A new kind of theme park that embraces the fun of playing with dirt that kids have enjoyed for generations has opened this year in West Berlin, New Jersey. West Berlin is about 20 minutes from Philadelphia and about one hour from New York City.
Diggerland USA is the first park of its kind in the country, with many of its plans based on similar parks in the United Kingdom. Diggerland is not just for kids, though, as adults enjoy the activities with their children and sometimes on their own.
Park guests who are at least four feet tall can drive backhoes around a course with the help of staff members. Guests also can dig in sand piles with seven-ton excavators. Besides moving dirt and sand, Diggerland includes rides such as the Spin Dizzy. This attraction spins riders at high speed as they are strapped into the bucket of a specially designed earth-mover. It zips in quick circles with jerky starts and stops to mimic actual earth-moving equipment.
A digger-themed carousel is another attraction for anyone who prefers slower-moving equipment.
Actual Digging Equipment
The machines in Diggerland are not recreations, miniature equipment or replicas. However, the equipment is modified to limit functionality and to ensure safety for all riders. The attractions that are used for digging cannot be driven. Equipment that is driven has safeguards to maintain a safe speed. For extra safety, park employees immediately can turn off any machine.
Diggerland USA is owned by the same family that owns a nearby water park, so maybe it makes sense to dig first and splash second. Full day tickets to Diggerland and its 23 attractions are $35.
Besides dirt-digging machines and associated rides, Diggerland also includes reinvented carnival games. With Dippy Ducks, guests attempt to snatch floating ducks from a pond with a JCB 8018 CTS mini-excavator. A bowling game has a small metal ball attached to the arm of a mini-excavator. Guests try to manipulate the arm to knock down all the pins.
Longing For Old Theme Parks
With coaster parks and more specialty parks such as Diggerland rising along the landscape, the theme parks of yesteryear continue to become a distant memory.
Anyone who longs for the old parks and childhood family memories still can visit several of them on Facebook. These include the highly popular Freedomland U.S.A. that was located in New York City (1960-1964) along with Storytown USA and Gaslight Village from the Lake George region of New York.