Go Ask Mom

Playground Review: Waverly Place shopping center

There's a lot of buzz about the new playground at Cary's renovated Waverly Place shopping center. Take a closer look.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
I'm hearing a lot of buzz right now about the new playground at Cary's renovated Waverly Place shopping center.
I've received emails about it in the past week. And there was a fair amount of discussion about the playground on the WRAL Go Ask Mom Facebook page this week too after I asked our fans for thoughts on it. Some moms love it. Others find it very dangerous, specifically the slide. One mom on our Facebook page reported seeing a seven-year-old falling off it.

The playground includes a large climbing apparatus, that slide, a bouncy animal for younger children and a splash pad (which is not working at last check).

In a nutshell, here's what I think: You definitely need to heed the recommendations that are clearly labeled on the large signs at the playground's entrance. This playground is primarily for kids ages 5 to 12. Adult supervision is a must.

And here's the longer version. I took my kids over there on Sunday. Here's what we thought:

The property, which includes Cary's Whole Foods, is really nice. They've done a fine job renovating this aging shopping center. It's resort-like with its landscaped areas and water features. A lot of work still needs to be done. But by spring, most of the new businesses will be open and you'll find restaurants, shops and more, Jenn Olevitch with the property tells me.

At the playground, my six-year-old had a great time climbing on the large rings and ropes.

The climbing structure is very similar to those you'll find at Westover Park in Durham, Raleigh's indoor playground at Greystone Village Shopping Center and Lyon Park in Durham (among others, I'm sure). Actually, the playground at Lyon Park in Durham appears to be very similar to the Waverly Place playground, according to a recent review of Lyon Park from The Stir Crazy Moms' Guide to Durham blog, including the slide.
And that brings us to the slide. I held my breath as my daughter climbed up the stairs to the slide, or glider, as the manufacturer Landscape Structures calls it. At first, she was wary of it (though my husband says it's because I was obviously nervous about it).

Near the top of the slide, there is a small "proper use" sign that shows a child straddling the slide and holding on to it while he slides down. There is almost no platform at the top of the tall, narrow slide for a child to get into the correct position to go down. But once my daughter found the sign, she was able to figure it out and started having more fun on it.

Warm weather, however, isn't the time to ride this slide. There is plenty of skin to slide contact here when wearing shorts or a skirt. My daughter complained about "slide burns."

Both kids thought the water feature was fun, though I was glad they didn't try to play in it because we weren't prepared with changes of clothes. I think this could be a great feature on a hot summer day. Probably not so much fun when you're playing on the playground while you're waiting for a table at one of the new restaurants next spring, your child gets soaking wet and you don't have dry clothes for him. I actually wasn't sure what it was and had just moved off it when it started spurting water up. A sign, if there isn't one now, would have been nice.

My toddler spent some time on the bouncy surfboard-like pieces. She rode the bouncy dolphin for a bit and watched the water in the splash pad. She ran around a bit too. And then, after one of the many times I pulled her off the steps of the slide because she definitely couldn't play on it safely, she ran to the gate, said "all done" and asked to leave. For a kid who constantly asks to go to the "payground," this was a first. We both wished there was more equipment designed for the under-five set.

I asked Olevitch about both the slide and the lack of equipment for younger kids. Here's what she wrote in an email:

"We have heard some buzz about the slide and are in the process of trying to figure out what do. We have posted the signs and hope that parents will read them. As far as equipment for the younger tots, we will have to look into that. We have a limited amount of space and each piece of equipment by law has to have a certain 'drop zone/fallzone' area so all of that has to be taken into consideration."

Olevitch tells me that the property will eventually host a variety of events for families, moms and kids. There will be a few events this fall. By spring, Waverly Place, at the intersection of Kildaire Farm and Tryon roads, should have a full slate of activities. I definitely look forward to hearing about those.

Get a closer look at the playground in the video.

So I know there are strong feelings, either way, on this playground. I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. Please post in the comments.

Looking for other places to take the kids? Check our database of park and playground reviews and Triangle family destinations.

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