Children sitting on inclusive playground spinner

Custom and Themed Playground Design Ideas

A themed playground can transform a common play area into a wonderland for kids. With innumerable options to consider, you may need help choosing a theme. Explore a variety of playground design ideas in this guide!

What Is Themed Playground Equipment?

Most playgrounds integrate fun or unique elements to engage kids and stimulate creativity. A themed playground can take these objectives up a notch. It includes various equipment and activities that align with a specific theme. Themed play areas can spark imagination all the more, as they invite kids to brainstorm games and scenarios tying into this theme.

Themed playgrounds go beyond slides and swing sets, integrating elements based on a unique design concept. Some examples include a pirate ship, castle, farm, or outer space. Kids can immerse themselves in the story or imaginative scenario when using themed playground equipment.

Additionally, the playground can be fully or partially themed. If you only want to theme a portion of the play space to avoid an over-the-top look, that’s completely OK! Your space can include one or two themed elements in a larger playground design. There are many creative routes and directions you can take when it comes to a themed playground.

Benefits of Using Themed Playgrounds or Custom Design Options

Besides supporting creativity and imagination, custom playground options allow you to meet your community’s unique needs and create the most inclusive play space possible. You can include equipment and activities that appeal to kids of all abilities, bringing everyone together for fun and enjoyment.

Here are some benefits a custom or themed playground can bring to you, your organization, and your community.

1. Makes Choosing Elements Easier

Choosing playground elements feels effortless when you know the colors and theme. You’ll already have the design side covered. You only need to select the types of play equipment and activities.

Just as the theme should appeal to kids, the elements should pair well with the appropriate age range. Whether you’re creating playgrounds for toddlerselementary school childrenor middle schoolers, you can easily find the right playground equipment for your theme and age group.

2. Inspires Creative Play

Themed playground equipment can help kids build confidence and ignite creativity by suggesting play options. For instance, kids playing on a boat-themed playground may imagine themselves as pirates burying their treasure.

A themed playground can engage and excite kids, allowing their imaginations to run wild. It also encourages collaboration, teamwork, and other social skills through creative play.

3. Enables Inclusive Playgrounds

With a customized playground design, you can include kids of all abilities by building an inclusive playground. Additionally, kids can build social skills and empathy for others through interactive play. All children greatly benefit from participating in pretend play activities.  For some children with disabilities who have trouble engaging in pretend play, a themed environment provides the necessary prompts.

4. Provides Sensory Play Opportunities

A sensory playground is an outdoor play area that appeals to the senses. It incorporates immersive, hands-on activities that stimulate sight, touch, sound, movement, and balance. Some examples of sensory playground equipment include:

  • Slides and activity panels in different colors and shapes to engage sight.
  • Playground musical instruments to engage hearing.
  • Textured panels to engage touch.
  • Motion equipment and climbers to engage movement.

A themed playground can promote sensory development in numerous ways. For instance, nature-inspired play areas allow kids to explore the natural world’s visual and textural appeal. Many themed playgrounds include fun shapes and bright colors, drawing kids in and encouraging them to make the most of the space.

You can easily incorporate sensory playground equipment into your desired theme. For example, a Horse Spring Rider can blend perfectly with a cowboy or Western theme. Meanwhile, playground instruments like Beat Blocks and Vibes are excellent choices for a musical theme. The creative possibilities are endless when matching sensory equipment with your themed playground!

5. Makes It Unique

Many playgrounds use similar design concepts, color schemes, and overall appearances. Adding a creative theme to your playground is a great way to set it apart from other local play areas. Themed elements help make a unique statement for your park, catching the attention of residents and tourists alike.

6. Promotes Cognitive Development

Playgrounds, in general, are known to boost essential child development skills like literacy and communication. Themed playgrounds may further enrich kids’ development. Themed equipment can stimulate collaborative play and imagination. It encourages kids to work as a team, help others, think outside the box, and better connect with the world around them.

Custom playgrounds can support childhood development, providing hands-on play opportunities and encouraging kids to learn while having fun. For example, a firetruck-themed playground may help young visitors grow cognitively and emotionally as they imagine saving people’s lives.

A themed playground can also help kids build social skills through group play. Children can take on different roles pertaining to a specific theme and act them out together.

7. Enhances a Brand Message or Community Theme

A playground theme can tie into a larger brand idea or concept. For instance, a community playground near a fire station might include firetruck-themed equipment and a mini fire station. Nature centers can opt for nature-themed playgrounds. Baseball fields may choose sport-themed play spaces.

Meanwhile, a themed playground in a coastal town might incorporate a tropical, beach, or underwater theme. A playground near a public farm might have a barnyard theme. Themed playground designs can be great for promoting businesses, organizations, and communities.

