The Fascinating World of Playground Slides

Playground slides are a great way to get kids moving and playing. They provide hours of entertainment, from the youngest toddlers to the oldest teenagers. You can find playground slides in parks and backyards worldwide – here’s how they differ!

This post will focus on the beautiful playground slides located all around the globe. Additionally, it’ll discuss why they’re so great and how their characteristics can help inform our shopping choices for a new slide. Moreover, we’ll look at some physical and social advantages that make slides notable additions to any backyard!

Plus, I’ve included info on materials used (both good and bad), safety features regarding installation & maintenance, and exciting facts about these mammoth structures.

Types of playground slides

The playground slide is a staple in the world of children. There are many varieties to choose from, and you may not even know they exist before reading this!

  • Incline slides
  • Open Slides
  • Double Barrel Slides
  • Closed Plastic Tube Slides
  • Curved Slide
  • Wave Slides
  • Spiral Slides
  • Component Slides
  • Textured Slides
  • Water and Hydro Slides

Childhood memories suddenly flood back when you see a slide. They are one of the best parts about going to playgrounds, and for that reason, they’re always at the top of children’s wish lists.

  • A good playset should have slides in addition to other structures like swings or monkey bars.
  • However, sometimes there is no choice but constructing your DIY-style playground.
  • The Slide being the main component to things like tunnels, ladders, bridges and rope climbers – all leading up to their ultimate goal: sliding down!

Water slides have always been a fun way to cool off on those hot summer days. They emerge in various forms and sizes, ranging from the small run-slide area you may make yourself up to giant water parks with dozens of different types! Nevertheless, before we go any further, let’s discuss what makes them extraordinary.

9 Barrel Open Water Slide
Open Water Slide: Make a DIY replica of the water slide in the yard! Photo by https://unsplash.com/@bhoogenboom

 

First off: the water slide is wet. Secondly: water slides are fast and can get anywhere between 15 – 30 mph quickly depending on how steep your slope is (usually). And finally: it just feels so good sliding down that high-velocity ride into an enormous pool of refreshingly cold water at the bottom, like there was ever anything more incredible than that moment when you resurface for air after coming down.

One of the earliest water slides was created in 1923 by Herbert Sellner. He made a wooden sled on which people sat and rode down an incline into a lake.

Other safer slides for newborns and tiny toddlers include foam vinyl triangles, squares, and circle blocks in different forms so children can still enjoy the slide experience.

Types of slide materials

Slide materials vary from playground to playground, but some common varieties include plastic slides, metal slides and wooden slides. Click here for slide maintenance tips and techniques.

Below I go into detail about each type of slide material!

The Classic Metal Slide

Metal slides have become rarer as a result of their tendency to overheat. Nonetheless, these metal slides travel smoother than plastic slides, and the problems have been addressed.

Metal slides seem to be less widespread due to their production process. They are more robust with galvanized steel or hot painted sheet metal coated in epoxy resin and powdered paint before being smoothed off by sandblasting!

Despite all of the factors mentioned creating a slowdown in manufacturing, vital metal slides are still produced today. Unlike plastic slides, which may warp from heat or humidity, metal is durable enough for even those youngsters with grubby hands!

Concerns With Metal Slides in the Past

In the past, we used to double down the metal slide, sometimes utilize boxes, and fire down at high speeds. However, they often had sharp lips that would get hot from sliding on a burning surface. You felt this burn halfway down your body as it was agonizing!

Nowadays, there is an easy fix: permanent shade covering for the slides, which prevents them from getting too hot to avoid injury or discomfort while playing with friends outside.

Significant Asset

Metal slides are a fantastic fun asset for any backyard, and these characteristics add to their appeal. Amazingly, the metal slide integrated into the terrain’s curve; provides a creative solution for architectural brilliance and safety.

Metal slides are also eye-catching because of their polished surface, simple to clean and maintain with ease due to how they’re made from a rigid material that can withstand wear & tear – perfect if you have kids!

