Morgan’s Wonderland is Open for Business: Will it Top the List of Best Amusement Parks for Special Needs Kids?

Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio Texas, is very unique. It is the first accessible fun park designed especially for special needs kids of all ages. The 25 acre amusement facility allows families to learn and play together in a safe environment … where everyone can have fun, regardless of his or her disability!

It all started with Gordon Hartman as he observed his special needs daughter attempting to interact with other children at a hotel swimming pool. Unfortunately, Morgan and the other kids were unsuccessful that day. But, it was that interaction that gave Hartman the idea to build a 100% accessible family fun park. Today, his dream is a reality.

Morgan’s Wonderland – Packed With Things for Kids to Do

Morgan’s Wonderland is unlike any other fun park, on the planet. Activities are varied and include the following:

  • Catch and release fishing on an 8 acre lake (with fishing pier)
  • Carousel
  • Race track with adaptive go-carts
  • Music garden
  • 17,000 square foot gymnasium (for volleyball, basketball and tennis)
  • Remote controlled boats
  • Themed sensory village
  • Water play area … and much more

Every attraction at Morgan’s Wonderland is completely accessible. For example, the Sand Circle™ features a huge raised sand table and sand diggers that make it easy for everyone to join the fun. Multiple playscapes have ramps, interactive equipment and custom designed swings.

Safety Features at Morgan’s Wonderland – Child Safety Gates and More

Safety is paramount at Morgan’s Wonderland. The park uses controlled access at all entry and exit points. Think of this technology as series of large child safety gates. There is also security fencing around the entire perimeter of the park and the lake, as well.

Another excellent safety feature is the park’s utilization of RFID (radio frequency identification) wristbands and touch screen monitors. These locator bands track the whereabouts of special needs guests at all times. This helps to ensure that other family members enjoy their day to the fullest.

There are 18 restrooms, located throughout the park. This includes several family restrooms and a restroom equipped with a shower and clean-up area. All are ADA compliant and designed with privacy and convenience in mind.

There are also 2 first aid stations located within Morgan’s Wonderland.

Free Admission for All Special Needs Kids (ages 1 to 101)

All special needs kids receive free admission into Morgan’s Wonderland. Other guests pay a nominal fee, for the price of their tickets.

Reservations are required to gain entrance into the park. This “limited attendance policy”, of sorts, has been put into place to ensure that everyone has the safest, most enjoyable, day possible.

Parking is free. Service animals are allowed into the park. Guests are permitted to bring coolers into the park, as well.

Because of Morgan and her Wonderland, kids with special needs now have a unique place to call their own… a place to learn and play without fear of being different. What could be better than that?

Best Business Practices – Ice breaker? NO WAY!

Some people hate icebreakers; others love them…with good reason. Ice breakers are usually short activities done during a meeting to help build relationships, teamwork, or to just have fun. At times, ice breakers can be non-starters, and then again they can be the best part of a meeting. Ice breakers that are designed appropriately for the right group can renew relationships, improve group communications, improve decision making processes and outcomes, and create momentum towards accomplishing specific goals or end products. Who knew that having fun could be so useful?

Example Ice Breakers

Some ice breakers are fun, physical exercises such as introducing yourself to someone new in the room. Other exercises may focus on having the group think about a particular issue, memory, or challenge. Some ice breakers are simple, like introducing yourself. Others can be quite involved, and the worst ones are embarrassing, non-starters that waste time and group resources.

One low risk ice breaker for a newly formed group is to have each person in the room introduce themselves (such as name, job, and where they work). This simple introduction could be leveraged by having participants not only share their basic ‘stats’ but also share more strategic information such as what their vision of the future might be, or something else that could be used to support the meeting’s goals and objectives. Having participants share information about their first car might be fun and help the group build relationships, but it may not help solve a crisis.

Some People Hate Ice Breakers!!!

Many managers shy away from ice breakers. Why? They may be concerned about being embarrassed in front of their staff. Because of this a peer group will be much more likely to get involved and benefit from an ice breaker than a group of mixed managers and staff. To use an ice breaker in a mixed meeting, brief the manager before the meeting and make sure that they understand the goal of the ice breaker and how that relates to the overall meeting goal or desired outcome.

