There’s no denying that kids love construction toys, from big yellow trucks to plastic hammers to pretend screwdrivers.
Uber-popular shows like “Bob the Builder” and “Handy Manny” let kids enjoy these activities from the safety of their own couch.
But now, construction-themed amusement parks are literally putting kids in the driver’s seat.
Diggerland, a New Jersey theme park that also has locations in the United Kingdom, allows children to operate heavy machinery all on their own.
And most of these machines are real, diesel-powered, full-sized pieces of construction equipment, including backhoes, excavators and much, much more.
If you’re thinking this sounds crazy, according to the theme park website, their machinery is safe for kids.
“Each machine has undergone advanced engineering modifications which make them safe for the public, allowing children as small as 36 inches to operate with little to no instruction,” it says on the site.
You can currently buy an an annual membership for $49.95 or a single-day ticket for $29.95 to $38.95.
Here’s a look at the theme park in action!
“Diggerland USA is the only construction-themed adventure park in North America where children and families can drive, ride and operate ACTUAL machinery,” according to the Diggerland website. “The majority of which are real, diesel powered, full size, pieces of construction equipment.”
The park covers 21 acres and features 25 separate attractions. These attractions include a hytrostatic compact tractor called the Ventrac 3400Y, a rock wall, and a really cool-looking ropes course:
There’s a Sky Shuttle that takes guests 50 feet into the air and the Soaring Eagle Zipline, seen in action in this Instagram post:
Among its rides: the Greased Beast, which puts 13 custom seats in the rear hopper of a steel demolition trailer and rises 34 feet into the air before simulating a “dump” of its cargo.
Another popular ride is the Spin Dizzy, a specially-designed JCB JS220 that weighs three tons and provides plenty of adrenaline for riders!
So there are plenty of fun things to do at this park, even beyond letting your kids play with construction equipment.
However, not all parents are on board with that aspect of it. While the construction equipment at Diggerland has been modified for children to use safely, some people fear it might make children think they can play with equipment on real construction sites.
In fact, in 2014, teenagers in the United Kingdom stole heavy machinery from a company that provides equipment to Diggerland.
“The machines that were stolen are incredibly dangerous, and the perpetrator’s reckless behaviour has risked both their own and other people’s lives,” the owner of the equipment told U.K. publication Kent Online.
Thankfully, the teens were apprehended before they or anyone else was harmed.
However, it raised some eyebrows among parents and those in the construction business who want kids to view heavy machinery as dangerous equipment that should be used by adults only, rather than as toys that can be used for a joyride.
Also, a Diggerland in the U.K.was fined in 2006 for an accident in which 12 people were injured after a truck plunged into a river.
No children have been harmed at the U.S. Diggerland to date, and the theme park is committed to safety, according to the website: “Diggerland undertakes a full Health & Safety audit annually, in addition to regular audits carried out by Health & Safety consultants.”
What do you think?
Would you let your kids operate heavy machinery if it had been modified to be safe for their use?
Or do you think it teaches them to take risks on construction sites?