Review of "Zorbing"
They went all over the world but the place that seemed most fun was New Zealand. Apparently, in New Zealand, even if your sane before you enter, you'll end up leaving having thrown yourself off bridges, stroked tigers, had cocktails out of tea pots, optionally thrown yourselves out of perfectly good planes and hurtled yourself down hills at 30mph in a large inflatable ball.I decided, being that I couldn't jet off round the world, I was going to start doing some more fun things, after all - England does actually have most of these things to offer! So in the summer of 2007 I booked for myself, my boyfriend and our two best friends to go Zorbing.
Apparently "To enjoy [zorbing], you will need to be daring, adventurous, free-spirited, and very slightly mad!" Well it's debatable how daring I am but I have full marks on the last one as I went ahead and made our booking.What on earth is a Zorb??!
Well a Zorb is a huge three meter high inflatable sphere, which has another smaller inner sphere that is in the centre of the whole thing, kept in position by thousand nylon strands. Don't worry, the outer sphere makes sure there is 3 foot of air between you and the ground at all times. However it also makes sure there is foot of thousands of nylon strings jabbing into you whenever you are at the bottom of the roll! Don't worry it's not painful!In layman's terms, its a gigantic inflatable ball that you can climb inside should you want to throw yourself down a hill. You know, like you do!
Okay, so I know what a Zorb is but what exactly is Zorbing?
Zorbing, or sphereing as it is often called, is the activity done by being pushed down a huge hill inside the giant Zorb, rotating head over feet, head over feet, head over feet, and some other angles at speeds of up to 30 mph!There are three zorbing experiences that I am aware of.
The main two options are wet or dry zorbing. These are usually called Harness Sphereing or Harness Zorbing for the dry option or Aqua Sphering or Hyrdo Zorbing for the wet option.Dry
The dry version is apparently the most extreme of the two. You are harnessed to the side of the ball facing your friend or partner. There is sufficient space between you for you not to feel too claustrophobic, although if you do not like small spaces, this may not be for you.
This version is the more extreme of the two as your speed can be as fast as 30mph! Trust me, that's fast when you're rolling around in a ball! It is also more extreme as because you are harnessed you really are toppling over and over going upside down many times.Wet
I haven't tried the wet version myself, I'm all for speed and this ones a little slower. This can be done with up to three people in the ball.
You are not harnessed in and thirty litres of water is thrown in with you, to give the experience of 'being inside a washing machine' - for those of you who've ever wanted to see what that would be like!You are completely free within the ball which may actually sound more extreme but I would think you would mainly stay at the bottom of the ball because of this.
A challenge for this one is to try to 'run' down the hill, like a hamster in a ball.The third experience is just a variation of the two in that at some sites, you can run either a zig zag or straight course. The zig zag lasts longer but is slower. Where we went only had a straight course but it is what we would have gone for anyway for the speed.
It is recommended to allow 1-2 hours for your experience although it's a good idea to not make any other plans for the day just incase.Zorbing is weather dependent, if there are heavy winds or rain then you will have to rebook for another date. We booked for July. No worries there then weather wise? Hang on a minute cast your mind back...I'm not sure about other places in the UK but July 2007 rained hard nearly every single day up here in the Northwest.
Luck was on our side (or not for those who were secretly praying it would be called off) and after a quick phone call to check on the day, we were fine to go. It wasn't raining but the ground was a little wet from the recent constant rain.The zorb travels faster on dry ground than it does wet.
We arrived a little early so that we wouldn't miss our slot, as you are warned there is no refund/chance to re arrange should you miss your slot. They were however running at least an hour behind and hadn't even done the first roll of the day.We watched the first roll and the looks on all our faces said it all. It was so slow. We had built it up in our minds that it was going to be so fast and so scary but the zorb didn't even make it all the way to the bottom of the hill it was going so slow. We watched the next few rolls (one every 15 minutes or so) and they were all really slow.
Still people were getting out with huge silly grins on their faces, but it was safe to say we were really disappointed.Seeing that there was at least another 8 couples waiting to roll we (politely) asked the lady where about in the queuing order our turn was. She informed us we would be the last two couples to roll. Being that it took about ten to fifteen minutes per roll and there were about 8 couples before us we asked if it was okay if we left and came back in an hour and a half or so. Cue country voice; "ooh there's nowhere for you to go in these here parts"....in fact this is not meant to sound like an insult to people from the country, but the whole place was very weird. It felt a little like the hills have eyes or something like that and we weren't quite sure if the zorbing really did have a 100% safety record or if they disposed of the bodies. They also had young children a la Children of the Corn stopping an apparently 60 stone ball at the bottom of the hill.
