Singaporeans with fond memories of the iconic Big Splash water theme park at East Coast Park can now revisit them at the new Coastal PlayGrove, a 4.5ha development with tube slides and water play areas that opened recently at the site.

Built as part of efforts to rejuvenate East Coast Park and help spread out human traffic, the Coastal PlayGrove in Area B of the park features structures and designs that are reminiscent of the well-loved water park, including a 16m play structure that is a reconstruction of the Big Splash tower.

The water park closed in 2006 and was later redeveloped as a dining and lifestyle destination that shut its doors in 2016. Redevelopment works for Coastal PlayGrove started in 2017.

The tower houses a vertical net play area, suitable for youngsters, with nets decked out in red, orange, yellow, green and blue – a nod to the distinctive five-lane coloured slides in the former water park. Visitors can also access two enclosed tube slides from the third and fourth floor of the tower, which are 7.3m and 11.9m high respectively.

For younger children, they can climb and explore play nets at the base of the tower, which are suitable for those aged five to 12.

There is also a water play area with wading pools and water jets that will be illuminated at night in various colours, a nature playgarden designed for children aged three to 12, as well as an outdoor classroom by the sea, designed for pre-schoolers.

The playgarden includes teepees and log trail for children to engage in imaginative play, while the water park includes platforms to allow wheelchair access along the main pools and streams.

The outdoor classroom, which is equipped with a chalkboard and log stools, and has a view of the sea, will allow nearby pre-schools to conduct more activities at the park. It has additional features for pre-schoolers to explore and discover, including various fruit trees that have been planted in the area, as well as a former hornbill’s nest, salvaged from dead tree, which can be used to start conversations about wildlife conservation efforts.

There are also new recreational and dining options for park visitors at the Coastal PlayGrove.

The National Parks Board (NParks) has also announced plans to create a nature trail, which will run through the entire length of East Coast Park from Gardens by the Bay East towards Changi. Measuring about 15km, it will be built over the next 10 years, and link up therapeutic gardens, nature playgardens, and forest patches.

This will provide another recreational route across the island, in addition to others that have been recently announced, such as the 18km Eastern Corridor which will run from East Coast to Pasir Ris.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, National Development Minister Desmond Lee as well as Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan officially opened the Coastal PlayGrove site by planting a bayu tree at the site on Sunday morning.

Mr Lee said the opening of Coastal PlayGrove marks the completion of redevelopment works for East Coast Park, which were announced in 2017.

The tower houses a vertical net play area, suitable for youngsters, with nets decked out in red, orange, yellow, green and blue. Credit: Lim Yaohui/ST
The water park includes platforms to allow wheelchair access along the main pools and streams. Credit: Lim Yaohui/ST

“We embarked on our efforts to redevelop our largest and most popular park, to provide Singaporeans with a diverse range of recreational opportunities,” said Mr Lee. The other redeveloped sites in the park are the Raintree Cove as well as the 5.4ha Cyclist Park, which in 2019 on the site of the former Goldkist Chalets.

Raintree Cove, which formerly contained futsal courts and food and beverage outlets, was converted into a tranquil area with swings. The total cost of the three developments – Coastal PlayGrove, Raintree Cove and the Cyclist Park – was $24.5 million.

Coastal PlayGrove was originally slated to open by end-2019.

Asked about why the completion of the development was delayed, Mr Tan Jun Chao, director of parks for NParks, told reporters at a virtual media briefing on Sunday that a considerable amount of time was spent designing the area, and researching the historical context of the former Big Splash site, as it holds a lot of memories for Singaporeans. The Covid-19 pandemic also affected the project completion, he added.

The iconic five-lane coloured slides at the former Big Splash water park. Credit: National Archives/MICA

The water play area and the vertical net play area – called the Vertical Challenge – are open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am to 8pm.

Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, the vertical net play area is subject to a capacity limit of 20 people per level, and additional manpower will be deployed to monitor the situation during peak hours. Play facilities will be temporarily closed when maximum use capacity has been reached.

“We encourage visitors to come to Coastal PlayGrove on weekdays or during off-peak hours to avoid disappointment,” said NParks, adding that visitors should observe safe distancing, and keep to group sizes of eight people and below when visiting the park.

Text: Yuen Sin/The Straits Times