Wheaton Regional Park is a large playground centrally located on the northern side of Silver Spring. It was a well-loved playground for many years and has recently reopened with a complete redesign and brand new equipment.
- climbing features
- climbing walls
- bucket swings
- sand pit
- merry-go-round substitutes
- a very large climbing mound
- climbable animal sculptures
- water fountains
- picnic tables and shelters
- miniature train
- Brookside Gardens
- numerous hiking trails
- Equipment geared toward older kids
- Some exciting climbing features, including an interesting wall and a rope “spider”
- A large space with two tiers
- Close to other exciting things like the train and carousel
- A lack of shade in most of the park and no prospects for trees to grow in
- Flimsy equipment that is already broken after just a couple months of use
- Space that is difficult for younger children to navigate and possibly even dangerous (there are a couple of 6 foot drops) if they’re not watched closely
It’s hard not to begin by comparing this new playground to its former self. The old playground was a bit larger, with mostly wooden equipment that was more accessible to a wider range of kids. There were more features to list which have now disappeared, including tire swings and towers. There was also more shade available and a much more organic feel to the space.
Some of the new equipment is exciting. I’m a fan of the rope “spiders” that you see more often in Europe. This one isn’t huge, but it’s nice to see a reasonably sized one around here. The mound is an excellent feature. Kids climb to the top for secret conferences and roll down the sides with abandon. The cement climbing features that take kids up to the higher tier are also neat and give kids the sense of special entryways.
However, those climbing walls are also a problem for younger kids. The drop off is pretty big and there’s not much warning. The fencing along the side looks nice, but then there’s also unattractive chain link fencing on the extremely long (many, many yards!) handicapped accessible ramp that runs from the path. The two tiers also means that parents who don’t feel like climbing have a bit of a hike to get around. All that is small though when you consider that the slides have already broken with a scant month of use. They just look flimsy and there’s little chance they’ll ever be consistently in working order. Plus, I’m simply not a fan of a lot of the commercial equipment they installed here. Some of it is fine, but the piece called a “mushroom” by my kids is especially annoying to me. It’s a merry-go-round replacement, but because it’s installed so high, even my 7 year-olds need help to use it properly. I’m against any equipment that requires parental help for school-aged children.
Overall, it’s a fun playground with some good points, but I can’t help miss the old one and the kids felt much the same.