The AcelorMittal Orbit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a structure that turns heads and certainly divides opinion. Standing as the tallest sculpture in the UK at 114m, the Orbit was designed by Turner Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond. The twisted red metal structure stands next to the Olympic Stadium and was constructed in time for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with an 80m high viewing platform providing 360° views across the city of London.
Following the 2012 Games and the continued development of the park into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Orbit stood as a central landmark to the newly regenerated public space. It remained a viewing platform for the public and in the summer of 2016 a new attraction was unveiled. The Slide. At 178m in length it is the world’s longest tunnel slide.
The slide loops and corkscrews around the structure 12 times over a 40 second period, ending with a 50m straight run back down to the ground below. There are enclosed dark sections and also some clear sections offering you some outdoor views on the way down, albeit fleeting!
The experience begins at the base of the structure, followed by a lift that takes you to the viewing platforms at the top where you will have time to take in the views, before the joining the queue to ride. There is an open section to the centre of the viewing platform which gives you an excellent view (or terrifying depending on your take on it) of the riders when they begin their journey down. To be fair, if you don’t see them you usually hear them screaming!!
And how was the experience, I hear you ask?
Well, I watched a few riders descend, and if I am honest I was a little disappointed at how slow they were travelling which calmed my nerves slightly. I donned my safety headgear and elbow protection (the slide tube is fairly narrow, so I am imagine if you tried to sit up you would could get a nasty bump on your head!) and then it was time to launch myself off the edge. I have to say, I was completely exhilarated by the speed I picked up on the way down. The corkscrew turns and speedy changes in direction were great, the contrast between the light and dark sections disorientated me and made the slide feel even faster, and before I knew it I appeared back into daylight at ground level.
I loved it! It was far more exciting that I expected. Really good fun and I would definitely recommend it. An interesting note, the staff member at the bottom mentioned that as the slide warms up it does get faster explaining why the people I saw earlier seemed to be travelling slower, whereas I felt like I flew down!
It’s worth noting that if your not much of a thrill seeker, you can also visit the viewing platform for a slightly lower admission cost and choose to use the lift or take the 455 stairs back down.
General Admission and Slide Combination Tickets cost £16.50 for adults and can be bought from the website. It’s worth booking in advance, especially when there are events at the Stadium.
Be sure to allow yourself some time to have a wander around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – it’s a lovely place to spend some time. Nice walking paths, water ways and a fantastic display of wild flowers in the summer.
3 Thornton Street,
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,