How to Design a Pirate Themed Playground

Pirate ship playground

Kids love the idea of pretending to be pirates. They can explore the open sea, search for buried treasure and have adventures on a ship through their imaginations. When designing a day care, school playground or park play space, consider using a pirate theme to attract kids to the equipment and get them engaged in physical activity. With a theme, choosing the elements becomes easier and you can create a distinctive place where kids of various backgrounds and abilities can gather and interact.

Girl going down slide

What Is a Themed Playground?

Think of themed playgrounds as theme parks for kids. Theme parks use design elements to create themes around specific areas of their parks to attract visitors. These themes may extend to the names, designs and color schemes of rides, restaurants and buildings. These elements are just as important for a themed playground in unifying the elements under a common topic.

Using the same color palette for the play elements will not create a theme. You must think about the design of the components and how each contributes to the playground’s main concept. Generic playground equipment may have a unifying color scheme. However, when you choose a themed playground, the connecting elements go beyond color. Design features transform basic playground equipment into climbable boulders or animals, tiny houses, camping spaces or pirate ships.

By using a theme for your park playground, you benefit kids who use it by sparking their imaginations and drawing them to the equipment. Themes can vary as much as kids. However,  many of the most popular playground themes remain the same from their timeless appeal over the years.

Whether creating a playground for daycare, a school play area or a community gathering space, themes can make choosing equipment easier and unite kids in their common play on the themed equipment.

The Benefits of Using Themes for Playgrounds

Both you and the kids who use your playground can benefit when you choose a themed design. Some of the perks have lasting impacts on the lives of kids who participate in play on the themed equipment, such as building creativity and encouraging play with others.

Children on pirate ship climber

1. Inspire Creative Play

Kids see themed playgrounds and use the design to inspire their creative play. A pirate themed playground encourages kids to take part in an ocean-going adventure. Their imaginations can turn grass into ocean waves and sandboxes into treasure spots. These forms of imaginative play help kids build creativity they can use to make their worlds richer.

2. Entice Kids to Engage in Active Play

Active play is not always readily available for kids. They often spend hours each day in school or on their phones at home. Themed playgrounds can draw kids into active play that builds their physical stamina and muscular strength. They also learn to associate physical activity with fun, which can lead to a lifetime of healthy movement.

3. Unite Kids in Common Play

Themed playgrounds combine unique elements with a common theme. Similarly, these spaces bring together kids of different backgrounds and abilities to play with each other. Pirates are something that most kids know about, so everyone can contribute to the imaginary play. Unifying play can build social skills and connect members of communities or schools. Plus, with pirate ship play, there are enough roles for every kid to have a contributing part in the play, such as the ship’s captain, the first mate, the lookout, cook and many others.

Popular Playground Themes

Numerous playground themes exist if you want to augment your play space with areas to appeal to more kids. Check out the many possibilities when you want to consider a themed playground or equipment for your community, school or day care.

Pirate Theme

Pirate themed playgrounds are ideal for building imaginary play spaces for multiple kids to enjoy active play at once. They can take the roles of pirates on competing ships or work together in a common goal of finding treasure, avoiding sharks or running a ship.

Castle Theme

Another theme that offers several roles for large or small groups of kids to play is a castle theme. Kids can take part in a medieval fantasy. This theme encourages equality in play with legends such as the Knights of the Round Table that put King Arthur on the same level as all the knights in his court. This castle theme lets kids play as dragons, knights or rulers in their imagined medieval fantasy.


A circus lets kids pretend to be acrobats, animals, clowns or other entertainers. They can take turns being audience members or circus acts. A playground theme with a circus may include shade coverings to replicate the big top. Bright colors and animal elements can create a playground that produces a circus theme.

City or Town

Kids love to pretend to be adults. City or town themes for play areas let kids take on grown-up roles such as bankers, shopkeepers and musicians as they help each other run a city and engage in daily life in their make-believe town.

How to Design a Pirate Playground

Thinking of a pirate playground for your community park, school or daycare? You need to know about the various options you have for components or full play sets. Learn more below and get tips on choosing the right playground equipment for your pirate themed space.

Pirate ship themed playground equipment

1. Determine Your Budget and the Space Available

Identify the practical elements of building a themed playground – budget and space. If you have existing playground components, decide if they are safe and appropriate for kids’ ages to keep. Should you want to replace them, include the cost of removal in your budget.

Even if you think you have a small budget or cramped space, you can still find playground elements to fit your budget and available room. You might need some advice on finding elements that work for your situation. Don’t be afraid to consult with an expert on playground equipment to get the right options for your space.

