Developers hope to break ground in 2023 on an amusement park outside St. Louis that they are calling the most innovative and fully accessible park in the world.
Spirit of Discovery Park will be located in Wentzville, Missouri, about 40 minutes west of St. Louis. It will join Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, as the only ultra-accessible amusement park in the world.
“When we came up with a vision, it was joy for everybody. And our mission is to build this amusement park for all abilities,” co-founder Jamie Vann told KMOV.
Developers are targeting a 2025 opening for a park specifically designed for everybody, including those with physical and mental disabilities.
“Many of us have fond memories of visiting theme parks as children, but not everyone can be so lucky,” said developers on the park’s website. “There are children and parents all across our world that have challenges that prevent them from enjoying theme parks and activities of many kinds.”
The park will be targeted to those with Downs syndrome, autism, PTSD, or anyone battling a life-threatening illness, as well as the hearing, visually, mentally, and physically impaired.
“Everyone at the park is going to have something that they can do and that they want to do, and all the needs of all of our communities will be taken care of, but we are focused on those with special needs,” Vann told Fox2Now. “They deserve it, they need it, our community needs it.”
The 60-acre park will feature rides, a playground, greenhouse, dog park, splash pads, arcade, and more.
“We always think about wheelchairs when we think about special needs,” said architect Rick Hill, who is helping design the park. “We’re talking about hospital beds. We’re talking about all disabilities, whether it’s autism, whether it’s epilepsy, we’re looking at all the different ones and trying to accommodate them here.”
As an example, the greenhouse will feature elevated gardens to allow those in wheelchairs to pick pumpkins and other vegetables right off the vine.
“It’s also about the grandparent who is in a wheelchair and has oxygen,” Vann said. “It’s about the parents who served in our military and came home that isn’t whole and wants to do something with their child.”
Vann said the idea for the park has been floating around for about a decade, after a friend with three children, including one with Downs syndrome, said they wouldn’t be going to Disney World. That sparked the thought in her mind that families with disabled loved ones deserve the same opportunity for fun.
Developers expect the cost of building the park to be about $100 million, and they are seeking donations to aid the effort. Once open, they don’t plan on charging anyone with a disability to enter the park, and only a nominal fee for those accompanying them.
Developers plan to raise funds through grants, fundraisers, and community outreach. They will appeal to corporations and philanthropists by delivering the message that everyone deserves a special place.
Local officials are thrilled with the idea, with Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione calling it an incredible opportunity for the community.
“I think we’ll have people come from all over the world,” he said. “Wentzville will be a destination.”
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