Helter skelter (ride)

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A helter skelter at the Royal Norfolk Show, near Easton, Norfolk, England

A helter skelter is an amusement ride with a slide built in a spiral around a high tower. Users climb up inside the tower and slide down the outside, usually on a mat or hessian (burlap) sack. Typically, the ride will be of wooden construction and, in the case of fairground versions, designed to be disassembled to facilitate transportation between sites. The term is primarily used in the United Kingdom.


The term "helter-skelter" was first recorded in the United Kingdom at Hull Fair in October 1905, taking its name from the much older adverb meaning "in confused, disorderly haste". Other recorded names for the slide include: Canadian slide, alpine glide, lighthouse slip, slipping the slip and glacier slip.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The ride inspired the Beatles song of the same name and is also mentioned in the songs: "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" from Genesis, "Ball and Chain" by XTC, "Fade In-Out" by Oasis, "Fat Gal" by Merle Travis, "Wild Child" by Enya, "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Bloodbath in Paradise" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Arabella" by Arctic Monkeys, "Black Curtains" by Megadeth, and "1969" by Ulver. In March 2010, The Shapeshifters also released a track called "Helter Skelter". A version of the ride is featured briefly in the credit sequence of the K-On! movie as part of the music video for "Singing!"

The ride is also shown on the popular Five (UK) and Nickelodeon (US) children's programme Peppa Pig.

In the long-running television series, Doctor Who, there is an unseen helter skelter in the TARDIS, just before the wardrobe.[2]

This ride appears in the PC games RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 renamed the Spiral Slide. There is also a snake Helter-Skelter in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.

In Midsomer Murders series 13, Episode 3 "Blood on the Saddle", a Helter Skelter is used as a sniper perch.

A variation of the ride is shown in the Nintendo 64 game Banjo Tooie within the level "Witchyworld".

In Jamie And The Magic Torch, the eponymous hero opens a magical portal to Cuckooland, which takes the form of a helter-skelter.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hull Daily Mail - Monday 9 October 1905
  2. ^ In the mini-episode, "First Night", the Eleventh Doctor directs River Song to the wardrobe to find a different dress, telling her, "First right, second left, just past the helter skelter."

External links[edit]