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Watkins Regional Park

Upper Marlboro, MD USA

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Playground Overview

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Wizard of Oz-themed playground! The playground design is a literary dream as it tells the story of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," from Auntie Em and Uncle Henry's Kansas farm to the poppy field, Emerald City and Dorothy's attempt to get home via hot air balloon. Even more, Dorothy's ruby slippers were adapted to be playground slides! Kids of all ages and abilities will use their imaginations as they explore this destination playground, and the surrounding park.


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Playground Details

  • Age Ranges

    • 5 to 12 years
  • Design Standards

  • ASTM
  • Installed

  • June 2015
  • Min Area Required

  • 153' x 128' (46,63 m x 39,01 m)

  • Project Price Range

  • Pricing for custom playground equipment varies. For international and exact pricing, please contact your local playground consultant.

  • Contact Your Consultant
See Color Inspiration

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Video features a custom Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro Maryland.

[video: Elevated view of a PebbleFlex surfaced pathway designed like the yellow brick road leading up to the playground area. A DigiFuse sign designed like an open book with images of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion read: Welcome Home of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.]

[video: a playground post sits in a cluster of corn stocks with Permalene panel arrows pointing in opposite directions read: Yellow Brick Road and Ruby Red Shoes.]

[video: to larger than life ruby red shoes sit side by side with slide down the middle of the shoes. Close-up side view of a line of talk tubes designed like corn stocks. Camera slowly pans up past a flower shaped talk tube up to large overhead playground post with decretive flower heads.]

[video: a tree with decorative attached stone eyes, nose, mustache, and mouth. Close-up of a cluster of lowers as a bumble bee feeds on their nectar. Close-up of a mail box painted with flowers and butterfly reading: Aunt Em.]

[video: camera pans up the playground structure designed like a tilted farm house. Camera switch to an elevated view of the play area with colorful PebbleFlex playground surfacing. Light bursts fill the screen from the top left corner. Scene switch to Brenda Iraola and landscape architect supervisor speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Brenda’s name and title.]

Brenda: This is a huge playground project that we’ve had, and we were wanting to do a really cool themed playground.

Brenda voiceover: And one of my staff had an idea for Wizard of Oz, and we had a large area, so it fit the project.

[video: top down view of a DigiFuse panel designed like an open book with the story of how the Wizard’s balloon escape to Kansas. Three play structures have domed roof structures designed like hot air balloons. Camera switch to a playground sitting bench made to look like a cut in half log with metal spider web back rest and a witch’s broom on the top of the seat back. Three playground posts designed with Permalene panels cut and colored like ever green trees with Permalene panels shaped flying monkeys. A dog house climber is designed with recycled plastic lumber with Toto’s name printed on the front. A multi post arch way with rainbow color panels arches over the yellow brick road pathway leading up to the play area.

Darryl voiceover: Since the new playground has gone in the volume has increased dramatically.

[video: Birds eye view of the entire playground area. Camera switch to ground level as two boys spin together on the Flywheel spinner while children play on other playground activities. Camera switches to Darryl Oden the maintenance supervisor of the park as he speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Darryl’s name and title.]

Darryl: We have probably eighty to ninety kids at any single point of time throughout the day.

Darryl voiceover: On the weekends we have a lot more

[video: camera pans across the PebbleFlex pathway with over hanging rainbow arch. The shadows of the colored panels of the arch way cascade down on the yellow brick road pathway.]

Kathleen voiceover: You know what I love are all the little details.

[video: children in matching safety green t-shirts climb all over a cluster of Cozy Dome sensory play climbers. Close-up of the tops of two Cozy Domes as children climb all over the outside of them. A group of children roll themselves down the roller table designed with Permalene cut panels like sunflowers. Camera switches to Kathleen Garrity the program superintendent as she speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Kathleen’s name and title.]

Kathleen: I love Wizard of Oz so to see this all come to light has just been wonderful.

Brenda voiceover: We’re trying to teach kids to learn while they’re outside playing.

[video: camera comes into focus on a girl standing on a JigJag climber. Camera switch to a view of the back of the farm tractor play structure as a boy sits in the driver set. Another young boy climbs up the side of the tractor. Top down view from the playground of a girl as she spins on the Saddle seat spinner with surrounding flower designed pebble flex surfacing.