We commented that we had seen a pub 2 minutes away from the centre and was it okay if we just went and had a few diet cokes there and came back. We were told if we did this there was no guarantee they would hold our place for us. It was freezing, despite being July, and having stood in a field for way too long already we all piled back in the car and sat there waiting. I personally don't see the problem in us going and coming back, she knew how long it would be till our turn.....Anyhow...that's just a little review of the actual site we did it at not the experience itself...so here goes...Eventually it was our turn. Myself and my boyfriend got harnessed up first. At which point I got told by the woman that had said we couldn't leave the site that I "must have no personality whatsoever" just because I am a healthy weight and they had to make the harness small for me. Okay, she said it half joking (half sneering) but I do hate comments like that as I don't feel they would go down so well/be acceptable as if I were to joke to someone about being overweight...anyway I guess that's beside the point again...
We walked up the hill, which if you are unfit (like me!) was really hard work! After getting to the top you have to climb into the ball through an impossibly small hole! After you have got in (which can be quite embarrassing having your bum hanging out one half and needing to be pushed in! Think Winnie the Pooh when he gets stuck in the hole at Rabbits house!) you need to stand up and a member of staff comes and straps you in, while the other is doing something to hold the zorb at the top of the hill.I have no idea how the zorb was staying up there, if it really was 60 stone, no one could be holding it up themselves. It was wobbling enough to make me scared that it was going to go before I was strapped up but it did stay up there. Even if it had gone I suppose it would have been safe as you are not strapped in in Aqua Sphereing.
At this point my legs were absolutely shaking. I'm not exaggerating, I could barely stand up. It seems a lot scarier at the top of the hill than when you are watching.
Eventually, despite my near panic attack they managed to strap me in and the guy climbed out of the ball. We were told to keep our legs locked out straight and to hold onto the hand grips above us.By this point my boyfriend was actually quite worried about me since I couldn't even speak and he kept asking me if I was alright. I can't describe to you how long the moment at the top of the hill felt, I would have given anything (other than actually getting out of the ball and losing my money funnily enough) for them not to push the ball at that point.
And then you are rolling! It's much the same as a rollercoaster in the sense of while you are on that lift hill, or waiting for the rollercoaster to start, it is so scary, but once it's started it's so much fun. Well it's like that, times a billion. A billion times scarier while you're waiting, but a billion times more fun while you are rolling.The experience while you are rolling down the hill is so hard to describe. What I will say is it was nothing like I expected it to be. I'm sorry I can't be more detailed, but words can not describe. I have never ever laughed so much in my life, I seriously just could not stop.
Before you know it it's over and the children of the corn (or staff depending which site you go to) are crawling in your ball and unhooking your harness.Your smile we last all day and you won't be able to stop talking about how much fun it was.
Being the last two rolls of the day had its huge advantage - the ground had dried out and we got the longest and fastest rolls of the day!Rolling down a hill head over heels at 30mph - I bet that makes you feel a bit sick doesn't it?
Well, out of the four of us that went two felt absolutely fine. I felt okay but a little queasy, nothing to bad. One of our friends, who had ate about 5 chocolate bars while we were waiting bear in mind, came off worse of all and was really sick on the way home - he did however even after this still say he really enjoyed the experience.I would recomend not eating before it though!
There are also height, weight and age restrictions. For the Aqua Sphere you may not be under 3ft 10 or under seven years old (anyone under 18 will need parental consent). For the harness zorbing you may not be under 4ft and you must be over 12 years old, again with parental consent unless over 18.You may not participate if you weigh over 18 stones and/or have a girth of more than 60 inches.
You will need to wear suitable clothing. For the harness it is recommended you wear comfortable trousers and a top that will protect and cover your shoulders/neck. You are wearing a full climbing harness so this is for your own comfort. For the aqua version you need to wear a long sleeved tshirt and comfortable trousers. You will need to bring a towel and a change of clothes if you opt for this experience. You will need to remove any jewellery so it is recommended not to take it.
Would we do it again?
No you say? But you just said you've never laughed so much and it's a billion times more fun than any rollercoaster?Well yes, it is, but it was around £20 each for a roll, which considering the roll lasts all of 15 seconds is an expensive £20!
I think it was possibly worth it that first time, after all, it's an experience. I wouldn't dream of paying it again for multiple rolls though.What I would say is it seems a great business opportunity. Buy a field, buy a zorb, you have two people rolling per ball, so you're earning around £160 an hour, and as for staff, just get your 5 year old kids to work for you :-)
What we did find that although the experience was fun, the hill was not as steep, high or dramatic as we had envisioned. I think the only time I would pay to do this experience again would be if there was a more extreme version of it.
Product Information : Zorbing
Manufacturer's product description
Listed on Ciao since: 26/10/2004