Destination parks are popping up all around the country as local planners realise the value they can bring to suburbs, towns and the diverse communities of people within. Unlike the solitary slide and set of swings on a tiny plot, destination parks take play to a new level, fostering community development and unity through vast areas that cater to the needs of the entire family.
What is a destination park?
In the past, an integral part of town and community planning has been the establishment of small ‘pocket parks’ that provide play opportunities to niche, localised groups and neighbourhoods. Generally situated on one single vacant block, these spaces are designed for local residents to stop by for a brief period. They feature limited play equipment, often with no theme or customisation.
Currently, more-and-more master planned communities are being established with an array of rich facilities contained within their own village-style suburb. In line with this, there has been a shift away from the simpler parks of the past, and a move towards investing in parks that offer far more than a brief play stop after shopping.
A destination park is a large, single public play area with equipment and activities to engage children and families of all types. Destination parks combine the classic elements of swinging, sliding and climbing with exciting avenues for sensory, imaginative and adventurous play. Designed with accessibility and inclusiveness in mind, there are play opportunities to cater for all abilities. From equipment and play areas to seating, open spaces, and natural surroundings, a destination park is a great location for a family day out.
Parks and community building
Destination parks are central points of focus within a community. Providing extensive, imaginative and unique, custom-built play areas in large parklands, destination parks also often incorporate landscape gardens with seating and picnic areas, as well as cafes or mobile food vendors – everything a family needs to enjoy a full day out.
The concept behind a destination park is simple: to create a stimulating environment where the local community can gather for a whole day of entertainment, while also drawing in people from further afield looking for a unique experience with their family.
1. Economical spending on community development
As a local council or planner, one of the key considerations in any project is the cost; both the immediate financial outlay, and the ongoing costs associated with the upkeep of any improvement or asset introduced into your community. Though individually, pocket parks are a relatively low-cost initial investment, this often comes hand-in-hand with lesser quality products that require greater upkeep and more frequent replacements.
An investment in one major project or park in place of several smaller parks, can capitalise on consolidated spend to generate cost savings. This is true at the time of purchase, and becomes more evident in the future, as higher-quality equipment outlasts lower-quality counterparts.
A single major park also eliminates the ongoing impact of maintaining and managing several play spaces and surrounding gardens. Again, consolidating that spend into one maintenance crew or contractor, in only one destination, can increase efficiencies and save time, resulting in significant medium and long-term cost savings.
2. Play spaces that invest in children’s futures
There is a notable difference between a run-of-the-mill, out-of-the-box playground, and the customised, uniquely designed wonderlands that are destination parks and that difference is the outcome for the children and families who attend them.
While the limited equipment of a pocket park can offer a child (more so younger children) a fun play opportunity, it generally won’t engage them for very long. A destination park on the other hand, is designed to invest in a child’s imagination, education and sense of adventure. This leads to a play experience that encourages growth, creativity and endless hours of entertainment.
Consolidating spend and investing in a destination park not only means more high-quality equipment, it also offers more variety in equipment. It provides an opportunity for your planners and architects to to move away from the standard and embrace their inner-child, inspiring them to create a space that is challenging, engaging and artistic.
3. Fostering community development is key factor in master planned communities
Facilities and infrastructure has tangible benefits to community development. When measures are introduced to increase interaction and communication among people within an area, everyone feels more familiar, involved and safe.
This concept of a ‘tight community’ and an increased sense of neighbourhood safety and interaction is a key element in most of the up-and-coming master planned communities. With almost every required amenity at their doorstep, these communities thrive on their self-sufficiency and their village-like feel. The more facilities included that promote behaviours and interactions that drive community, the more value potential buyers see in the area.
Creating a space that captures the needs of entire families, and draws them in, is creating a space that truly fosters community development and embraces diversity. Bringing people together from all backgrounds and beliefs to peacefully share in the enjoyment of one space is the foundation of building communities of support, openness and acceptance.
4. Community tourism
With an increase in investment in community parks, especially in cities like Sydney, these spaces have become more than just a local attraction; in fact, they have started to really put suburbs and towns on the map.
As household costs rise, and household income struggles to keep pace, families are looking for more cost-effective ways to have valuable family time and memorable experiences without spending too much money. Destination parks have arisen as a key solution to this challenge, with families travelling across cities to visit renowned parks listed on respected family blogs and websites, like EllasList.
To see the positive effect of destination parks, you only need to visit James Ruse Reserve in Sydney on a warm summer day. There you’ll find large groups of people who have travelled across the city to engage in the area’s fun and energetic water play park.
5. Return on investment for the local community
Destination parks often include a range of facilities, and supporting these can provide opportunities within the local community. The upkeep of the grounds and equipment require the services of some talented locals, and furthermore, the extensive parklands and open spaces may be home to cafes or mobile hospitality vendors that can capitalise on new tourism. This helps to generate economic development within a community.
When viewed from a big picture perspective, the benefits of establishing destination parks within a community are inarguable. All of these elements align with and underpin the very same principles that drive the strategies of most city councils and community-serving non-profit organisations.
To find out how Playrope can help take your destination park from dream to reality, get in contact with us today.