The Philadelphia region will once again be home to a first of its kind theme park in the United States. Already home to Sesame Place in Bucks County, the country’s first theme park based on the characters from Sesame Street, South Jersey will soon be home to Duggy and Dotty at Diggerland.
And if all goes according to plan, playing in dirt will have a whole new meaning once the gates to the 14-acre Diggerland swing open this summer.
The United Kingdom’s most unique attraction where children and adults have the chance to ride and operate real full-size construction equipment is set to open this summer next to Sahara Sam’s Oasis water park off Route 73 in West Berlin, Camden County, New Jersey.
According to its website, Diggerland allows children and adults to drive and ride real, full-sized construction machinery under the guidance of staff. The construction equipment is modified however for safety. While a parent and child will be able to operate a six-ton digger by picking up and moving dirt, the vehicle itself is stationary.
With four sites up and running in the UK, Diggerland’s website promises you are never too far away from digging to your hearts content. An official announcement on the South Jersey development is expected this month. The first Diggerland Adventure Park opened in 2000 in Kent, England and was the creation of Hugh Edeleanu, the Chairman of H.E. Services, the largest supplier of digging construction equipment for hire in Europe.
It was during a family day at his company that Edeleanu noticed that children were fascinated by all the heavy machinery on the grounds of his property. A light bulb went off when he realized that the kids enjoyed sitting in the cabs of diggers and other larger-than-life toys. It was then that Edeleanu says the idea of a playroom theme park was born.
The concept behind Diggerland is simple yet unique. If you build it, they will come but you just can’t put some construction equipment on a site when the gates open. Designers have incorporated some two dozen different rides and drives and every year look to incorporate new attractions into the parks. Additionally all rides must be construction-based but must also offer the thrills and excitement that guests have come to expect in the ever-changing theme park experience.
South Jersey officials say they are excited about the project realizing the unique construction equipment theme park will have a major boost to the economy and other area businesses. If Diggerland follows the blueprint for success that was used by Sesame Place in Langhorne, Bucks County, what was once a remote stop off of Interstate 95 has become a popular regional tourist destination pulling visitors primarily from the east coast but also attracting families with young children from across the country.
When Sesame Place opened in 1980 it was located on three acres and featured a handful of play areas and computer labs where kids could interact with Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and Cookie Monster. Since opening day the park has expanded to 14 acres with more rides and water attractions. The park also created a ripple effect for Bucks County with job creation and the building of shopping centers and hotels.
What is a theme park without a gift shop? The four UK Diggerlands now sell “Digger” clothing and gifts to guests and have added activities including Digger and Dumper Racing and Team Building events for the corporate market.
Ground already has been broken for the South Jersey location and all of the necessary permits and paperwork have been approved by officials. Diggerland USA is expected to swing open its chain-link fences in time for the busy summer tourist season.