Watkins Regional Park
Upper Marlboro, MD USA
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.
- Age Ranges
- 5 to 12 years
- Design Standards
- June 2015
- Project Price Range
Pricing for custom playground equipment varies. For international and exact pricing, please contact your local playground consultant.
- Contact Your Consultant
- All About Color
Color is an important decision, and our playgrounds are available in many color options. Use our carefully curated palettes or work with our design team to create your own color combination. Contact your local playground consultant to learn more.
We offer the widest range of park and playground equipment to promote healthy lifestyles, encourage skill-building and create unique outdoor experiences. From our playsystems and freestanding playground components to themed designs, site furnishings and more, we’ll help you create a recreation space that welcomes your whole community.
Play Systems featured in this Playground
Ages 5 to 12 Years
The PlayBooster® playground structure, the original post-and-clamp system, combines exciting ground-level components with climbing events and overhead activities for kids ages 5 to 12. The PlayBooster family includes the interconnected cables of Netplex®, the contemporary Vibe®, the nature-inspired Tree House and the double-decker PlayOdyssey® Tower.
Product Categories featured in this Playground
Ages 2 to 12
Freestanding Play events add fun and excitement to new and existing playgrounds! Revitalize your current playground or create a playground design that’s completely unique using Freestanding Play components for kids ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12.
All of our various furnishings including shade structures, picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles and more are designed to coordinate with your playground and surrounding environment. The right pieces will create a clean, safe and welcoming spot for the whole community.
Play Styles featured in this Playground
We can help you create playground designs unique to your community! Everything in our custom design process is driven by your goals and ideas. Together, we’ll create a destination playground that’s as individual as your imagination!
Playground consultant for this project
We’ve created a global network of local playground experts to be at your side, every step of the way. With an average of 20 years of experience, our playground consultants are knowledgeable and personable. They will guide you through product pricing and specifications, customization, financing options, community builds, on-time deliveries, maintenance, finding replacement parts, and service questions.
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.
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.” 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.”
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.
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.” 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.”