Vegas Earth-moving theme-park lets patrons operate heavy machinery

"Dig This" is a new Las Vegas heavy construction theme-park that gives you the chance to run enormous earth-moving machines. You have to be at least 14 to get behind the controls. Sounds like enormous fun, but with so many Las Vegas mortgages under water, it seems like they might get more bang for buck out of letting punters run wrecking balls and bulldozers on abandoned subprime property than digging the same dirt over and over again.
. The 10-employee park has five pieces of machinery, including a pair of Caterpillar D5 track-type bulldozers and three Caterpillar 315CL hydraulic excavators. Dig This sells three-hour packages that consist of a 30-minute safety and operation orientation followed by two hours of maneuvering either a bulldozer or excavator. 

Guests can either dig a trench up to 10 ft deep or build an earthen mound; there are also skill tests like picking and moving 2,000-lb tires or scooping basketballs from atop safety cones. 

Packages are priced at $400, which reflects equipment maintenance and insurance costs. Patrons 14 and older can play in the dirt. 

"Half of our customers are females, including housewives and grandmothers," says company spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer. "Throttling up a powerful engine and moving mounds of earth is very empowering."

Dig This

Heavy-Duty Playground Opens in Las Vegas (Engineering News Record)

(via Super Punch)


  1. I’ve worked in a place where we were all allowed to drive those things after a five minute ‘tutorial’. There weren’t enough drivers and we all had to use them. They are FUN to drive, and much easier than a car. Of course you can wreck things in creative ways if you are not careful (cough cough backing over oil drums cough getting stuck in soft ground cough dropping a full 25 ton tank of jet fuel from a crane cough cough cough). Seams like a great idea to me. What could possibly go wrong ?

  2. It’s the grown-up version of the toy vacuum cleaners and toy lawn mowers we played with as a kid; make-believe work!

  3. To those of you who don’t do this for work: it’s very rewarding. I miss driving equipment.

    1. I worked in construction materials testing for years, but the biggest thing I ever got to drive was one of those Bobcat skid loaders.

  4. “Half of our customers are females”

    wow what a coincidence! about half of our population is females! WOAH! [/sarcasm]

    Did the inclusion of this line really improve the post at all guys? come on….

    1. “Half of our customers are females”

      wow what a coincidence! about half of our population is females! WOAH!

      It’s interesting, there are definitely things that appeal more to one side or another of the gender divide.

      Personally, this sounds like a TON of fun!

    2. That half their customers are female does add something of interest; just because half the population is female doesn’t mean half the population will necessarily gravitate towards it.

      What I do find a bit sexist is the following line: “Throttling up a powerful engine and moving mounds of earth is very empowering,” implying that women crave empowerment more than men do.

      1. What I do find a bit sexist is the following line: “Throttling up a powerful engine and moving mounds of earth is very empowering,” implying that women crave empowerment more than men do.

        Or maybe the spokeswoman is just offering an explanation for the surprising interest from women?

        I would expect something like this to be empowering to anybody.

  5. Plus Diggerland in the UK is about £10 to get in. Well worth it for seeing an 8-year old giddy on fizzy drinks coming at you in ‘control’ of a 25-tonne JCB.

  6. Pro tip: You can rent smaller versions for around $400/day and actually do some work at your house while simultaneously fulfilling childhood fantasies of running construction equipment.

    For what it’s worth, I had more fun driving a fork truck than running an excavator.

  7. I’ve driven both kinds of forklifts, warehouse and off road and while it’s useful to know how to do, as an all day affair it’s tiresome and boring.

    What I find odd, is that you’d think, “hey that’s an easy gig in construction, the machine does all the work,” but operators have a surprisingly high injury rate.

  8. $400 is about the going day rate for a bobcat or mini-excavator from the local rental place. They’re not as big as a D5, but you can get some real work done.

    Hmm. Fathers day is coming up.

  9. The first vehicle I ever operated that had a stick-shift was a big-ol’ industrial tractor with a backhoe. Much of my late teens and early 20’s involved part-time work that younger kids fantasize about with Tonka trucks. Good times.

  10. My wife has a convention coming up so while she’s attending conferences about legal recruiting I can drive a freaking backhoe. Sweet. I think I’ll rent a Ferrari the next day.

  11. Wow. You could put up signs at an actual construction site and charge people big bucks to operate the machinery and do all your work for you.

  12. I am daydreaming about someone taking one of those machines for a joy ride down the middle of the main strip, minus the people of course. I must still be bitter about the $300.00 I lost diddling with the Vegas loose slots.

  13. I have only three words for this:AWESOME, AWESOME, and most AWESOME, this looks so fun to me.

  14. Enormous? Not even close. The machines listed are not even mid-sized.
    However, probably a blast for someone who has never been around equipment.

  15. Looks like they’re picking stuff that is slow and hard-to-tip-over. Bulldozers are absolutely clunky. Excavators also have a high snore-factor.

    Much more fun is the wheel-loader … tires and a bucket. For maximum thrills, only the huge two-engine earthscrapers will make ALL the cowboys happy!

  16. I have a female co-worker who used to work for her family’s small construction company, operating excavators and the like. She said that she almost never (or maybe it was never) encountered any other women in the industry.

    So I suppose it is interesting that half of the customers are women, considering how few go into the sort of work where operating these machines is a part of the job.

  17. You too eh? I work in geotechnical as well, with some materials testing. I have never got to drive anything, but some of the technicians have. If I ever wanted to get the ticket though I certainly would know enough people to talk to about getting a job. It is fairly decent pay.

    Or I could go to this place and pay them to do this… Truthfully I think it’s kind of funny that this opened in vegas. Considering the local economics, how much surplus iron do you think is hanging around town? Kind of looks to me like somebody got creative with their desperate attempts to pay the loans on their equipment.

  18. Interestingly, in the new Lee Scratch Perry documentary, Lee relates how it was a gig moving earth as Jamaica built a highway to Montego Bay that was his first musical inspiration as a young man. The sound of rocks crunching filled him with a sense of aural majesty etc etc..

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