Newest Review: ... the wood play area brought on my sons and he had an attack. £15 each with an the online discount including the young ones, who we discove... more
Fun Fun Fun till the Sun has gone away.
Member Name: cha97mw
Advantages: lots of activities for kids to do
Disadvantages: as long as they are between 1 and 1.4 metres tall.
Personally speaking, I thought that I would not find the place that appealing, being full of bright yellow machinery, but as a mum of boys, I knew they would love it, but actually, it is a place suitable for all the family. I saw families there with older children than mine, people with babies, children there with grandparents, and a group celebrating a 2nd birthday party.
Where is Diggerland?
There are 4 sites in the UK to choose from: Devon, Durham, Kent, and Yorkshire. We live closest to the one located in Castleford, so we decided to visit this one. The site is located quite near to xscape at Castleford. We put the post code into our Sat nav system, and found it took about 45 minutes to get from our house in Rotherham to the site. This was mostly motorway driving for us. (The address is: Willowbridge Lane, Castleford, West Yorkshire WF10)
Opening Times and Admission:
Currently the site is winding down a bit compared to the summer opening hours. We found it was open between 10am and 5pm, and in September and October it is only open on weekends. In November, it is open for the first week of November for school half term week, but then it is shut for the rest of 2012. We needed to use our tesco vouchers before January, so we had to use our tickets quite quickly.
Without tesco vouchers, entrance prices are quite steep, though it is a park with a lot of rides so perhaps when you compare it to the cost of a big theme park it won't seem too bad. For anyone over 90cm in height, it was £17. For anyone over 65, it was £8.50, and anyone under 90cm it is free to get in.
However, I personally would not want to take children who are under 90cm as there is honestly not that much there that they can ride on, and I saw a few parents with tantruming toddlers who were desperate to go on rides, and even with parents, they were not allowed. This is why we waited as my sister had experienced this with my nephew when they went. I'm lucky that my sons are both tall, so at 4 and 5 they were allowed on pretty much all the rides, and my 5 year old was actually big enough to drive some of them on his own too.
Buying tickets online before your visit would be worthwhile as you can save £2 a person, and if it was somewhere you would go a lot you can buy an annual pass for £69 per person.
On site facilities:
Parking at the site is free, and there is space for up to 200 cars. There is a snack van and a small shop that sells drinks and ice creams. There was a toilet block with clean toilets that stayed clean all day, and baby change facilities. There is a function space you can hire for Children's birthday parties, and the obligatory gift shop selling merchandise such as clothing and childrens toys. We noticed there was also an indoor space which featured a kids soft play area, but as it was glorious weather for our visit we had no need to use this at all. I think it would be a god send if it were really hot or rainy as everything else is outdoors.
Around the site there were several picnic benches. We found it quite easy to get a bench to eat the picnic we took in with us.
What is there to do at Diggerland?
The site features lots of rides that are based upon mechanical diggers, JCBs and tractors. Some rides were designed just for children to use. Some adults could ride too. You can also arrange to do JCB racing there.
We entered the site through a large hall which was the ticket office. We were the only people there at just after opening time, so we did not have to queue at all to get in, and we were ushered through. We were not given a map of the site which seemed a little odd, but when we got our bearings, the site is not that huge, and you can pretty much see all of it as it is flat, so it was not really needed.
First impressions were good as you see yellow machinery wherever you look, we saw a few people entering as we were sat eating lunch and I heard a few wow's from kids, and smiles from everyone walking in.
Arriving at 10 and staying till nearly 5 when it shut, meant we got to try out everything lots of times, and even when it was busier, queue times were a maximum of about ten minutes. We found the staff were very helpful, patient with the children, polite, and accomodating. For example, my youngest wanted to try driving some mini jeeps, and he was tall enough but kept crashing it as his steering was pretty shoddy. The lady walked round with them, kept pulling the jeep off the tyre wall, and then sat on the back and helped him steer. A lady driving the land train saw we were going on again, and I said to her, oh, they loved seeing the dinosaurs in the woods, so she made a special effort to slow down so they could get a really good look at the dinosaurs close up. Nothing seemed to phase them or be too much bother.
The first ride we tried out was the spindizzy - seats are in the bucket of the digger, and you are raised in the air and spun around at high speed. I thought the kids would hate this but I always encourage them to try it, and they really loved being spun like that. This is the biggest and best ride on the site.
Other rides we tried included a digger which again had us sat in the bucket but we were then raised high into the air so we got a fantastic ariel view of the site and surrounding area. Another digger had us sat on a platform where the bucket would be, and driven round a field doing doughnuts through all the muddy puddles. That one was a real bone rattler.
The kids were really fond of some robot buggies. The lady in charge here told my 5 year old she wanted to see him try and drive one. I was really scared of him trying, but she reassured me by showing me her big red button that would stop the car if he lost control.
The kids managed about 6 gos on the small ride on jeeps, and 3 on the land train, as well as trying out all the different activities you could do with the fork lifts such as hook a duck, knocking down skittles, and trying to find bricks in a gravel pond.
What we found is that some of the smaller rides were very similar so once we had tried out each one once the kids were not bothered about going back and trying again. We then had more goes on the ones they did enjoy more.
My husband also took the boys out on a JCB ride across a field, and there were also some people trying out the under 17s driving experience (driving a 4x4 round a field) or being driven round an off road track.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves trying out every ride. The only ones we did not bother with were the ones you had to pay for which I felt out of principle I didn't want to use. I hate when you go somewhere and you pay so much to get in and there are rides to pay for. It also riled me as there is so little for younger kids to go on, and the only things they could use independently you had to pay for. Maybe just me, but I thought it a bit of a con. These rides were £1 each, so not exactly cheap.
When we first walked in the venue, while feeling excited about the rides we could try, I honestly felt that the site was so small that we would not be occupied for more than a few hours, and that was being generous. However, as we went round, I felt you got a decent go on each ride (at least 5 minutes) and never had to queue that long. The kids were never fed up at all, as you were always watching the people before riding and it was quite entertaining.
By the end of the day, we had not stopped for long at all. The children were asking if we can go back again, and we felt it had been a successful trip out. However, I am very conscious if my children had been smaller than 1 metre, or taller than 1.4m then we would have had a different experience. Rides are aimed at being suitable for 3-12 year olds, but in a few years time I think my children would be far too tall and find it less entertaining. I think children between 5 and 10 are perhaps the best audience for it. My 4 year old liked it a lot, but in terms of skill needed to operate the machinery, my elder son was a lot more competent and got a lot more out of it. We had to go on with my 4 year old and do the operation of the machinery.
I also found that the machines were quite hard work to control, especially the tractor rides. I've been driving for ten years, but driving a machine that weighs a lot without power steering is quite tricky. After much practice, we were getting a lot better at it.
Would I recommend it?
I certainly would, if it is a nice day. If it is too hot or too windy, I think you would have found not enough shelter in the park, and also that the better rides would not have been operating in high winds. On a nice but slightly cooler day, it was a lot of fun, and the kids have already asked me when we are planning on returning. So I best get saving my tesco vouchers again, as I don't really fancy paying a minimum of £60-70 for the privelige.
Summary: Who ever knew that JCBs and diggers could be quite that much fun?