Originally constructed by the community 23 years ago, Discovery Park, 1435 N. 100 East in Pleasant Grove, has long been hailed as a favorite of the community, with vast wooden play structures earning it the affectionate nickname of the “wood park.”
With more than two decades of wear and tear though, Pleasant Grove’s Parks Director Deon Giles said it was in need of upgrades to remain compliant with playground safety regulations.
That’s where the community stepped in. With urging and support from the “Rediscover Discovery Park” initiative and the Fredette Family Foundation and their “Choose Kindness” initiative as well as funding and support from doTerra, the city’s new CARE tax, varied donors and a Utah County grant, the park was essentially razed before being erected anew with help from thousands of community members.
The redesigned park opened again to the public this spring, bringing with it a variety of unique, new features and some good, old favorites. Here are a dozen fun things worth noting about the new Discovery Park.
— By Kari Kenner, Daily Herald
Following in the fashion of the All-Together Playground constructed by the community in Orem, the revitalized Discovery Park has been updated to include a variety of accessible options for children of all abilities. Highlights include ramps up to popular play features, the replacement of wood chips with a nice, smooth turf, accessible swings, a wheelchair accessible maze, lower, more enclosed merry-go-round and even full fencing, which is a bonus for parents with children of all abilities.
A nod to the past
Though some residents were concerned about losing some of the iconic and popular structures that made Discovery Park so unique, park planners and designers offered a solid nod to the playground of the past by preserving certain features, including the space shuttle, volcano and musical features, which have been incorporated into the new play area as well as updated to provide more opportunities for imaginative fun.
Age appropriate play
Upon entering the park, two signs quickly direct children and parents to areas of the playground most appropriate for each age group, including a small child and toddler section featuring rocking animals, smaller slides and swings, musical toys and more, with fencing to help keep little ones contained.
In the opposite direction are larger toys and imaginative play areas, including a food truck-themed section, varieties of swings, multiple rock walls, tunnels, slides and more. As a bonus for parents, there are also benches within easy view of essentially every feature, allowing an easy opportunity to take a break while keeping an eye on your kids.
A chance to blast off
As mentioned, one of the main intriguing features at the park is a three-story space shuttle that was renovated from the original Discovery Park. Not only does it allow for literal levels of play, it also has ramp accessibility to the first story, plenty of fun seating and a unique hand-powered sound station that makes realistic launch sounds and astronaut commentary.
An obstacle course
If you ever played “The Floor is Lava” as a kid, you’ll definitely appreciate the updates to the volcano feature at the park. Unique color splotches on the turf offer the perfect opportunity to kick-off a game, with a variety of obstacle course features to keep the game going, from a balance rope to an intricate series of rock walls both on the slanted exterior and completely vertical interior of the volcano. Those not totally keen on the climbing can also opt to take the stairs that circle the volcano or just use the boardwalk from other features at the playground.
An artistic maze
With added points for accessibility, a really cool feature of the new playground is a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed maze suitable for children of all abilities, with pathways wide enough for wheelchairs. The art is fun, and it offers a brief reprieve from the energy of climbing on all of the other playground features.
Plenty of swings
A popular feature of the old playground was the tire swing, which is now back and better than ever with multiple tire swings, traditional swings, and expanded swings for better accessibility. As a bonus, swings are located in both the regular play area and the toddler play area, so there are plenty of updated swings for everyone.
A chance to cool off
Some of the best new features at Discovery Park are the built-in misters, offering a cool reprieve on a hot summer day at the push of a button. It doesn’t take long for little ones and adults alike to overheat in warm weather, and the mist offered a sweet escape from the heat – the perfect addition to the ample shade from trees and covered bench areas.
A place to picnic
Since Discovery Park is surrounded by sports fields, it is a great central point for families to stop off and play during or between games. As an added bonus, the park provides a picnic area near the restrooms with a variety of shaded, sturdy tables and benches, as well as smaller tables and benches in the play areas themselves.
Driving up to the playground and finding a parking spot offers an early chance to recognize a unique feature, as several musical toys are stationed toward the front of the play area. Though the brightly colored instruments in the area for smaller children aren’t quite as loud, the beautiful chiming of music from the larger play area certainly has a positive impact and provides kids with a different type of play.
Chances for imagination
One of the best things about the original Discovery Park was the ample opportunity it gave for kids to imagine as they played, running through the wooden fortresses and adventuring in every nook and cranny. Though re-imagined, the new Discovery Park offers a similar benefit, with a multilevel tree house, boat, food truck area and more.
Built by the community
Though Discovery Park is packed with cool features for all ages, one of the most impressive things about it is the sense of community that brought it together, from the funding and support to the over 3,000 community volunteers who worked to rebuild it, not to mention those who offered childcare, expertise and artistic skills to make the renovations possible.