Amusement parks are a place we go to see our kids have fun. If you’re a big kid like me you can often sneak some fun in for yourself too. I have to say of all the amusement parks I’ve ever been to Diggerland USA – the first construction themed amusement park in the US – was one of the most fun amusement parks I’ve ever visited. Even in the pouring rain.
If you have a truck obsessed kid like I do – this is the place for you!
Remove your idea of conventional rides and enter the concept of construction vehicles as rides. Yep, that means instead of sitting in a tea cup, you sit in the driver’s seat of a backhoe. And get to drive it! I’m pretty sure I could have gone my entire life without ever driving a backhoe – something I never really put too much thought into before – but you know what? It was awesome! I was giggling like a schoolgirl the whole time. At the end I apologized to the attendant for my embarrassing behavior but he only laughed and said everyone had the same reaction.
But the fun just starts there – to highlight a few of my favorites, there are mini-excavators turned into amusement park games (no prizes but included with admission!); the Dig-Around – Half Merry-Go-Round, Half Excavator, all Carousel; and my favorite – the Spin Dizzy – a specially designed spinning 3 ton high, torque JCB JS220! I love that they were constructed (too meta?) with the vehicle’s cab as the ride operator’s station!
My daughter (at 44”) was too short to drive the full scale construction vehicles (a good thing as a five year old driving a huge truck is probably a bad idea) but she was able to join me as I drove them as well as ride all the kid rides. Her absolute favorite was the Mini-Land Rovers. She got to drive – and I mean drive, not on an attached track – herself. I had vivid flashback memories of me as a kid LOVING this exact type of ride and always begging my parents to go again and again. So I let her, because you know, I’m a cool mom.
My poor son (at under 36”) who loves construction vehicles more than milk was very limited on what he could ride. However once we found the Barrel Train – pulled by a dumper truck that cruised around the park, little “driving” wheel included – he was set. For an hour.
One of the other things really worth highlighting at Diggerland USA was the staff. Now, I’m an amusement park junkie and can’t think of any park whose staff ever did anything but sit there apathetically pushing a button. At Diggerland USA I said to my husband over & over again “he was so nice, he was so helpful”. I actually asked the head honcho – who was pretty amazing himself, where he found these people. He shared that most were local high school graduates, who worked here as their first job. It was important to the people in charge that their employees were very well trained – not only on their specific job – but on what it means to have a job, laying the groundwork for the tools they need in life wherever their paths take them. Yep, my mouth dropped open. Amazing. He said because the company wanted to invest in them the staff genuinely liked working there. They were happy. And it paid off! 85% of the staff returned this season – which apparently is unheard of in the amusement park industry. Sounds better than your job, right?
Besides the rides and the construction vehicles to drive there was a stunt show, a really fun gift shop, an arcade, a huge playground (ropes course, rock wall, crazy slide), and of course what park would be complete without a goat cam?!
Diggerland USA is located behind Sahara Sam’s Oasis Water Park in West Berlin, New Jersey. We visited on the second day of a little family vacation – the day before we were at Sesame Place. It was perfect. We said bye to Elmo and drove about thirty minutes to one of the recommended hotels in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. We had a delicious dinner at Cracker Barrel (mmmmmm!) and went to sleep nice and early. We woke up, stopped at the Lark Voorhees Diner for breakfast (which if you know me and how I feel about diners you can imagine how good it was that I’m even mentioning it) and arrived at Diggerland USA when they opened at 10am. We left at noon. I could have stayed at least another two hours.
If your kids are really into trucks I highly suggest a visit. Even if your kids aren’t so into trucks I promise they will have a blast. It is so different from any park you will visit this summer. It is definitely worth the new experience! I can’t stop talking about what a nice time we all had.
Diggerland USA has offered to give away a family four-pack of tickets to one lucky reader!
To win – please post in the comment section below:
What’s the biggest or most unique vehicle you’ve ever driven?
Winner will be chosen Saturday, August 8th, 2015.
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