Monkey has been obsessed by JCB’s of all sorts for almost as long as I can remember. He’s forever digging, dumping and constructing – both in the living room and the garden! I discovered Diggerland a couple of years ago. But as the two nearest sites were still a 2 hour drive away, knew that we would need to wait for Monkey to be a bit bigger to make a trip worthwhile. As much as he loves all sorts of machinery, get him close to one and previously he has shied away. Fear has taken over, but over the last few months, my 5 year old Monkey has really grown in confidence and I could see it was time to show him what Diggerland Kent had to offer.
There are currently 4 Diggerland sites across England – Kent, Durham, Yorkshire and Devon. We decided to visit the Kent site in Strood, near Rochester and as luck would have it we picked a wonderfully sunny day to visit.
We arrived at 10.30am , and parked up in the ample car park, then it was off to have some fun.
My first impression was that the park seemed smaller than I’d expected, and I’d hoped we would find enough to occupy Monkey for the day. I really needn’t have worried. We only left at 4pm because we knew we had a 2 hour drive home, and Monkey had school the next day. He had arrived in his version of heaven and he was intent on making the most of it!
Virtually everything inside is free to go on as many times as you like. The only additional charges we could see were for the Dodgems, little sit on diggers and some coin operated rides for little ones. These were all charged at £1 if you wanted to make use of them. Monkey wanted to sample every possible digger during the day and this was his first ever go on a Dodgem – he loved it.
We were all surprised by the lack of queues, we might have had to wait 5 minutes to go on one of the big excavators, but that’s nothing compared to some theme parks we visit. It meant that Monkey got to try everything he wanted and could return to favourite rides.
Each ride has information at the gate with minimum height restrictions and information about the machine. Monkey is a tall 5 year old and was tall enough to operate pretty much all of the vehicles by himself, but he decided he wanted his Dad to go with him. So considering Daddy P is not small, they provided that there really was room enough for 2 on the seat once buckled in!
So what’s included? It really is digger heaven. You can go on little mini diggers to test out your skills. Dig for treasure, scoop the ducks or knock down skittles. You are given operating instructions on each ride once you are buckled in and Monkey and Daddy P had no problems sussing out what to do.
The Dumper Trucks were a big hit, after instruction you steer your truck around the tracks. Can you tell it was a hit.
Back to digging – with two sizes of excavators and a number of each sort to try. The boys got plenty of time to hone their digging skills and over the day they went on again and again! Another hit.
The Digger Den provides a soft play area – we didn’t go inside, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.
There are picnic tables dotted around Diggerland Kent but if, like us you aren’t that organised, then The Dig Inn provides a range of hot and cold meals along with drinks. You can buy children smaller versions of hot meals but there wasn’t a sandwich lunch box option, which I think is a shame. Monkey had a cheese bap and Daddy P and I both had a cheeseburger and chips. All were well presented and tasted good. The staff were really friendly, which is something that really stood out for us. Everyone seemed genuinely interested in making sure you were having a good day (and no, they didn’t know we were reviewing). There are toilets in The Dig Inn and another block close to the entrance/exit.
Once you’ve had enough of digging why not try driving the Robots. You even go through some great muddy puddles as you steer around the course.
Monkey was certainly feeling more confident, we looked at the Groundshuttle ride and I honestly thought we stood no chance of getting him on it. Wrong! We all went on together and he enjoyed it so much he went on again with Daddy P. It was great fun, being whisked around the field, you don’t go up high in the air, but we all had a giggle.
The highlight for Daddy P was driving us all round a course in a Backhoe Loader, again Monkey was tall enough to do this himself, but he wanted to enjoy the ride. A staff member comes along with you and gave Daddy P instructions before he set off. We all returned in one piece!
Other rides include the Mini Tractors, Spindizzy, Joyrider, and the Safari – Mummy I can see a Rhino!
We had all enjoyed our first experience of Diggerland, and Monkey was chuffed to receive his Digger Driver certificate as we left. A nice little touch.
If you pre-book tickets, adults and children over 90cms are charged at £16.00 each, children under 90cms are free. There are a number of family ticket options too. To pay on arrival the tickets go up to £19.95. I had a comment on twitter after our visit, saying that was expensive. But actually I don’t agree. We had a unique experience, it’s almost certainly Monkey’s favourite trip out ever and how many people can say they’ve driven around in JCB’s all day without working on a building site?
February 2016 will see the opening of Diggerland at the Evesham Country Park and we are really looking forward to it already. It’s closer for us and I can see it becoming a favourite place to visit for Monkey.
For more information about Diggerland and the various locations pop over to their website.
disclaimer: we were given free entry in exchange for an honest review