Bredäng is an urban district in the southwest suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden. The majority of the district was built in the 1960s and 70s, as part of the million programme, a public housing programme implemented by ...
The Playmobil FunPark – An inclusive playground for all the senses
In 2017 the park, themed around the Playmobil world of toys, received nigh on 900,000 visitors in just one year, setting a new record. The constantly rising number of visitors shows that the park’s unique concept not only fills children with enthusiasm but is also greatly appreciated by their parents. “Active playtime fun - not waiting in lines” is the motto here, where you won’t find any electronic rides or roller coasters. The children themselves can take the initiative, explore, and experience the wonderful adventure of play.
The great popularity of Playmobil toy sets led to the development of leisure parks in which the children themselves become the figures and can discover the little themed worlds for real. The first Playmobil FunPark was opened in Zirndorf, near Nuremberg, at the headquarters of Playmobil. There are other parks in Paris, Athens and on the island of Malta. The idea behind these parks came from Horst Brandstätter, who founded the company. He wanted to counter the lack of movement he observed in children. So, don’t expect to find any rides in the Playmobil FunParks. Each zone offers its own activities. Thanks to the enormous popularity of the little originals and their faithful reproduction on a larger scale, the individual elements in the themed areas are especially inviting. The aim is to foster the children’s imagination and encourage them to actively conquer the environment through climbing, dangling, sliding, swinging and balancing. Movement, communication and the development of the senses are what the theme park is really all about. Movement and courage are required. In this way, the park makes a considerable contribution to developing the children’s health and personalities, while internally is does much to boost the positive image of Playmobil.
Since 2000, outdoor playgrounds have been added to the Playmobil themed worlds in the Playmobil FunPark. In the meantime, the first of these have been restored and modernised. Use of the individual pieces of apparatus is analysed precisely and adapted to the children’s needs. The park is the perfect place to study children at play in every respect.
For more than 30 years now SIK-Holz, a Langenlipsdorf-based company, has been constructing play equipment from creative ideas and robinia wood. In many parts of the Playmobil FunPark, it has taken on construction of the play equipment for different themed areas, working in close partnership with the two planning offices: Müller & Partner from Willich and Führes from Zirndorf.
2005: Tree house play area
Covering some 3,500 m², a tree house world has been created that matches the little original. The crooked robinia wood was ideally suited to this authentic, large-scale replication. Access to the play area is gained via a high rocky gorge. At first glance, the visitors imagine they are entering an impenetrable jungle world. Only once they have taken a little time to find their bearings can they begin to identify parts of cliffs, streams, wooden structures and rich vegetation. The site has been carefully modelled. The height difference is approx. 3.5 metres. The slopes are rocky. The vegetation rises above the higher ground. This interplay of landscape, plants and wooden structures produces a context that stimulates children and adults to conquer this experience world step by step. The ever-changing perspectives constantly give rise to new spaces for play and action. The most striking locations in this play world are the large tree house and the small one. Inside, they are approx. two metres high, offering adults enough room to move too. They provide many opportunities to experience nature via the senses. The two houses are connected by a treetop footbridge. In various ways, swinging, dangling, balancing and climbing become important forms of movements here. Thanks to a barrier-free system of paths, people with physical disabilities are also able to access most of the play points. The tree house play area is a good example of an inclusive play area.
2006: Western City play area
The Western City play area, which covers approx. 500 m², is an area that encourages many different forms of role play as well as play involving movement and experimentation. A convincing Wild West wagon awaits the visitors as soon as they enter. This larger-than-life sprung apparatus offers space for children and adults. Balance and coordination can be trained on hanging or rotatable rodeo horses or buffaloes mounted on pivots. They are arranged in a large grid bordered by crates for sitting and watching, but also for crawling through. A large sand play combination becomes a mine that contains gold and precious stones. Here, sand is transported via conveyor belts and then sieved until the small gold nuggets and precious stones emerge. The houses in the Western City, true to their originals, tempt young and old to visit the saloon. But there are no drinks at the bar. Instead, balls are thrown at wooden bottles. Lassoing is offered right next to the saloon. Carved buffalo heads are mounted on the wall and the challenge is to throw large rings around them. This area offers great potential for visitors of every age to play together.
2007: Noah’s Ark water play area
Noah’s Ark is the gateway to the biggest water landscape in the Playmobil FunPark. The XXL Playmobil Noah’s Ark is stranded at the highest point in this land of leisure, concealed among profuse greenery. The bow and stern of the ark can be accessed via steps. A good view of large parts of the park can be enjoyed from the platforms. The rooms below the platforms were designed to be storerooms for the park service.
