- Construction may be hard work, but in Katy, Texas, it's also fun. Dig World, a theme park offering child and adult visitors the opportunity to operate authentic heavy machinery, opened last week with a few hiccups.
- Founder Jacob Robinson told Construction Dive his young son's love of dump trucks and other construction equipment inspired him to create Dig World. Sprawled over 3.5 acres, the park aims to provide a safe and hands-on experience of operating excavators, skid steers, UTVs and more.
- In an effort to educate visitors about construction and inspire them to join the industry, Dig World has partnered with the Texas A&M Department of Construction Science to create informational signs throughout the park and a curriculum for students on field trips.
Part of the park's mission, Robinson said, is "Education, educating the next generation, educating those that don't know much about [the construction] space, about this space. Also that's obviously A&M's bent on it as well: teaching individuals what all different opportunities are out there under the construction umbrella."
Dig World is not the country's first construction adventure park: there's also Diggerland USA in New Jersey, Dig This in Las Vegas and Extreme Sandbox in Minnesota and North Texas. Extreme Sandbox also has a trades education component, with its Heavy Metal Learning and Heavy Metal Academy programs and partnership with local high schools.
Dig World opened its doors for the first time on Thursday, but had to promptly shut them again, The Houston Chronicle reported. Some of the machines' modifications to make them safe for young operators were not completed yet as of opening day, Robinson said, and the ones in operation weren't sufficient to handle the amount of visitors. The park is typically open on weekends.
"I'm choosing to believe the overwhelming response is great. Yes, we definitely made some people frustrated and angry this weekend because we messed up their plans, and rightfully so, I get that as a parent too," Robinson said, but he expects smooth sailing once the machines are in order. As for reopening, "We are optimistic about this weekend."
To ensure operating the machines is safe, the company has a variety of guardrails.
"We have worked with mechanics to modify the capabilities of each machine to ensure everyone's safety," according to Dig World's website. "We require seat belts to be engaged before any machine operation can occur. The speeds on drivable machines have been governed, and other equipment utilizes hydraulic limitations to reduce total movement."
Going forward, Robinson hopes to build 10 more locations throughout the country and said there are multiple markets of interest, but he has not yet identified exactly where Dig World will expand next.