The Wooden Slide

Wood slides are often coated with a special oil-based paint to facilitate sliding and maintain the wood. Some people prefer natural-looking finishes on their wood, while other more significant wooden slides use metal sheeting for finishing purposes.

The advantage of these materials is that if properly maintained,

  • They will stay clean and in mint condition for years!
  • Wood is frequently used as the primary material when building structures like this one because it’s strong yet lightweight, which means older kids can slide longer distances than before.

Why are wooden slides not seen around as often anymore?

Creating a slide takes a lot of skill and time, so finding one is rare. A track saw is used to make plunge cuts in birch plywood that will be reinforced using hardwood for the curves on stairs, which helps with durability.

For an outdoor play area, you can get two parts from 6 layers of 4mm birch plywood, then polish them up afterward by applying varnish or wax (depending on your preference) for a smooth finish. Steam bending some ash wood into strips that form handgrips along the sides of this playground “slide.”

Often wooden slides are made, and additional material, aluminum roof flashing, is used to make it slippery enough to slide down, saving on the sanding.

The best thing about wooden baby slides is that they have wood, which feels better than plastic.

  • They are constructed out of flat birch plywood with a smooth laminated surface that has been sanded or sealed with transparent varnish.
  • Typically you can modify slides to meet your child’s needs and fasten them on cross beams.

The Plastic Slide

Plastic slides are cheaper and easier to clean but can disintegrate over time. The static discharge from plastic material is less than from metal, though the temperature may still be too high for some skin types or conditions.

Spiral Plastic Slide
Spiral Plastic Slide Photo by https://unsplash.com/@badshah05

For now, this will likely remain one of the most popular materials in making slides because it offers a varied range of shapes and designs that are good for both big and small sizes without costing much more money due to its low production cost with other types.

In the modern world, slides are typically made using a process known as roto-molding or rotationally molded plastic.

  • They are infused with anti-static inhibitors and stabilizers to give them that smooth sliding experience we all love!
  • These durable plastics also help minimize UV damage due to their high-density polyethylene composition, making them an excellent choice for your backyard!

Why are plastic slides used in playgrounds?

Plastic slide production is environmentally friendly and also saves companies money. A company can easily create a new product by re-using the same mold for different products, so making more than one Slide at once isn’t any trouble.

This process has many advantages, including minimal waste and easy recycling. Its versatility with shapes/creating multiple projects simultaneously using roto-molding instead of traditional injection. Molded plastics make it incredibly hard when no pre-made molds are available!

DIY Homemade Slides: Often made from plastic tubing pipes or a canvas tarp. If you have imagination, try using the land to your advantage with this great idea!

Types of slide shapes and sizes

Innovative passageways lead to a plastic tube slide.
Innovative passageways lead to a plastic tube slide. Photo By https://unsplash.com/@tcooper86

Playground slides you’ll find, are unique and diverse in shape, size, and style these days. Some of the most common types include straight slides with a steady incline or curvy spiral slides that go around on an angle before descending below ground level.

The Open Slides

These slides are typically straight channels that flow via gravity and allow you to glide down, feeling the open air. The slides will vary in size depending on the age group, with a toddler having no more than 24 degrees for an incline and 30 degrees as its max slope, whereas pre-schoolers can have up to 50-degree slopes or 30-degree maximum inclines.

We frequently find Double Barrel Slides with not-so-plain playground slides from the Straight Open Slide. These exciting and engaging children’s play devices provide twice as much fun with a tube for two riders side by side or two incline slides that allow you to ride simultaneously down together! And there are even Triple Barrel Slides in certain global parks these days.”

The Tunnel Slide

The exhilarating sensation of emerging at the bottom of a tube slide makes its way into more and more backyards. This exciting installation will offer great fun for kids!

The world’s first mega-thrilling metal tube slide arrived on playgrounds as early as 1932, when the slides were advertised in  Hill Standard Co.’s Funful Playground Equipment catalog. They’re starting to appear all over residential communities, but the plastic versions with these beautiful additions offer potential fun everywhere you look!

