ant to play? Several parks in Orange County offer entire playgrounds, play structures and other features designed for children with special needs. We took a look to see what they have to offer.
24051 Pavion, Mission Viejo
This park, renovated and reopened as a universally accessible park in late 2014, is a colorful, unique oasis with inclusion designed into the equipment and play areas. The main treehouse play structure has wheelchair-accessible ramps and interactive boards.
Unique elements: A rocking boat attached to the treehouse structure that has wheelchair access; a floating mat attached to parallel zip lines; an interactive electronic dance game that keeps kids thinking and moving; a painted maze game.
Of note: Some swings have harnesses and other neck protection; colorful seating areas grouped for socializing (great for parents who have children with disabilities to meet and interact); sensory play includes an abundance of spinner seats and poles and accessible sand diggers.
Kiwanis Barrier Free Park
South Linda Way, Santa Ana
This playground, part of the larger Carl Thornton Park on the north side off Adams Street, was built by the Kiwanis Club in 1995 in partnership with the city of Santa Ana. The play structure is accessible with ramps.
Unique elements: A basketball court with height-adjustable baskets.
Of note: While a long-sought plan to build accessible bathrooms at the park has been approved, current visitors must cross Thornton Park for restroom facilities.
Box Canyon Park
22400 Foxtail Drive, Yorba Linda
This park reopened as a universally accessible playground in 2010 after it was destroyed by wildfires a couple of years before that. There are two accessible play structures — a castle and a pirate ship.
Unique elements: The two play structures have extensive ramp systems and even bridges for wheelchairs. They allow for a lot of pretend play, including “battles” between the castle and the pirate ship. They also feature interactive boards for kids to create music and play imaginative games. There is one accessible swing and three bench swings.
Of note: This park is in the hills in an inland area with little shade, so time your visit to avoid the heat of the day if possible. There are many signs warning of wildlife such as rattlesnakes, but kids might get the chance to spot rabbits and lizards. It is street…