2. Decide on Whether to Use a Full Playground or Components

Once you’ve pinpointed the practical aspects, use those parameters to decide whether you want to buy a full playground or use components to add to an existing play structure. Compare the prices of each option to your budget and the space you have available. Don’t forget to have extra space around the playground to provide a safe area for kids to approach or exit the play space. For instance, you should not have a slide landing near a walkway. Give enough open space to make leaving the slide safe.

Pirate ship playground

3. Benefits of a Full Pirate Theme Playground Option of Pirate Cove

If you prefer to have a complete play set with a pirate theme, opt for the Pirate Cove. This fully equipped playground includes slides, bridges, climbers and interactive panels. Kids get the full experience of a pirate ship and jungle island, so they can imagine themselves as crews on ships exploring the tropics.

The biggest benefit of this type of pirate-themed option is the ability to quickly transform an empty space in your park or schoolyard into a playground. Those starting from scratch or removing outdated equipment may find this option the easiest way to get a complete play area with a pirate theme.

4. Perks of Pirate Playground Theme Components

If you prefer to choose pirate themed components, you have the freedom to augment your existing playground or build a new play area from scratch. These elements give you a greater amount of agency in your design. Plus, you can save money by adding these components to a generic play structure you already have.

5. Choose a Pirate Playground Slide

Slides provide a fast way for kids to leave raised play areas. You can choose a nautical-themed Slither Slide to pair with your pirate playground. This curvy slide has a nautical design on the exterior. A rise in the middle of the slide makes the trip down extra fun.

Another pirate slide option is the Roller Slither Slide. This slide incorporates rollers into the slide’s design. These rollers enhance the sensory appeal of the slide by creating sound and a rolling sensation as kids go down the slide. Add this slide to an existing playground with other pirate themed elements or use it as part of a play space that you design from the ground up.

6. Select a Pirate Bridge for Your Playground

When connecting parts of your pirate ship, kids need a way to pass between decks. Use a playground bridge to provide a fun way to traverse the expanse. One option is a Deck to Deck Rope Bridge. The walking surface is a giant rope, like the type that might be aboard a ship. Hand ropes provide support for kids as they walk over this bridge’s surface. Another option is the Adventure Bridge that moves up and down as kids walk across it.

7. Add Skill Components Like a Playground Rock Wall

Pirate themed play spaces can feature more than ship designs. Pirates also need imaginary tropical islands to explore and hide their treasure. Use rock climbers as elements to create the impression of solid ground. Separate play areas also give kids a chance to spread out and still be united in their play.

Challenge kids in your themed playground by incorporating skill elements such as a climbing wall. For instance, incorporate rock climbing elements, such as the RockBlocks End Wall, into the playground to let kids pretend to be pirates climbing cliffs to reach their treasure hiding places.

8. Add a Walk the Plank for Bouncing Fun

Kids love to bounce. Use the Walk the Plank component to mimic the feeling of bouncing on a plank of wood hanging off a pirate ship. Kids pretend to leap from their pirate ship by walking across the bouncy plank and moving to the ground. This element reduces hazards by helping to prevent spring back after a kid leaves the surface. This motion play element can enhance your pirate play space with a plank that every pirate ship should have.

Ship playground climber

9. Incorporate Decorative Pirate Themed Panels to Create a Pirate Ship

Use panels to build a pirate ship from a playground. These panels incorporate interactive elements such as portholes, steering wheels, pretend cannons and treasure hunting games. Panels resemble wooden parts of a pirate ship. Combine these on the play structure with a Stern Climber and a Bow Climber to create a complete ship design. With panels, you can transform an existing playground structure into a pirate ship without replacing the entire piece.

Also, don’t forget the decorative sails at the top of the play structure. These sails can transform a standard play set into a pirate ship afloat on the ocean. When combined with panels, the sails help kids and their parents see the nautical theme of the playground.

10. Don’t Forget Site Amenities

The coloring of your site amenities can also contribute to your playground’s pirate theme. For example, putting blue poured rubber surfacing under the pirate ship play area hints at the ocean. Use green shades over brown benches to let kids imagine these spaces as islands covered by trees in their pretend ocean. You can even add a shade over a sandbox to produce an imaginary palm-shaded beach for kids to bury their pretend pirate treasure on.

Additional Playground Themes Offered by Playworld

Playworld provides imaginative themes beyond nautical-inspired pirates. We also have options that connect kids to nature, provide trains to play in at their scale and tiny towns. Discover the many ways kids can play on our themed playgrounds.

