Recently at Universal Studios Florida, I took notice of the dividing and retaining walls around the gardens and whatnot. These can be seen below in the image in several places, especially bottom-right. I believe theme park sculptures and props are usually foam with paint, but these have guests sitting on them and whatnot, so I suspect they're concrete. But then again, they appear to be one long piece; usually concrete would have relief cuts, right?

Would these have been made of concrete? How can I emulate them? What sort of paint would be used that lasts in the Florida sun?

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  • what did they feel like? ... did they sound like concrete when you tap on them?
    – jsotola
    Jun 22, 2021 at 2:05
  • That's a fair question. I didn't think to. They definitely had a very sturdy feel when sitting on one, and people would sit end-to-end on them as well. So I imagine it could be plaster over wood or something if it isn't concrete. Whatever it is, it has to survive Florida climate, whereas I'm in Indiana and will face different weather conditions. Really, I'm just wondering what my options in the diy category are for reproducing something similar. So I might not ever find out exactly what those are made of, but that's okay. Jun 22, 2021 at 12:37
  • Cured spray foam can be quite dense or full of air depending on the formula. I wouldn't be surprised if it's just spray foam inside of a molding and the excess was trimmed. They paid a lot of money for those walls, fyi. As for paint, ask your local paint shop.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 22, 2021 at 13:26
  • @MonkeyZeus I hadn't considered spray foam, that's an interesting theory. But wouldn't spray foam cost several times more than alternatives? Jun 22, 2021 at 17:34
  • Yes, spray foam is stupid expensive compared to pouring concrete. Since we don't know the production process it could have been made off-site and imported to save money. Regardless, it's less expensive than a child falling and breaking their neck on a hard surface versus surviving on a slightly softer surface. Near me a mall has this play area and all of the objects are built from foam and have a heavy duty clear coating. They feel quite sturdy and presumably have reinforcement bars but running into it would cause minimal damage to a child.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 22, 2021 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


FRP over foam

In other words, built like a surfboard. FRP = Fiber Reinforced Plastic, so fiberglass, carbon fiber etc.

They can sculpt it in a foam of their choice, then coat it with FRP: that means painting 2-part epoxy* polyester or polyurethane on it, lay down fiberglass matting, more poly/epoxy/equiv, layer on layer. Finish up with thick primer/paint or a gelcoat.

Or, they may be creating a mold and assembling in the reverse order like a production catamaran: gelcoat first (the surface of the mold defines the final surface), then the FRP, then the foam.

They don't necessarily last for years since they have staff ready to repaint anything. But if you are seeing a finish that is tougher than ANYTHING you can do with any hardware store product, then you are looking at marine grade stuff, which is all 2-part material. It's awesome, but it will also maim you if you disrespect it. That's why Home Depot won't sell it to you lol.

The "B" part is typically either BPA or some form of diisocyanate. You need a moon suit to spray the stuff. But once the epoxy-style cure happens, the nasty stuff is entirely consumed in the reaction, and is gone (provided you don't use way too much B-part).

They do let you play with 2-part epoxy garage paint, because that is a) applied with brush or roller per instructions, and b) consumers usually mix the entire sold product, so no risk of mixing errors, and c) they don't paint garage floors very often. The stuff is mostly harmless when handled that way. The toxin is in the resin which does not evaporate, so just keep it off your skin and you're all good (and really skin is a pretty good barrier for occasional exposure).

* similar to epoxy in the sense that it's a 2-part chemical you mix and then it self-cures after a certain time, without need to interact with air or moisture... except an alternate chemical that works the same way, such as polyurethane. Due to epoxy's vulnerability to UV light.

  • 1
    they have staff ready to repaint anything Absolutely key! I suspect the big parts repaint all the heavy usage areas at least once a year, and the ones with attention to detail probably do touchups every night if needed based on a walkthrough by the cleaning crew. The amount of staff in these places is incredible (reflected in the ticket prices of course). Jun 23, 2021 at 2:14

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