As children, playing in the dirt served as a natural pastime for many of us, but with age and responsibilities, playtime has dwindled away. Dig This, the first heavy equipment playground in the United States, now makes it possible for adults to relieve stress, have fun, and relive their early excavation days on a much larger scale.
At the Dig This theme park, participants are able to operate large track equipment, bulldozers, and excavators. Dig This offers an array of packages including Big Dig, Mega Dig, Mini Dig, and custom-made corporate team-building packages. According to Ed Mumm, president of Dig This, the most popular package is the Big Dig, which lasts approximately three hours, with two hours of operation time.
A Typical Day on Site
Each excavation begins with a classroom session where instructors give participants a safety and equipment orientation. All participants are then equipped with a hard hat, vest, and a two-way radio. After about 15 minutes, the real fun begins. Instructors walk participants through the various activities that are planned for the day, which range from playing basketball with excavation equipment to pushing rocks and tires through courses. All activities are structured and supervised but not “overly supervised,” according to Mumm. “We let everyone go at their own pace, their own speed, and their own comfort level,” says Mumm. “The instructors are there to facilitate as needed.”
“Most people who come out here never have operated a piece of equipment before, so we wanted to make it fun...We also had to focus on safety. We haven’t had an accident in six years of operation.” Ed Mumm, President of Dig This
The Birth of Dig This
The innovative idea was born of necessity. Years ago, Mumm was building a home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, that required a lot of excavating to level the building site. When he received the estimate for the project, it “blew [him] out of the park.” So Mumm decided to do the excavating himself. With help from a friend, Mumm started the excavation process. “After two days of excavation, I realized how much fun it was,” says Mumm. “I thought other people would have fun too.”
“The most common feeling that people get out of this is a huge sense of achievement.” Ed Mumm, President of Dig This
After five years of design and development in Steamboat Springs, which is still the headquarters for the company, Dig This opened its 5-acre theme park in Las Vegas, Nevada, in May 2011. According to Mumm, the design and development phase was multifaceted. “Most people who come out here never have operated a piece of equipment before, so we wanted to make it fun,” Mumm says. “We also had to focus on safety. We haven’t had an accident in six years of operation.” All cabs are climate-controlled, which means participants can operate the equipment safely and comfortably in all weather. All equipment is also equipped with remote shutoff switches for added safety. Mumm purposely stayed away from big-wheel equipment due to its faster speed and tendency to kick up dust. One instructor is provided for every two people, so participants can get the proper instruction before and during activities.
Fun for Everyone
Anyone who is age 14 or older can take part in all Dig This activities with full participation. However, participants are typically 30 and older and include everyone from “bucket-listers to professionals to wedding parties,” Mumm says. Women account for half of the participants. The oldest person who has participated in Dig This activities was 90 years old, according to Mumm. So far, Dig This has not had any dissatisfied customers of the 2,000 to 3,000 people who have participated. “The most common feeling that people get out of this is a huge sense of achievement,” says Mumm. “We know we’re onto a good thing, because the people who have done it are so stoked. It’s a stress reliever, and they come out totally rejuvenated.”
Although there are a few other excavation and digging “playgrounds” around the world, Dig This is the first one in the United States. Additionally, Mumm says Dig This differs from other playgrounds due to the size of the equipment used and the length of the excavations. “When people leave, we want them to realize they just operated a huge piece of equipment, which is something they’ll never forget,” Mumm says. “So we went with the big stuff, as opposed to mini excavations with smaller equipment that are offered in Europe.”
According to Mumm, there are plans for expansion in the United States as well as in other countries. Locations in Florida, New York, Texas, and California, as well as England, Australia, Japan, and China are under consideration for new Dig This sites.
J. Mariah Brown is a technical research writer and the owner of Writings by Design, a comprehensive business writing service company that specializes in business development, promotion, and client outreach. She has worked in a variety of technical and non-technical industries including, but not limited to, Government, Non-Profit, Engineering, Translation and Interpretation, Christian and Women’s Publications, and Fashion and Beauty. She is a graduate of the prestigious E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and is currently pursuing a master's degree from Gonzaga University in Communication and Organizational Leadership.