New Playground Designs Add a Whiff of Danger

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Playgrounds are moving way beyond the usual, boring, simple swings and slides.

Slides and swings are the bread and butter of the American playground. Whether a tiny neighborhood park or a grand, multimillion-dollar Amazon-size jungle gym, almost any playground in the U.S. is likely to have one or both of these classic standbys. Increasingly, however, those conventional slides and swings are just small pieces of what have become complex and sometimes over-the-top playground spectacles, with themed sculptural mountains of play that climb to unexpected heights.

Playgrounds today are becoming more varied, more accessible, and more customized, according to playground experts. Some, surprisingly, may even be getting slightly more dangerous, at least within the limits of U.S. safety standards, giving American children more opportunity to take risks and push limits.