Madison to celebrate the re-opening of Kids Kingdom playground Nov. 20

MADISON – Madison leaders say they are thrilled to finally get to celebrate the opening of the new playground at Kids Kingdom in Dublin Park on Monday, Nov. 20. A ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. will mark the complete renovation of the playground with added inclusiveness and safety.

“Kids Kingdom has stood as a cornerstone in the city of Madison since the late ’90s when Jane Dow and her team led the community build of the first playground. We are so excited to see this playground updated with improved safety and added inclusiveness for children of all abilities. We are eager to watch future generations enjoy the playground as much as our kids were able to when they were younger,” Madison Mayor Paul Finley said.

The completion of the project is a very welcomed sight for city officials and Madison Parks and Recreation Director Kory Alfred. The playground closed in September 2022 for renovations and was originally slated to be in late spring or early summer, but delays due to weather and other issues pushed that date back significantly.

For example, a utility meter for electricity had “to be pulled back a little in the overall plan,” Alfred said. And the Madison area had an extremely wet springtime. “Public Works would go to work and then a storm would hit, and the crews had to stop” and deal with city infrastructure, such as clogged ditches.

However, Alfred takes pride in the inhouse prep that Madison Public Works has accomplished and “let us put money into the site. We saved $1,000,000 on the site work.”

The new design incorporates all elements for slides and swings in the original plan, along with adding accessible components:

Sensory elements — For visual, auditory or tactile experiences. Sights, sounds and touching of surfaces, walls and equipment will engage children. “The Sensory Dome is available for all kids but especially children with special needs. If they feel scared, they can walk inside the dome and decompress. It’s similar (to the purpose) of the Quiet Room that we’ll have at Madison Community Center,” Alfred said.

Expression swings – Allows an adult to swing face-to-face with the child. The adult can have eye-to-eye setup to encourage emotional, adult-to-child bonding. The “primetime swings” can include a bay, while the “expression swings” can be tandem or with adaptive seating.

Rover or car – Accommodates wheelchairs but available for everyone.

Wide stairways – Using low angles for easy mobility.

Built-in level changes – Allows children to go around, through, under and over equipment.

Rubberized ground surface – Poured-in-place rubber matting with higher safety standards (especially compared to hardwood mulch) against falls during play and easier mobility for wheelchairs. One of the most expensive components, the surfacing cost $303,195.

Adaptive-friendly zipline – Giving thrills by innovative design from Sky Run Zip Track. The new amusement is accessible to all children. “This is one feature that I really wanted,” Alfred said. “It’s kind of cool.”

The new playground has improved sight lines so a parent or caretaker can easily see a child with straighter vision.

The GameTime division of the award-winning Playcore company has designed the playground. GameTime manufactures components in Fort Payne.

Kids Kingdom has been designated as a National Demonstration Site for Inclusive Playground Design.

Madison Visionary Partners (MVP) led the fundraising efforts for the playground and worked closely with Madison City Disability Advocacy Board (MCDAB), who advised the city of accessibility needs at the playground. A check for $607,430 from MVP will be presented to the city at the ribbon cutting.

“MVP is proud to play a role in such a pivotal project for our community. We thank the donors who saw the importance and impact their dollars make, and hope many memories are made at the park for years to come,” added Melanie Thornton, Executive Director of Madison Visionary Partners.

The previous 30-year-old wooden structure has been replaced by a modern design that features a castle theme, a nod to the old park. The all-inclusive playground features equipment for our special needs community, a padded playground turf and new bathrooms. The playground will be open to the community during daylight hours after the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

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