Belle Isle Giant Slide reopens, did tweaks to slow it down make it any safer?

The speed issues of the Giant Slide on Bell Isle have, reportedly, been resolved. But for some of the veterans of the slide who remember riding it years ago, was it always this fast?

A week ago, Belle Isle's Giant Slide opened. Then immediately closed. Then reopened again. Then closed for the week (this part was scheduled). The open-closed-open rotation, however, was not planned as the giant slide was closed over concerns of its speed. Videos of riders taking a bouncing journey down have dominated conversation all week.

The Department of Natural Resources believes it has resolved its speed issues and is prepared for the next weekend of sliders. They updated the schedule of when the slide will be open through Labor Day weekend. 

It'll operate Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. over the next two weekends. The DNR also plans to reopen the slide in 2023 with extended hours of Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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It costs a dollar to ride and sliders must be 4 feet tall. 

So, after the DNR made the tweaks, did it help?

Count Vernon Powell among the veterans of the Giant Slide so his trip on Friday wasn't his first one down and he remembers that things were done differently back in then.

"(I didn't lose my) teeth, didn’t break my leg or chip a tooth," he said. "In the late 60s, early 70s we used to go down standing up, sometimes head first, sometimes it was a quarter a ride, 5 rides for a $1."

On Friday, Powell brought his grandson to the slide and says the dollar entry is totally worth it.

"I couldn’t wait to get him down here had to kind of sneak him down here because his mom was worried," he said.

She's got plenty of reason to be concerned after all the videos we've shown of people flopping their way down the giant slide were shared around the world.

"Next thing I know, we go on social media and we're getting calls from Japan of people wanting to know about the slide," park manager Karis Flloyd said.

It prompted t-shirts about surviving the slide and a song from rapper Gmac Cash about losing your teeth, breaking your leg, and more on the big slide.

Antonio DeBarry landed hard on his behind when he went down but thanks something he stuck in his back pocket for cushioning his fall a bit. That's a pro tip from an old veteran.

"Luckily I landed on my wallet right here it was kind of a cushion," he said. "When we was kids 40 years ago when I was coming down the slide my mother used to bring us it was nothing like this."

DeBerry says back then, you probably didn't get the air you'll get this year and, despite his bumps, he says it's totally worth it.

"My butt and my elbow (hurt. It was the drop at the end that hit me," he said. "It is extremely fast anybody that’s out there watching you got to come on down

The park removed some of the wax and sprayed water on the giant slide to slow down the ride, a little. 

The slide is open for another two weekends and, next Sunday, it's gone for the season.

How do you ride the Bell Isle Slide?

This slide has been here for 55 years, how do you ride it safely? Simple: follow directions.

In a video posted to the park's Facebook page, a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employee explains step-by-step how to go down the slide.

Once you get your bag from the employee, sit down inside your bag at the start line and wait for others who are riding at the same time as you to get in position. While you're waiting, gather the excess bag in your lap. 

Doing this gives you something to hang on to, which is helpful because you're about to be told lean forward. Scoot yourself towards the downslope when the employee tells you it's time. Hold on to that excess bag, and keep leaning forward the whole way down.

In the video, the employee rides smoothly to the bottom without bouncing.