McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford today shared a first look at the designs for its brand new play area, which will be the first guest facility delivered as part of the centre’s £90 million expansion currently underway. The  digitally-enhanced playground will  feature  immersive augmented reality play  experiences and include one of the UK’s tallest open space Robinia tree house towers.

Designed and installed by Kompan, Europe’s largest provider of outdoor play equipment, the new playground has been customised to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience for McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford’s younger visitors, featuring a bespoke ‘Garden of England’ theme.

Opening in spring 2019, a major focal point for the play area will be a seven-metre high Robinia tree house, which has been designed exclusively for McArthurGlen and will be the only tree house of its kind in the world. The structure will feature a range of  exciting play challenges alongside a host of innovative new features in the playground, including tactile and sensory equipment, interactive play with smart phone technology and educational activities.

The  SMART  Playground’s  innovative  technology  means  that  through  QR  codes  placed  on  the  playground equipment – or via the Apple or Android App Store – children can download the Hans Christian Andersen Play Gate app. When the app is opened children will enjoy digital versions of  their favourite fairy  tales, sparking their imaginations and opening the door for themed play. With augmented reality, The Play Gate app also allows fairy tale characters to ‘magically’ appears on the playground, where adults can encourage children to interact with the character and promote role play in the playground.

The ‘Garden of England’ theme will be further brought to life through bright flowers and butterflies, giant grass blades and an abundance of greenery, benefitting the health and wellness of children and forming a natural extension of the Living Wall, which will be unveiled in the centre next year.

Peter Corr, Centre Manager at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford said: Part of creating one the region’s leading retail destination is ensuring there’s entertainment for the whole family. Our new ‘Garden of England’ playground will play a major role in providing an exceptional guest experience and the perfect day out, alongside 50 new brands, a new food piazza and Europe’s largest living wall. We have some exciting initiatives planned to launch our new playground in 2019 and we’re looking forward to sharing more information on this over the coming months.”

The new playground delivers a world-class play space for children of all abilities and includes wheelchair accessible equipment to ensure every child has equal access to the best play opportunities. Through its expansion, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford will also be introducing more disabled and family car parking spaces, as well as a Changing Places Facility, to ensure all guests enjoy an excellent experience when visiting the centre.

While the new playground is under construction, a temporary play area for 3 – 6 year olds has been set up opposite Pizza Express, ensuring that the centre’s little visitors are entertained until the new playground arrives next year. The centre’s old, much loved children’s play area, which was previously located next to the food court, was dismantled and donated to Wingham Wildlife Park in April this year.

Once complete in Autumn 2019, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford’s centre expansion will introduce 50 new premium and luxury brands, while creating 500 new jobs for Ashford’s local community. As well as this, new facilities including an events space, food piazza and 725 car additional car parking spaces will also be delivered.

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