Curved Slides

Offered in two distinct forms, either L-shaped or J-shaped. Some curl at a 90-degree angle, while others finish with a perfect 180 turn. The chute is the part that flows from top to bottom. And can be described as an entrance canal that leads into the ground under your feet!

Wave slides have side-to-side zigzag patterns on their way down, making them look like waves.

Textured Slides

Texture Slide - Ground Surface
Safe and Fun Ground Surface and Texture Slide: Photo by https://unsplash.com/@nicosmit99

If you don’t go down quickly, they’re not slides, in my opinion. However, you will see them at specific playgrounds with rough surfaces on the way down for sensory purposes.

A fun and engaging PVC Pipe roller slide is a unique addition that allows kids to have an exhilarating ride as they grow up.

Embankment Slides offer a distinct texture for the entry platform and side rails by utilizing etched Terracotta, which gives an engaging non-sliding surface. They also provide rock texture slides and customized slides. I’ve never seen anything like it before – Each Slide has its unique shape with dips or grooves that create strange sensations as you’re gliding down to safety!

Where to Obtain a Playground Slide

Acquiring the right Slide for your kid is essential, and knowing what kind of Slide would work best can make that process much easier. For instance, an inclined slide will eliminate any need to climb, making it great to have younger children who cannot do so independently. Plus, since they all go down one way, regardless of the type!

The availability of slides 

The accessibility of slides varies owing to shipping and manufacturers. Some of the giant slides are located in China since it is considered the center for slide manufacturing. Slides range from character ones with themes for boys or girls to themed parks where children can play on them while their parents relax nearby.

If you google: “brand name and slide,” the more well-known brands include Little Tikes, Backyard Discovery, and Red-Swing Swingslide Lifetime. Availability can be scarce sometimes.

Fortunately, a few online providers offer slides, including Amazon Landscape Structures Playground Warehouse and The AAA State Of play” Prices vary, so it is wise to browse for that perfect fit for your backyard or playground project.

Types of safety features on a slide

To ensure that kids will not get injured on playgrounds. There are a few essential regulations.

  • The most important one is the ground’s surface – it should be soft and cushioned to protect from falls.
  • Slides also need an escape level or horizontal region for kids not to get hurt too badly if they fall off them!
  • Handrails and guardrails, as well as the Slide, are, in my view, required for long straight rapid descents.
  • Sharp Equipment Points avoided, as I experienced on metal slides and a hydro slide at a swimming pool.
  • Surfaces are Regularly Inspected, mainly if you have utilized joints, bolts, studs, or nuts to create the sliding surface.
  • When toddlers are on a high platform, they can feel safer with the protective barrier that encloses them.
  • The handrails and steps or ladders also make navigating easier for children who aren’t as confident or agile.
  • canopy to shield from the sun now covers slides, perhaps even protecting children’s behinds.
  • The recommended distance from a slide’s exit to the protecting surface is 4 feet + height.
  • Injuries are less likely if you don’t end up too short or too long when landing off slides that go fast, so it may be worth testing your backyard slide before installing them!
  • Younger toddlers need more safeguards. The fall zone has to be as long as necessary, i.e., 3 feet in all directions, and there must be cushioning depth at places where one is required (access points, slide exits).

But do not forget another important safety factor, perhaps the top: having a parent near to oversee.

The benefits of having a backyard slide for your family

Climbing up and down a slide has several advantages.
Climbing up and down a slide has several advantages. Photo by https://unsplash.com/@lukesouthern

Health benefits

Due to the current decrease in children’s fitness, governing bodies reevaluated the importance of vigorous outdoor play, like climbing up and sliding down a fun slide. Given this, playgrounds are changing to promote wellness and agility while providing excitement through slides.

Research shows that child-led play has significant benefits, like climbing up and sliding down a slide. This risky game can help kids learn about physiological arousal, uncertainty, and coping.

