Family day out: Diggerland Kent
‘Why don’t we all go to Diggerland?’ suggested my friend. Trying to plan a day out with three kids aged six and under, plus less than promising February weather, we’d been plotting various alternatives in Kent, where they live, and London.
On the face of it, a day out that lets small children play with heavy machinery is an odd concept. But as diggers, trucks and tractors are beloved of practically all young kids, it’s perhaps not that surprising that the theme parks are so successful, they’ve got four locations – the original in Kent, plus Devon, Durham and Yorkshire – and a fifth planned for Worcestershire.
Decision made. I guessed the girls – and the husbands – would have a good time. What I hadn’t realised, until I got behind the controls of a gigantic digger myself, was that I would have huge fun at Diggerland Kent too…
The idea is pretty simple. Get lots of heavy machinery, including diggers of various sizes, excavators, dumper trucks and other construction vehicles, add in a few rides (also with a digger theme), and let your visitors get behind the controls – kids too.
What surprised me was just how hands on my daughter would get to be – at not quite 1m tall, she had to be accompanied by an adult (helpfully, as we needed a child as an excuse to play) but there were only a few options that she wasn’t big enough for. At two and a half, my friend’s younger daughter missed out on a couple but still had plenty to join in with.
And apart from one or two options, such as the dodgems, which we dodged, everything’s covered in the entry price too.
Taking the Xpress tractor train ride around the park to get our bearings, it didn’t seem huge – but after almost four hours exploring and playing with very little queuing time, we could easily have spent longer, especially if it had been better weather.
The 18 attractions split into several categories – the ones you can drive yourself, from mini Jeep/Landrover-style cars up to trucks and several size diggers. Having operated the biggest eight tonne JCB digger, I defy anyone to climb down without a huge grin on their face.
Then there’s the digger games – for example picking bricks out of a gravel pile or another one which is rigged to hook ducks in a pond. Tricky.
Lastly, there’s the rides: Spindizzy sees you sitting in the scoop of a digger, whirling round and round as you’re lifted higher and higher 15m into the air (Minnie stayed on the ground for that one!), another gentler version was more like a digger carousel, while the Sky Shuttle lifts you up high before slowly bringing you back down.
With characters wandering around to wave hello, a cafe with some very welcome hot drinks and a surprisingly big selection of food – plus ice cream for Minnie, who’s never too cold for some mint choc chip – what else do you need?
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. And whether you’re four or forty, it turns out that means playing with diggers!
Need to know
Tickets cost from £16.99 for adults and children over 90cm, kids under 90cm enter free. You can also use Tesco clubcard tokens to get free entry, while prices on the day are higher than if you prebook.
You can check the height restrictions and requirements, including filtering by height if you want to check exactly how much there’ll be for your child to do which is very helpful, as well as seeing what costs extra.
The parks are open at weekends or during school holidays, from 10am to 5pm, until 4pm in February. Check the full list of opening times here. If you want to leave and return on the same day, you must get your hand stamped in the shop.
There’s a cafe and indoor picnic area on site. It’s worth knowing that you can’t use credit/debit cards at the food areas in Yorkshire and Durham, so take cash. Devon and Kent both have card machines. All the parks have slightly different facilities for baby changing, breast feeding and bottle warming.
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Disclosure: Our entry was courtesy of Diggerland Kent. All opinions and unexpected glee at playing with a massive digger are my own.
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