You’re Riding the Giant Slide Wrong, Says Belle Isle Manager

Some tips from the pros on how to survive the slide
Photo by Drew Tarvin

Planning a trip to Belle Isle to ride the Giant Slide? The park staff has a message for you –– sit, hold onto your mat, and lean forward. “Then, the gravity will take you down each hump and you’ll have a very smooth ride,” says park manager Karis Floyd.

Floyd has been spreading that message ever since the attraction re-opened for the first time since 2019 last week…when rides did not go so smooth.

The slide was thrust into the national spotlight after online clips of riders roughly bouncing from bump to bump went viral.  Since then, it’s become a CNN story, a late-night talk show punchline and the subject of a rap song––it reopened just over a week ago.

On its first day back, park staff had to pause ticket sales so they could ensure safe conditions. However, Floyd says the situation was avoidable, noting that no injuries were reported.

“When people arrive at the slide, they really have to listen to the instructions,” says Floyd. “That was part of the problem with the initial sliders. They didn’t listen and you saw the result.”

The videos of parkgoers (who were apparently misusing the slide) entertained millions. On Tuesday, Jimmy Kimmel Live! featured a clip — “It’s only $1, but the contusions will last a lifetime,” guest host Lamorne Morris joked.

Known for quickly releasing songs about newsworthy topics, Detroit rapper Gmac Cash wrote and recorded “Giant Slide,” a rap single dedicated to the historic Belle Isle attraction. Sample lyrics include, “It’s like jumping off a roof. Man, you could lose a tooth!”

Installed with a yellow fiberglass finish in the 1960s and replaced with a metal one in the ‘90s, the slide has been a popular activity for decades. It had 30,000 riders yearly between 2014 and 2020, according to Floyd.

“People remember going up and down the slide as kids. They’ve come back as adults to relive that,” says Floyd, who is among them — he also used to go with family as a kid. “They’ve brought their grandkids, siblings and children. It’s a great family environment and it’s been good to see.”

The slide operates Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Labor Day. In 2023, hours will be extended — Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Riders must be 4 feet or taller.