An afternoon of thrills at the ArcelorMittal Orbit, London

View of the ArcelorMittal Orbit structure from the ground looking up

A rare trip to London and even rarer to be child-free, but at the beginning of the month, we went to Stratford to go on the ArcelorMittal Orbit (also known as the Stratford slide). For my birthday, Alfie gave me a Buy a Gift voucher for two to go down the slide and visit the viewing platform… and it was about time we used it!

Annoyingly, after we booked the slot, which also coincided with Ash’s Uni reunion drinks that evening, there was a train strike and we ended up having to drive to Finchley, getting the tube from there. On the plus side, it was only £2.50 for parking, and we also saved on the fare. I was really looking forward to it though… even if Westfield and the surrounding area were heaving as West Ham were playing at home that day, too.

But back to the slide. I don’t think I ever realised how tall the structure is – at 114.5m, it’s taller than Big Ben – and the slide itself is 76m high, and 178m long. As you get closer, it definitely seems taller than that. We also walked down the steps on the way down – all 455 of them – it was quite the workout and felt like we’d never get down. In fact, it made the jaunt to Whitby Abbey previously seem like a mere stroll.

The slide at the ArcellorMittal Orbit in Stratford

On our arrival to the structure, we were given a token for the locker – we weren’t able to take anything with us, including phones. You were able to pay for a GoPro to film your slide for £15 (I think it was), but we didn’t bother. There was a central meeting point where a member of staff was waiting to provide the safety gear – a hat and arm pads, to prevent injury or friction burns. The hats were like rugby scrum caps and not the most flattering things. My ponytail was too long and couldn’t be tucked in, so I had to put my hair in a bun to ensure all my hair was within the hat… and then it was up in the lift to the second floor!

While you wait, there’s a photo opportunity, which can be purchased from the small gift shop (again, I think this was £10) – stand in front of the green screen which has an ArcelorMittal Orbit backdrop. The pictures weren’t the most flattering, given the get up. It would have been much nicer to do them afterwards! From here, you could also see people abseiling down the structure.

When it was time to go down, it was one at a time, and you had to climb into what felt like a big sack, ensuring your feet were together at the bottom, before pulling the handles up and sitting up slightly – always making sure your head was raised. The bit I found most difficult was shuffling to the edge of the slide and pushing off to go down. The staff don’t help at this point but do help if you’re struggling to get in the sack and into position. And once you start going down, it’s all over within 40 seconds – although it seemed a lot quicker than that, like the blink of an eye.

London Stadium home to West Ham

I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but I loved it – and it was so thrilling. There were elements in the dark, but as you go down so quick, there’s no time to be fearful, or as though you’re entering the unknown. There are also parts of the slide that are transparent, and you’re supposedly able to see across the site and beyond. Maybe I was closing my eyes or blinking – or just going so fast, I didn’t recall any of the scenery. But that’s where the viewing platform comes in afterwards. On a clear day, you can see for 20 miles, which is really impressive – however, the area isn’t the prettiest, although you get a great view of the London Stadium and London Aquatics Centre from the other side.

I would definitely do the experience again and highly recommend it – especially for thrill-seekers. There are age and weight restrictions on going down, and there was one boy queuing in front of us, who was quite frightened and eventually decided against going down. We even bought a guidebook (£4) which I’m eventually going to read…

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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