Key Features to Include in Your Immersive Interactive Play Area

Immersive interactive play areas offer kids new, unique and exciting ways to play. Through fun designs and technological additions, kids can enjoy a one-of-a-kind play experience that keeps them asking to come back for more.

You won’t want to add just any play area to your business — it’s helpful to have a well-designed immersive interactive playground complete with high-quality equipment. Learn more about the key features you should include in your business’s immersive playground to make it a success.

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Why Are Immersive Interactive Play Areas Important?

Immersive interactive play areas provide a variety of benefits for both users and business owners. Kids that use the immersive play area get a fun experience that helps with their cognitive, physical and social development. Business owners that implement immersive play areas can see increased attention, revenue and attendance. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of an immersive playground:

They Get Kids Active

According to the National Recreation and Park Association, kids today are spending less time playing outdoors than any other generation. Increasingly, kids of all ages are choosing to spend more time in front of a screen than engaging in traditional play. So, it’s time to meet kids where they are to get them active. Immersive interactive play areas combine fun technological elements with traditional play to get kids in motion and more interested in physical play.

An active lifestyle is important for the health and well-being of kids. Physical activity or play provides kids with the following benefits:

  • Academic performance: Active play can help improve attention and memory, leading to better academic performance.
  • Bone strength: Physically active kids are more likely to have higher bone mass and greater bone structure, which contributes to improved bone strength.
  • Cardiometabolic health: Play can help kids maintain normal blood sugar levels and can reduce other cardiometabolic disease risk factors.
  • Healthy weight: As kids stay consistently engaged in active or physical play, they may reduce their body fat and regulate their body weight.
  • Heart and lung health: Through play, kids may improve their blood pressure and, with a continued active lifestyle, can reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease in the future.
  • Long-term health: Active play can set kids up to live a healthy and active lifestyle as they get older. By staying active throughout childhood and into adolescence and adulthood, they can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.
  • Muscular fitness: The more kids play, the more likely they are to improve their muscle strength and endurance.

In a world where kids would prefer to watch TV or play on a smartphone, it’s important to show them the value of getting up and active to play. Immersive interactive play areas may be just what kids need to get excited about playing.

They Are Appealing to Kids of Varying Ages and Interests

Regardless of a kid’s age or interests, there is something for everyone in an immersive play area. With traditional equipment, group games and technology components, kids are sure to find something they find fun. Since kids have grown up around technology, understanding how to use immersive features is easy for them.

Additionally, by including technology-based aspects, the ways kids can play and interact with the space increase. For example, with the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), kids can play and interact with things that are not physically in the space. This opens up the door for even more creative play and new ways for kids to find fun in the play space.

They Help Develop Kids’ Cognitive, Physical and Social Skills

During play, kids strengthen their cognitive, physical and social skills. Specifically, some of the skills kids learn while playing include:

  • Confidence, resilience and independence
  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Agility, balance, coordination and stamina
  • Exploring and expressing their feelings
  • Critical thinking
  • Improved memory and attention
  • Communication and social skills
  • Sharing and patience

As kids learn through play, immersive elements can help them work on developing many skills at once. For example, a virtual scavenger hunt gets kids physically moving around the play space while they also work on problem-solving and working together as a team. Overall, play makes learning and developing these skills fun for kids.

They Keep Your Business Relevant

Whether your play area is in a public park or part of a museum, you want to make sure kids and parents enjoy your immersive play area — especially compared to the play spaces of your competition. In a technology-driven world, embracing technological additions keeps your business relevant.

An immersive play area is appealing and unique. Your play space will be much more interesting than your competitors, which means your immersive play space will stand out in the minds of both kids and parents. Standing out from the competition is beneficial to keeping any business thriving.

They Drive Revenue and Attendance

When your business offers an immersive play space, it’s more likely to draw in new guests who are interested in experiencing the unique play area. Since indoor play areas, especially engaging ones like immersive play experiences, are appealing throughout the year, you can expect a steady or consistent revenue stream.

