One of the staples of parenting, the playground is a place for the kids to work off excess energy, enjoy some sunshine, and get their daily dose of exercise. Not only that, the playground can be a meeting place for moms, somewhere to make new friends or even the only the location where parents can spend five minutes without having their children fight for their attention.
The playgrounds of our youth have been deemed too dangerous for our own children to play in and the litigious nature of society today dictates that we have to send forth our little ones into a play place that has had all possible danger minimized, often reducing fun at the same time.
We might not want our kids playing in an area with sharp edges, potential falls from a great height, or places where they can trap or break limbs, but it wouldn't it be wonderful for them to find amusement in an environment that both challenged them physically and stimulated their imaginations?
Having said that, the expression "Be careful what you wish for" aptly applies here because browsing the internet for exciting playgrounds, threw up some places that would terrify some of the most sturdy parents, let alone their unsuspecting offspring.
15 Fangs, But No Thanks
The German stereotype may be that of earnest, hardworking people, but many people are unaware of their rich heritage of fairy tales and historical myths. Famous for bringing us Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White, the Brothers Grimm brought together a collection of stories that had been passed down for centuries and published them for the first time in the early 1800's.
Initially, for adults, the tales were much, much, darker than the sanitized Disney versions our children enjoy today, which might explain why this playground near Berlin doesn't get a second glance, despite the fact it is topped by a vampire.
It would appear that the Germans are happy to share the slightly darker side with their children in a way from which we, in North America, are likely to shy away.
14 Where's Your Head At?
The design meeting for planning this playground must have gone something like this:
Childless person #1: I know what our theme can be. All children like animals don't they?
Childless person #2: Yes they do, let's include lots of cuddly, stuffy type animals. Or better yet, we can theme the animals to the equipment. The swings can be monkey themed because monkeys swing through the trees.
Childless person #1: Great. That's settled then. We'll build a swing set and adorn it with some random shapes because this is just the right place for public art and we'll top it all off with some decapitated monkey heads.
Childless person #2: Brilliant. The kids are going to love this so much that nobody will ever vandalize it. This swing set won't be left a sad and slightly creepy iron frame with rotting chimp heads hanging from it.
13 Just A Little Check Up
Pulling back the iron curtain and taking a peek at some of the children's play spaces may cause you to pause for a moment before thinking: "What the flipping heck were they thinking?"
I cannot imagine any universe in which a child would want to play under the watchful eyes of this disturbing doctor figure. Not only does he have a disturbingly blank facial expression, which manages to be scarier than if he had an angry face, but the way in which he is holding the needle is terrifying.
Let's all reassure our kids that a brief jab of the needle at vaccination time will just be a quick pinprick delivered by a kind, gentle nurse then take them to a place where there's a giant wielding a syringe-like it is a stabbing weapon.
12 Needs Additional Explanations
You may not have seen "The Human Centipede" but I am sure you have heard about the terrible movie where a mad doctor/scientist kidnaps three people and connects them together to form one long creature. As you might expect, the two at the rear get the short end of the stick, having their mouths linked to the behind of the person in front and if you are thinking of watching the movie, don't bother. Not only is it an awful premise but it is a poorly made waste of a couple of hours of your life that you will never get back again.
Instead, take your child to this "interactive art playground" where they can laugh at the tubes going from the man's mouth to the dog's behind, ask if they are eating poop, and learn the lesson that art is in the eye of the beholder.
11 I Regurgitate Children
Speaking of art, this is “Golem” which is also known affectionately as Hamifletzet, or “the monster." It is a sculpture created by artist Niki De Saint Phalle in a Jerusalem playground in 1971-72. Art aficionados and critics have said that "Golem is a whimsical interpretation of the Golem, which plays both with its monstrous quality and with its connection to creation and birth."
I am not quite sure how anyone can see that this slide has a whimsical interpretation of the Golems connection to creation, but I am willing to concede that the facial expression does evoke a certain aura of what it feels like to give birth. As a parent, I have to put my foot down and say that this is a playground and not an art gallery. It is a giant scary slide which some kids will love and which others children will be scared witless by.
10 Giggles All Round
I am sure I do not have to write very much about this odd item of playground equipment. All you have to do is give it one glance, and you will know why your child will get to a certain age and find this hilarious.
Can you imagine the older kids hanging off of the top, or taking photos of your little ones as they climb up? Share them on Facebook and you are guaranteed plenty of interaction with your post.
Full marks for trying out a more significant and challenging piece for the children to play on but all of those marks are taken away again for making that piece look like a giant baby-maker. This was obviously built by someone without kids or at the very least, a rock-climbing aficionado to engrossed in his work to take a step back and look at the work as a whole.
9 Sleep Tight
When researching scary playgrounds, I discovered that a recurring theme appeared to be giant faces, many of which seemed designed to scare the bejesus out of a kid rather than to entice them in for an afternoon of fun and frolic.
This is a case in point. You could have made the large central square area look like a house. You could have painted any number of nature scenes or cartoons on the side of this slide, or it could have been imagined as a spaceship using the holes as windows.
