happy. Gordan Hartman’s concern was whether or not his daughter will make friends. Gordan wanted his daughter, who is autisitic, to feel safe and comfortable enough so she could socialize and make friends, so he built a theme park that was designed with the needs of disabled people in mind. It is the first one of its kind.
Morgan’s theme park
Gordan Hartman is a loving father who dotes on his daughter Morgan, who is autistic. One year, the Hartman family went on a vacation. Morgan desperately wanted to make friends with the other children playing by the swimming pool. But, they were apprehensive to engage. It was a sight Gordan struggled to watch. He knew the other children just did not understand Morgan because she is a little different. This was the moment that he came up with a plan to create a theme park in Morgan’s honor. He called it, Morgan’s Wonderland.
Hartman wanted the theme park to be a place where every type of human can enjoy themselves. This means those with any form of disability, as well as those without. “It’s a park for 100 percent of the people, not one for 90 or 80 percent of them, it’s for everybody, no matter how acute their special need may be,” said Hartman in an interview with People. “That’s what my dream was.”
The theme park was to be an inclusive playground. The intention was for children with disabilities could seamlessly play along with everyone else as equals. This would allow them to make friends much easier. “It’s about not letting anyone feel different. That’s what we tried to do with this park,” said Hartman.
Designing and Constructing
The theme park is advertised as “ultra-accessible”. This means that it was designed to make it easily accessible for any type of disability. Gordan went the extra mile by including advice from doctors, therapists, engineers, and architects in the design. Not only is it completely wheelchair accessible, but they provide waterproof gear for various items the children may need. There are complimentary waterproof neck collars, waterproof bags for ventilators, and waterproof wheelchairs. This means there is no missing out on the fun.
In 2005, Gordan decided to sell his home building company that he started at a young age. He was quite successful, but the sight of Morgan struggling to make friends changed his goals. Once the company was sold, he started The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. Then, after a few years of campaigning to raise the funds, the $35 million theme park was under construction. It opened its doors in 2010.
The result was exactly what Gordan had hoped for. All children, disabled or not, were able to have a day full of fun and laughter. Without worrying about their disability. One couple thanked Gordan because their daughter was able to get involved in the fun. As opposed to sitting back and watching the fun. “So many people told us that this would be an opportunity for our daughter to finally have a place where she wouldn’t have to sit on the sidelines, she could actually do everything,” they said.
- “Father Builds a $35 Million Theme Park for Daughter With Special Needs.” People. Jason Duaine Hahn. August 7, 2017
- “The One and Only Ultra-Accessible™ Theme Park.” Morgans Wonderland.
- “Dad builds $35M theme park for disabled daughter and makes it free for other disabled kids too. ” Spotlight Stories. D.G. Sciortino. May 30, 2022.