Brenda: Playing doesn’t have to involve being just on play equipment you can learn while you play.

Brenda voiceover: We work with Landscape Structures to put in words that they have to find wizard, eyes, scarecrow, Dorothy it’s really unique. And the younger kids can look for their ABCs.

[video: two girls ride on a cow and chicken spring rider while their friend dances around them. Camera pans down the front of the Tractor play climber where the Landscape Structures logo is in the front Permalene panel of the tractor. Camera back to Brenda as she lists the different words the children need to search for. Camera pans up a DigiFuse panel printed with a word fined. Camera switches to another playground DigiFuse panel word find and learn your ABCs. Camera back to Darryl speaking to the camera.]

Darryl: I have never seen anything like this.

Darryl voiceover: There were some kids that came the other day they were glued to the window as the car drove in the parking lot. It’s amazing because their faces just they light up, they just couldn’t wait to get out and run down and have this experience.]

[video: elevated panning view towards the play area and Emerald City play structure. Side view of children swinging on the playground swing set. Camera pans left to right across the top of the Emerald City play structure where children stand together and smile for a group photo. Two girls run in slow motion towards the playground.]

[video: three girls sit at the barn then play structure speaking to the camera about the playground.]

Girl: What I like about this playground is the theme, is so fun, It’s Wizard of Oz and I like it. It’s like a whole world of Oz.

[video: a boy standing at the top of the Emerald City play structure speaks to the camera.

Boy: I like that there’s a barn over there where Dorothy had little animals.

Boy voiceover: And there’s a chicken coop and I like the little pole right there that you can go down.

[video: full view of the barn themed playground structure. Close-up of a concrete chicken steppers face. Close-up of the bottom base board of the chicken coop where a line of Permalene cut out chicks are lined up and numbered one through ten. The boy points down to the fire pole. Top down view of the boy as she slides down the Fire Pole. A boy side steps up the JigJab climber towards the camera and the playground decking. Children stick their heads through the face holes of the DigiFuse panels with the body shapes of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy, and The Cowardly Lion.]

[video: three girls run around the Ruby Red Slipper slides. Elevated top down view panning over the playground area. Two kids spin on Saddle seat spinners. A ribbon of light wiggles through the screen over the panning view of the playground. A pair of Ruby Red Slippers appear behind the ribbon of light. They shoe heals click together three times and slide to the bottom of the screen disappearing. White text appears overlay the overhead view of the playground reading: Better playgrounds. Better world.]

[video: screen fades to black leaving the white text. The Landscape Structures quickly replaces the text in the middle of the screen.]

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Sparks@Play logo made of a S shape curving over itself with green dot above. Purple text to the right reading: Sparks @ Play.

Sparks@Play, LLC
3705 Crondall Ln
Owings Mills, MD 21117
USA
Phone 410-356-4151
info@sparksatplay.com
www.sparksatplay.com

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There's No Place like the Playground

Wizard of Oz-themed playspace encourages fun and learning

Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., is an 800+-acre park that attracts more than 1 million visitors throughout the course of a year. Part of the reason the park sees so many visitors is because the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) hosts many community events there. The other is the recently updated play space.

“This was a huge playground project, and we wanted to do a cool themed playground,” explained Brenda Iraola, landscape architect supervisor with MNCPPC. “A staff member came up with the idea for the Wizard of Oz, and I designed the space with two other landscape architect’s (Chris Colvin and Rene Albacete) to create a unique theme based on the original Oz storybook, which the famous movie was later based on and is seen all across the world.”

Playground products shown in video may not be appropriate for every age group. Playsystems shown in video are for demonstration purposes only. Product configurations may vary.

Video features a custom Wizard of Oz themed playground at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro Maryland.

[video: Elevated view of a PebbleFlex surfaced pathway designed like the yellow brick road leading up to the playground area. A DigiFuse sign designed like an open book with images of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion read: Welcome Home of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.]

[video: a playground post sits in a cluster of corn stocks with Permalene panel arrows pointing in opposite directions read: Yellow Brick Road and Ruby Red Shoes.]

