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Morgan’s Inspiration Island

July 19, 2017

Under the blazing sun in San Antonio, Texas, sprouts Morgan’s Inspiration Island, a brand-new, 8-acre water park that welcomes all ages and abilities to join in the splish-splashy fun. Using inclusive design and ultra-accessibility as motivation, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is the first water park of its kind.  

Universal or inclusion design is designing in a way that allows everyone to experience the environment in a similar way. Morgan’s Inspiration Island opened in Spring 2017 next to Morgan's Wonderland amusement park, using the same design concepts. “Like Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island is not a special-needs park; it’s a park of inclusion,” said Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, which supports programs, projects, and collaborative efforts of area non-profit organizations that provide direct services for individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities, with a particular focus on serving children’s needs. The water park is designed so that all children, no matter their abilities, can play with the attractions and, more importantly, with other children.

Just like Morgan’s Wonderland, at Morgan’s Inspiration Island every element is wheelchair-accessible. Water park features include a seven-story lighthouse, the River Boat Adventure, Rainbow Reef, Shipwreck Island, and Hang 10 Harbor, where everyone can experience raintrees, pools, geysers, water cannons, and tipping buckets.

Various design aspects were kept in mind when conceptualizing the park. For example, water pressure and temperature differ throughout the site so that all can enjoy the water. Rainbow Reef, a large splash pad with water-squirting sea creatures, has heated water so that those with sensitivity to cold can still enjoy the park. Another unique element is the River Boat Ride where the loading dock allows every guest to board the boat, whether in a wheelchair, with a walker, or by walking without aid.

These thoughtful design elements allow all visitors to enjoy and experience the environment without feeling different or excluded.

Hannah Viparina is a graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), studying Interior Design. She received her  B.F.A. from Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. Viparina was one of the 2017 winners of i+s’ I Like Design competition, and is currently interning at Michael Graves Architecture & Design as part of her award.

How to Get Involved

As designers we have the ability to shape a user’s experience and affect how they use, feel, and act within a space. With this in mind, creator and designer of Morgan’s Inspiration Island Tracie Ochoa challenges other designers “to make the accessible features of your design be a visual, aesthetic enhancement, rather than creating something utilitarian.”  Rather than creating a separate or different experience for those with different abilities, instead create certain key features that all can access easily. These exciting and interesting elements will draw attention; when everyone is able to use them together—that’s when inclusive design is its strongest.

Photography by Robin Jerstad/Jerstad Photographics

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