Diggerland: The Amusement Park Where Kids Play With Very Real Construction Equipment
You only have to be 42 inches tall to operate a JCB mini-excavator, and once you reach four feet, the options really open up.
Did you ever have a toy excavator as a child? It's probably a stupid question for anyone reading this website. If you didn't, you wished you did and if somehow you haven't gone on to work in heavy construction, you probably still hold that dream close to your heart: to use the big, big digger. Luckily for you and your (maybe too) young children, there's a theme park that'll let you live out your dirtwork-adjacent fantasies.
Diggerland USA in New Jersey is America's first water park slash excavation party paradise, and you can book there now for when it reopens on March 13. This isn't a sponsored piece, we're just really excited about that second bit, though the water park is surely fine, too. What we're into is the part with real machinery and the even more heavy-duty Diggerland XL, which is where you can actually get control of proper equipment and use it to crush an unfortunate car.
Kids who are at least 42 inches tall can operate JCB 8030/8029 excavators on their own at the park. While they aren't the hugest of the huge, those machines still weigh more than 7,000 pounds and are powered by a 26.8-horsepower diesel engine. They're supervised by workers, kind of like you'd see at any theme park, but it doesn't stop there as slightly taller kids can pilot 47.9-hp JCB skid loaders.
If your kid's a bit shorter and can't meet the height requirement for those, they can drive Diggerland's on-site Mahindra Roxor side-by-sides so long as they're 40 inches tall. These help beginners learn the ropes as they work their way up to larger Kubota UTVs as well as regular-sized farm tractors when they hit a growth spurt and reach four feet tall.
There's a mix of real equipment for youngsters to operate, some of which are...questionable for the likes of your average fifth grader. But there are even more options for adults who decide to leave their kids at home.
Individual tickets are available, and group packages at Diggerland XL start at $895 for up to five guests excavating their hearts out for three hours. You can take that all the way up to ten guests for $1,295 and then it's price on asking if you're going with an even bigger crew. For an extra $395 you can get the experience of crushing the car (depicted above) if your dreams of digging come with some really specific vehicular harm fantasies. And we guess you can just keep paying for more of them if you really get the taste for crushin' it.
Diggerland XL can currently offer you an experience in the John Deere Wheel Loader 444J, which fans of tractor ballet will admire as quite elegantly maneuverable under expert control and so probably not a total disaster in amateur hands. They also boast a 225C LC RTS excavator and a 750C dozer. It's the excavator committing vehicle-on-vehicle crime above—the heaviest digger on offer, at 53,440 pounds, but even the relatively lightweight wheel loader comes in at 24,736 pounds so you can surely still have fun with it.
Anyone familiar with the United Kingdom's amusement sector will, of course, know they have not one but three Diggerland attractions. Similarly, if you happen to know anyone there over the age of 35 who has got married, they've probably visited because for some reason these places really rank highly for bachelor and bachelorette parties. And why not? Who among us can say they haven't wanted to drive a massive JCB around?
Got a tip? Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org