I love my husband for many reasons.
But perhaps one of the things I love most about him is his willingness to go along with whatever adventure I’m in the mood for on any given day.
So during our latest outing in the Smokies, he barely blinked when I told him that I wanted him to try zorbing with me.
He blinked a little when I told him that we’d get wet on a 30-degree winter day.
What is zorbing?
Zorbing is where you do a “superman dive” into a large, 11-foot transparent sphere full of water and then roll down a 1000-foot hill.
You can roll by yourself or with one or two other passengers. The more people inside the orb, the faster it will go.
Yes, you get wet. And yes, it’s open in the winter. More on that later.
It’s a trend that started in New Zealand but is slowly growing in popularity around these parts. It’s an adrenaline rush for sure.
Can you run around inside a ball?
We’ve all seen the quirky videos where a couple of people in bubble balls run around, play soccer and bump into one another.
I initially thought this might be a feature of the park, but the “human bubble ball” is a different experience and uses a much smaller orb.
While you’re in the human bubble ball, your entire body is inside the small orb with only your legs sticking out.
Human bubble balls enjoy doing normal activities like running around as a human hamster ball or sumo wrestling with friends.
Outdoor Gravity Park does not offer this.
But never fear, you can order your very own human bubble ball for as little as $160 on Amazon.
Ok, back to the park. What are the courses like?
The park offers three different courses.
- FUNnel (Red) is a zigzag course that allows up to three people to roll.
- Fast Tracks (Purple) is the fastest course for the speed demon in the group.
- Extreme Zig Zag (Orange) is the most extreme course, and riders must ride solo.
Note that if you wish to ride down the most extreme course, you have to try one of the other courses first. This means you would have to pay for at least two rolls.
But if zorbing is on your bucket list, Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge is the only zorbing park in the USA.
I admit, I was skeptical of this claim.
After all, there are at least three different go-kart attractions on the Parkway that claim to have the fastest go-karts in town.
There’s always a qualifier.
However, I’ll give credit to Outdoor Gravity Park here. Even though I tried to find other zorbing places in the United States, and a few others did appear in my results, they seem to be temporarily closed.
Well done, Outdoor Gravity Park.
What it’s like to go zorbing in the winter
Was I concerned when I realized that the temperature outside was in the mid-30s and you do get wet on this ride?
But was I comforted by the fact that the website promised warm water? Yes.
So warm, in fact, that they claim it almost feels like a jacuzzi at a delightful 90 degrees.
We would be transported to the top of the hill in a heated van, they said. We would be able to wait for our van in a heated building, they said.
To their credit, all of those claims were true except for the 90-degree water.
We waited in a warm building and we were transported in a warm bus.
Then, we dove into
warm water very cold water.
But by then, it was too late.
After my wimpy dive into the large sphere, I tried my best to hover above the water like an awkward giraffe afraid to swim.
My husband reminded me that I had better get in the water before I found myself at the top of the orb on our descent down the hill.
In good weather, I assume this ride feels very similar to a water slide. Riding in the winter, which may not have been my brightest idea ever, felt a bit more like a polar plunge.
Being in our 30s, we were probably the oldest riders of the day.
The kids around us didn’t seem to mind the cold temperatures.
So is it worth it?
Would I do it again? Absolutely.
Would I prefer to do it again during one of the summer months like June or July? Yes.
But overall, it made for a better story trying it during one of the colder months. And it was definitely an unforgettable experience and one of the highlights of our trip.
To their credit, this really would have been a warm experience if the water had been at the promised temperature.
But the staff is very friendly and accommodating. There are changing rooms on-site and even a hairdryer for the ladies.
It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and if it’s on your bucket list, I’d say stop waiting, take a deep breath and just dive in.
Does Outdoor Gravity Park offer other experiences?
Possibly the only thing crazier than diving into an orb with cold water and rolling downhill in the winter is opting to be chased by one of the giant orbs.
Occasionally, Outdoor Gravity Park will offer an event where guests can try to outrun an orb.
Last May, they ran a month-long event called Running of the Balls where
crazy people guests ran down the Extreme Zig Zag track to outrun the giant balls.
Winners of the tournament were determined by “who ha[d] the most people that have not been run over by the orb” and how fast they crossed the finish line.
Sounds like fun for the whole family. It also benefits Sevier County Food Ministries.
To catch the next Running of the Balls event, be sure to check the website.
How much does zorbing cost?
At Outdoor Gravity Park, you pay by the roll. But if you have two people in one ball, you still need to purchase two rolls.
For example, one person rolling is one roll. Three people rolling at one time is considered three rolls.
At the time of this writing, a single roll costs $24. Three rolls is $57 ($19 each), and 5 rolls is $90 ($18 each).
You can find deals directly on their website, where they offer packages that sometimes include a T-shirt, a video or a towel.
Occasionally, they will also offer discounts on Groupon.
Is there a weight limit for zorbing?
I can’t speak for all zorbing establishments, but there is a weight restriction for Outdoor Gravity Park, which is a 260 lb weight limit per person.
There is also an age restriction. Riders must be the minimum age of five years old to ride. An adult must accompany the 5-year-old rider.
However, 6-year-olds and up may ride alone.
There is no height restriction.
Standard restrictions also apply. Details are listed when you sign the waiver, but much like other extreme rides, you should only ride if you are in good health and absent of any back problems, heart problems or serious medical conditions.
If you’re prone to dizziness, this may not be your ideal ride.
Is there water in the orb during the winter?
Yes, dear reader, there certainly is. About 10 gallons worth, according to the website.
Why is there water inside the orb?
I found myself asking this question a lot.
The short answer is science.
Water allows movement inside the orb and keeps riders from tumbling within the ball, which sounds like it could be painful. Or very dizzying.
The website claims that the water is “heated to 90 degrees during the colder months!”.
I beg to differ.
What about dry zorbing?
In dry zorbing, a DRYGO is used in which riders are inside a series of three spheres. The middle sphere contains water, and the smallest sphere slides around on the water layer.
While there are a few old news articles that claim Outdoor Gravity Park offers this, I saw no options of dry zorbing during my visit.
I would have done that instead.
How long does it take to go zorbing?
The ride itself is rather fast, approximately 1.5 minutes.
It feels longer when you’re inside the ball. Still, you should plan for at least 30 minutes per roll for your visit.
Wait times, of course, may vary, especially if you go during peak hours. Our wait time was rather short.
That could be due to the fact that there aren’t too many other people who are looking for a water ride in the winter season.
What you should know before you go
Planning ahead is important if you want to visit the Outdoor Gravity Park. Hours at this attraction may vary and are rather limited. It’s recommended that you make a reservation.
Riders with no reservation risk being turned away if the line is more than one hour long.
A time slot will typically begin at 11 am or 1:30 pm.
Also, even though there’s plenty of room inside the ball, I’d recommend that you know your zorbing buddy well.
If you don’t, you’ll get to know them while you’re slipping and sliding all over each other down the 1,000-foot hill.
What should you bring to go zorbing?
The number one thing you should definitely bring is a towel.
It’s also recommended that you bring a bathing suit, clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and a change of clothes.
If you forget any of those items, they will be happy to sell you one.
While you can purchase a video with a GoPro camera that they provide (a purchase that was well worth it in my opinion), you may also bring your own waterproof camera.
Outdoor Gravity Park is located at 203 Sugar Hollow Rd. in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Would you want to experience zorbing? Have you ever been?
Let us know in the comments below.