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Current playground trends that cater to the whole family

Spending quality time together is a key driver for families taking a sabbatical & they seek accom that caters to all ages and abilities

Recent trends have seen a return to the more ‘simplistic’ family holidays, with tourists flocking to regional caravan parks to give their children a holiday reminiscent of their own.

But for many families, a long weekend away is simply not enough time. Lasting between three and twelve months, the family sabbatical or ‘family gap year’ has seen a resurgence in popularity since COVID-19, with families hitting the open road to explore all the very best of regional Australia.

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Spending quality time together is a key driver of families looking to take a sabbatical, with these travellers actively seeking out accommodation with amenities that cater to all ages and abilities.

The Australian Research Council-funded study, ProjectPARK, found that all age groups benefited from well-designed playground spaces that cater to both play and relaxation.

“For example, children like opportunities for physical challenge and risk and adventure, such as flying foxes, adventure playgrounds, trees for climbing, swings and obstacle courses,” Associate Professor Jenny Veitch said.

“Adolescents like places to hang out with friends, sports courts, grassy open spaces, large swings. Older adults enjoy more peaceful and relaxed settings with walking paths, shady trees and birdlife.”

If your playground area is looking a little outdated, it may be time to consider an upgrade to better cater to travellers looking for an exceptional outdoor experience.

Image courtesy of Forpark

To learn more about the current trends in play and entertainment equipment, AccomNews spoke with Forpark Australia National Sales Manager Solo Fogg.

“The best memories when heading to a tourist park are enjoying the outdoors with our families and friends,” Mr Fogg said.

“In recent years, inclusive play has been the greatest trend in the playground industry, and for good reason. Every child deserves to learn, grow, and experience happiness through play.”

While water play areas have been a popular choice over the past decade, Mr Fogg said current industry trends were seeing a move back to structured playgrounds.

For health-conscious guests, outdoor fitness equipment is set to become another trend, as guests look for ways to burn off some of those extra holiday calories!

Image courtesy of Forpark

Mr Fogg added that keeping fitness equipment and the playground accessible to all ages and abilities is key.

“Having playground and outdoor fitness equipment that can provide enjoyment for all ages and abilities is so important,” he said.

“Playgrounds that offer inclusive elements for all children have been critical in park design. Keeping families in a single space provides easy supervision and structured play in a safe environment.”

When it comes to current playground trends for the young (and the young at heart!), Mr Fogg said a mix of challenging and accessible equipment was vital. And while it is important to respond to current trends, Mr Fogg added that some elements of playground design never go out of style.

Image courtesy of Forpark

“There is one thing that has not changed in all the years that playgrounds have been around, that is the popularity of giant swings and slides,” he said.

“Almost every playground we design for children of all ages will have at least one of these.

“Birds nest style swings have been one of the most popular products included in park designs, offering group play as well as inclusive play for those with special needs.”

When it comes to the current trend of challenging playground equipment, Mr Fogg said adhering to safety standards was imperative.

“If you look at the playgrounds in your local park, you will notice them getting taller and larger,” he said.

“So, while it’s important to provide challenging equipment as well as inclusive play, the primary design philosophy to adhere to is safety.

“There are Australian Standards for Playgrounds and Outdoor Fitness Equipment and it is important to work with a company that will meet these Standards at a minimum.”

For accommodation operators looking to refurbish existing equipment, Mr Fogg suggests getting an evaluation by a professional as a first step.

“The age and condition of existing equipment will determine if refurbishment is possible,” he said. “The playground must be evaluated to ensure that the current equipment is safe. From there, upgrading a playground can be as simple as adding sensory and freestanding items or outdoor fitness equipment.”

To maintain existing playgrounds or outdoor facilities, Mr Fogg said it was important to keep a schedule of routine inspections and maintenance.

“Just like owning a car, playgrounds need routine inspections,” he said.

“We provide a safety and maintenance schedule which details things to look for on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. This ranges from basic visual inspections to comprehensive inspections recommended to be done by an independent assessor.

“Playground and fitness spaces that are well maintained will provide a safe and enjoyable environment for children and families for a very long time.”

As a final recommendation, Mr Fogg suggested that accommodation operators prioritise working with local companies that champion Australian-made products.

“Australian-made products are built for our climate and conditions, and with proper maintenance, will last for decades to come,” he said.

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