Additionally, immersive play spaces are a great attraction for larger groups and even school field trips. Depending on the setup of your business and immersive play space, you may even be able to rent out the play area for private groups while keeping the rest of your facilities open to the public.

Finally, immersive interactive play areas can keep kids entertained longer, which means they’re more likely to stick around and explore your facility for longer. Further, once kids experience how much fun the play area is, they’ll request to come back again and again, driving your brand loyalty and attendance.

What to Include in an Immersive Interactive Play Area

When creating an immersive interactive play area, you’ll want to get creative on new ways to encourage play. The more interesting your play space, the better. A truly immersive interactive play area will wow guests with its comprehensive and creative design — even the small details count. So, while brainstorming, keep the following key elements in mind as they are extremely beneficial to an immersive play area’s design.

Sensory Play Objects

Touching and physically interacting with items is how kids learn about and explore the world around them. Sensory play also helps build a child’s fine and gross motor skills. As this type of play is clearly beneficial to kids’ development, be sure to include sensory play objects in your immersive interactive play area.

Various objects can be used to foster sensory play, such as sandboxes or toys that mimic musical instruments and make noise. With these tools that engage children’s sight, touch and sound senses, kids can have fun while developing crucial cognitive and physical skills.

Sensory play items also tend to be appealing to kids, and they will actively seek out this type of play, especially when the sensory play objects align with the play area’s theme. Sandboxes can be great additions to aquarium play areas, and animal-sculpted foam structures can work well for zoo or museum play areas. These sensory items are fun for kids to play with, and they also help tell the story of the area.

Even without technology, sensory play objects make the space feel immersive, as kids can physically touch and interact with the elements around them.

Play Structures

Of course, your immersive play area is going to need play structures. However, you don’t want just any play structures — you’ll want something fun and exciting and maybe even themed. Play structures come in a variety of sizes to meet your business’s unique sizing and design needs.

Play structures create the “wow” factor that gets kids excited to play and explore. These structures signal to kids that this space is dedicated to letting them have fun and play however they would like. For museums or learning centers that include a play structure, this is a great way for kids to get some energy out, as play structures encourage active play. Before kids become too restless, they can get moving and enjoy climbing, crawling, sliding and more on an exciting play structure.

Play structures also make the most of your space as the vertical design of the towers adds extra play space. These structures can be designed to fill large open spaces as well as smaller areas. Themed structures are also available to make the space truly immersive.

Additionally, these play structures give parents, caregivers and teachers great visibility. So, even while kids are exploring the fun elements of a play structure, an adult can still keep a watchful eye on their activities.

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Projections are a simple way to elevate the play area experience. The play area can be brought to life through animated projections.

A water-themed play area can project moving water to give the illusion the space is underwater. Meanwhile, a space-themed area can project images of planets and stars to make kids feel as though they’re truly looking outside a spaceship’s windows. An animal-themed space can project various animals walking around or turn an empty wall into a vast open jungle. Other simple projections, like color-changing projections in various shapes, are also useful for play areas without a specific theme.

While kids will enjoy the projections while playing, these features also can help draw kids into the area to begin with. The colors or motions of the projections can catch kids’ eyes and make the play area look even more appealing. Especially with themed projections, the play space won’t look like your average play area — it will be a new world kids want to explore.

Games or Challenges

While free play is important, it’s also a good idea to include game-based activities in the play area. These structured forms of play can get kids working together or playing with one another as they challenge each other to different games. Organized story-based activities can also bring the immersive space to life. For example, in a space-themed play area, kids can work together to dodge asteroids or challenge each other to see who can get the highest rocket launch.

Physical equipment, like obstacle courses, can be used to create games in the space, while virtual elements like AR can bring other games and activities to the area. Screens can also be used to suggest games or instruct kids on how to play. Including games and challenges can reinforce the story or theme of the play area and make the space feel cohesive.

Group Activities

Social play is beneficial and fun for kids, so it’s important to include activities that inspire or foster group participation. Take the Kennedy Space Center’s interactive satellite game, for example. To play, kids work together as a team to gather important space data to send back to Earth. A group activity like this can be especially engaging for larger parties, like a school trip. Group activities get everyone involved and engaged with the play area.