View Custom and Themed Playgrounds

Custom Playground Options

You may be wondering where to start when designing a themed or custom playground. Knowing your custom playground options can open up an array of possibilities. You can choose equipment, shapes, and colors to reflect your specific theme.

The following are ways to create a unique playground design that fits your theme:

  • Including designs or patterns in your playground surfacing
  • Adding themed playground parts
  • Incorporating your theme’s color scheme throughout the play area
  • Choosing a playground layout that fits your theme and space

An experienced playground designer can explain the different options available, offer theme and design suggestions, and help you create a playground that meets your needs and budget.

Choosing Playground Designs to Suit Your Facility Needs

When selecting themed playground options, determine what your facility and the kids need. Consider the required amount of space. Playgrounds with small footprints, such as MaxPlay® or Play Builders®, enable fun in a smaller space. These options often pair well with tighter budgets.

Your budget will also help you select playground designs to suit your space. However, don’t feel constrained if you have a smaller amount to spend on a playground. Funding options can supplement your current finances to make the playground a reality.

Next, think about the ages and abilities of the kids using the playground. You may consider playgrounds that cater to several age groups if toddlers and elementary school students will play in the area. A separate toddler-sized playground gives young children a space customized to their play needs. A playground representative can walk you through the options to meet the needs of kids who will use the space.

Themed Playground Ideas

You can find inspiration for your themed play space from completed projects and browse the many choices available. The color, theme, and design possibilities for customized playgrounds are nearly limitless. Here are some creative playground design ideas to consider.

1. Animal Antics

Kids can play alongside cats, dogs, birds, frogs, or an entire zoo in an animal-themed playground. With animals as the focal point, you can also use elements related to their habitats.

For example, a water animal-themed playground may include decorative elements like seashells. Consider palm tree-decorated supports for jungle animals. If you want to use farm animals as the topic, consider a barn-themed structure. For pet-themed spaces, you may include small playhouses near the playground.

2. Castles and Fantasy

With a castle-themed playground, kids can become knights, kings, princes, princesses, and dragons as they act out medieval fantasies. When kids work together in common imaginary play, they learn how to interact with others and build social skills.

Plus, every kid has a part with this theme. They can play as knights, villagers, or royalty, acting out their favorite fantasy books and movies.

View Castle Themed Equipment

3. Natural Adventures

With an adventure-themed playground, kids can engage in pretend outdoor excursions like rock climbing. Adding a rock pile climber can turn them into mountain climbers. To further enhance the sense of nature, use leaf roofs for shade that create the appearance of forest trees towering over them.

This playground theme works well for a recreational center, nature center, or arboretum play space. Supplement the artificial trees with natural trees and shrubs outside the playground. Putting trees on playground edges keeps the space clear of leaves and branches that may fall and clutter the play area.

4. Pirates Ahoy!

ship-themed playground places kids on the high seas. The surfacing turns into the ocean and the playground into a large ship, where kids can be pirates or other seafaring adventurers. They can act out cooperative play by steering the ship-themed play area or swabbing the imaginary deck.

Kids may use a slide to leave the ship and travel to an imaginary island. A palm tree shade covering can represent the island hiding the treasure. Kids can extend the ship theme into numerous adventures for themselves or others they meet on the playground.

5. Dinosaur Park

dinosaur-themed playground can appeal to many ages. Kids can imagine the beasts as gentle giants or adversaries. Adding jungle-themed elements turns the play area into a dinosaur habitat for kids to explore. Vehicle elements can give them a way to pretend-drive through the area, finding dinosaurs or escaping ones that chase them.

6. The Old West

A Western town theme lets kids explore the Old West. They can become sheriffs, deputies, or other law enforcers in the town. In these roles, they can pretend to uphold the law and protect the people of the Old West playground town. They may even pretend to be horses and gallop around the play area.

Several themed elements, such as corral panels, can make a playground resemble a Western town. The more of these accessories you incorporate, the easier kids can envision the area as a frontier town.

7. Journey to the Stars

Kids become astronauts when they have a playground with a rocket ship and other space exploration vehicles. With an outer space theme, kids can find aliens, explore distant planets, and still be home in time for dinner.

A space shuttle or rocket play area with nearby rocks lets kids pretend to rocket off to the moon, exploring the rocks as the moon landing base. Alternatively, the kids may imagine the rocks as aliens that look like rocks and attempt communication with them. A space-themed playground allows kids to become astronauts for an afternoon and stretch their imaginations.

8. Let’s Make Music

Kids should have a chance to be loud somewhere. Channeling their need to make noise into playing music gives them a creative outlet while appealing to one aspect of sensory play. Music-themed play components with large musical notes and instruments designed for smaller hands can turn a group of kids on the playground into a hit rock band in their imaginations.

