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The human hamster ball?
Its a Zorb, a new adventure among the outlets at Pigeon Forge
There are two Zorb courses at Zorb Smoky Mountains, the straight course above and a zig zag course. - photo by Tasha Autry

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. - If you've been to Pigeon Forge Tenn., you know that go karts, dinner theaters and outlet shopping abound. But there's something new to do in the Smoky Mountains - you can go Zorbing!

Just off the parkway (U.S. 441 through town) you'll find Zorb Smoky Mountains, where you can get a very different kind of entertainment.

"It's approximately a 10-foot double sphere. You get in it and we roll you down the hill," said Jamie Henry, a Zorb "wrangler" from Kodak, Tenn.

The only Zorb location in the United States, Zorb Smoky Mountains opened last October.

It gives visitors an experience somewhere between a water park and an extreme sport.

As you turn off the parkway onto Sugar Hollow Road, look for the small signs that read "Zorb." Just follow the little dirt road until you see the Zorbs ahead of you on the hill - they're the large translucent spheres.

When you arrive you can change clothes - if you're doing the water ride, called "Zydro," the Zorb wranglers suggest you wear socks, which protect your feet.

"Our parent company is in New Zealand and Zorb has been around for about 11 years, and it actually originated because the inventors of the Zorb were trying to figure out a way to walk on water," said Zorb manager Winston Burbage. "They figured out how well it works on land and started a site in Rotorua, New Zealand."

Made of very thick vinyl, Zorbs consist of a small sphere inside a large sphere, with a portal on the side for riders to enter.

There are two options: the Zydro ride, in which up to three passengers ride in a water-filled Zorb down a hill, and the "Zorbit," which involves no water and a single passenger is strapped in.

The Zydro ride keeps passengers mostly "ground relevant," a lot like a rolling water slide.

The Zorbit sends them tumbling down feet-over-head. Sound scary?

"Every now and then, people are kind of apprehensive, but once they go down the hill, they just have a lot of fun," said Henry.

You can choose two tracks: a straight track, which is recommended for your first time, and a zig-zag track, which is a little more intense.

Wranglers suggest that riders dive "like a superhero" through the portal to get inside the Zorb, which makes entering almost as fun as riding.

The best way to ride the Zydro is to lay on your back with your arms to the side. The water in the Zydro ride keeps passengers "ground relevant."

Riding with a partner or two can make it more fun, because chances are none of you have experienced anything like Zorbing before.

After you've zoomed down the hill, getting out of the Zorb is a lot like being born - you just plop out, water and all, a bit delirious from the crazy ride.

It's a lot like a hamster ball. Or like taking a spin in the washing machine.

No matter how you look at it, Zorbing is an experience you'll never forget.