The Thalwil Adventure Playground is not a traditional playground, but rather a collection of odd play structures partially built by kids along with the adults who run the park. At first glance, it looks more like a ramshackle shanty town, but that’s part of the magic. It takes some imagination to enjoy the place.
This is the kind of place where expat moms hover over their kids with worried looks, wondering how kids survive this kind of chaos, making friends with the opening line: “This would never fly in America. Someone would sue!” But somehow the kids emerge with only a few scrapes and bruises and gleeful faces, reveling in their wild independent adventures.
I wasn’t sure about recommending the place, but all the kids and moms I talked to said they would come back. My 7 year really liked it. My 11 year old had fun but sometimes felt bored and wished he had brought a friend. The fun isn’t always obvious here and kids have to make their own fun.
|Address:||Bodenstrasse 13 Gattikon-Thalwil|
|Car:||~15 mins from Zurich|
|Train:||~40 mins from Zurich|
|Open:||most Wednesdays year around (excluding school holidays) from 14:00 to 17:00 and some Saturdays|
|Price:||CHF 8 per child|
|Services:||playground, drop-off for 7 and over|
The playground is open most Wednesdays year around (excluding school holidays) from 14:00 to 17:00 and some Saturdays. Check the website for the schedule. It costs 8 CHF per child, 4 CHF if you become a member, which costs 50CHF/year. The fee includes snacks and drinks provided by the staff. The day we were there, that included sliced apples and grilled bread/meat spread (sounds strange but the kids loved it). Children 7 and over may be dropped off, while younger children must be accompanied by an adult.
The park is hard to explain, so I’ll let the pictures do most of the work.The craziest thing there was the zip line shown below, where children hang onto a tire instead of sit or stand on something. The zip line is very high off the ground and often 4-5 kids would go together. It was a bit shocking to watch but the kids were all cackling with glee as they flew through the air, falling off in dusty heaps at the end and running back to do it again. The climbing structure on the right had been turned into a marble run, by some industrious children at some previous date.
Some colorful playhouses, the most official looking structures.
Kids can race cars on this dirt track that circles through the park.
I don’t know what this is and neither did the kids, but they made up games to play on it. It works like a see saw and people or objects can roll around on the top of it as the kids go up and down.
A pirate ship for some role playing.
Each week has a special project. The week we were there, they were building wood huts. The supervising adult loosely organized materials and tools and stationed kids at various huts, where they hammered planks to the huts or simply made a lot of noise hitting stuff. When I say “loosely organized,” I mean that I saw kids running around the park carrying saws, hammers, and pickaxes and hammering away in various unsupervised locations while the Swiss parents lounged unconcerned by the picnic tables. Oh, the culture differences!
Below is one of the wooden huts the kids were working on.
Do you like the kids walking around with an ax on the left below? Later I saw them hacking away at the floor of a wooden hut. My 11 year old was quite proud of this accomplishment after building one wall of a hut, as shown on the right below.
Below is the workshop where building supplies are kept and the power tools are supervised by adults.
Below is an overview of the picnic area and fire pit where snacks were served. The staff has various supplies in that orange house.
One important note: the city of Thalwil is proposing an alteration to the road, which would demolish part of the playground. Visitors are asked to please sign a petition against this proposal. It’s possible that the park may be significantly altered or even closed if this proposal goes through. People can sign the petition through 8 May 2015.