Thunder Junction All Abilities Park

thunder junction all abilities park


My supportive spouse Ming and I visited Thunder Junction All Abilities Park in St George, Utah.  I was unprepared for how much fun I would have there and how much food for thought I would eat.  Yum yum!

I loved the egg shells to rest in.  Ming went in an egg shell and let me take his picture.  How cute!

thunder junction egg shell

There are playground areas, a music toy area, zip lines, swings, a volcano that erupts every 45 minutes?  We didn’t see it erupt. There are a lot of rose bushes growing, and they were in bloom!  There’s a very cute little red train that costs only one dollar to ride.  There’s a splash pad with artificial waterfall area.


The music toy area was my favorite.  When no kids were around, I played these chimes–there are metal tubes to hit with a mallet, and resonant angular tubes behind the round tubes.  I enjoyed playing a marimba-type instrument also.  Sounded so magical!

It was not crowded when we arrived; then it became more crowded.  A bunch of school kids on field trip in matching t-shirts were waiting for the train.


Ming was excited to see the ways the park has access.  A sign in the volcano area explains the sounds and lights of the volcano’s predictable eruption.  But there’s no countdown clock to the next eruption.

One of the zip lines has a chair to it so someone can be secured in.  Looked fun!  But there are no guidelines about weight parameters in the park.  I would have loved that information.  I weigh around 300 pounds and have never been on a zip line.  I’d love to try, if I could know it’s ok and I wouldn’t break it.

A sign near the place to buy train tickets explains the sensory experiences people riding the train might have.  There’s not a lot of detail–how loud is the train whistle?  But it’s great to have an idea of what to expect.  Ming took a picture.

thunder junction all abilities park


It was fun to ride the train.  I was afraid that Ming and I, as two adults with no kids with us, would be weird, riding the train.  But no one objected.  I was excited to ride the train with Ming.  My arm was around him, and I felt curious and happy.

The announcement before the train ride started said something about being patient with the park employees, for their differences.  Yes, the worker who took our tokens seemed maybe disabled like me, with some social differences.  Maybe he has autism?  Who knows.

But it made me wonder–how much were the disabled workers getting paid?  Was it an exploitative situation?   Suddenly I felt worried that it was like Goodwill paying disabled workers 68 cents per hour or whatever.  Like prison labor–we are disabled, so our time is treated like it doesn’t matter.  We’re treated like our lives don’t matter.

That gave the whole experience a dystopian feel.  Was this fun park not what it seemed?  I get social security that I live off, and my receiving it is based on the idea that there are no jobs for me.  If special jobs are made for people like me, can I lose my disability income?

That’s scary because I don’t want to earn pennies being exploited.  I want to spend my life caring for myself skillfully, feeling my feelings, making art, and doing mutual aid as I can.


It was also difficult to figure out what’s appropriate.  I live my life loving myself unconditionally.  But it can be scary to go about in public, unsure what’s appropriate in many situations I find myself in.  Culture’s judgments are rigid and confusing.

I was very excited by the park, but was it ok to show my excitement?  Was it ok to play on the music toys?  To stare at the rainbows in the artificial waterfalls for a long time?

No one chastised me or gave me a mean look, so I think I did ok.  But it’s hard to live in a world not designed for me.  Yes, it was an All Abilities park.  But what about all ages?  All weights?  Even at a park for disabled people I felt cautiously wrong, as an adult without kids and as a fat person.  That’s a little sad.  I wish for more places I can feel sure I’m being ok.

That’s what radical mental health has been for me, over the years–a safer space where I can be myself.  Grateful to the people who have helped me make and maintain those spaces.


This park in Utah is worth a visit.  I love the concept and wish for more spaces where all abilities are welcome.

This picture shows my excitement to visit the water part.

Thunder Junction all abilities park

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