Thursday 19 October 2017

You need to 'sea' this: World’s first disability-friendly water park opens this weekend

Rebecca Lumley

The world’s first wheelchair-friendly water park made waves on its opening day in Texas yesterday.

Morgan’s Inspiration Island claims it is “ultra-accessible”, using sophisticated technology to give disabled people greater freedom than they would experience at normal parks.

The park features rides, sensory gardens and “splash pads”, instead of normal swimming pools. Wheelchair users can avail of the park’s waterproof wheelchairs, which are propelled along by compressed air instead of battery power.

Visitors are also given waterproof wristbands containing tracking chips, so parents can locate their children in the large park by visiting one of the location stations.

Founder of the foundation which owns the park, Gordon Hartman said the park would “concentrate on inclusion and inspire guests with special needs to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities.”

“Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater appreciation of one another.”

Six major elements comprise the $17 million park, inspired by Hartman and his wife Maggie’s 23-year-old daughter with special needs, Morgan.

It includes five splash pads, a River Boat Ride, restaurants, private cabanas and support facilities. Some of the splash pads feature temperature controls, to cater for people who have sensitivity to cold water.

Assistance dogs are also permitted within the park.

It sits adjacent to the larger Morgan’s Wonderland theme park, which also boasts full wheelchair accessibility on all of its rides and opened in 2010.

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