An all-inclusive amusement park is set to open in Wentzville

WENTZVILLE, Mo. – Spirit of Discovery Park would be only the second amusement park in the world to offer a fully inclusive experience for people with any form of disability.

The amusement park, meant to serve everyone, is under contract on 60 acres of land in Wentzville. The amusement park development group had been searching for the perfect land in the St. Louis area for years and they finally landed on a property in Wentzville.

The location is secret at this time, but the designs are already complete.

“Our goal is to bring a park that is literally for everyone,” said Rick Hill, the architect of Spirit of Discovery Park. “It was more a passion than a project.

“Everyone at the park will have something they can do and want to do, and all of the needs of all of our communities will be catered for, but our focus is on those with special needs,” Jamie said. Vann, said the president and founder of Spirit of Discovery Park. “They deserve it, they need it, our community needs it.”

It may not have the mickey ears once offered in the St. Louis area, but the park should offer a feel similar to Disney World’s Epcot. Vann said the Spirit of Discover Park will merge entertainment and education.

There won’t be a roller coaster, but there will be a carousel, jeep ride, Ferris wheel, barn, sensory and edible gardens, and a greenhouse designed by a former Disney cast member. It will also feature raised garden beds, which would give people with disabilities the ability to do something like pick a fruit or vegetable, which they may never have had the opportunity to do before.

“We’re going to raise them to fit their wheelchairs, so they can actually pick a strawberry or pick their own pumpkin,” Vann said.

She said SLU’s OT department has worked with the park for several semesters to complete projects aimed at finding a solution to challenges in the disability community. One of the results of the collaboration is raised beds.

The park plans to allow anyone with a disability to enter the park for free. They also want to hire veterans and give them job training and placement skills.

Vann and Hill said each disability is represented at the table discussions to ensure they accommodate each challenge a disability faces, to ensure they don’t face a challenge when they enjoy the park.

Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione said this is an incredible opportunity for the community and will also benefit nearby hotels, gas stations and small businesses.

“I think we’ll have people from all over the world, Wentzville will be a destination, it’s now, but I think it will put us on the map,” Guccione said.

The park is non-profit and is not funded by taxpayers’ money. Guccione said there will likely be traffic studies done by MoDot and the city to ensure adequate traffic flow.

The idea originated when Jamie Vann was on a play date with her kids and her friend’s kids several years ago. His friend’s daughter has Down’s syndrome. The Vann family was planning a trip to Disney World for spring break, and her friend said it was something she couldn’t do with her family because of challenges with her daughter.

She mentioned that there was an inclusive amusement park in San Antonio called Morgan’s Wonderland. A few years later she went there and the whole family loved it. When she told Jamie about her experience, Jamie said, “Well, we should do that in St. Louis.” So that’s what she’s been working on for six years.

If all goes as planned, they will inaugurate the park in 2023 and complete the park in 2025.

SoDP has raised over $330,000 for the park. Initial plans originally covered only 35 acres and cost $35 million. Since the expansion, they have decided to create a pro forma which will provide a more accurate estimate of the 60+ acre campus.

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Harold B. McConnell