Operating an 18-ton excavator is pretty simple. It is like playing a video game, according 14-year-old Noble Bilagody.
For his birthday, Noble’s mother bought him the gift of operating heavy machinery at Dig This Las Vegas. His grandmother, Evelyn Roanhorse, drove him to Las Vegas from Tempe, Ariz., during his spring break.
Dig This, at 3012 S. Rancho Drive, is in the 5 acres that were formerly the Scandia Family Fun Center, across Interstate 15 from the Trump International tower.
Noble dug holes, whipped his cabin around and around in circles, stacked giant tires and worked on his eye-excavator coordination with some basketball drills.
Bulldozer and excavator experiences start at $210 for 90 minutes. The most popular program is $400 for three hours, which is what Noble did.
"It was very exciting, fun, thrilling," Noble said. "I was a little nervous just because I was operating a machine and didn’t know what to expect. It took about 10 minutes to get comfortable. It looked really hard and then it was easier than I thought."
Roanhorse bought her grandson a commemorative plaque with his photo after the "dig." The plaque and photo usually cost $30, but they got a $6 discount for reviewing the experience on TripAdvisor while in the office.
The title of Noble’s post on the website was "the best thing ever!!!!!"
Dig This opened in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2007. The Las Vegas location opened in May. Everyone who participates in a dig must sign a waiver and listen to 15 minutes of safety instructions before heading outside. Once in the air-conditioned cabin of an excavator or bulldozer — each costing between $100,000 and $200,000 — operators are given quick instructions on the controls. Each person has a headset to maintain constant communication with the instructor, too.
The instructor walks them through a series of tasks, starting with the simple stuff, such as digging holes. A driver’s license is not required, but the minimum age is 14.
Dig This operations manager Amber Smith said group sales are most popular among women ages 55 to 70.
Steve Bennett of Ontario, Canada, received his Dig This experience as a birthday gift, too. He and his wife, Jennifer, and son, Dylan, were in town last month for the Monster Jam World Finals at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"Yeah, we’re rednecks from Ontario," Bennett said. "I thought (Dig This) was pretty awesome. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
"I had fun digging my hole. It was really easy to do. I think some people might be kind of nervous, but I think anyone could do it."
At the end of his dig, Bennett received a certificate of completion.
"If you ever get laid off, now you’ve got another career," his wife told him.
For more information, visit digthis.info, or call 222-4344.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at email@example.com or 224-5524.