[video: to larger than life ruby red shoes sit side by side with slide down the middle of the shoes. Close-up side view of a line of talk tubes designed like corn stocks. Camera slowly pans up past a flower shaped talk tube up to large overhead playground post with decretive flower heads.]

[video: a tree with decorative attached stone eyes, nose, mustache, and mouth. Close-up of a cluster of lowers as a bumble bee feeds on their nectar. Close-up of a mail box painted with flowers and butterfly reading: Aunt Em.]

[video: camera pans up the playground structure designed like a tilted farm house. Camera switch to an elevated view of the play area with colorful PebbleFlex playground surfacing. Light bursts fill the screen from the top left corner. Scene switch to Brenda Iraola and landscape architect supervisor speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Brenda’s name and title.]

Brenda: This is a huge playground project that we’ve had, and we were wanting to do a really cool themed playground.

Brenda voiceover: And one of my staff had an idea for Wizard of Oz, and we had a large area, so it fit the project.

[video: top down view of a DigiFuse panel designed like an open book with the story of how the Wizard’s balloon escape to Kansas. Three play structures have domed roof structures designed like hot air balloons. Camera switch to a playground sitting bench made to look like a cut in half log with metal spider web back rest and a witch’s broom on the top of the seat back. Three playground posts designed with Permalene panels cut and colored like ever green trees with Permalene panels shaped flying monkeys. A dog house climber is designed with recycled plastic lumber with Toto’s name printed on the front. A multi post arch way with rainbow color panels arches over the yellow brick road pathway leading up to the play area.

Darryl voiceover: Since the new playground has gone in the volume has increased dramatically.

[video: Birds eye view of the entire playground area. Camera switch to ground level as two boys spin together on the Flywheel spinner while children play on other playground activities. Camera switches to Darryl Oden the maintenance supervisor of the park as he speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Darryl’s name and title.]

Darryl: We have probably eighty to ninety kids at any single point of time throughout the day.

Darryl voiceover: On the weekends we have a lot more

[video: camera pans across the PebbleFlex pathway with over hanging rainbow arch. The shadows of the colored panels of the arch way cascade down on the yellow brick road pathway.]

Kathleen voiceover: You know what I love are all the little details.

[video: children in matching safety green t-shirts climb all over a cluster of Cozy Dome sensory play climbers. Close-up of the tops of two Cozy Domes as children climb all over the outside of them. A group of children roll themselves down the roller table designed with Permalene cut panels like sunflowers. Camera switches to Kathleen Garrity the program superintendent as she speaks to the camera. Green animated glitter sparkles roll in from the bottom left of the screen producing Kathleen’s name and title.]

Kathleen: I love Wizard of Oz so to see this all come to light has just been wonderful.

Brenda voiceover: We’re trying to teach kids to learn while they’re outside playing.

[video: camera comes into focus on a girl standing on a JigJag climber. Camera switch to a view of the back of the farm tractor play structure as a boy sits in the driver set. Another young boy climbs up the side of the tractor. Top down view from the playground of a girl as she spins on the Saddle seat spinner with surrounding flower designed pebble flex surfacing.

Brenda: Playing doesn’t have to involve being just on play equipment you can learn while you play.

Brenda voiceover: We work with Landscape Structures to put in words that they have to find wizard, eyes, scarecrow, Dorothy it’s really unique. And the younger kids can look for their ABCs.

[video: two girls ride on a cow and chicken spring rider while their friend dances around them. Camera pans down the front of the Tractor play climber where the Landscape Structures logo is in the front Permalene panel of the tractor. Camera back to Brenda as she lists the different words the children need to search for. Camera pans up a DigiFuse panel printed with a word fined. Camera switches to another playground DigiFuse panel word find and learn your ABCs. Camera back to Darryl speaking to the camera.]

Darryl: I have never seen anything like this.

Darryl voiceover: There were some kids that came the other day they were glued to the window as the car drove in the parking lot. It’s amazing because their faces just they light up, they just couldn’t wait to get out and run down and have this experience.]

[video: elevated panning view towards the play area and Emerald City play structure. Side view of children swinging on the playground swing set. Camera pans left to right across the top of the Emerald City play structure where children stand together and smile for a group photo. Two girls run in slow motion towards the playground.]

