Downtown Los Angeles is having a bit of a revival these days as far its image as a recreational destination. The latest reason for locals to come visit downtown outside of work hours is Skyspace (full name: OUE Skyspace LA). Billed as “California’s tallest open-air observation deck and the premiere destination for panoramic, 360-degree views of Los Angeles,” Skyspace aims to be a family-friendly destination that happens to include the main reason for my interest: the SkySlide!
The SkySlide is a 45-foot long slide, made of glass, and attached to the OUTSIDE of the U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles. The slide runs from the 70th floor, along the outside wall of the skyscraper, and lands on an outdoor observation deck on the 69th floor. The draw here is the view. With the walls and floor of the slide made of glass, the views promise to be breathtaking and thrilling. Were they? I’ll tell you! …After I go through the rest of the experience.
The first section beyond the ticket counter was a fancy express elevator that takes you to the Digital Interactive Level, an entirely separate floor dedicated to fun with digital imagery. It includes a huge panorama of the city of Los Angeles, giving sweeping vistas where time is sped up, so you can see the city in the day and night both. There is also something called an Infinity Mirror, which gave the illusion of standing upon a neon-lined hole in the floor that looked like a bottomless pit. And my favorite was the Silhouette Wall, which projects specks of light in the shape of your body, then freezes and/or floats them away in a surreal sci-fi dream state. I could have played with that for quite a while. There are also some screens with interviews and information about the space, including construction facts, which were somewhat interesting. There was also a blank backdrop, where they can take your photo to superimpose onto various backdrops for souvenir photos. Overall, the big space seemed largely empty, with the 3 exhibits I mentioned not coming close to filling the space. I hope they add more later.
From there, it was another express elevator up to the Observation Deck on the 70th floor. There is an outdoor section where you can really get a sense of towering over the city, peering down on other buildings that are skyscrapers in their own right. As someone who enjoys heights, this was fun. I looked for major landmarks like Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood sign, but it was also nice to get a good overall sense of the city’s geography. The indoor area is virtually barren though. There are many windows, as there should be, but the only other thing in the space was a bar. I guess that leaves plenty of room for a DJ to be brought in, or chairs, or anything else to hold a real event in that space, but for the average attendee, there’s nothing there but the view. Except, of course, for the SkySlide!
A short platform against one of the windows holds the entrance for the SkySlide. It looked fairly similar to the entrance of a waterslide, with a flat area for you to get situated before scooting forward enough that the angle of the slide kicks in and pulls you downward. It was here that I encountered the first disappointing feature of the slide: you have to sit on a mat. Now it may be that the mat is necessary for a smooth ride, or so the glass doesn’t get scratched…but for an attraction selling itself on the thrill of being surrounded by glass and letting you feel as though you are floating in air, having a large mat underneath you takes away any semblance of a thrill you might get from seeing straight down the to the street below. On my second trip, I made a concerted effort to lean over to one side far enough to look down through the floor of the slide, which was neat. It’s too bad the default experience makes that too cumbersome. The second disappointment is that the ride was too short to actually be thrilling. It only travels down one floor and is not very steep. By the time you have picked up some speed, you’re sliding onto the landing mat.
After the slide, the last part of the experience is the gift shop (really more of a kiosk). They have the usual shirts, mugs, magnets, pens, etc. Overall, for all the hoopla about the transparent slide, and being outside the building…the experience is not very thrilling in the traditional way. The slide is short, not very fast, and doesn’t give a sense of danger. For an adrenaline junkie, that’s a bummer. But maybe I’m not their audience. If they want everyone to be able to experience the SkySlide, they have accomplished that. Young kids and grandparents can probably both go on the slide without problem. And the views from the observation deck don’t disappoint (unless it’s an extra-smoggy day). So if you manage your expectations and know what you’re getting into, SkySpace may actually be a fun place to take your out-of-town relatives, or that new co-worker who just moved here. For locals though, it may not offer enough just yet.
SkySpace is open every day and has a variety of ticket options. You can find more information on pre-purchase tickets on their website here.