Zorbing has become one of the biggest extreme sports ever since it introduced to the world by a group of New Zealander's in 1998.
I know what you're asking yourself - what in the world is Zorbing?
Zorbing is where you ride down a grassy or snowy hill inside a big plastic ball. Of course, we're not talking about a mega-version of the hard plastic ball your hamster runs around in. It's more like a huge beach ball – about 9 feet in diameter - with a hollow core where the rider or riders sits. Also, instead of the passenger having some sort of control over the speed and direction of the ball, when you go Zorbing, you leave it all up to gravity, a thought that scares and thrills many people.
Where do you ride?
The passenger compartment is around 6 feet in diameter and come with and without harnesses. Passengers climb into the Zorb via a two foot wide hole. This hole is left open so air can flow in and out of the rider's compartment.
There are many options for riders, including being strapped in or not and having up to 3 riders in the Zorb at the same time. Many feel that being strapped into the Zorb is a more intense ride since you are tied down to the inside of the ball and end up rolling with it instead of floating along.
Sometimes water is added to the passenger compartment to make it a very wet ride. Ever wanted to know what your clothes feel like in the washing machine? This is one way to find out.
Will it pop?
Many wonder why the big ball doesn't pop on its way down the hill. It's all because of the material the Zorb is made out of – 0.8 mm plastic that is designed to flex as it rolls and bounces along the ground. The two foot buffer of air between the inner and outer walls also helps to keep things moving while the passengers remain 100% safe.
Even with all of these safety features in place, there is a tiny chance that the ball could roll over something sharp and develop a leak. Don't worry – you won't go flying off nor will the ball disintegrate around you like a popped balloon. Instead, the air will slowly leak out and the Zorb will slowly lose its circular shape. If you are in motion, it will slowly come to a stop, leaving you safe and sound inside the passenger compartment.
Am I going to get sick?
If you're worried about tossing your cookies, don't worry. Andrew Akers (one of the inventors of the sphere) notes that in over 100,000 rides, no one has ever thrown up. Of course, that doesn't mean you should eat and drink like crazy before your ride! That's just asking for trouble.
No matter what, there will always be some safety concerns with Zorbing. It wouldn't be an extreme sport if there wasn't some sort of danger to it.
When you go to the Zorbing facility, you'll have to sign a wavier before you can take the plunge. This is mainly to inform you of the risks and to protect the facility from lawsuits. Make sure to read this carefully – it is your life you're playing with!
Where can I Zorb at?
There are Zorbing facilities all over the world, including Los Cabos, Slovenia, Thailand, Ireland, Sweden, Korea, Czech Republic, and Rotorua, New Zealand.
Only one facility is available in the United States – Pigeon Forge, TN in the heart of the Smokey Mountains.
Pricing varies depending on the location but most are around $40 a ride, with discounts available for consecutive trips down the slop. You can find out more information, including pricing, locations, and hours, from the Zorb Company Website.