A sweeping water landscape, consisting of meandering branched stainless steel water channels and basins, lies behind the ark. There children can splash around to their heart’s delight, with boats and fish from the Playmobil range for younger children.
2008: Quarry play area
Directly at the park entrance, visitors encounter an approx. six-metre long gigantic heavy duty mobile crane, a faithful copy of the original construction vehicle. A huge lump of rock, onto which you can climb via a net tunnel, hangs from its jib. A challenging ensemble for role play and climbing fun.
The quarry itself comprises a rocky modelled crater with a diameter of approx. 20 metres and a height difference of approx. two metres. By means of lifts and Archimedes’ screws, the small plastic rocks can be transported from the depths to the rim of the crater. They then return to the floor of the quarry via chutes, funnels and pipes, thus creating a sophisticated cycle of play.
2010: Dinosaurs play area
This area also extends over approx. 500 m². It is dominated by three main play points: a large volcano pivoted on springs, a tree hiding place and a dinosaur nest. The three play points are connected by bridges, footbridges, nets, bollards and balancing beams to a path through the park at a higher level. A four-metre high Tyrannosaurus rex and a two-metre high Triceratops mother with an 80 cm-high baby await visitors between the three play locations. In their original size, they are in proportion to the small versions from the Playmobil play figures range. Robinia wood, in its natural shape, is used in this play area. Some of the post ends have articulating rubber ferns attached to them. In combination with robust greenery, this creates the realistic impression of a primeval landscape.
2011: Balancing and climbing trail for all age groups
This area deviates from the Playmobil FunPark concept since it does not replicate any of the Playmobil toy sets in the original size. The area is a logical and meaningful enrichment of the park and is designed to promote the healthy development of children.
Balancing on narrow or movable paths helps children improve their sense of balance, while climbing and dangling build up their strength. It also improves their spatial orientation and, demonstrably, their hearing, speech, reading and arithmetic.
Each balancing and climbing trails is designed for one of four age groups. The “Mouse” play area is intended for children aged 1 to 3. Low bollards, footbridges and bridges promote crawling and balancing on a variety of structures and materials. Parents or others accompanying the children can help them along, where necessary. The “Squirrel” area appeals to children between the ages of 3 and 6. They can climb at a manageable height of approx. 1.5 m. The various balancing contraptions are arranged between play towers, which offer a certain sense of security and the possibility to rest for a while.
The climbing arena in the “Cat” play area fosters the development of 6 to 9-year-olds. There are platforms on which they can take a break and special hand rails to hold onto. The “Panther” play area is designed for children between the ages of 9 and 15 and is dominated by a climbing forest with four balancing possibilities at a height of 2 m. In an adjacent slackline trail, visitors can practice their first steps and jumps on the narrow webbing.
A jungle bridge links the individual area. In addition to this, a large trampoline, seating areas and balancing opportunities are located between the areas.
2015: Police area
The police station is one of the newest attractions. Its little counterpart has been part of Playmobil since 1974. The large-scale police area covers 2,600 m² and comprises a go-kart track, a police station and a police helicopter.
With the new pedal go-karts, children aged 6 and above and 125 cm or more in height can enjoy a fast and furious “car chase”. This trains strength and stamina as a number of small height differences have to be overcome.
For those who do not want (or are not permitted) to go-kart, the police station is the main attraction. It covers an area of 7 by 5 metres and offers all you would expect to find in such a building. The interior encourages children and adults to indulge in imaginative role play.
The police helicopter takes off (and lands) right next to the police station. It is a perfect copy of the little original. In contrast to the toy version, the massive steel structure, encased with wood, can be climbed into and offers space for two pilots. It can only be accessed using a climbing rope or a rope ladder. There is a slide for emergency exits. The helicopter rests on a steel pipe at a height of 1.8 metres. Its slightly slanting angle as it hovers over the earth strengthens the impression that the children are really flying. The 2.5-metre long rotor blades can be set in motion by the pilots in the cockpit using connecting-rod pedals and a dynamo.
There are even more play areas in the Playmobil FunPark, including a large knight’s castle, a pirate ship, a fairy landscape, a farm and, between them, various water and sand play areas. You need several days to discover all the opportunities for play offered by the park. It makes even more sense for children to visit it a number of times so that they can better remember and understand their impressions and experiences.
Text: C. Gust (SIK-Holzgestaltungs GmbH)
Photography: SIK-Holzgestaltungs GmbH