I had the pleasure of visiting England with my husband this summer. Because this trip was about “playing” for us, and taking time off from work, we went to more history museums and WWII memorials than we did playgrounds. Before leaving, I had asked around to see if there were any playgrounds in London that I shouldn’t miss while I was there.
The answer from many people was the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Playground. The playground, located in Kensington Gardens opened in 2000 to rave reviews. Today 750,000 children visit the playground each year. In fact, if you are planning to go with children, be prepared to stand in line to get in. If you are an adult without children (like us this trip), you can only visit from 9:30 – 10:00 prior to the playground opening.
The playground’s theme is Peter Pan, as J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, funded an earlier playground on this site. The focal point of the commemorative playground is an intricately detailed pirate ship, moored aground in a sea of fine white sand. Children up to the age of twelve can clamber up the rigging all the way to the crow’s nest, turn the giant wheel, explore the cabins, and tug on myriad pulleys and ropes. The mermaid fountains and rocky out-crops allow children to splash around in water and cool down. Beyond the land of pirates lies the tepee camp. There is also the tree house encampment with walkways slung between trees and ladders and slides.
With this build up, I was very excited about visiting the playground.