When to Use Them… and When to Lose Them

Use ice breakers as a ‘mixer’ to help energize the group and help them get to know each other.

Lose the volume -Just because there are a million different types of ice breakers doesn’t mean that all of them need to be used in a single meeting.

Use ice breakers that help set the stage for the meeting or solving an issue. Look for exercises that are new and avoid old (and sometimes boring) standbys that everyone has done a million times.

Lose ice breakers that are isolated events (i.e., they do not support the group, the meeting goals or objectives, or desired outcomes).

Use ice breakers to enhance group trust. Groups with a high level of trust will be more willing to try a wider variety of activities, speak their minds, and make decisions faster.

Lose ice breakers that require high risk activities such as divulging personal information. Keep the group focused on the meeting and avoid personal or sensitive disclosures.

Use ice breakers to build a common group vision. For instance, each member of the group could use an ice breaker to build a common future vision by sharing their thoughts on what the company might look like in 5-years. Look for areas of common agreements, innovative ideas, and opportunities.

Lose ice breakers that take too much time. An ice breaker should be something that can be done relatively quickly (like within 10 minutes). Check with the meeting manager or some of the key participants before dedicating precious meeting time to an ice breaker.

Best Business Practices – Spelling Phobias

Why? Because they either lack confidence in their spelling or simply can’t write so that others can read it.

The good news? Capturing information for all to see during a meeting can be very useful. Once captured, this information can be used to keep a meeting on track. For instance, let’s say someone in the meeting suggests that topic X be included in the next meeting’s agenda. A little while later, they make the same suggestion two or three more times. If the idea had been captured on the Future Topics poster, the participant will know that they have been heard and may not repeat the suggestion again. It may also be that the meeting facilitator, if present, could point to the list and verbally confirm with the participant that the suggestion was captured correctly.

Bullet notes captured on posters during the meeting are not the same as meeting notes, although they may be useful when creating the meeting notes. Bulleted notes captured during the meeting are targeted at meeting participants and not at folks outside of the meeting. Their purpose is to capture key information that will be used during the meeting as a visual reminder of key ideas. Better visual support equals better meetings, and better meetings usually equate to fewer and shorter meetings and higher productivity.

What Should be Captured?

Don’t capture everything. In fact, only capture that which will be used at a later time. It will be important to capture agreements and decisions as accurately as possible (and perhaps even verbatim). Sometimes, once the decision is written down, it just doesn’t seem nearly as clear as it did when spoken. Meeting participants may want to play with the wording a bit to either clarify the statements, restructure the sentence structure, or simply to put their special ‘mark’ on the wording.

Another key element to capture is assignments made during a meeting. Most assignments are forgotten about 5 minutes after a meeting ends, and these notes are critical to getting things done. Capture the who, what, and when information so that participants understand what needs to be done and can get it done in a timely manner.

How to Capture Information

Capturing information in front of a group can be harder than one might imagine. There are several things that can be done to excell at this task.

  • Write large enough so that everyone can read it.
  • Only capture information that will be used later….not everything!
  • Capture information in a neutral way
  • Think brief, concise, and clear. If needed, ask for help or a ’15 second sound bite’ version.
  • Don’t worry about spelling, focus on communicating.
  • Consider drawing symbols such as @ (to represent the word “at”), &, or %
  • Good at drawing? It may be faster to draw a fish than to write the word ‘fish.’
  • Avoid using red pens? Why? Some people cannot see red. Red can also illicit a strong reaction (think blood), and generally can’t be seen at a distance (even for those without visual problems).
  • Use more than one color, such as black and navy, and vary which color is used to capture each idea (e.g., first suggestion is black, second navy, third black, etc.)
  • Use abbreviations, especially those that are well understood by the meeting participants.

And the bad news…There is no spelling binkie to help avoid these mistakes. Sooner or later, something will be misspelled and someone from the audience will just HAVE to point it out. Don’t give up the pen!!! Either have the participant spell the word correctly, or just ask them if they are familiar with texting… incorrect spelling is just a non-electronic form.