Last June, I reviewed Morgan’s Wonderland, an “ultra-accessible” playground/theme park. I promised I’d visit the separate water park there, and we went in August 2019. I figured the middle of winter is as good a time as any to write about the experience!
I’ll start by saying that I hate, absolutely hate and abhor the name of the water park. It’s called Morgan’s Inspiration Island, and I don’t need to explain to anyone in the disability community or those familiar with disability culture why the words inspiration and disability should never be used together. For everyone else: it’s an overused trope that makes my skin crawl. Watch Stella Young’s TED talk about inspiration porn.
Okay, once I vowed to ignore the awful name, it was time to hit the water park with my kids! Let me preface our visit by stating that I have never taken my kids to a water park before. Although there a a few other reasons, the primary one is that my body in a swimsuit around droves of young children in a public space is a disaster. I’m not in any way ashamed of my body, and I like to buy super cute swimsuits because I love to swim, especially with my kids.
But my body is a foreign anomaly to young kids who have never seen a body like mine and who are naturally curious and uninhibited with their questions and staring. The problem is that my whole experience becomes about normalizing disability by smiling and waving at these kids and patiently answering their questions and telling their parents it’s okay, let them ask. And to be honest, that’s not my favorite way to spend a day. I’ve already spent too much of my life making non-disabled people feel comfortable. And it’s just not fair to my kids. They don’t understand why I’m such a novelty to other children, and it gets annoying – fast.
So, the opportunity to go to a water park where there might be less disability-related chaos, and where I would be able to use a power wheelchair to get around instead of crawling on the ground or being pushed in a manual chair was something I could not pass up. The water park, like the main Morgan’s Wonderland, is very accessible. It’s built FOR disabled people. It’s an amazing feeling to experience this after living your lifetime in a world that constantly reminds you that was never meant for you. They expect disabled people, and no one bats an eye at missing limbs or wheelchairs or stimming.
The changing area was nice, and the staff were helpful. They traded my power wheelchair for a waterproof chair that was powered by air. It was amazing! It lasts a couple hours before needing a “re-charge.” My only complaint was that the changing area was private, but not air conditioned. Texas is unbearably hot in August and I know I’m not the only crip who struggles with dressing sweaty skin. They keep your personal wheelchair in a back area only accessed by staff, but I wold put anything valuable in a locked locker.
I had a blast going through the park in this magical waterproof chair. I was able to do everything WITH my kids, instead of sitting back and just watching them. It was a lot of fun.
There’s a “restaurant” there that’s more like a glorified snack bar that takes a really long time to make nachos, but whatever. We didn’t come for the food.
The one actual ride they had was kind of a river boat, except it went very slowly. This is a theme throughout both parks. This is not the place to go if you are looking for fast and exciting rides. The vibe is definitely slower paced, making it a good choice for folks with a wide range of disabilities. I was surprised that the riverboat ride could not accommodate the waterproof wheelchairs. So I was able to ride, but I had to transfer into the boat. This was in contrast to the jeep rides and the train over at the theme park where my power wheelchair was able to go on board.
One of the other great things about this waterpark was just being around a lot of other disabled people. Many of the employees are disabled, and we met several adults and kids with developmental disabilities who were also guests there. We don’t get as many opportunities as I’d like to simply be with others in the disability community. I want my kids to understand that even though someone with Down Syndrome, for example, may not look similar to me, we are still part of the same disability culture and community.
In conclusion, I would recommend Morgan’s Inspiration Island to other disabled families looking for a waterpark experience. The waterpark is seasonal so only it is open between May and September. Check the website for dates. San Antonio has several fun and accessible attractions in addition to both Morgan’s Wonderland and Inspiration Island, so I think families could make a vacation trip out of it.