Toy Review: Beach Ball Bonanza Super Sand Splash Playzone Kit

Photo of a clear plastic container of  3 Wilson racquetballs, but with added text that reads: Beach Ball Bonanza Super Sand Splash Playzone Kit.

Forget boring old sand castles. Build an interactive sand mountain with the Beach Ball Bonanza Super Sand Splash Playzone Kit by Wilson Sporting Goods. It’s the hottest toy for toddlers this summer.

For $18.27 you get six racquetball balls, two racquetball storage container tubes, a compact camping shovel, detailed playzone schematics, and a bucket. That’s all you need.

Step 1. Build a sand mound 4 to 5 feet high with the shovel.

Step 2. Keep the sand moist with judiciously applied water from the bucket. A mist bottle will do a better job though.

Step 3. Build ball-sized ramps into one side of the mound with your hands, converging at the bottom.

Photo of a sand mound about 5 foot high with two holes visible near the top. Out of the holes run ball ramps contoured out of the sand that run down and converge at the bottom. Several blue balls are rolling down the ramp and into a bucket at the bottom. My daughter is standing behind and near the top of the mound.

Step 4. Optional coolness: near the top of the mound, excavate slanted tunnels leading to the top of your ball ramps. Use the racquetball tubes to drill the initial holes.

Alternately, strategically position the tubes when building the mound and pack the sand tightly on top. Then remove the tubes to create instant tunnels.

Step 5. Shape the mound’s backside so that your child can reach the ball tunnel or wherever your ball ramp begins. The mound’s backside doesn’t need to be pretty.

Photo of my daughter dropping a blue ball down a hole that leads to a tunnel which opens out onto a ramp on the sand mound.

Step 6. Dig a hole at the ramp convergence point at the bottom of the mound and insert the bucket.

Note: Fill the bucket with water so that the balls are easily
accessible as they float to the top. The normal size bucket is better than a
kid-size beach bucket because this is sort of like playing miniature
golf… some balls will overshoot the hole, so use a bigger hole.

(Although, a toddler can drown in a bucket. Supervise. Don’t be stupid. Etc.)

Step 7. Begin playing. You did it wrong if your kid(s) didn’t already have fun helping you build the playzone.

Photo of my daughter pulling a blue ball out of a water-filled bucket at the bottom of the sand mound.

Oh, okay, this is not a real product. If you buy those linked racquetballs you’ll only receive… racquetballs.

I took these photos at our local Friends of the Dunes (amateur) Sand Sculpture Festival. The sculpture was made by a local cafe, Muddy’s Hot Cup, and is titled, Ecosystem of the Snowy Plover. The plover is a threatened bird species that nests on the beach. Sadly, its eggs are not strong enough to weather the ATVs and trucks driven by our more thoughtful beach visitors.

Photo of a small bird made of sand and two smaller sand spheres in the ground. This bird and its nest are located near the top of the sand mound.

Yep, those aren’t boobs. They are plover eggs.

This was the only interactive ‘sand castle’ in the competition and it didn’t win a prize because it incorporated non-native components (racquetballs and the bucket). It was the coolest thing on the beach though.

One failing of the plover castle was its height. It was so tall that my 4-year-old daughter could insert balls, but not see them go down the ramps. She didn’t seem to mind because she knew what was happening.

This creation gets the mind buzzing with possibilities… Given a beach’s natural slope, you could build a shorter ball ramp with little effort. I’ll certainly be giving it a try soon.


4 Responses to “Toy Review: Beach Ball Bonanza Super Sand Splash Playzone Kit”

  1. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I was wonddering about the height of that sand castle, and whether it would be something just anyone could build. It looks taller than your daughter, perspective from picture.

    Of course, I’m not fond of sand. I’m trying to remember what I thought of it when I was little.

    June 30th, 2008 at 6:10 am

  2. lace says:

    That would be a great activity at the beach.

    I’m thinking it could be done on a smaller scale in a sandbox with marbles. (don’t let your kids eat the marbles though)

    June 30th, 2008 at 8:49 am

  3. LiteralDan says:

    Dude, this is a great new term to fly under the radar with friends in public. “Man, those are some reeeeeeeally impressive endangered plover eggs at 9 o’clock.”

    June 30th, 2008 at 11:51 pm

  4. Darby says:

    Thank you, LiteralDan, for making me laugh this morning! You clever little horny toad, you.

    July 2nd, 2008 at 5:03 am

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