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Magical Innovation

Learn more about our innovative structures and technology that you can find at Magical Bridge Playgrounds.

Featured at Magical Bridge Playground in Mitchell Park, Palo Alto

THE MAGIC MAP

The Magic Map is a 3-dimensional, tactile, and interactive bronze map of Magical Bridge Playground that visitors explore with their hands, eyes, and ears. Magical Bridge Foundation partnered with XR Navigation to create an inclusive navigation system to make Magical Bridge Playground more accessible for people with low or no vision. 

The Magic Map uses computer vision to detect where the user is pointing with a Magical Wand stylus on the 3D model map — and using digital-auditory technology, the visitor hears a description of that area of the playground. By lifting the Magic Wand stylus several inches above the map, the user will hear a description of the area below it, including what play equipment and features are part of that space or play zone.

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The Magic Map concept was originated by Brandon Biggs of XR Navigation using technology invented at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute by James M. Coughlan and Huiying Shen. The bronze map and Magic Wand were created by Cosmo Wenman. Audio voiceover provided by Woman of Her Word, Michele Spitz.

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The Magic Map was made possible through the generosity of The Enlight Foundation. Additional support was provided by the National Eye Institute, the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

LASER HARP

Featured at Magical Bridge Playgrounds in: Mitchell Park, Palo Alto, CA; Red Morton Park, Redwood City, California; Community Park in Morgan Hill, CA

The 24-string Laser Harp, created by artist Jen Lewin, encourages visitors to create a symphony of sounds. When visitors move through the harp and break the invisible laser beams, musical notes play through embedded speakers in the harp. The tones are on a pentatonic scale which is proven to be more soothing than a western scale, especially to those who have autism. For visitors to the playground, the Laser Harp stimulates brain activity, encourages social interaction, and facilitates non-verbal communication.

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First developed as a temporary installation at Burning Man, Jen Lewin has partnered with Magical Bridge Foundation to continue to innovate and build her interactive and musical play structure for additional playgrounds. The installation at Magical Bridge Playground at Red Morton Park in Redwood City, CA includes drum pads on the ground, so as you move through the harp lasers overhead to create symphonic sounds, you can also jump, walk, or roll across the drum pads on the ground adding beats to the music. It’s a fully immersive experience enjoyed by visitors of all ages and abilities.

SLIDE AND SIT LANDINGS

Featured at Magical Bridge Playgrounds in: Mitchell Park, Palo Alto, CA; Red Morton Park, Redwood City, California; Community Park in Morgan Hill, CA, and Fair Oaks Park in Sunnyvale.

As part of our mission to innovate playgrounds and parks for all ages and abilities,  Magical Bridge Foundation is especially proud to introduce our patented Slide and Sit Landings™ at each of the playgrounds. These bench-style landings provide a safe transitional place for those needing extra time while waiting for a mobility device or assistance from a friend, while allowing for others to use the slide.

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HIDEAWAY HUT

Featured at Magical Bridge Playgrounds in: Red Morton Park, Redwood City, California; Community Park in Morgan Hill, CA, and Fair Oaks Park in Sunnyvale.

Hideaway Huts are placed throughout the playground for those, such as people with autism, who need a retreat from play or a safe place to observe the action. We developed these non-toxic, tung-oil stained, custom wood huts in collaboration with Barbara Butler Artist-Builder, the creator of the two-story playhouse featured in the center of Magical Bridge Playgrounds. The interior walls include tactile features for exploration while providing a calming feature for those taking a break from the activity on the playground.

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PLAY ZONES

Play zones are one of the most foundational design elements of Magical Bridge Playgrounds. The zone-model layout, researched and developed by Magical Bridge Foundation, provides playground visitors with predictable navigation and play experiences. Play zones include areas for swinging and swaying, spinning, sliding and climbing, music making, and an area for tots. Of special note is our Kindness Corner, a special zone that provides a place for reflection and thoughtful conversations. Inscripted walls within the space offer messaging and activities that promote acceptance, good will, and friendship.

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With smooth, seamless ground surfaces, Magical Bridge Playgrounds offer ample space for open play and easy transition between play zones. With no tan bark or loose gravel, the soft-fall foam ground cover does not obstruct breathing tubes or create problems for those using wheelchairs or mobility devices.

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Variable challenge levels in each zone help playground visitors build skills and confidence. Carefully selected equipment is accessible for all — including elevated areas such as the two-story, artist-designed Playhouse and Stage, slide mound, ground-level carousel, and ramp-accessible sway boat. Secure, perimeter fencing around the playground offers parents and caregivers peace of mind as their children explore the many play opportunities at Magical Bridge. The playground, designed for all ages, including seniors, offers adult fitness equipment and tables for group gatherings, games, and celebrations.

TRUE ACCESSIBILITY

TWO-STORY PLAYHOUSE

When the Magical Bridge team set out to design and build the nation’s most inclusive and accessible playground, they sought partners who would think outside the typical parameters of playground design. Barbara Butler is one of those partners. Since 1987, Barbara Butler Artist-Builder, Inc. has created custom play structures using all-natural redwood and non-toxic tung oil wood stains. For Magical Bridge, her team designed and built their first ever wheelchair-accessible two-story playhouse so everyone, including those using mobility devices, could enjoy the second story and look out over the playground.

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TREEHOUSE

Barbara Butler extended the playhouse into the trees with a custom-designed (and fully accessible) treehouse, inspired by another magical partner, Emily McQueen. Emily is an active mother of four boys. While climbing during her college years in Oregon, she fell from a tall redwood tree and broke her back. She has since used a wheelchair and found when visiting playgrounds with her boys, she is unable to traverse the park due to tanbark, sand, and barriers, common to typical playgrounds. She was thrilled to learn of the mission of Magical Bridge, especially the two-story playhouse, and said “I’d give anything to be in the trees again.” Inspired by her perseverance and strength, the treehouses at Magical Bridge Playgrounds are a testament to Emily, who is currently a prolific artist based in Iowa.

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SLIDE MOUND

After many brainstorms with design and innovation teams, Magical Bridge developed the concept of a slide mound to give more people than ever the opportunity to slide. From the top of the playhouse, playground visitors can access the top of the slide mound via specially graded ramps and bridges. For the first time, everyone can slide — and with the Magical Bridge-patented Slide and Sit Landings™, there is space to sit at the bottom of the slide for those waiting for the return of their mobility device or help from a friend.

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