Watkins Regional Park is located in Upper Marlboro Maryland. Even though there are many activities in the park, it’s well known for the marvelous, Wizard-of-Oz-themed playground. We decided to go check it out.
I knew that the kids had never heard of The Wizard of Oz. So that morning I told them the story and with the help of You Tube showed them some clips so that they would have a bit of appreciation for the theme.
I’m not sure how many kids these days have seen The Wizard of Oz. I looked at the library for some illustrated versions, but none of them really appealed to me. The kids were intrigued and had all the questions about the premise and plot. Maybe we will return to it when they are ready for a political allegory.
The playground is cleverly built to capture the aesthetics of The Wizard of Oz. My favorite part is the rainbow archway. I had a lot of fun photographing it.
Inside, there’s a Kansas farm, poppy field, Emerald City, and hot air balloon play structures. The ruby red slipper twin slides are an especially ingenious touch. (And now R keeps talking about ruby slippers.)
The back of the playground includes a chime garden. I can’t recall how that relates to the story exactly, though. There are also swings, including several baby and accessible swings too.
There are excerpts from the book placed around the playground to give us an idea of the story. My kids were a bit too overwhelmed to pay attention to them.
One downside of our visit was definitely the direct sun that blankets the playground. I imagine certain times of day and year would be more tolerable, but the kids were definitely bothered by the lack of shade and burning hot play equipment.
So the playground itself is inside the much larger Watkins Regional Park of Prince George’s County, Maryland. The main road takes you right to the playground, which has a too small parking lot, but it’s not a far walk even from the adjacent grass where most people are parked on weekends.
Across the main road is another very kid-friendly area with a carousel, train and mini golf, which can all be enjoyed for a small fee. Further behind is a farm with a handful of animals. (Even if you don’t feel like going to the farm thing, the train rides past it for a glimpse at the animals.) The carousel was closed when we went so we did the mini golf and train. The mini golf was fun since my kids had never done it before, but the course is very basic. The train was okay, but we probably wouldn’t do it again.
There are bathrooms and benches in this area and food trucks can come vend too. We brought a mat and ate under the shade by the playground. There are larger pavilions over there, too, so plenty of options but make sure to pack your lunch!
All in all it was a nice little day trip for us. Have you been to Watkins or another themed playground?
Check out more from our Project Playground series.