Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Playground Review: Pullen Park

Marla likes playing at playgrounds - exploring, climbing things, going down slides, etc. And, we like getting out of the house. It's win-win! So, we've been going to a lot of playgrounds lately. Like, a lot of playgrounds. And since I like variety, we've been going to lots of different ones.

So, I decided to start blogging about them, in a "review" or "critique" sort of format. To tie these reviews together, I came up with a scoring system: playgrounds will be scored in five categories, with those scores summed to an out-of-50 score, that will give each playground its final ranking.

First up is one of the oldest parks in the area: Raleigh's Pullen Park.

Pullen Park - Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC
Visited: Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summary: Pullen Park has been around since the 19th century, and it's actually more than just a playground. There is a large playground area, but there's also a carousel, a train ride, paddle boats, and concessions. You could maybe consider it an "old school amusement park", back before the term "amusement park" came to mean "a park with awesome roller coasters". Even the prices for the rides are old school: the carousel and the train cost $1, per person, per ride. General admission and playground access are free, though, and that's actually my main criteria for whether a park or playground is eligible for me to review: general admission to the park must be free.

Things for Marla to do: 13/15. So, yeah, there's plenty to do here, even besides the carousel and other pay rides. The playground area has separate areas for children aged 2-5 and 5-12 (which is pretty common, I've noticed), although I thought the 2-5 area was a little small in comparison to the other areas, which were very large. But the playground set had a sunshade covering it, which most don't have - that really comes in handy on a hot day. Win!

(By the way, we recognize that Marla isn't 2 years old yet. But I'd say she can playground at the level of a 3-year-old.)

Uniqueness: 7/10. You'd think a park with a carousel and train ride would be unique, and it is. But the playground equipment itself, at least for the younger children, was actually pretty ordinary, which cost them a couple of points. There was also a play sand area with a controllable water outlet, which was actually where Marla spent most of her time: in the mud. Good thing we had a change of clothes available for her. (If you have a toddler, ALWAYS HAVE A CHANGE OF CLOTHES WITH YOU.)

By the way, we did ride the carousel. Or at least, Amber and Marla did.

This thing is FAST: I timed it at 5.2 revolutions per minute. Apparently, a typical carousel speed is closer to 4 revolutions per minute.

I think it was a little too quick for Marla, because she did NOT want to ride it more than once. (I'm not particularly tolerant of spinny rides, so there's a decent chance Marla will turn out the same way.) We'll try again in a couple of years, maybe.

Upkeep: 10/10. Pullen Park was recently renovated, I think, so everything was in excellent shape, and I didn't see any trash anywhere at all. This place sets the bar for playground upkeep.

Crowd: 2/10. The more crowded a park is, the lower the "Crowd" score. The oldest park in Raleigh may also be the most crowded park in Raleigh. But, it wasn't crazy crowded. We actually had the 2-5 playground set to ourselves for a little bit! Well, for about 15 seconds. (By the way, it is possible to get 0 points in a category.)

Marla enjoyment: 3/5. I'm only making this out of 5 instead of 10 because there are a lot of variables, beyond just how fun the park is, that determine how much fun Marla has at these places. And, this will vary a lot as she gets older. We were at Pullen for between 60 and 90 minutes, which I think is pretty good. But in order to get a score higher than 3 on the "Marla enjoyment" scale, when it's time to leave, Marla has to not want to leave.

Total: 35/50, ranking 1st out of 1. That puts Pullen Park in first place! And also last place.

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