Top positive review
Methodical Layout is Key! I LOVE THIS SET!!
October 1, 2016
I really love this set. Does it take forever? SURE! But... here's what I did:
After its arrival, my best friend and I used bedtime, and our massive garage, to lay everything out. Very first step? Print the PDF version (found online) of the manual, page by page. I just printed the actual steps pages, and not all the rest. So, use your "print pages" option to save yourself a few trees. Next, I purchased fold top, cheap sandwich bags and had a couple sharpies handy. Then we opened the boxes, and pulled the packing slips out (one box was missing a packing slip, so we just used process of elimination). There is no rhyme or reason for how this all is packed, other than it fits perfectly, into 3 boxes, like a puzzle.
The steps have you put together big items first (monkey bars, swing set assembly, rock wall, rear ladder, crow's nest base and slide). Then, it goes on to step by step for how to build the clubhouse. After the main structure is together, you attach all the things. We took the first page(s) and found all of the items needed to construct the first big item. We laid them all into a pile, found all of the nuts/bolts/locks/etc and put them into individual baggies (clearly labeled). We piled them all together, and put the corresponding papers on top of it. Then to the next large piece's parts and pages... and the next, and the next. Soon, all of the main items were placed into piles, with every piece of wood and hardware, with the pages that told you how to construct them, laying on top.
Next, we got to the instructions for each step of the main structure/clubhouse. Since you can't really "group" them together, we literally went page by page. Each page has what wood pieces and hardware are needed, listed on the top. Some piles had 1 piece of wood, and a bolt or two... some piles had MULTIPLE. (Oh... each baggie, with hardware, I would write something like "monkey bars - bolt # and what size/quantity"... just look at the photos for all of these examples, cause I don't want to explain it wrong). But, we just went page by page. Laying it all out, in order. This took us 2 nights... just the two of us (and a few adult beverages).
Here was my thought process... I had myself, my husband, and 2 other couples, willing to come over and help FOR ONE SATURDAY. What I didn't want? One single book, being passed around, people looking for things, using wrong pieces, losing things, etc. If I had them for a day, I needed to make the MOST of it. It totally worked! It was the most methodical madness...ever. All the comments from friends were "I'm so glad you had this all so organized!"
They all came over Saturday morning. They brought their drills and bits (and coffee). We got started right away (about 11AM). Each couple grabbed one of the larger item piles, and put together whatever it was (my one piece of advice? Pay attention to the slide... bolting the wood to the bottom? You need to leave a little slide at the end. The piece of wood doesn't sit flush with the end of the slide. I missed this. Thankfully, a friend had a good idea with how to fix it, without making more holes in the slide... thank you, friend!). After all of the items were constructed, we set them in the front yard.
It was now on to constructing the clubhouse. This part was harder to work with all 6 hands. But, some were working, and others were grabbing items/tools/instructions/etc. We decided to build most of the clubhouse on the driveway, for a level surface, and easy access to all of the steps, that were still laid out in the garage. Once we got to a point that we felt we should move it, we brought it down (again, refer to photos). From there, we had people bringing each step down, and crews alternating working on the rest of the steps (it was pretty hot that day, so the switching off was nice). But, it was great to have some extra company and encouragement. ;) Toward the end, we had all the crews connecting the big items, simultaneously, and the lone man up in the crow's nest (that thing is seriously the most time consuming part of it all). While they were finishing all the last details, I ran to Home Depot, and picked up 15 50lb bags of play sand. I think we wound up only using 12-13 bags, for all of you wondering. By 7PM, every last item was done, the sandbox was filled, and the kids were having a blast.
Later, we got some 5" edging, and edged out an irregular shape, around the play set. It took about 6 yards of play bark to fill it with a few inches (makes my mama heart feel better, in case anyone falls off). All in all, I'm estimating it took about as long to lay out the parts as it did to put it together. However... it was completely worth it. I would NOT do it any other way. Nothing was lost, broken, installed wrong (except ALMOST the bottom board of the slide). A few pieces were a little warped.. but none were broken. This is WOOD. Not every piece will be perfect.
Do I regret this purchase? Absolutely not! My kids are like "can we go out and play on our park, before dinner?" They love it. They are 3.5 and 2, and play just great on it. It is PLENTY tall. Adults can fit... even up in the crow's nest. Can I stand up, completely (I'm 5'11")? No. But we have older children come play on it, and no child has been "too big" for it, yet. I think the oldest child we had was like 10.5? Perhaps older. The slide is long... even I get going a little bit on it. Before I added the wood chips, I could dangle from the monkey bars (there are 4 bars), without touching the ground. With wood chips, I just barely have to pick up my feet. The girls are too small to do the monkey bars alone. I've seen some people block off the entrance to it, on the club house, and leave them off altogether, but my kids don't attempt without us, so we opted to leave it on, for their older friends/cousins. They learned to do the rock wall quickly, and love it. They eat on the picnic table a lot. Downfall? Their friends can NOT keep the sand in the sandbox. I'm debating constructing something that keeps it closed, so those friends can't get into it... I HATE cleaning up the sand from the lower deck. The seesaw swing is awesome, since the girls aren't big enough to "pump" on a normal swing really well, yet. They get going on that double swing like crazy, so I don't always have to be out to push them on the other 2. The telescope is fun. It isn't magnified, or anything, but nobody has complained.
I can see us getting MANY years of good use out of this. I'm so happy I didn't get a smaller set. Truly... for the price, you get SO many options for them to play on, and kids of all sizes can fit. It is very very sturdy, and looks beautiful in the yard. I am happy to answer questions!