Helter skelter (ride)
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 (but not exclusively) found in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the ride is uncommon and may be called by other names, such as a "Skyslide".
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.
In popular culture
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, and "Black Curtains" by Megadeth. 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 Midsomer Murders series 13, Episode 3 "Blood on the Saddle", a Helter Skelter is used as a sniper perch.
In Jamie And The Magic Torch, the eponymous hero opens a magical portal to Cuckooland, which takes the form of a helter-skelter.
The name of a book about the Manson murders, "Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders" by Vincent Bugliosi, published December 17, 2001 (Explanation of the relevance in the author interview at http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1915134,00.html )
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