The Power of the Tower Playground


Whether it’s scaling trees or climbing up monkey bars, children gravitate toward play activities that involve climbing. Climbing structures are perennial favorites among commercial playground equipment, but in the last decade, a new trend has risen to the top—towers!

Playground towers are defined as play structures with platforms eight feet or higher. They provide a great view of the play area and make the playground more noticeable to a passerby. Towers encourage children to explore the play space and give them a new perspective on their surroundings.

Read on and learn how tower playgrounds can elevate play in your community!

Playground Towers and Safety Standards

Despite climbing being a very natural play activity, most landscape architects were limited in creating tall structures due to ASTM Safety & Security Standards. Playground safety surfacing could only attenuate a fall from eight feet or below. Recent surfacing innovations have allowed for much taller structures.

“Towers have been trending up for ten years or more,” says Christi Hamilton, GameTime Product Manager. “15-20 years ago when I first started in the industry, there weren’t a whole lot of towers because of the safety surfacing standards at the time.”


Advances in safety surfacing technology made it possible for landscape architects and designers to create taller and more exciting play structures.

Landscape architects have taken advantage of the opportunity to build taller play structures. With fully enclosed platforms at higher elevations and appropriate safety surfacing, children can climb higher than ever before!

Tower playgrounds are “kid-magnets.” With roof heights up to 18-feet tall, they demand attention even from a distance and draw people into parks and play areas. But there’s more to towers than their height. Research suggests they spark curiosity, increase physical activity, and enhance a child’s resilience and self-confidence

“GameTime and PlayCore have done a great job at doing research and having evidence-based design practices,” says Lewis Painter, Partner at Great Western Recreation. “They understand people and how they interact with playgrounds and with one another. And that research allows us to build playgrounds that facilitate the natural play patterns people engage in like climbing.”

Creating Landmark Parks

The advancements in playground safety surfacing mean landscape architects can create taller playground structures. It also allows them to get more creative with their designs. This sparked another industry trend - communities started to focus on creating destination parks that stand out from the rest.

“I’m seeing this trend with a lot of municipalities, where instead of trying to create 20 different pocket parks, they’re building these giant destination playgrounds, splash pads, or rec centers,” says Bill Patterson, CR Studio Design Consultant. “And a great way to attract attention to your park is to build a custom playground with tall structures like towers.”

Toucan Hideaway in West Chicago, Ill. is an excellent example of a park going above and beyond to attract attention. The playground features massive towers that rival the nearby trees in size. People can see the park from miles away!


The playground towers at Toucan Hideaway Playground in West Chicago, Illinois are part of an exciting rainforest theme.

“Theming parks is something that I’ve seen more communities focus on,” says Lewis Painter. “Not only is it fun for kids, but it also provides a 'placemaker' within the community and becomes a landmark for the city.”

Tailor-Made Tower Designs

Considering both custom-themed parks and towers have grown in popularity in the past decade, GameTime merged the two trends. This led to the creation of the new Altus Tower line, a customizable tower structure. Customers can customize the color and style of an Altus tower. But the design possibilities don’t end there. Altus towers also provide space for different panels, slides, and stairways.

“We understand that towers are really popular. But at GameTime, we’ve taken that a step further with something like the Altus towers. You have all of these different options for paneling, stairs, and slide configurations,” says Christi Hamilton. “And on top of that, you have tons of theming options and colors, particularly with the Overlook Climber attachment.”

The Overlook Climber attaches to the outside of a tower! The external attachment design alleviates congestion inside the structure and gives children a completely new climbing experience. Instead of traditional steps or ladder rungs, Overlook features flexible climbing platforms that double as seating areas for social play.

Like all of the Altus components, it can be themed to match the style of your tower playground.

Bring a Tower Playground to Your Town

Adding a tower to your local park can benefit your community in many ways. Children will love the height of the structure and appreciate a fresh perspective of the world. Tower playgrounds also serve as community landmarks and recreation destinations.

Whether you’re looking for an affordable tower option or a custom-themed play experience, GameTime can help! Contact the local play expert in your neighborhood and start planning your new playground today.