Children's Discovery Garden to open at Discovery ParkOfficials at Discovery Park of America are announcing the largest expansion that the park has had since it opened in November of 2013 with the addition of a Children's Discovery Garden, with an expected cost of over one-half million dollars.

"I'm excited," said CEO Jim Rippy. "I think this is one of the biggest improvements we have made," he added.

The Children's Discovery Garden will be located on the North side of the property, just over the bridge to the right and will be over 23,000 square feet of space where children can learn, explore, romp, and play. "This has been the number one request that we have gotten from our visitors," Rippy explained. "We expect that the Children's Discovery Garden will attract new visitors, increase memberships, provide additional space for children to learn and engage, while give our members an additional reason to visit the park more often during the year," he added.

Ground's Director John Watkins has bene tasked with the challenge of creating the Children's Discovery Garden and turning this dream into a reality. Watkins has been researching, visiting other children's spaces and talking with professionals for over a year now. "When I connected with Landscape Sculptures, I knew we had found a great partner for our project," Watkins said. "This company makes some of the most unique, innovative, and creative equipment I have seen anywhere," Watkins went on to say. "Our sincerest hope is that this Discovery Garden will provide a setting for children and adults to reengage with nature in a fun environment that fosters learning," he said.

Discovery Park guests can look forward to winding their way down a very aesthetic, fossil embedded pathway, and finding educational, fun and amusing things to do along the way. One of the first surprises along the path will be the Rhapsody outdoor musical garden, with giant instruments giving children of all ages an opportunity to experience with rhythm, tone, and the creative combination of sounds. In addition to whimsical landscape sculptures, guests will admire perineal gardens, experience a sensory garden and study the lifecycle of many amphibians in the Discovery Stream flowing through the space. There will be a new outdoor classroom created with a Labyrinth at center, serving as a great place to conduct outdoor lessons, as well as a meditative pathway for children and adults. In addition, there will be a place to dig for dinosaur bones, a garden especially designed to attract butterflies and a giant outdoor chess/checker set, providing the opportunity for hours of outdoor sensory experiences.

Polly Brasher, Education Director at Discovery Park, states that her department strives to help children see beyond their homes and classrooms into a world of possibilities: possible inventions, possible careers and the possibility for improved lives. Brasher said, "The Children's Discovery Garden will be a beautiful space where healthful habits of inquisitiveness and exercise take root and possibilities blossom." She is looking forward to the opportunities that it will provide as it is used as a resource to fulfill the park's mission of serving children.

But sometimes, a child just needs to be outside playing. Watkins said that he believes that the garden will provide an interactive and engaging area for children to connect with nature and engage in creative play. "Over one-third of our country's adolescents are considered obese," Watkins stated. "In addition to educational areas and aesthetic spaces, we are going to create a great environment for children to expand their social skills and get some exercise with creative and imaginative play. This is where Landscape Sculptures, Inc. comes into play. Some of the structures that will be installed on the safe surface and artificial grass include:

  • Omni Spinner 
  • Saddle Spinner 
  • El Slide 
  • Den and Chimney Rocks 
  • Corkscrew Net 
  • Pinnacle Rock 
  • Play Odyssey Treehouse Tower 
  • Ascent Rocks 
  • Double Swoosh Slide 
  • Sky Rail Climber 
  • Log Balance Beam 
  • Log Steppers 
  • Crawl Tunnels 
  • Spinners 
  • Hillside Rope Climbing Structures 
  • Hillside Slides 
  • Zip Krooz

And, Landscape Sculptures, Inc., is designing a giant version of our logo that will rest high above the play area to create shade. In this space, the Imagination Playground blocks earlier donated by KaBOOM and Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Foundation will find a home as children can build and create with these unique building toys.

"The Children's Discovery Garden will be a unique space for children," Rippy said. And the plan is to have many benches and natural seating spaces available so that caregivers can relax while children explore this garden that will change with the seasons.

"We are so thankful to the Kirkland Foundation for providing the funding for the Children's Discovery Garden," Rippy said. "It is impossible to express the gratitude that everyone who has a part in Discovery Park has for the Kirkland's," he said. "They just continue to give to this community and to this project and it has an impact on not only our community, but the entire region," he added.

The impact of tourism generated by Discovery Park on Obion County can actually be measured, as tax revenues increase and new hotels and other businesses begin to develop on the land near Discovery Park. "People are beginning to make Union City, Reelfoot Lake and this community a destination," Rippy stated. "It is not unusual to talk with visitors who spent the night at a local hotel and bought a two day pass to the park; or to talk with a camper who spent the night at Reelfoot Lake and the day in Union City. Area hotels and restaurants express gratitude to Discovery Park employees on a regular basis. To date, the park has had over 718,000 visitors from all over the United States and many foreign countries.

"This new Children's Discovery Garden is just going to make the experience of visiting Discovery Park of America even better for years to come," Rippy added.

Park officials expect to announce a 'ground breaking' in the near future, with the entire project expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2017.

Discovery Park of America is located at 830 Everett Blvd., in Union City, TN and is open 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 Tuesday through Sunday. It is a unique blend of history and technology, science and fun. To find out more about Discovery Park of America and upcoming educational and entertaining events, visit the website at www.discoveryparkofamerica.comand click "calendar".