The World’s Fair Park is at the heart of Knoxville. Every East Tennessee native knows and loves Knoxville’s most recognizable landmark: the Sunsphere, a left-over from the World’s Fair held in Knoxville in 1982. The World’s Fair Park is an oasis of well-manicured green areas, waterways, and landscaped waterfalls in the downtown area. It is also the site of many events, including the annual Fantasy of Trees, concerts, and other festivals.
The World’s Fair Park is now the home to a new attraction as well: a brand new children’s playground. Located next to the fountain, the new playground is already busy. Following the example of the nearby playground Fort Kid, the playground was designed including input from kids (and their PE teachers). It was built with all new materials and designed with safety in mind, including a soft ground. The rubber ground means that even if kids do fall, they won’t be hurt. Equipment includes slides, a climbing wall, and other active equipment. For more information about the park’s facilities, click here.
The playground is designed really for school-age children. Although preschoolers may have fun on it, some of the equipment will be too big for them to use (for example, the spin-around thing that looks like a flying saucer would be impossible for younger children to reach). It seems to be designed really with seven to eleven-year-olds in mind. It is also not enclosed, so children can run in and out from all sides. This is great for bringing your school kids to, especially in nice weather, but not the best play choice for families with very young children.
Located next to the fountains, which children play in during the summer, there were a lot of kids running back and forth between the fountain and the playground. There are also park benches and lawn areas there, so it’s a nice place for a family outing with plenty of places to run around and play. It is also next to the Knoxville Museum of Art, which makes a great family outing as well as it has free admission and amenities for children.
Initially there were fears that this playground would completely replace the nearby Fort Kid. However, it seems that there are more than enough kids to fill both playgrounds. I took my children to both in one day as they are so different that it didn’t feel like repeating activities at all. It makes sense, for example, to start at Fort Kid, visit the art museum, and then-if the weather is nice-go down to the fountains and new playground. Although Fort Kid is being phased out by the city, dedicated volunteers are determined to prolong its life as long as possible. For preschoolers and kindergartners, Fort Kid-with its small play spaces that are less manoeuvrable for older children-is the better choice, but many older kids will prefer the new playground.
Hurray for Knoxville for making the World’s Fair Site a good destination for families.