Something big and windy this way has come, and it’s called iFLY, the new indoor skydiving experience, at Universal Hollywood’s Citywalk.
This is no ride or simulator- you are actually flying in the air, up in the air, unaided by harnesses, cables or straps, in up to 125 mph winds, in a 30 foot tall clear acrylic virtual wind tunnel chamber, high above the ground for all to see.
As we arrived there was this guy inside; he was insane. He was doing summersaults, climbing up the sides of the chamber, plummeting headlong towards the bottom, then soaring back up again.
I felt like I was watching a human jellyfish play in the magical land of air. He must have been going up 30 feet. Then I realized that soon that would be me in there, people would be gawking at me-just as I was gawking at him. Oh no, that wouldn’t be me. Then it hit me. There were no paying customers inside, that was the highly trained (and showing off) instructor Josh Eckl.
I can do this! I sighed and regained my composure, and went to the sign-in counter. After a quick question or two, I signed a waiver-the thing they are most concerned about are previous shoulder dislocations, and I was off to training.
The instructor, Eckl, helped me suit up with gear they provide, waited as I watched a video, asked if I had any questions and gave me a short training session in which I got to learn mysterious and secret hand signals, then I was off.
I entered the tunnel threshold with my arms tucked under my chin, and my chin up. I tipped into the tunnel and the air gently supported me. I leaned further forward and was lifted up by the air, as Josh adjusted my position. I had no idea what I was doing-even after the video and training, I kind of went blank. But I felt supported and relaxed.
Josh was right next to me, as I tried to self adjust my body into the basic form and he gave me body position tips through the hand signals we had just gone over; of which I had already totally forgotten. I also think he made up new ones, just to look cool and confuse me. But he adjusted me, so that my gangly misappropriated limbs were in some semblance of the correct position- my pitch and yaw acceptable, so to speak.
Then for a moment, I got into the zone-like that moment when you first ‘get’ that balance, and realize that you are riding the bike-it isn’t your Dad holding on to the back anymore! That came and went, but, hey, this was my first time!
There were moments of absolute bliss. I felt time stop. I was relaxed and aware. I was just floating there. Hey, look at me float. Hey look at me look at you like it’s nothing that I am floating here. Want to come float. Hey, there isn’t even any pixie dust needed. Just some air and some acrylic-and some guy named Josh.
Then it was time to come down. Josh guided me back into the threshold area-where I grabbed the doorframe and just sort of landed down. I was giddy and kind of elated and a little shaky and tired. I had a few minutes to compose myself as I watched my boyfriend, Thomas do his spin in iFLY. Of course, somehow he just looked more comfortable and just better at it than me, but as I watched the DVD they made of us later, I saw that I did ok. I really didn’t look like a total dork. I thought at first, the idea of a DVD of us was just something we’d send to the folks; but watching it is way more fun than I thought.
Then it was time for my second spin. This time I got to go higher, and do tandem maneuvers. And it really felt and looked like things I had seen in movies of people skydiving, hanging on to each other as they descend before the chutes get deployed.
I felt timeless as well as weightless. Since my form and balance was better, he let go of me a few times-I was on my own-solo!
I’ve got to say it was a lot of fun and excitement for the time and money.
All the bliss of dropping out of a plane, instantly; with none of the chute packing or big expenses, booking a plane ride and driving out to who knows where.
Here for your time and dough, you can get your daily dose of thrills, then go get a Ben and Jerry’s, hit a movie, and bowl some lanes at Jillian’s, then walk back to your car in Woody Woodpecker or Curious George and regain your earthly bound responsibilities. Knowing that you have just hit the heights.
Check out their Valentine’s Day special, now through Feb. 18, where you and your sweetheart (or otherwise) get all the set up (gear to wear and training) two flights each, a DVD of the experience, and a heart shaped box of candy. All for $99.95. Go to the website, click on the Valentine’s special and enter coupon code VAL2008.
Monday through Friday 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Saturday 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.
Sunday 10:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.
iFLY is located on Citywalk by The Hard Rock Café.
Also check out their website photo gallery to see the building of this multimillion dollar attraction.