Despite slow start Diggerland USA reaches its first season attendance goals

The construction-equipment-themed amusement in West Berlin, N.J., survived its inaugural year on Route 73 next to sister property Sahara Sam’s Oasis waterpark. The park managed to turn a profit CK and draw visitors to what is essentially a giant sandbox where children can control a real-life Tonka truck.

“We did well,” said Diggerland spokesman Chris Peters. “We hit all our projections that we wanted to.”

Diggerland’s season started slow. The park opened in June – relatively late into the summer amusement park season. Park officials expected that Diggerland would be a summer attraction – like the waterpark next door – but found that parents and children weren’t as excited to stomp around a sun-drenched construction zone as they were to head to the waterpark. As the weather began to cool in August, the park’s attendance began to pick up.

Overall, Peters estimated attendance between both Diggerland and Sahara Sam’s Oasis to be just under half a million people by the end of the year, which is more than previous years.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The park’s marketing may have also contributed to its slow start. It’s a novel idea, and those often take time to permeate throughout the general public’s minds. When the park first opened, a lot of parents were bringing children that were too short for the rides, said Sahara Sam’s and Diggerland CEO Ilya Girlya. Generally, children should be around five years old, or taller than three and a half feet (42 inches).

Armed with the knowledge of Diggerland’s first year, Girlya is prepared to tweak the park and it’s attractions for next year.

New Jersey’s Diggerland is an offshoot of the Unite Kingdom-based park of the same name. The two parks are pretty much independent from one another, though are partners. There is only one other park like Diggerland in the States, a construction-themed park aimed at adults in Las Vegas.

“You have to always remarket to the same people,” he said. “You have to offer new rides and incentives to keep them coming back.”

After the summer season, Diggerland dropped back to a weekend only schedule and we remain in operation through the end of December. weather permitting. The park wil then reopen in the spring, and daily once the weather is warm enough.

“Kids really enjoy acting like grownups,” Peters said. “There’s a real fascination with children wanting to acting like grownups.”

Still, the most fascinating idea about the park may be that children actually want to traipse around a construction zone, which many adults view as work, not fun.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal