If you've ever installed a wooded playset, had to maintain and re-stain it every couple of years, and then had to uninstall it because it's deteriorated and you fear the city will arrive with CAUTION tape and CPS to keep your kids safe, you would realize what a perfectly genius idea it was for Lifetime to make these playsets. It is bigger than it seems in pictures, which is fantastic because even my 14-year old likes to sit in the top and do homework. We purchased the deluxe set with monkey bars which I highly recommend, even though my 5-year broke her arm on it 15 minutes after we set it up. (It wouldn't have broken, however, if her sister hadn't been "helping" her by holding her legs up, which prevented her from dropping nicely.) Which leads me to my next point of following their safety recommendations and setting it up in a safety zone with something other than hard ground to land on. The monkey bars are solid, tall enough for older kids to enjoy, and the main reason we purchased this set. The slide is quite zippy. Maybe hold the hand of a toddler until they get used to it, although my 20-month-old landed on her feet the first time down. I'm not saying she hasn't landed on her bum plenty of times since. She also manages the ladder by herself quite well but I do get a little worried when my other kids are impatiently following right behind her. Mostly because I...ahem... did not follow the recommended safety instructions and installed it on grass. No falls yet though. If you follow the directions it is an easy installation, all things considered. It's not a 2-3 day job you might get with an equivalent wooden set. They package the hardware in individual packs labeled for each section. There were a couple of packets where the labels were different than in the instructions but the pictures of the hardware were spot on so common sense pulls through. As a general rule, I recommend having common sense if you put anything together. Make sure you don't over-tighten the bolts that go through any of the posts; with enough force you will slightly squish the metal. Also, make sure One change we did was not to install the fireman's pole on when the instructions tell you to. The swings/monkey bar section isn't attached to the main play structure yet so it doesn't make sense to ground it when you don't have it in its final destination. It took 2 adults and 1 good intentioned 11-year old about 6-7 hours to put it together. Because we happened to have an extra slide from a previous playset that is now resting in a landfill, my husband removed one of the solid panels, drilled a couple of extra holes, and added an extra slide to our playset. Our kids love it. So if you happen to have an extra slide sitting around not pulling its weight I recommend putting it to work on this playset. Lifetime of course cannot recommend this but it works great for us.
This is a great looking playset when all put together! Install took me about 24-26 hours total mainly by myself except for the monkey bars and swing side. Pros: -I'd give the build quality and lumber quality a 8.5/10. Few pieces were cracked, and the set does creek around a bit. I'm anticipating the creeks to stop once it settles for a few weeks. -My two boys love it! Cons: -The lookout area is quite small and difficult to fit through when assembling (I'm 6'0" and 195 lbs) -A few points in the instructions weren't too clear and wound up requiring a little re-work because they don't tell you consistently if pieces need to be flush or not. Install advice: Lay out all the wood in order by letter outside of the boxes or you'll spend half your time just searching for pieces. Otherwise, the instructions are easy to follow and it goes together like a big adult lego kit :)
We got years of use out of this!! Our child used the bar to swing around and the padding fell off but it was sturdy and kept her busy while watching TV instead of sitting on a couch.
After a few weeks of debating this season on whether to go with the standard wood playset, or to lay down a bit more money and go for this one, we decided on this one. We're glad we did, as this piece is solid and obviously high-quality. The low-maintenance aspect of the metal and plastic is great too, as whenever it gets dusty or dirty or some big bird poops on the slide, all it takes is a quick hose-down and it's clean. The assembly was fairly straightforward, but time-consuming. It's still not as bad as the instruction manual made it seem though - it stated it would take 3 people 13 hours to assemble, but it took me 14 hours alone total with a little help here and there from my wife. It also took another 2 hours to properly level the playset and the ground around it (you may or may not have to do this depending on your lawn), and another half hour or so to anchor it with the included kit. You should also factor in the time to make this a safe place to play; because it's so huge a kid could take quite a tumble if they slip off the monkey bars or fall from the deck. Follow the advice in the manual and set up a safety area around it. On our part we bought a wood/pvc mix playground border kit that was almost 6 inches high, set it up around the set, then filled it to the brim with playground wood chips. This beat digging a huge 6-inch deep gouge in our yard, that one day we'd need to fill when our daughter outgrows this and it needs to go.
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