Monday, April 14, 2014

Playground Reviews: Apex Nature Park; Bond Park

Apex Nature Park - Evans Road, Apex, NC
Visited: Sunday, April 13, 2014
- Google Satellite

Summary: The Triangle's newest park, Apex Nature Park, opened three weeks ago and features shiny new athletic fields, trails, a dog park, a (not quite complete) disc golf course, amazingly fancy bathrooms, and of course, a playground. But is the playground as fancy as the bathrooms are?

(Note: The scoring system is designed so that 50% is an average score. "Perfect" scores are rarely given.)

Things for Marla to do: 6/14. The playground is actually smaller than I was expecting from a brand new park. The playground isn't as expansive as Knightdale Station Park (another relatively new Triangle park) or the nearby Kelly Road Park, both of which are in my top five. This is more of an average playground with the usual 2-5 and 5-12 playsets. Also: no swings.

Normally someone of Marla's age can still play in the older kid area, which is good, because what 2 year old wouldn't rather play on the bigger equipment? However, this particular older kid playset is toddler-proofed, which was unfortunate for us:

Uniqueness: 6/10. I award uniqueness points mainly for two reasons: for play sets / contraptions that you don't see at most playgrounds (e.g. merry-go-rounds, anything beyond the traditional slides and swings), or for unique or interesting design elements. In this case, it's for the tree-themed design.

Upkeep: 8/10. Based on precedent, brand new parks can only get as high as an 8/10 for upkeep.

Crowd: 5/10. Sometimes these crowd scores are tricky. We got there on the earlier side (around 9:00), and the playground was empty at first, although pretty much every playground is empty at that hour. But by the time we left (11:00), it was crazy busy, although the exceptionally nice weather certainly helped that. Factoring in time of day and the weather, what's the proper crowd score? ... Meh, let's just give 5/10 and move on. But I will say this: on a sunny warm weekend afternoon, this playground will be busy.

Marla enjoyment: 3/5. 20 minutes of Marla playground play + meandering elsewhere in the park away from the playground for a while (her choice) + 10 more minutes of Marla playground play (again her choice) = 3/5.

TOTAL: 28/49, ranking 8th out of 28. I think the new car smell might have inflated the playground's ranking a little bit, given that there isn't a whole lot on the playground Marla can do on her own without assistance. While Apex Nature Park is a better overall park, nearby Kelly Road Park has a better playground, especially for a 2-year-old.

(Disclaimer: We know someone who works for Apex's parks department and was involved in the construction of the new park. But, you can trust my rankings.)


Bond Park - High House Road, Cary, NC
Visited: Saturday, March 22, 2014
- Google Street View

Summary: Like Apex Nature Park, Bond Park isn't the type of place you go if you're only interested in hanging out on a playground for an hour. Bond Park has plenty to offer - trails, boat rentals, and some kind of event seemingly every other weekend. You could spend an entire morning, or even the whole day, at Bond Park. So, surely, Bond Park's playground won't stack up against other standalone playgrounds, right?

Things for Marla to do: 8/14; Uniqueness: 5/10. The Bond Park playground has the basics (2-5 and 5-12 sets), plus swings and a sand pit. And the color scheme is nice, too, so that this doesn't feel like just another brown, green, and/or blue playground.

Upkeep: 6/10. This playground is showing its age - maybe I'd call it "middle-aged", but the Town of Cary does a good job keeping its parks up.

Crowd: 3/10. Bond Park is a prime destination for many Cary families pretty much every weekend, especially in Spring and Summer. So, it's busy, all the time. Parking is at a premium, especially when there's an event going on. The day we went, there was a 5K in the morning, AND a kite festival in the afternoon. Busy place! Still, the playground wasn't so busy that Marla couldn't enjoy herself. The playground is not as busy as that at Pullen Park, which once upon a time I assigned a crowd score of 2/10.

Marla enjoyment: 4/5. Swings make a big difference here. Marla loves the swings!

TOTAL: 26/49, ranking 16th out of 28. The playground is plenty adequate if you happen to be taking the family to Bond Park anyway.

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