Can you dig it?
Have you ever passed a construction site with yellow excavators, big CATS and bulldozers and thought to yourself ‘How cool would it be to actually be able to drive one of those?’ It turns out, you can.
New Zealand-born Ed Mumm is the founder of Dig This LLC, a hands-on excavating experience in Las Vegas unlike any other where people from 8 to 108 can operate heavy machinery just as if they were on a real construction site. When asked how he came up with the concept, Mumm said that it was from his own personal experience.
“I’ve always been fascinated with heavy equipment and never had the opportunity to get on and play in it, so I had to do something about it myself,” said Mumm of Dig This!, which opened in 2007 and stemmed from when he and his wife built their house in Colorado. “I did some excavating work myself and after a couple hours in the excavator I thought, ‘if I’m having this good a time, I imagine other people would enjoy coming to do this as well.’”
With two locations currently available in Mumm’s homeland of New Zealand (2017) and Las Vegas (2011)—there are plans to franchise in California, Florida, Dubai and Australia, Dig This! is an adventure that caters to every group from a bucket list item and birthday party to corporate team building, bachelor and bachelorette parties and family reunions.
“A lot of us never really grow up out of our sandboxes. We drive past construction sites every day and wish we can have a go at it, but there have never been opportunities to do it,” he said. “We have eight instructors and around 10 machines available for operation.”
Here’s how it works: Visitors are shown the course on a small scale diorama model and given safety instructions in a separate room before heading outside to the main event. It is there where they will learn the basic commands and controls of the levers and switches in the machine they will be operating (I was in the excavator). A neon yellow vest, helmet and set of headphones is given to each visitor as they climb into the machine for the duration of an hour. My instructor was Brian and he couldn’t have been more educational and fun to work with.
First came the warm up. At Brian’s instruction, I familiarized myself with the joysticks and buttons, learning how to move the machine forward and backward, spin it around and raise, lower and open the mouth of the crane. It may sound confusing, but you learn the motions very quickly and if a child can do it, so can you.
Once given the basic tutelage in operation, the fun began. Brian instructed me to begin digging a large hole in the dirt, after which I would build my own pile. Next, I drove the excavator back and forth, picking up three tires with which to construct my tire pyramid, stacking each one meticulously so as not to topple over. After my pyramid was constructed, Brian gave me a rubber ball that I was to scoop into the excavator’s bucket and drop into the top of the tire pyramid. The last task for the course was to maneuver the Big CAT atop a hill and pop a wheelie, which makes for one cool photo opp.
Prices start at $169 and go up to $269 depending on the package and length of time. Mumm said that plans are underway next year for kids’ rides on real Caterpillar equipment and tiny excavators for children 4 and older.
“When you think outside the box, the earth will move,” said Mumm.
Learn more about Dig This! Las Vegas by calling 702-222-4344 or by visiting www.digthisvegas.com. Dig This! is located at 3012 S. Rancho Dr., Las Vegas, NV, 89102.