A music-themed playground can also ignite a love for music in kids from a young age. Over time, they may find they want to learn to play instruments, leading to a lifetime of musical education and enjoyment.

Themed Playground Options From Little Tikes Commercial

Whether you’re adding a playground to a school, daycareplace of worship, or another location, you’re likely brainstorming design ideas that best reflect the space.

If you’re looking to enrich your community with a one-of-a-kind playground design, Little Tikes Commercial can help you plan a custom design or theme. Whether you already have a specific theme in mind or only know what color scheme you want, we can help make your vision a reality. Here are some of our custom and themed playground options to get you started.



1. Farmyard

A farm playground theme can give kids a place to enjoy old-fashioned fun. This theme is ideal for play areas with interactive farm equipment and activities. You can create a playground with elements to make it resemble a barn and silos.

Barnyard-themed playgrounds are especially popular in rural areas. You can incorporate play elements and decorations that look like:

  • Tractors and barns.
  • Farm animals like pigs, chickens, and cows.
  • Crops like fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Kids can pretend to be farmers and pitch hay or harvest vegetables. Or, they might imagine themselves as farm animals and practice their mooing, clucking, neighing, and oinking.

2. Tiny Town

Highlight everything your local community has to offer with a miniature city theme. For instance, if your town has well-known landmarks like a downtown area, city skyline, or river walk, center the theme around those features with customized printed designs.

You can also integrate other features into the community-themed playground, such as flags or informational plaques to describe your area’s history. By showcasing your town’s most treasured aspects, you can express your local pride and remind visitors what makes their town special.

Kids love to play as adults, moving around and working in their own little town. With a tiny town that includes small playhouses, shops, a fire station, or a post office, kids can do just that on the playground. With village-themed design elements, such as picket fence panels, they can pretend to be members of a functioning town.

Kids can be mail deliverers, mayors, shop owners, and other community members. This theme creates a cooperative environment that allows kids to be grown-ups for a while.

3. Tropical

Featuring elements like palm trees, rainforest animals, thatched roof shade covers, and cabanas, a tropical-themed playground allows visitors to feel like they’re on vacation without leaving their city. This theme is a great match for locations in warmer climates or tropical areas with real palm trees.

Kids can enjoy a getaway to a tropical island, even if the experience is only in their imagination. The playground provides a relaxing place for kids to pretend they’re having a day at the beach. To add to the bright tropical theme, you could choose neon colors for some components or decor. Alternatively, you may stick to greens and blues to maintain the tropical feel.

Tropical playground themes also pair well with ship elements and underwater-themed equipment. A tropical-themed play area gives you multiple options, making it a versatile choice for your playground.

4. Underwater

An underwater theme is ideal if you’re in a coastal community or want a unique, aquatic flair. You can include features like blue surfacing, seaweed, and coral reefs to reflect this theme. Don’t forget sea animal elements like fish, whales, turtles, and octopuses!

5. Vehicles

Kids look up to the adults in their lives. One way they can emulate grown-ups is by pretending to drive vehicles. A vehicle playground theme can feature a variety of transportation modes, such as cars, trucks, trains, boats, airplanes, and more.

You can center the theme around one type of vehicle or focus on several types. Vehicular playground elements can spark creativity in kids wanting to imitate on-the-go adults. Here are some examples of how they might integrate different vehicles into playtime:

  • Firetrucks: With a firetruck theme for your playground, kids can act out their dreams of becoming real-life heroes as they fight fires, rescue cats, or respond to emergencies. It can inspire kids to learn more about becoming emergency responders and build respect for those in the position. Even kids who don’t want to become firefighters can enjoy pretending to go on exciting rescue missions.
  • Trains: With train-themed playground elements such as gear panels, you can turn a traditional setup into a train that takes kids wherever their imaginations lead them. They can pretend the train is from their favorite books or movies, entering fantastical faraway places or the Old West.
  • Airplanes: An airplane playground theme from Little Tikes Commercial puts kids in the cockpit of a large plane to pretend they are flying to new locations. An airplane as the central point makes the rest of the playground an airport. Kids can use a separate piece as a control tower while others direct the plane from the ground.

Embrace a Themed or Custom Playground Design With Little Tikes Commercial

Become a kid again as you explore theming options for your playground. Imagine the jungle landscapes or outer space adventures your new play space will bring to the minds of kids who use it.

Once you’ve selected the playground you want, get a quote from us at Little Tikes Commercial. You can also find a representative for assistance in customizing your playground and choosing a fun-filled theme.

With help from our themed or custom-designed playgrounds, you can bring the joy and excitement of play to every kid. Begin the process of designing your themed or customized play area today!