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Diggerland Theme Park Offers Loads of Fun

A construction themed amusement park that will soon open for business in the Garden State.

Tue March 11, 2014 - National Edition
Mary Reed

It’s a first for America and it’s located in New Jersey — Diggerland USA, a construction themed amusement park that will soon open for business in the Garden State.

Located behind project owner Sahara Sam’s Oasis, an indoor and outdoor water park on Route 73 in Camden County’s West Berlin, Diggerland USA will operate independently from its neighbor. However, there will be incentives to encourage guest traffic between the two facilities.

The Diggerland adventure park will feature a mix of 90 percent JCB and 10 percent Terex equipment, providing visitors with supervised opportunities to ride, drive and operate full-sized big iron such as skid steer loaders, tractors, backhoes, small excavators and mini-dumpers.

“The Diggerland concept is native to the UK where JCB has its headquarters, and all of the equipment is modified for use as rides, on a course, or made stationary by design for operation in designated excavation areas,” said Chris Peters, director of marketing and PR of Sahara Sam’s Oasis and Diggerland USA.

For example, he went on, “Spin Dizzy, an amusement engineering marvel and staple attraction for the park, booms the arm of a 20 ton JCB JS220L excavator up and down while spinning in circles with eight passengers harnessed into the seats of a modified bucket attachment. In the Backhoe Adventure, four riders and a ride marshal climb aboard the cab of a modified JCB 3CX backhoe for a mystery tour while taking turns behind the wheel of the machine.”

Modification of the equipment was carried out by Masterhitch, also based in the UK with the same parent ownership as the four UK Diggerland Parks.

More than 20 attractions will be offered at Diggerland USA, including a number of train rides, an arcade, rock climbing, a ropes course and the swamp buggy attraction, an off-road multi-passenger ride. Sand pits and play areas will cater to the smaller fry, who also will be able to ride on the Sky Shuttle, a JCB 540 telehandler taking 15 visitors five stories skyward at a time.

Sambe Construction Company Inc., based in Pennsauken, N.J., began work on the project on Dec. 20, 2013, after the township’s zoning board approved it the previous month and subcontractor Clear View Tree Clearing of Marlton, N.J., had carried out tree removal on the park’s 14 acre site.

Ilya Girlya, Sambe Construction director of finance and CEO and president of Sahara Sam’s Oasis and Diggerland USA, said the decision to build the theme park was taken because “My brother Yan owns Sambe and I own Sahara Sam’s and Diggerland. I grew up in the family construction business fixing all of the machines, so when the opportunity came this was a natural fit since we were in the amusement business already.”

A large fleet of Sambe Construction equipment has been fielded for the project. Site work was largely carried out by John Deere equipment, which was utilized for utility work, storm water, grading and excavation for an underground detention basin. John Deere models working on site include a 544H wheel loader, 750 dozer, 650H crawler tractor, and a 225C excavator.

In addition, a Caterpillar 320 excavator and D-4 bulldozer, Bobcat S185 skid steer loader, and a Dynapac CA-250 roller also will operate on the park site, modified as various thrilling rides and attractions.

Apart from Diggerland USA’s unique theme, another striking aspect of the job, as Girlya noted, was its grade elevation, which is “174 at one side of the project and 155 at the other. Using a Caterpillar 615 pan scraper and John Deere 250C dump truck, we are cutting 100,000 cubic yards of fills.”

The project has gone smoothly and no problems have been experienced. Currently ten Sambe Construction employees are at work on the job, although Girlya anticipates this number is likely to peak at 20 as the project advances.

With a completion date in mid-May 2014, the park is expected to open early this summer.

“Diggerland USA anticipates a nine month operation schedule running into December with weekend and holiday events. Admission is expected to be $20 to $30 for a full day ticket and will be capacity controlled and date specific to maintain comfortable queuing times and ensure a pleasant experience for all guests,” Peters said.

Sambe Construction Company Inc., is a full-service general contractor. Established in 1983, it is a family business serving New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The company offers clients expertise in management as well as all types of construction and is currently completing the Town Hall building, a $9 million project located in Moorestown Township, N.J.

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