Saturday, July 12, 2014

Daily Vacationer Jr: Diggerland USA

 
 
 
Imagine you are a kid again, and someone told you that you could drive a real construction vehicle.  As in, you could get behind the wheel with no training, seatbelt yourself in, and take it for a spin.  If you're anything like us, your child-self would be going nuts.  Statements like: "COOL!!" and "No way!!" and "Best birthday gift everrrrrrrrr!!" come to mind.  Now imagine you are your present self (really stretching the imagination right here).  Something tells us that a lot of those reactions would be the same.  The urge to do things we thought were awesome when we were kids usually doesn't go away - we just learn that most people don't actually get to do those things.  Well, we have some good news: you can actually drive a real construction truck - the kind you thought were so cool when you were a kid (and secretly think are pretty cool now).  Not only can you take them for a spin (and dig with them and take thrill rides with them), but your kids and your grandkids can do it too!
 
Diggerland USA just opened last summer in West Berlin, NJ after a whirlwind planning and building process that only started in January (yes, they built the entire adventure park in six months!).  A sister park of the already popular Sahara Sam's Oasis: Indoor and Outdoor Waterpark, Diggerland is the first of it's kind in North America.  The company took real JCB construction trucks (with the support of Farm-Rite, Inc) and turned them into crazy rides and fun entertainment.

Daily Vacationer spent a day in Diggerland, and we had an absolute blast.  The most difficult part was knowing where to start!  We headed for the Ropes Course first, because it's pretty hard to ignore the world's highest ropes course! You are outfitted in proper safety gear and given instructions.  Then a staff member assists you around the course as high (or as low) as you want to go.  It doesn't look that intimidating from the bottom, but as always, heights seem much higher looking down than up.  Right next to the Ropes Course is the Rock Wall and the Kids Zone, which is quite tall itself as has some pretty crazy slides (although it's only for the kids).  There are baby swings as well for the little spectators accompanying their older siblings.

For our first actual ride, we just had to check out the Spin Dizzy.  You can see this thing whipping around from the parking lot, and you either think, "Can't wait to do THAT!" or, "not doing THAT!"  You get strapped into this huge digger, and then it hoists you up a little and starts to spin.  Just when you're thinking what a kid's ride this is, the Spin Dizzy really really picks up speed (the kind of speed that gives you that thrill ride feeling in your stomach) and tilts, giving you a great look at the ground below you.  After a couple of times around in both directions, we highly recommend giving yourself a few minutes before you try to work any of the construction equipment.  We admit it - we were very impressed with the Spin Dizzy.

There are a lot of other fantastic rides to choose from.  Some are more tame and some are more thrilling, but they are all just plain fun.  The Sky Shuttle takes visitors 50 feet in the air, giving a wonderful view of the entire park (and a great place to discuss everything you want to do next).  Meanwhile, the Ground Shuttle hovers at only 6 and 1/2 feet in the area and bounces you around some sandy terrain.  Operation Battle Truck and the Excavator Express are great  rides for your whole group to take together.  The various Diggers are also fantastic for a wide variety of ages.  Practice your digging skills and try not to let it bother you when the 8 year old next to you digs his brick out of the dirt first.

There are a few rides that are built more specifically for the younger set.  The Dig-A-Round is a construction truck carousel with buckets to sit in in the place of the usual horses.  The Mini-Land Rovers are little electric jeeps that kids seemed to really love driving around.  And in case you didn't know that there are Diggerland parks in the United Kingdom, these Mini-Land Rovers will give you a heads up when your kid wants to know why the steering wheel is on the "wrong side".
 
And now for those construction vehicles we promised you were allowed to drive.  The Dumper Trucks and Skid-Steers are both pretty amazing experiences.  You are buckled into the driver's seat, get quick and clear directions on how you go, stop, and turn, and off you drive through the obstacle course.  And get this: the minimum height requirement for driving one of things all by yourself is 56" for the Dumpers and a mere 48" for the Skid-Steers!  Now in case you find the idea of watching your second grader cruise off in a real construction vehicle absolutely crazy, we assure you that the staff members on the course all have kill switches that stop everything right in their tracks (we saw it being used when someone started going a bit too far off the road and needed assistance getting back).  For those of you who have smaller children or just still can't get passed the idea of your kid doing this alone, almost all of the driving and digging rides allow for a child and adult to ride together.  Two more driving rides include the colorful Turnpike Tractors and the Backhoe Adventure where riders take turns putting a giant digger through its moves.  Be sure to make yourself aware of the height requirements for the attractions.  Only the arcade and the Kids Zone have no minimum requirement.
 
All ages will enjoy a stop in the arcade (because, admit it, we still love arcades), and don't forget a trip to the Dig-In for "sweets, treats, and eats" (no outside food is allowed in the park) and the Gift Shop for "digger gear n' dino goods".  Another crowd pleaser for everyone is the Stunt Show where the fearless construction truck driver, Backhoe Brandon, gets the vehicle to do some pretty insane things (wheelies anyone?).  This was definitely one of the highlights of our day there.  We also got to meet the dinosaur mascots, Digger and Daisy, so be on the lookout for them.
 
Our most favorite part of our day at Diggerland was seeing the grandparents and parents ride these powerful vehicles with small children sitting on their laps steering.  You could tell that they were thrilled to not only do something that they've always wanted to do, but they were getting to share it with a child that they loved.  Before we left, we watched a grandfather patiently helping his little grandson around the Skid-Steer course, both grinning away and having a great time. Buckets of fun for everyone? Definitely!
 
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13 comments:

  1. I can't wait to bring my son here, he loves trucks!!

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  2. I'm looking forward to seeing my kids have a blast on all the rides!

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  3. Saw your pics and it looks awesome!

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  4. We need to go back with Dave!

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  5. I am looking forward to the look on my little guys face when he sees a digger up close AND can actually touch it!!

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  6. Watching my boys on the rides, the love trucks and construction equipement

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  7. My kids would love the whole construction theme!

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  8. My son would LOVE playing at Diggerland! Seeing his happy face there would be awesome!

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  9. My kids will love to go to diggerland! The pictures look awesome

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  10. Can't wait to go here with my boys!

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  11. This looks like a little boys' dream! Since I have two, I know they'd LOVE everything there!!

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  12. I am looking forward to seeing my kids' faces light up as they operate the equipment.

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