Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Playground Review: RDU Airport Observation Park

This week, our search for playground adventure takes us to the RDU Airport Observation Park, on the grounds of the Raleigh/Durham International Airport.

RDU Airport Observation Park - RDU Airport, Morrisville, NC (map)
Visited: Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summary: Want to watch airplanes take off and land? The Observation Park is for you! There's also a little play area, although I can't really consider it to be a "playground" in the traditional sense (see below). Unlike most other places on the airport grounds, parking at the Observation Park is free.

Things for Marla to do: 3/15. Well, here's the "playground set", whatever this thing is:

Besides that, there are also kid-sized runways that the kids can run up and down, pretending to take off and/or land.

Up the stairs is the observation deck, where you get a decent view of some of the runways, except for a giant building blocking part of the line of sight. Marla loves climbing stairs, so we did that for a little bit. Hard to know how much she enjoyed hanging out on the deck itself, though, or if she really had any clue what this was all about.

The target audience of this park is kids age 6-10, rather than someone of Marla's age. Even then, you need a little bit of imagination to keep from getting bored after ten minutes. (Come to think of it, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Kids have pretty good imaginations.)

Uniqueness: 8/10. How many other parks have an airport as its backdrop? There you go.

There's a lot of lost potential, though. They could turn this into a really nice airport-themed play area. But they don't have a lot of room to work with in this particular location, and it's probably not a priority for them to expand it anyway. In fact, they would probably prefer the Observation Park remain a more low key attraction, as opposed to a place that's overrun with running, screaming children.

Upkeep: 4/10. The park was clean, but everything looked pretty old. The park may have looked exactly the same 10 years ago as it does now.

Crowd: 6/10. There were probably 10-20 people there in total, including several kids; most spent the majority of their time up on the deck. That's a good number, but not overwhelming.

Marla enjoyment: 4/5. Despite the park's shortcomings as a "playground", we actually did leave before Marla was ready to leave, mostly because the storms were moving in. I think we were there for nearly an hour, though, so it wasn't exactly a short visit. (Come to think of it, why am I not timing the lengths of our playground visits?)

By the way, this is also a good spot to watch the weather. That's because of the relatively wide open spaces you get an airport, and also the fact that the observation deck faces northwest-ish.

Total: 25/50, ranking 2nd out of 2. This is a great place to take older kids, I think, but there isn't a whole lot to work with for toddlers.

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