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Park News

ParkHoppin’ with Paul Ruben

Like a Hamster

Remember the Frank Sinatra tune, That Old Black Magic? The lyrics went, “...and down and down I go, round and round I go, like a leaf that’s caught in the tide...” At Zorb Smoky Mountains in

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, I felt less like a leaf in the tide and more like a hamster in a ball. Located just down the road from Dollywood, it’s the

only official Zorb site in America, although similar attractions are offered in other countries. I was inside a 12-feet diameter (3.7m) translucent Zorb globe, sloshing around in my bathing suit as I rolled down a hill.

Zorb is a New Zealand company that manufactures the unique

globe-riding devices, and also operates them for paying guests at its site in Rotorua. In fact, the crazy kiwis have been Zorbing for over 15 years.

I found it interesting that Zorbs have been adopted as a symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. According to Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi 2014 organising committee, “The transparency of Zorbs also reflect the open, accessible and inclusive society that Sochi 2014 Games is helping to build.” Once inside one of the globes at a Zorb site, you roll down the hill, wet or dry, whichever you choose. There are two types of Zorbs available – the harness, or Zorbit (dry) variety; and the non-harness, or Zydro (wet) variety. Obviously, I chose the Zydro. I could have chosen the Zorbit, in which you roll over again and again, but I'm not a complete idiot. At least not yet

I've been fascinated by hamster balls for years. The only difference between me and a hamster riding inside is that the hamster rolled on a flat surface. Me? I like to go with gravity. Coasters? Yes. Bungee towers? Yes. Zorbs? Why not? The ride was a little bumpy, but the Zorb is double-sectioned, with one ball inside the other and a layer of air inbetween. This acts as a shock absorber for the rider, damping bumps during travel. Zorbs are lightweight and made of flexible plastic, as opposed to the rigid plastic of a hamster ball. It was comfortable, but disorienting. I mostly rolled backwards, but because of the water inside I slid, never inverting.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, singing to myself all the way. “...Darling, down and down I go, round and round I go. In a spin, loving the spin I'm in, under that old black magic called Zorb.”

A taste of what to expect at this year’s Russian-themed Christmas in Tivoli Bricks on wheels

Created from more than 380,000 Lego bricks, this unique Ford Explorer can be seen at the new Legoland Florida theme park, which opens this month on the former Cypress Gardens site in Winter Haven, Florida. The giant model marks a sponsorship deal with the car manufacturer, which gives its name to the park’s Ford Driving School for children. A full profile of Legoland Florida will feature in the November issue of Park World.

8 OCTOBER 2011

Winter at Tivoli New season follows successful summer

The summer season at Tivoli ended last month with 2,773,000 visitors – 162,000 more than last year. The famous Copenhagen park now has an exciting programme of winter events planned. “The season began well with nice weather for the Easter holidays as well as the early summer, and attendance was better than expected,” recounts park CEO Lars Liebst. “Guests enjoyed the new picnic lawn areas and the many new restaurants. However, the heavy rain on July 2 set us back. It was also the beginning of the wettest summer ever in Copenhagen, so we can actually rejoice that we still end up with an attendance 6% higher than in 2010, which was also very wet.” The Halloween season is now due to run from October 14 to 23. Launched as part of the “celebrations,” guests will be able to enjoy an interactive ride on the park’s Minen (Mine) ride. When entering the boats, passengers must use their magic wands to hit 96 glowing diamonds on their voyage through the land of the Grotes. Special Halloween attractions will also include a witch-themed musical, circus, pumpkin parade and seasonal market. Last year’s event attracted 294,000 visitors.

Minen – now interactive

On November 11, the Scandinavian institution will launch Christmas in Tivoli for the 18th time, now with a new Russian theme including a custom built 2,000- square-metre city. Among the attractions will be Tivoli’s version of St Basil’s Cathedral from Red Square in Moscow, featuring a 21m tower with onion domes. As a result of the new additions, management are hoping for even greater visitor numbers than year, when November and December attendance reached almost 800,000.

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