When children explore riskier games on playgrounds, they experience positive emotions such as excitement or thrill, which encourages their curiosity to explore all types of play options and safe ones.

Increased Strength and Awareness

Climbing up a slide after going down the chute is exceptionally challenging. First, you must climb up and then decide whether or not to go on it again! Also, sliding down helps build upper body strength through frequent cardiovascular activity and strengthening muscles.

Children can improve their spatial awareness by sliding down the Slide. It also improves balance and coordination abilities, particularly when they climb up and then slide backward!

Social Benefits

The Slide is like the celebrity of playgrounds. It’s usually crowded, and everyone wants to be there! There will always be a bit of a wait because it attracts many people.

When children play together, the Slide is an excellent method to acquire critical social skills such as cooperative play, sharing, taking turns, and developing patience and tolerance for talents and physical limitations.

  • These abilities will have a long-term effect on their social relationships as they grow, and all they know is that they’re having a wonderful time!

Exploration and discovery are essential components of the environment that allow children to learn.

  • Even with the reimagining of today’s contemporary playgrounds, with new designs, layouts, and equipment, there is still an emphasis on playing goals and promoting learning in the classroom.

The Slide is a fun physics toy because of its potential to be used in different lessons.

  • The inclined plane is an excellent example of gravity and friction, two key concepts to understand. It’s also pretty fun!

Fascinating Slides Around The World

All around the world, playgrounds are home to some of the most fabulous slides on Earth. From South and North America to Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, let’s see what makes these fantastic slides great!

Oceania

Takapuna, Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand 

The Takapuna beach reserve playground is directly adjacent to the beach, where you may have an ice cream cone. It’s a children’s paradise with two enormous tube tunnel slides that seem plucked straight out of a children’s novel.

 Christchurch, Aotearoa, New Zealand

The Margaret Mahy playground is said to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. and a staple for children of all ages. The park features swings, climbing ropes, a flying fox (surprisingly popular during hot summer), and an enormous metal slide placed on top of it all!

Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand

On International Children’s Day, the New Zealand Parliament opened its public playground on its front lawn. This excellent play space focuses on a large metal slide built from sustainable beechwood sourced in Palmerston North. One remarkable feature – it has protectors made out of recycled rubber tires! It’s safe for all ages to join in, so come along and enjoy!

NZ Parliament. (2019, November 20). Playground at Parliament | NZ Parliament [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBh_XoBYsnA

Hobsonville, Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand

The majestic 10-meter high Slide constructed by designer Philipp Meier at Harrier Point Park is Te Kanohi O Te Manu – The Eye Of The Bird. Although it was initially causing problems, children can now enjoy this structure entertaining them around New Zealand.

Lovely Girl from Cool Parks shows us Harrier Point’s bird-shaped Slide. 

Cool Parks. (2021, February 3). Harrier Point park [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE2HxlJVdSY&t=55s

 Waterloo, Sydney. Australia 

Wulaba Park has a lot to offer. You can even play tennis on one of the courts from swings, climbing walls, and tunnels! But if I had to pick my favorite part about this park, it would have been its Giant Metal Tube Slide. It truly is an awe-inspiring experience that everyone should enjoy.

Wollongong, Australia

Located in Stuart Park, The Moduplay Skytower is a half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower. It features two twisting fiberglass slides 8.6 meters long and spiral down to the ground for an exciting slide experience!

Moduplay Group. (2016, January 25). Moduplay – Stuart Park, Wollongong Video [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KTJdUnmaRk

Katanning, Western Australia 

Katanning’s All Ages Playground has been transformed with a $5 million upgrade, making the slides more fabulous.

Shire of Katanning. (2020, April 20). Katanning’s All Ages Playground [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_7qPruAgZU

Asia

Jamshedpur, India

India’s Jubilee Park is one of the nation’s biggest attractions. There are tiny and giant slides for kids of all ages and some lovely gardens.