Another group activity you can add to any play area, regardless of theme, is STOMP from Soft Play®. STOMP allows up to four kids to play together to see who can stomp the most or the fastest. Kids of all ages — and even adults — can get involved in this colorful and interactive group activity.

Group activities help make sure all kids are included and involved in play. Plus, group activities can be helpful for shy kids. Group play can help ease kids into the play space, making them feel more comfortable with the area and their peers. Once kids play one group activity together, they may want to continue to play in the other areas together.

Decorative Elements

Play equipment is important, but so are the decorative elements that bring the theme to life. Decorative components help make the play area feel immersive. Decorations can include hanging sculptures, signs, art and mascots. These components are not play areas or toys for kids, but they help create a magical space where kids can become fully immersed in play.

Themed signs allow you to list rules and resources in a way that aligns with the play area’s theme. Hanging sculptures and other art bring the area to life. Different animals, shapes and items can hang from the ceiling to make it look like kids are truly in the place you’re trying to create, such as a jungle, space or underwater.

Sculpted mascots are also great additions for making your play area unique to your business. Other decorative elements, such as themed entryways and hand sanitizer stations, will take your space from a themed play area to a truly immersive experience. Custom-designed decorative elements will ensure even the smallest details are on theme and your space is as immersive as possible.

Music and Sound Effects

Music and sound effects bring the play space to life and complete the experience. Shooting a space laser feels much more real and fun when there is an accompanying noise to it. If the play area has animal sculptures or toys, having animal noises play makes these elements more fun and engaging.

By using music and sound effects, you add a new element to the play area that kids typically do not experience at traditional play sites. Consider using background music throughout the whole play area and special sound effects for certain tools, games or equipment.

The use of auditory sounds will also come in handy for VR and AR use. Kids can verbally hear directions or learn about the virtual items in front of them. This makes the experience feel more realistic, and it’s inclusive to kids who may not yet know how to read.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or Smartphone Compatibility

As kids begin to interact with technology at a young age, it is a natural part of play for them. Through TV shows, video games, and smartphone apps, using technology is almost second nature for some kids. Incorporating technology into the immersive play area allows your business to bridge the gap between digital and physical play.

Kids may enjoy or even prefer digital play over real-life, traditional play. So, by creating this bridge, you can pique kids’ interest in playing in the immersive play space while also getting them physically active and engaged in the space. Additionally, digital play through VR, AR or smartphone compatibility opens up ways kids can play in the space. Without adding any more physical equipment, kids can now play and complete challenges with these tools.

For example, QR codes can allow kids to use their parents’ smartphones — with permission, of course — to download an app that allows them to complete a virtual scavenger hunt around the play space, see animals roam past them and more. With this technology, your play space will offer more fun than is even visible, as VR and AR will add extra engaging and fun ways to play.

Furniture and Seating

When creating an immersive play area, you’ll want to focus on the fun play elements, but you also don’t want to overlook the practical needs such as furniture and seating. Remember, kids are not the only ones who will use this play space. Parents, guardians and teachers will all need somewhere to sit as they observe and supervise the kids at play. Kids will also need a place to sit down and take a break.

Luckily, themed furniture and seating are available, so these rest areas look cohesive with the play space. Why add standard seating when you could choose seating that enhances the play area theme and completes the design? Choose from a variety of colors and designs to make your play area furniture functional while creating a seamless design.

Create a Custom Immersive Play Area With Soft Play

When you’re ready to design or update your immersive play area, Soft Play can help. At Soft Play, we can provide all of the features of an immersive playground, from play structures and gamified play equipment to decorative elements and furniture. With decades of experience and many successful projects of all sizes and budgets, our team is ready to work with you to create the perfect play area for your needs.

Regardless of your business’s industry, we offer a variety of playground site furnishings that will transform your play area into an immersive interactive play space kids will love. Contact our team to learn how Soft Play can help you build a high-quality play area. When you’re ready to create your dream immersive play space, request a quote to get started.

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