Waterpark my yard
July 30, 2009 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Best backyard water/ sprinkler/ inflatable/slide/ bellyflop/ kill-the-lawn toys?

I'm having several kids and their families over this weekend for play and grilling. I'd like to set up some fun water activities for the kiddos.

We have a large backyard- don't know the exact measurements but it's about the size and shape of a tennis court. The yard slopes slightly and we've used slip n slides before but I'm looking for other kinds of set-ups in addition. I have a couple hundy set aside for a trip to Toys R Us and/or the pool store... Your favorites? I'm especially looking for specific product recommendations ie "We've enjoyed brand X inflatable slide w/ pool that is actually the size shown in the picture on the box." (a lot of false ads w/ these- the structure ends up being proportionately tiny compared to actual kid sizes. no one likes sliding down a 2 ft slide into a 4" diameter baby pool)

Kid's ages range from 2 to 9.
posted by hellboundforcheddar to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Having worked for a company (that shall remain nameless) which manufactured and sold large backyard inflatable water slide and pool combinations, I would avoid purchasing one at all costs.

The warranties on the slides are minimal (ours were less than 3 months), and even if they made it that long they'd rarely last through winter storage. Material cracks/breaks, mold issues, stitching falling apart, you name it.

Simple inflatable pools, sprinklers, slip-and-slides, these are your best bets in my opinion. Minimal investment of cash, solid fun.
posted by smitt at 1:14 PM on July 30, 2009

With smitt's valuable info in mind- can someone recommend the best slip n slides? Ours fell apart pretty quickly. I'm sure it has nothing to do w/ my 190lb Mr. Hellbound not infrequently hurling himself down it. (He poured 2 bottles of bedroom lube on it.)
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:34 PM on July 30, 2009

Home Made Slip 'n' Slide!

This roll of plastic sheeting is 10'x25'. Cut it in half and you now have a 5'x50' slip and slide. Spray it down with a water hose (or set up the lawn sprinkler), add cheap shampoo, and go at it.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:55 PM on July 30, 2009

Ah- shampoo. I like that idea but have concerns about kiddos abrading it onto/ into their skin- thoughts on that? It sounds like rash material.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:57 PM on July 30, 2009

When I was little my grandmother used to take her plastic hallway carpet covers out into the yard and run a hose over them. That was enough slip-and-slide for us kids!
posted by billtron at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2009

Use kiddie shampoo. We did this at my high school and it was awesome (except for having to return to class in wet clothes). Oh, and the shampoo burning your eyes. The goggles, they did nothing.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:36 PM on July 30, 2009

IMNAScientist or Doctor, but I think the shampoo would reduce friction and thus the likelihood of scrapes here. One caveat: in my experience, grass + shampoo isn't a very comfortable sensation, because the grass sticks to the skin. I would advise you to make sure the slip 'n' slide is long enough so that sliders end on the plastic, not the grass, and let everyone wash off with the hose as necessary.
posted by oceano at 3:38 PM on July 30, 2009

Oh, and you can avoid the shampoo in the eyes by going feet first.
posted by oceano at 3:40 PM on July 30, 2009

Absolutely, kiddie shampoo. To solve the too-short issue of slip and slides, set up TWO back to back.
posted by plinth at 4:16 PM on July 30, 2009

smitt aside, depends on your expectations. My ~10 kids from 2-13yr old squealed with glee at a water slide from Wally-World. It did only last two seasons, and going out with my sisters friends... on just like blurted out "when are you going to buy another water slide". The last one got patched, then just ripped beyond patching, but the kids totally loved it while it was around. (damn screaming meanies).
posted by zengargoyle at 6:22 PM on July 30, 2009

Well, its not water play, but a few cans of shaving cream will go a long way towards keeping kids busy and chasing themselves around.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:33 PM on July 30, 2009

We did the homemade slip n slide thing with a roll of plastic similar to spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints, except ours was 10'x100'. We'd had the intention of cutting it into and making is 20'x50', but we needed the extra length after all. If we had enough people, I think having one that was wider could've been great for racing and whatnot. I'm not sure how well it'd work putting two pieces of plastic end-to-end to make them longer; you might be able to do it but having to put anything on the plastic opens up the possibility for cuts/scrapes/etc.

We bought a ton of random slippery stuff like shampoo, soap, etc and it was awesome! We realized the best way to do it was to have the start of the slip-n-slide on a hill, and then have it level out so you stop before reaching the end of the plastic. Otherwise you get grass/dirt burn, which is no fun. Also, keep a hose/sprinkler handy for washing off.

You could probably rig up some cool sprinklers and stuff to slide under and keep things slippery. We had plenty of fun without it so we didn't do it.

Man, this makes me want to do it again! (And i'm 24!)
posted by Tu13es at 8:00 PM on July 30, 2009

Video of kid launcher slip and slide. It made me want to go out and buy a couple rolls of plastic.

posted by stray thoughts at 1:11 AM on July 31, 2009

Splatter up is fun if the kids like baseball...
posted by batou_ at 6:43 AM on July 31, 2009

We have an Intex 12" inflatable pool that cost around $80. My kids are basically living in it. It comes with a pump and filter which doesn't do a great job, but definitely helps some. You'll need a bike pump (or similar) to inflate the ring at the top. It's big and deep enough that they can actually swim in it, and we can sit on a float and paddle around. I don't think it'll last through the summer, never mind next year, but it's been great to have during the heat wave we're having here.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2009

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