A theme park. With construction equipment. That kids can actually drive and use. Why has this not been done before??
Diggerland USA is a brand-new park in West Berlin, NJ, about 30 minutes from Philadelphia in South Jersey. The Diggerland adventure parks first opened in the UK in 2000, soon spread to four different locations, and has now come to the States. This is the company’s first location in the U.S., and I’m fairly sure it’s the only such park in the country (some Googling didn’t turn anything else up).
Again, why has this not been done before? It seems like such a no-brainer.
We visited Diggerland on a sweltering day in July, just a few weeks after their grand opening. The 2yo Roarbot, like many boys, is in love with cars, trucks, and getting dirty. This seemed like a dream come true for him.
There are a lot of rides and attractions, and they each have varying height requirements. Many have two requirements: one for riding with an adult, and one for riding alone. I recommend checking the requirements here before going. My little one was able to enjoy many of the attractions, but there were some that were simply out of his reach…which devastated him.
The lure of the park is the opportunity to operate real diggers and drive various trucks. There’s no shortage of the former, which come in different sizes from “mini” to “huge.”
Each has a fully operational digger arm, and kids (and adults) can practice digging up dirt and then dumping it out. It’s surprisingly satisfying.
The driveable vehicles include dumper trucks, skid-steers, and backhoes. All are throttled WAY down, so they don’t go very fast. But kids are still allowed free reign to drive the vehicle through the course, which is beyond cool. When we were there, attendance was low and there were only 2 or 3 vehicles running at once. The waits were very long, and I can only imagine what the lines must be like on busy weekends.
In addition to these vehicles, there are some very cool and unique rides: Dig-a-Round, Sky Shuttle, Ground Shuttle, and Spin Dizzy. The Dig-a-Round is a carousel made with bulldozer buckets. The poor operator has to spin around in the center each and every time. Easily nauseous need not apply.
The Ground Shuttle is a similar vehicle, with the arm fully retracted, that takes guests for a bumpy ride:
In addition to all of the construction equipment, there’s also a climbing wall…
…and a ropes course that’s certainly not for the faint of heart:
On top of all this, there’s also a huge playground, a “train” ride, small cars kids can drive, an equipment stunt show, and a game room. There’s a lot to do, and it’s a solid day out. If you’re in the area or within striking distance for a daytrip, I heartily recommend it.
My only complaint is that it’s pricey. Tickets are $34.95 ($29.95 online) for both kids and adults. That adds up quickly for a family. Kids shorter than 36 inches get in for free, but keep in mind that there’s not much for really little kids to do. As I mentioned earlier, definitely check out the height requirements before heading out.
A recommendation to the people at Diggerland: Invest in some misting machines or high-powered fans. The day we visited was sweltering, and there was no place to cool off. With all that concrete and dirt, the sun just reflects right back up and makes the park even hotter.
(Disclosure: We were guests of Diggerland USA for the day. All opinions are my own.)