We want to get a wooden play set for our boys (twins, age 3, and a pair of climbing monkeys!) but we are way too cheap to shell out $1k or so for the big name-brand swing sets. I have been looking at used sets of that kind (Rainbow, Gorilla, etc.) on Craig’s List, but it seems to me that they tend to be fairly far off the ground (with platforms at 5′ off the ground or higher). Our little guys are great climbers and little monkeys, so they would love that, but they have NO common sense and I’m afraid they would get into trouble on a really tall set at this age. We watch them closely, but they can get into trouble in the blink of an eye!

So I’ve been looking at the smaller, cheaper Adventure brand play sets that W@lmart carries. I’ve read the reviews on them, and they seem mixed. People go on at length about how great they look, but also caution that they are flimsy and won’t carry adult weight. (I’d like to get on the play set as well since my boys still think that’s great when Mama joins them!) So, does anyone here have experience with the Adventure play sets? I was thinking of getting one on sale and shoring it up a bit with a few extra 2×4’s. Has anyone done something like that? How did it work out?

So basically I’m looking for any experience you’ve had with the Adventure play sets, good, bad, & ugly. Also interested in ideas on how to preschooler-proof a larger set so they wouldn’t kill themselves on them before they grew into it. Just looking for ideas and/or experience here.

I agree with building one yourself. It will be cheaper and FAR more sturdy. I bought a kit and assembled it, and 4 years later it is pretty rickety! Still works for an 8 and 2 year old though. After looking at this thing I know I could very simply build something much better. A miter saw and cordless drill are really the only power tools you would need, and much of the lumber could be gotten from people discarding decking and other leftover materials no doubt.

I built one for $500. You get the kit, buy the lumber and have fun building. They’re all very much the same, but there’s more safety features now than 20 years ago. You may want to consider the rubber tire much or something to soften the turf under the play area.