Bangalore, India

If you’re interested in water slides and a little splashy fun, I recommend going to Wonderla. They have 12 great water slides, including Drop Loop, which drops riders from meters high! Fun Racer is also there, which allows you to challenge your friends on racing mats before continuing with three intertwining Twister slides. There’s everything here for the perfect day of splashing around on Water Slides!”

Micky Krish. (2020, April 29). Wonderla Bangalore Water Rides [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhcGvjbXVsQ

Yokota, Japan

There is a long roller slide of 300 meters in length inside Kobokuen Park. The descent down the steep path on some cardboard will be both exciting and rough, allowing you to go at an exhilarating speed.

Stars and Stripes. (2019, September 27). Japan’s longest roller slide is not for the timid [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bke_Z7uHzBM

Bentenyama, Koen, Japan

“Kids will love this nearly 90-degree open-slide tunnel at Flower Park.”

Singapore, China

The playground-focused destination, Admiralty Park, has many slides. It features cargo nets and bridges with hills and tunnels leading to the slides themselves, with one being 9 meters tall by 23 meters long – perfect for thrill-seeker kids!

Sassy Mama. (2018, January 3). Admiralty Park Playground: Huge Slides for Kids of all Ages [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shk-yhU29NM&t=7s

Malaysia 

The giant water slide at a theme park in Teluk Bahang, Malaysia, is the longest inner tube ride globally. The Slide itself measures 1,111 meters long!

Europe

Madrid City, Spain

A creative twist was added to the metal slides in this park situated along a river with beautiful landscaping.

Cornella, Spain

In the Books Playground, visitors can climb a book-themed watchtower that leads to a super-fast metal slide with a curved shape.

Manchester, England

Heaton Park is a great place to play, with some excellent metal tube slides. The treehouse cocoon-like platforms are also quite cool and distinctive!

mymummyspennies. (2017, May 27). Treetop Nets Manchester Heaton Park [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73GShCKiiR4

Gothenburg, Sweden

The Monstrum whale playground in Plitka park also has an excellent metal tunnel slide worth trying.

North America

Richmond BC, Canada

Terra Nova Adventure Park is nature at its finest, with glimpses of the Fraser River and an impressive 10-meter treehouse. The park also features some pretty unique slides for kids to enjoy!

Six-year-old Sahanna gives us a Terra Nova Adventure Park tour on her youtube channel. Check it out!

Sahanna Shows You. (2021, July 9). Terra Nova Adventure Park – Richmond BC -Playground Review [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAgPW-xO26c

New York, United States

Brooklyn Bridge Park is not only a place for Tarzan swings and attractive slides but also has water stations, New York’s most giant sandbox, and more.

South America

Fortaleza, Brazil

It is a theme park and resort. You may discover the tallest and highest water slide on the planet here. With an astounding height of 41 meters, Insano has a plunge velocity of about 4-5 seconds.

ThemeParkHD. (2014, June 24). [HD] Insano Water-Slide: Reverse POV at Beach Park (Fortaleza, Brazil) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFz-5P9KJPI

 Jamaica 

Bahia Principe is a must-see in the Caribbean heat if you’re looking for a primary, child-friendly water park.

Africa

Timshant, Algeria

At Adem Park, you’ll find several fantastic water slides. Start with the Tornado Slide and work your way up to more intense rides like The Storm and King Cobra Slides.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cool Runnings is a water park nirvana, with the most exciting element being an exhilarating toboggan slide.


Diver’s Digest Old. (2012, April 21). Cool Runnings Toboggan, Belville, Cape Town, South Africa [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3dCSBpOEHk

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an exciting time, why not go to the playground? There are types of slides in nearly every corner of the globe. And there’s always one perfect for your needs.

Whether it be an intense ride or something more family-friendly, we hope this article has helped you get started finding what type is right for your backyard!

If all of these types sound too intimidating – let us know.

It’s essential to ensure everyone is adequately treated, sliding fun in the backyard!

