Saturday, September 7, 2013

Playground Review: Wildwood Park (Saratoga)


On Thursday afternoon, Toddler X and I visited Wildwood Park in Saratoga (on 4th Street just off Big Basin). Having grown up in Saratoga, I was familiar with Wildwood, but I didn't know what to expect going back 25 years later. Here's what I found:

Pros
  • The park has a beautiful setting, situated alongside a flowing creek with shaded picnic tables and BBQ areas, a sand volleyball court and a beautiful grassy glen that is popular for picnics.
  • Toddlers will love running back and forth on the wooden bridge over the creek (just watch out for splinters!).
  • Parking is available in two different small city lots on 4th Street, with some parking along the street itself. 
  • Bathrooms are available. 
  • The park is just down the street from the Saratoga Village, so there are lots of food options nearby for picnics on the beautiful shaded lawn. 

Cons
  • The playground is simply not made for toddlers. There are a couple of different "structures" -- a two-slide feature, a spiderweb-type feature, and an odd metal and tire apparatus -- and none are appropriate for toddlers. Besides the two baby swings, there's not much that a toddler can safely do. 
  • The playground itself had no shade. I was melting while pushing Toddler X on the swings. 
  • Ground surface is tanbark. I hate it.
  • The playground is not fenced and there are a lot of surrounding wooded areas that are attractive to toddlers (and not so attractive to parents). 
  • The bathroom had no paper products. None. That's annoying. 
  • If you read my FB post the other day, you know that I was not a fan of the water feature -- to the point that I'm not even listing its existence as a "pro" for the park. There are four buttons you can push to (theoretically) get water to flow. The first one I pushed did nothing at all. The second elicited two streams of water shooting up from the ground, but stopped the instant I stopped pushing. Yes, the button has to be constantly pushed for the water to flow. Lots of fun for a parent. The third button I tried was on the side of a tall arch. Guess what? That button worked, and the water came out -- directly on my head. It was impossible to push that button and NOT get wet. And the water didn't stay on with that one either. The fourth didn't do a thing. The feature was pretty much useless, even on a hot day. 


My overall impression: If you have a toddler, Wildwood just isn't the playground for you. While it's a lovely spot for a picnic, you won't find a lot of relaxation keeping your toddler out of the woods or safe on the structures. Wait five or six years and try again. 




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