St. Louis Recreation Development Group, Inc., a St. Louis-based not-for-profit and 501©3, announces Spirit of Discovery Park. The organization was established in 2016 with the vision of creating a 100% inclusive amusement park designed for every BODY. Its Board of Directors has taken on the monumental task of creating a uniquely focused entertainment and amusement park designed specifically for people with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities as well as special needs from the ground up. The destination will have rides, attractions, a greenhouse, gardens, amphitheater sensory areas, a splash park and an ice rink with access designed for everyone in tennis shoes to wheelchairs.
This approximately 35- acre theme park will be centrally located in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri. With the assistance of Washington University School of Medicine’s Program in Occupational Therapy students and the creative team, Wonderland Development Group, of San Antonio, Texas, the 70 plots of land has been researched and narrowed in scope for Spirit of Discovery Park’s team to then utilize the experiences, concepts and connections from both organizations, in order to make our offering as safe, efficient, and accessible as possible.
One of the most exciting attractions will be Spirit of Discovery Park’s ice rink. On-ice programs include a future home for the St. Louis Blues Blind Hockey Club. In partnership with the St. Louis Blues®, the facility will bring a full range of ice sports for athletes both with and without special needs or disabilities, including figure skating, curling, sled hockey and public skating.
The Ride-Along Adventure allows wheelchair passengers and their companions to enjoy an authentic off-road experience while the train and train depot contain custom-built cars and wheelchair ramps that accommodate all guests with ease. The River Boat Adventure ride will twist and turn through landscapes and recreations of local attractions in a vintage looking paddle-wheeler that pays homage to St. Louis’ rich river history.
The 5 ½ story Ferris Wheel includes 12 gondolas accommodating wheelchairs, children and adults while offering a panoramic view of the entire park. The indoor and outdoor interactive Sensory Areas will be filled with exciting experiences for all ages and abilities to enjoy. The musical and colorful Carousel includes specially-designed “chariots” moving our wheel-chaired guests up and down on the merry-go-round.
Open each Summer, Spirit of Discovery’s Splash Park includes many innovative adaptations for those with special needs. Wheelchair visitors, who may not have been able to enjoy a splash park anywhere else, will now have the opportunity to transfer from their own chairs to waterproof wheelchairs while warm-water splash pads provide for guests with aversion to cooler water temperatures. The Splash Park will give all of our guests the chance to make great summer memories with their family and friends, just like everyone else.
Need a little break? Playgrounds, pavilions and picnic areas will provide relaxing areas for guests to enjoy. Visitors will also be able to purchase local fares of food, snacks and beverages or even bring their own!
In addition, the Rooftop Greenhouse at Spirit of Discovery Park, will be a tribute to our Veterans. The Greenhouse at Spirit of Discovery Park is being built to provide a safe, stress-free environment for our Veterans as they transition back into civilian life. Managed entirely by former military men and women, this indoor environment will be surrounded by the natural sounds of trickling water and sunlight. Guests will be offered the chance to interact with our Aeroponic Vertical Gardens throughout the Park, giving witness to the sustainable, organic, and nutrient dense growing environment – a glimpse, and a touch of the future of technology and agriculture.
Jamie Vann, President and Executive Director of St. Louis Recreation Development Group, Inc., shares her vision: “We NEED to build this destination that offers families the opportunity to make memories, otherwise thought to be impossible; where the young and young at heart can come and enjoy no matter their ability!”
“Local and national business sponsorships and donors will provide the operational support and maintenance costs, making our park a reality” explains Vann. “We have a multitude of different sponsorship opportunities both in and around the park. Every ride, attraction and venue can be utilized to promote our partnerships while showing support for our project.”
The Park’s admission policy will be such that any person of disability or special need, will be admitted FREE of charge. Adults and children of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy multiple aspects of this truly unique park.
Spirit of Discovery Park is a local, nonprofit, organization established in 2016. For more information or additional opportunities to support, please visit www.spiritofdiscoverypark.com.