This summer my kiddos were lucky enough to get invited to a birthday party at the new splash park in Morgan’s Wonderland, Inspiration Island. As with the rest of Morgan’s Wonderland, this place is perfect for family members of all ages and abilities. With five (FIVE!!) themed splash pad areas and a river boat water ride, we managed to keep ourselves entertained for an entire day for less than the cost of a single ticket to a big-name theme parks. There is one way in and out of the area, so no worries about the little ones making a break for it. Each of the splash areas have appropriate interactions for little kids, from crawlers through runners, so we mamas don’t have to use the eyes located on the back of our heads. And, if you feel like splurging, cabanas are available to rent for a very reasonable cost so you can get off your feet, store your towels and shoes, and even enjoy some complimentary cold water.
Our only difficulty came in that they don’t allow food into Inspiration Island. However, it is conveniently located right next to the amphitheater, where picnic tables abound and you can feel comfortable leaving your cooler. There are also two restaurants in the water area that will sell you delicious food and drinks.
Inspiration Island opens an hour after the main entrance to Morgan’s Wonderland opens, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to arrive. My kids inherited my love of the carousel, and we rode it about four (million) times. There are other rides too, including a jeep track and a Ferris wheel. Playground areas include swings for all sizes and abilities, stuff to climb on and slide down, and best of all, they are almost entirely shaded! If your water babies just can’t wait to get to the fun, there is also an impressive water table play area where they can unleash their inner engineers to route rivers of water, splash around, and generally get soaked.
But, for this trip, Inspiration Island kept our hearts. It starts before you even get into the water park area. The staff makes sure that it never gets too crowded, so you won’t have to worry about being shoulder to shoulder with other people. (Sometimes this also means that you have to find something else to play with at Morgan’s until space clears up so you can get in, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.) We went on a busy Saturday, and they closed down the water park once—for about 30 minutes—so this wasn’t a big problem. We used the time for a quick food break and a sunscreen reapplication.
Once you get in, there are lockers for rental, and if someone in your party is in a wheelchair, they have waterproof chairs for use. The first area has another water table, plus a great entrance sign to capture a picture of smiling kids (before you lose them to the park). As you work your way up the hill, you will see that each splash area has its own theme, with water splashing down from above and squirting up from below.
My kiddos found two favorite spots. The pirate ship at the top has a slide that contains enough of a puddle at the bottom to make a good splash. And right next to the slides, a gigantic bucket slowly fills and then dumps copious amounts of water onto children (and adults) who eagerly huddle under the downpour. Right next door is Harvey’s Hideaway Bay. My daughter and her friend parked themselves under the waterfall and laughed and laughed and laughed as the water rained down on them. The one-year-old birthday boy especially liked the jungle-themed area, which was full of structures he could pull up on, spin, twirl, bang, and use to make a joyful noise.
I will admit, I was a bit skeptical about just how long my almost five year-olds would be entertained at a splash pad. I should have known that Morgan’s doesn’t disappoint. We arrived as the gates opened at 10:00 A.M. and had to literally drag the screaming banshees out at 4:00 P.M. after six hours of nonstop running and playing. They had turned pink from head to toe, their sustenance for the day had included juice boxes, a couple of hasty bites from a sandwich, and half a bag of chips, and they were so exhausted they couldn’t think straight. But boy, were they happy! They haven’t stopped asking to go back since.
Much like hiding carrots in waffles (a weekly standby in my house, BTW), Morgan’s offers good life lessons in addition to a ton of fun. My kids got to play with people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. The birthday boy’s cousin is in a wheelchair from an accident. I actually expected a whole lot of questions in the weeks that followed, as my kids are at that age where everything requires interrogation-level questioning. I even probed a bit on our rides home from school in the next few days. But, it turns out, like the carrots, they never really noticed it. My daughter, like most I suspect, was far more interested in whether a little girl was going to spray her with water from the cannon than why she looked a bit different or moved a bit more slowly. And the wheelchair? Beyond wanting to know the mechanics of how it worked in vivid detail, my son couldn’t have cared less. Parenting win. Fun for the kids. And more evidence for my own children that kids are just kids, no matter what they look like.
As the mother of the birthday boy and the aunt of the wheelchair bound, I cannot sing Morgan’s praises enough. My nephew was severely injured at 17 years old in an accident. His recovery has been difficult. This water park opened at the perfect time, between stays at TIRR. I was worried that a teenager in a wheel chair would have nothing to do with this place. But he along with his non- wheelchair bound teenage cousins cannot stop talking about how much they enjoyed the day. This is a huge accomplishment because your never children can make the best of any water filled day. Teenagers are harsher critics. It was a win for them and made all the adults smile at the happiness my nephew was finally able to experience.
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