Adventure Canyon

1. PlayExpress® Trains

Our PlayExpress series brings trains to a smaller scale for kids to play in. We have a full train’s worth of themed cars, including a Sandbox Car, Dining Car, Engine Car and Tanker Car. These themed trains for early childhood play let kids pretend to engage in rail travel or transport and interact with others.

2. Camp Out

With a camping themed playground, kids can pretend to take part in the activity and imagine themselves sheltering in nature. For instance, the Camp Conifer playground has a slide designed to resemble a treehouse and steps that look like tree logs. Add other nature-inspired elements to this playground to give kids additional ways to play, such as the Tree Log climber or the Black Bear tunnel climber or the Mushroom Path stepper.

3. PlayCubes®

PlayCubes create a unique theme of abstract geometric art to your playground. These elements readily combine with each other to make a custom play area simple to design. Kids can use the geometric theme to imagine themselves on a space station or in a futuristic city. With a consistent design, these elements create a theme that is open enough to allow kids’ imaginations to take over.

4. Sky Towers®

Sky Towers-themed playgrounds take play to a new level upward. These playgrounds for school-aged kids require smaller footprints on the ground because the elements extend upward. These high towers can give kids a feeling of accomplishment as they climb higher into the structures and gain a bird’s-eye view of the world as they experience nature’s elements. The nature-inspired tower shapes allow kids to play in the sky, feel the wind and enjoy colorful prisms of light as they catch the sun.

5. PlayTown

The PlayTown themed elements for early childhood playgrounds create a tiny town for kids to play in. Each structure suggests a different type of building in a small town that kids run. For example, the Community Helpers structure with a red color scheme suggests a firehouse. However, you can change the color to adapt it to your playground. Other components of PlayTown include a Music Store with interactive built-in instruments, playground with slide, flower climber and more.

6. Origins

The Origins series of play elements turns kids into paleontologists who search for dinosaur bones and can climb on T-rex Skulls. There are five T-rex pieces to collect on your playground to create a full dinosaur for kids to climb on and around. These elements include the skull, ribs and tail.

You can also get diggable elements to bury in sandboxes for kids to uncover as they play. These diggable features include the Fossil Jam and raptor parts. Make sure to include paintbrushes or other accessories at the playground for kids to use as they unearth these PolyFiberCrete “fossils” from their playground sandboxes.

7. Rock Climbing

The Adventure Canyon lets kids feel like they are rock climbing in a natural setting. The rock design fits well with a nature-themed play area. Build out this main playground with additional RockBlocks Climbers such as Wonder Falls or Around the Bend. These climbing options are great for adventurous kids who want to pretend to climb mountains. There are also easy ways to get down for those who might need some extra help. This rock-climbing theme works well for school age kids between five and 12.

Choosing Playworld for Your Themed Playgrounds

Our 5 Core Beliefs That Drive Everything We Do

At Playworld, we set our playgrounds and services apart from the rest through our five core beliefs that drive everything we do. These five core values are as follows:

  • Inclusive design: We bring together kids of all abilities and backgrounds on our inclusive playgrounds.
  • Craftsmanship: Every piece of equipment we manufacture follows high-quality standards we have used in our decades of experience.
  • Innovative leadership: At Playworld, we don’t just follow the crowd. Our products use research-backed evidence to redesign and reinvent kids’ play.
  • Communities of the future: We believe in our playgrounds’ abilities to unite communities by bringing kids together for unstructured play.
  • Unity: Play unites kids and their families on the playground, building stronger communities.

These beliefs are why our themed playground equipment can make a difference in your community.

We follow these beliefs when designing and constructing our themed playground equipment, too. Our pirate themed playgrounds are only one of the many options that we have. As with the pirate playground equipment we offer, our other themed pieces have inviting, innovative designs to entice kids to play together.

When building a playground, choosing one of our Playworld themed sets creates a cohesive design that can unite kids from your area. We have playground options for early childhood and school-age kids that fit their growing needs for unstructured, imaginative play. See our themed playground options to find the perfect fit for your community’s kids, whether you need equipment for a church, park, school or other setting.

Contact Us Today at Playworld

Kids need regular play in their lives to keep their bodies and minds agile and active. At Playworld, our imaginative pirate-themed playground equipment serves as one of the many ways we help you bring kids in your community together. Get started on designing a playground for your daycare, city, school, worship center or other site today. Contact us at Playworld today to learn more about our playground options.

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