Sources of Information

PlaygroundEquipment.com. (n.d.). What You Need to Know About Metal Playground Slides | Family-Owned & Led | PlaygroundEquipment.com. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.playgroundequipment.com/products/commercial-playgrounds/slides/metal-slides/

M., K., K., Y., Y., K., Y., K., & Y. (n.d.). Playground Resource | Your Playground Information Resource. Playgroundresource.Com. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://playgroundresource.com

[email protected] (2020, July 10). Playground Equipment Then and Now. All-Inclusive Rec. https://allinclusiverec.com/playground-equipment-then-now/

Brothers Make. (2019, October 30). How to Bend Wood into a Slide! [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX2rccpy4dg&t=123s

Dodd, H. F. (2021, January 19). Adventurous Play as a Mechanism for Reducing. . . Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. https://link.springer.com/article/

Curran, E. J. (2021, May 3). 12 mind-bending playgrounds around the world. Travel. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/best-playgrounds-around-world-

10 thoughts on “The Fascinating World of Playground Slides”

  1. Hi there, playground slides have always been such a fun activity for kids. I can remember the exhilaration of going down a long slide when I was a child, and in those days they were metal ones. Now there are just so many exciting options, and safer materials, that are being used. A day at a water park with all the water slides, is always a huge treat for our kids. Thanks for sharing .

    Reply
    • Kia Ora, from NZ, where we have some great slides. Yes, I loved the metal slides. Better come down fast, but danger on the butt cheeks in summer. Yeah, the hydro slides at our local are unlike some of the featured slides in this article, but the temporary water slide I made in my backyard was just as fun. I’m so glad you got to read this Line have a fabulous day.   

      Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing this.  Although growing up slides were probably my all time favorite thing to play on at the local park.  Even though I am now much older, I still enjoy such things as water slides.  To be hones I had never really given much thought to the different varieties of slides.  This has been an eye opening insight in to the many different types.    

    Reply
    • Slides are fantastic fun, even mudslides, and indeed the water slide. In retrospect, we share the same values as kids, and the adrenaline is even more exhilarating when we get older and glide down a slippery slide. 

      Many Blessings

      J W RIDDELL -THE FUN HUB

      Reply
  3. Yeah, slides are the best. I remember in my childhood those were the most fun aspect of any playground; I definitely looked the most forward to having a blast at those. To that end, I still very much enjoy slides in adulthood as well which us adults typically come in the form of water slides. 

    I actually had no idea that the plastic slides on playgrounds were environmentally friendly. I mean, it seems counterintuitive but once you explained, it makes absolute sense. 

    I would love to make it to the Fortaleza, Brazil, someday. I mean, that slide sounds insane. I bet when my kids grow older, they would appreciate a visit there, too.

    I really appreciate all the insights. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading, Matiss. To say the least, a trip to the water slide in Brazil would be amazing. I believe that lifespan is an important consideration when purchasing a slide and that maintenance will be essential. 

      As for water slides, I am a huge fan like you and wish we had more options in New Zealand because covid has caused many places to go bankrupt and the only water slides left are a bit boring, so worth planning a world trip.

      Of course, some backyard water slide with the family or friends always sounds a little more convenient, but the water bill may go up.

      Many Blessings 

      Reply
  4. Are these safe? The last thing you would want is to go on a slide and injure yourself. So tell me how safe this product is? Also, where can I get it? Will I be able to put it in my house? I have a pool at home so that would be great 

    Reply
    • Thanks, Daniel, for the feedback. Yes, they are safe if taking all the precautions when setting up and installing. There are many places on the market depending on the type of slide you are after; for the giant playground, slides try hardware stores and baby slides, baby stores.   

      Reply
  5. Climbing the stairs first on the slider, then spreading your legs to the front and hopping was my favorite sport in my childhood. In particular, I used to go to the park, slide on the slider and climb on the cradle because I enjoyed these two games the most. Whether playground sliders are made from woods, plastic, or stainless steel they all serve one common factor that is excitement. Kids love the slider game and it helps them to remain active, social and excites them the most. I personally like those water slides because they are unique and you can slide on them fast like a bullet.

    Reply

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