Having seen the striking architecture of the Chill Factore from the motorway near the Trafford Centre, Manchester, I must admit to being curious as to what went on inside. So when we were invited to try our luck on this giant indoor piste it was an easy decision.
The dressing area / preparation side felt way over the top. By the time we’d donned our extreme weather garb, gloves, hats and helmets we looked ready to take on the North Pole. But we had though been pre warned that even though it was a warmish summer day outside the temperature inside was –2C. And friends who had foregone the clothing on an earlier visit advised not to skimp on that side. It’s real ice and snow in there and so you really do need to get the proper clobber unless you want to seize up or risk frost bite. We’d been invited to a Pick and Mix session. Basically a two hour ticket for a family to try out 4 different activities – Airboarding, Sledging, Tubing, and The Luge ice slide.
I’d promised Evie beforehand that I’d brave the Luge and so I had to keep my word. I thought I’d get it over with straight away but it looked a tad more worrying in the flesh. A raised twisting tunnel of ice modelled on the Cresta Run, St. Moritz, Switzerland. I lay down on my back on the mat and felt myself lurch forward and down a tube of ice. It was much faster than I’d expected – a genuine rush as you whoosh around the various bends built into the track. I thought I was going to take off as one bend pushed me upwards. After a hair raising couple of minutes I was shot out of the other end into the snow still breathless. Pretty impressive. I’d kept my promise. Actually I had another go later on. The thrill of it outweighs the fear.
The sledging is self explanatory – you choose which type of sledge you want and slide yourself down the slope. Two or three sledgers are all sliding down at the same time from different start points, and a few dramas ensued as toddlers veered off into each other’s path but it’s all good clean fun on the whole. You can’t expect fun to be completely risk free.
I was banned from having a go at Airboarding by my daughter. She weighed it up for a few seconds and told me that no – I wasn’t allowed as it was ‘head first’ and thus a bit dangerous even for Daddies. Tubing was fine apparently (not headfirst) and so I got myself in line. Evie got herself a good position so she could watch me hurtle down the slope. You build up a fair old speed and there’s a rising curve at the foot to slow you down which gives your tummy a bucketful of butterflies. Try going down backwards. Quite unsettling and even more of a stomach lift at the end.
After watching me a few times, and a cautious bit of sledging, Evie got into the flow. In the second hour she was much more gung-ho. Tubing and sledging on her own. The staff on hand were great. They helped Evie build up her confidence by letting her go down halfway and gradually letting her go further each time. They were doing such things with other kids too and it was beyond the job description I’m sure but was nice to see.
And two hours is about the right amount of time to give everything a good go. Getting all your clobber off at the end was easy and quick – we had not even felt the cold in there with it – and we soon found ourselves back outside again blinking in the sunshine reflecting on our afternoon.
There’s plenty more to try too for future visits. Evie fancies a go at some skiiig lessons next time – ‘on the little slope only though!’ There’s snowboarding and climbing walls, and you can view the action from a high up, alpine feel balcony that runs along the length of a nice quality restaurant.
Well the whole experience was a hit with us. The Pick and Mix idea is a great way to experience the Chill Factore. The activities are exciting enough to keep all ages occupied but are safe enough for little ones to get a lot out of it too.
Chill Factore is at Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Manchester. See the website www.chillfactore.com for more details.