Instead, the painters and the creative team thought that providing the local children with a demonic face complete with fangs and horns would be the best option. Hope they also provide funding for the therapy these kiddos will need.
8 Hang In There
Nothing says it's time to play like a row of ropes already tied into nooses. All children want to play on playground equipment that doubles as a location for multiple suicides, right? Maybe the idea is that you keep on coming back in the hope that tomorrow all of the ropes will be occupied by the "sleeping" bodies of parents driven mad by boredom waiting for their kids to get off of the swings.
Even the child caught in this photograph appears to be totally uninterested in the feature piece hanging above his head and who can blame him! The builders must have been having an off day and decided that tires or plank swing seat had far less play potential than a knotty rope tied up ready for the gallows.
7 House Of Horrors
This was an excellent opportunity to build a fabulous play area that was both challenging and stimulating to the imagination, in a positive way. Unfortunately, despite the fact these houses were artfully painted in the same color scheme as the homes surrounding them, their imagination prodding qualities lean heavily to towards the stuff of nightmares. No little one visiting this playground will have to stretch their imagination too far to envision these houses coming to life and stomping over to gobble them up.
Take a moment to think about how you might have reacted if you were two or three years old and this delight was outside your bedroom window. You wouldn't even need a dark and stormy night to set the scene, the stuff of horror movies is already there for you.
6 In Need Of Instructions
Among the many, many questions that this "thing" raises is "How are you supposed to play on this?" Aside from the jaw-droppingly bizarre design featuring what appears to be three kids with their head up the behinds of the kid in front and a fourth kid who has he head between the legs of the only upright child, there are a number of things that are very wrong with this South Korean play equipment.
It is highly polished and shiny so you cannot stand on it. The piece could be a bench, but you could fall off backward quite easily, and I can't think what imaginative play this is designed to invoke. I don't believe there are many kids who would see this and ask to play a quick game of hide your head up my butt.
5 Playing On The Web
The Danish company who created this playground are famous the world over for their exciting and innovative play spaces. Children across Denmark are lucky enough to climb around inside spectacular castles with intricate rope structures inside, while making their way through beautiful nature escapes built of wood and painted in a dazzling array of colors. They can also swing, slide and hang from a variety of delightfully imagined animals.
Then there is the giant arachnid playground where you can become entangled in the rope web of your favorite enormous spider. Can you see the look on the face of the little one in this picture? She is trying to creep past all eight of those creepy articulated legs before the spider comes to life and eats her. Or perhaps that is just what she will think about when she is trying to fall asleep tonight.
4 Velcome Little Children
What better way to while away some time with your little one than to take them to the park so they can be scared witless by this piece of play equipment flanked by a misshapen bear and the hideous emperor of doom, complete with pointy collared cape, giant sword, and a facial expression that just screams terrifying nightmares.
The scuff marks on the spinning cylinder show that some kids have braved the evil one and climbed up to play on this thing but perhaps standing on the equipment is the only place they do not have to look at that face.
This also brings up the point of the dubious safety level of this toy. No parent in their right mind would want their child standing on a spinning cylinder, hanging on for dear life on a bar because it is the only way to avoid falling and splitting their head open on the concrete below.
3 A Concrete Jungle
What do you look for in a play space for your child? Inviting equipment in bright colors? Safe, well-built play gear that encourages your child to climb, jump, and clamber over the play pieces? Something to spark their imaginations?
I expect that hard concrete structures that are placed over broken paved areas are not high on your list of wants. Neither are stony tunnels that will scrape little knees as they make their way through or weird creatures looking out from giant metallic armadillo shells. To top it all this playground has a bizarre montage of oddly depicted figures staring out at you from what appears to be some kind of alter atop a trio of steps.
Who needs safety, fun, and the endless possibilities of play?
2 Going Back To Our Rustic Roots
I like that this playground has been crafted from natural materials. The idea of having equipment that blends in or emerges from the environment surrounding it is a fabulous one, but there are limits.
The wooden roundabout is an excellent, simple piece of play gear that could be imagined into any number of items. That is if you can forget about or ignore the strangely grinning cross-legged demon that is sitting in the middle.
The craftsman who carved this is apparently reasonably skilled because its face is very expressive. It just screams: "Hello little boy or girl, would you like to come to my roundabout for a little play? I assure you it is perfectly safe and your soul will not be in any danger at all."
1 Have A Seat
This bench from a playground in Flåm, Norway is bothersome in any number of ways. From a purely aesthetic perspective, this man seat is all over the place. The arms and legs are out of proportion to the rest of the body, and his hands are inexplicably tiny. He appears to have some kind of disfiguring disease that turns his elbows into odd, bumpy clouds of lumps, a neck brace, and a giant red clown nose.
Why anyone, let alone a child, would want to sit here is a complete and utter mystery. Even if you took away the creepy old man element, it just doesn't look comfortable. It's possible that it was designed with the Norwegian winter in mind and is supposed to be enjoyed under a blanket of snow, whether that means looking at it or sitting on it!