[video: three girls sit at the barn then play structure speaking to the camera about the playground.]

Girl: What I like about this playground is the theme, is so fun, It’s Wizard of Oz and I like it. It’s like a whole world of Oz.

[video: a boy standing at the top of the Emerald City play structure speaks to the camera.

Boy: I like that there’s a barn over there where Dorothy had little animals.

Boy voiceover: And there’s a chicken coop and I like the little pole right there that you can go down.

[video: full view of the barn themed playground structure. Close-up of a concrete chicken steppers face. Close-up of the bottom base board of the chicken coop where a line of Permalene cut out chicks are lined up and numbered one through ten. The boy points down to the fire pole. Top down view of the boy as she slides down the Fire Pole. A boy side steps up the JigJab climber towards the camera and the playground decking. Children stick their heads through the face holes of the DigiFuse panels with the body shapes of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy, and The Cowardly Lion.]

[video: three girls run around the Ruby Red Slipper slides. Elevated top down view panning over the playground area. Two kids spin on Saddle seat spinners. A ribbon of light wiggles through the screen over the panning view of the playground. A pair of Ruby Red Slippers appear behind the ribbon of light. They shoe heals click together three times and slide to the bottom of the screen disappearing. White text appears overlay the overhead view of the playground reading: Better playgrounds. Better world.]

[video: screen fades to black leaving the white text. The Landscape Structures quickly replaces the text in the middle of the screen.]

A Design Found in Storybooks

After completing other large-scale successful themed playgrounds including the Indian Creek Playground and South Bowie Community Center, Brenda reached out to Sparks@Play, the exclusive distributor of Landscape Structures commercial playground equipment in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., to discuss her team’s ideas.

“They had the confidence in us that they would see the design and know that it would translate to the playground.” Stephanie Sparks Vice President of Marketing, Sparks@Play

“Because of the amazing woodland setting at Watkins Regional Park with 80-foot tall mature trees, we had the perfect storybook setting for the Emerald Forest,” said Brenda. “We used the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum as our inspiration and created play areas based on the different stages of the story.”

Kids and families can experience Auntie Em and Uncle Henry’s Kansas farm, Dorothy’s house, Munchin Land, the poppy field, the Emerald City and Dorothy’s attempt to get home via hot air balloon. Even more, Dorothy’s ruby slippers were adapted to be playground slides! The design also includes a unique experience for the children to become the characters of the storybook. Brenda and her team used play panels containing graphics of the drawn storybook characters—Dorothy and Toto, the Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow—with cut-outs for children’s faces to allow them to become a part of the story.

“One of the interesting components we used to make this playground come alive was the poured-in-place safety surfacing,” said Brenda. “We decided to make children feel like they were actually in the storybook walking on the yellow brick road, which Dorothy follows to find her new friends.”

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Promoting Literacy through Play

One of the unique things about the Wizard of Oz-themed playground is that Brenda and her team incorporated learning elements into the fun. Toto’s doghouse was designed to help teach kids ages 2 to 5 about colors. Climbing grips were custom manufactured as dog bones in various colors and labeled so can learn color names as they climb. “We’re trying to teach kids as they play on this playground."

Even more, the hot air balloon-themed PlayBooster® playstructure has word search panels so kids can find the important words in the storybook—Wizard, Oz, Scarecrow, Dorothy, etc. And it offers an opportunity for younger kids to get more familiar with their ABCs. The theme and the activities throughout the playground help promote literacy and encourage children to read the storybook. Replica pages from the 1899 book were placed as signs in the playground to represent what happened in the storybook.

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The Main Attraction

The new playground at Watkins Regional Park opened in July 2015, which pulled visitors from all over Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. And since its opening, the playground has been the main attraction at the park. “I have never seen anything like this playground. The kids’ faces just light up like it is Christmastime.” Darrell Oden Maintenance Superintendent, MNCPPC

“We have 80 to 90 kids playing on the playground at any single point throughout the day,” explained Darrell Oden, maintenance superintendent at MNCPPC. “Along with the playground upgrades, we painted the five existing shelters to resemble barns and upgraded the asphalt pathway to make access easier. The playground has truly become the destination point within the park.”

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