Sevierville Construction Theme Park opens in the Smoky Mountains
If you’ve ever wanted to drive a forklift or dig dirt for fun, there’s a construction theme park in Sevierville.
Adults and kids can ride, drive and use real construction equipment at Dig’n Zone Theme Parkwhich started on August 23 and is expected to open in the spring of 2023.
The park will have more than 25 attractions that will allow families to ride, drive and operate different construction machines.
Weston O’Dell and two other partners, Grant Hensley and Gary Allen, are investing around $25 million in the 27-acre theme park.
O’Dell estimated that the park, located at 1707 Veterans Blvd. near LeConte Medical Center, will bring 100 jobs to Sevierville.
O’Dell told Knox News they wanted to bring a fresh idea to an area saturated with theme parks and create a place where families can hang out all day.
“We just want people to have a good six-hour experience” with good memories for good value, he said.
Pricing won’t be set until December or January, O’Dell said, but will be “competitive” with other area attractions.
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Featured rides in the park include an excavator with a modified bucket that guests can sit and swing in and a modified mining truck where guests will feel like they’re thrown off the truck’s bed.
Games and activities using construction machinery will also be offered, such as a variant of the Operation game using an excavator.
The fleet has partnered with Caterpillar Inc., which will supply all vehicles and machinery, O’Dell said. All equipment will be modified and secured for customers.
There are a few other construction theme parks around the world, including Diggerland USA in New Jersey, Diggerland UK’s three locations in the UK, and Extreme Sandbox in Minnesota.
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The idea for Dig’n Zone came to O’Dell in 2016 while watching the commercial show “Shark Tank” with his wife.
The founders of Extreme Sandbox pitched their company and secured investment from Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary, and O’Dell’s wife mentioned that it would be a great concept for the Pigeon Forge area.
Hailing from Corryton, O’Dell agreed that Sevier County would be the perfect location for the concept.
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While Extreme Sandbox is only for adults, O’Dell said he wanted to create something for adults and children.
“I grew up, I guess all (the partners) grew up on farms and around construction equipment and agricultural equipment,” O’Dell said. “(I) never really thought people would really enjoy it, even though it’s a lot of fun.”
But it turned out that a lot of people said they would like it. O’Dell pitched the idea to Facebook and was inundated with comments about how people had always wanted to try using construction equipment.
O’Dell said he wanted to provide these “to do list” experiences to people.
In addition to rides and attractions, Dig’n Zone will host seasonal experiences, ranging from a hay ride and corn maze in the fall to Christmas lights during the holiday season.
Caterpillar will use the venue, O’Dell said, to unveil and demonstrate its new products and hold employee days. O’Dell said the park will add new attractions every year to give visitors something new.