Days Out With The Kids In Kent
By Angela Clark
“So exciting news …. we’re off to Diggerland on Sunday!” I say to the kids with genuine excitement at the prospect of taking them somewhere they have never been before. ‘Yay’ shouts my 4 year old boy with a big excited grin!! ‘Hmmm’ is all I really got from my 6 year old daughter, until a little later when I got some comments about it only being for boys and that there would be nothing for her (I seriously don’t know where she gets such gender stereotypes from!!!)
I had heard great things about Diggerland from friends so was looking forward to a family day out in the Kent sunshine and we weren’t disappointed. We arrived about 10:30 and were there until almost closing. Who knew there was so much fun to be had with Diggers and what a unique concept! The whole park has been created as an adventure theme park made up of especially adapted real diggers, dumpers and other full-size construction machinery. Their website claims they offer fun for all ages…. and they’re right!!
Diggerland Kent Days Out With The Kids In Kent
As soon as we stepped out of the ticket office we were confronted by SPINDIZZY this huge spinning digger where visitors with iron stomachs sit in a super-sized bucket as they spin…. “Awesome!” said my adrenalin loving daughter (It looks like they were winning her over already!)
The first ride of the day was the Diggerland Train, pulled of course by a dumper truck… the kids loved this and as they waved at us with crazy grins, we knew we were going to have a lot of fun today! It wasn’t particularly busy when we went (most people were heading to the beach I think) but this was great for us as it meant minimal queuing. I think between the four of us we pretty much went on everything!
The kids loved driving the mini Landrovers, racing one another in the mini go-karts, and driving mummy and daddy around in mini tractors, dumper trucks and robots (aka JCB Skid Loaders). They even got to drive a real, full-size JCB Backhoe Loader – accompanied by a Diggerland marshal (who was fantastic) and with us in the back, both children got a turn to drive!! This was a real highlight for them and I think Daddy was a little disappointed not to have got a turn himself!! The man in front of us literally skipped off like all his boyhood dreams had come true after having a go!
As for favourite rides; we all loved the Groundshuttle where we were tossed around the dusty terrain in a custom-designed carriage mounted on the front of a JCB (We went on that 3 times) We also loved having a go on the dirt diggers to dig, move and dump the soil – although our visit was during the early July heatwave when we were all starting to forget what rain was, so were pretty much digging up dust!
Our 4 year olds’ favourite was the Skittles – on his own, he was able to take control of a real digger to knock over 10 skittles with a mini wrecking ball!! (What’s not to love about that!!?) His face when he knocked them all down was amazing… sheer delight and pride!! As for our daughter, the 6 year old who initially thought the whole place was for boys – well she LOVED it all!! She literally went on everything, but her favourite was the Skyshuttle (She went on this 4 times!) Sitting in a customised digger bucket, you are slowly raised 50 feet into the air giving you amazing views of Rochester and the river Medway.
This is a relatively small theme park, it has been designed to fit a large number of rides into a compact area, meaning you are never too far away from the refreshments or the toilets and changing facilities, plus the little ones don’t have to walk for miles during the day. We did cram in a lot of rides, but made time for a lunch stop and a visit to the indoor play area.
The restaurant at Diggerland Kent, The Dig Inn (I do love a good pun) was excellent. It was spacious with the option to sit outside or inside, and the food was much better than I had expected (Sorry Diggerland!!) With a food hygiene rating of 5, it proudly claims to be “Not your standard theme park food – Quality food at cheaper prices” and they are not wrong! I’m currently on a clean-eating diet but wasn’t expecting to be able to stick to it during this visit… but I did, and I had options!!! The food options were vast, there was everything you would expect (Fish & Chips, jacket potatoes, paninis etc.…) but the quality was excellent – the burgers looked fantastic, the kids loved their hotdog and chips meals, there were vegetarian and vegan menus and things that caught my eye included, lamb koftas, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and the halloumi salad. It was also licenced so you could enjoy a lunchtime beer or wine if you so desired – but maybe stay off the SPINDIZZY ride afterwards!
If you want to take your own picnic, there are plenty of picnic tables dotted across the park and within the inside play area building (perfect for a rainy day visit… remind me what rain is again?) Our kiddies clocked the inside play area after lunch and headed straight there from the restaurant. I imagined it to be hot and sweaty (I wasn’t keen) but I was pleasantly surprised – it was a cool retreat from the hot sun and the kids managed to burn off even more energy. They loved it, it’s not too big so we were able to sit back and relax whilst we digested our lunch before getting back on the rides!
The centrally located toilet block, included disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. We found these to be clean and geared up for use by children (Optional small toilet seats and low sinks)
If you have little ones, it is definitely one of the free fun things to with toddlers in Kent! For children under 90cm entrance to the park is free, however, this reflects the height restrictions that are in place for the rides. If your little one is between 80-90cms, they can only be accompanied on 9 out of the 20 rides. The number of rides available increases the taller your child, as our 4 year old is over 110cm, he was able to go on 18 rides in total, 9 of which he could ride without us. The Diggerland website is excellent in making it very clear which rides are available based on height. I recommend you look at this before planning a trip so you are prepared. The information is also displayed at the entrance to each ride making it very clear for everyone.
We all really enjoyed our first trip to Diggerland, the kids left happy and exhausted after a full day of digging. They both fell asleep in the car clutching their Diggerland medals and certificates which they went on to take to school/nursery the following day to show their friends – and one week on, out of nowhere, my little boy shouted “BUCKETS OF FUN FOR EVERYONE!!!” – The Diggerland slogan sums up our trip well and has obviously stuck in his head!
Diggerland Opening Times
Opening times vary at Diggerland. It is open daily through July and August from 10-5 pm but closed December and `January. It opens from 10-4 on certain days in February and from 10-5 on certain days in other months.
For Diggerland prices, see here.
Disclosure: We were invited to visit Diggerland in return for our opinion on the attraction. All views are the writer’s own.
For more days out with the kids in Kent, see here