Being a lover of thrill rides and adrenaline attractions, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d take on The Slide – the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Well, it just under 15 miles from where I lived, so I really had no excuse. I just had to convince the rest of the family…
So the kids were up for it of course (no surprise there), but VIP wasn’t keen. Too late – I’d booked a family ticket for four. We were allocated a time – 12.30pm and I was to meet the rest of the Wright clan there as I was working in London earlier that day.
I had no trouble getting there – I took the Central Line to Stratford and it was a few minutes walk from the station. VIP on the other hand, had quite a bit of bother.
He had walked down to the bus stop with a view to coming in by train and tube (we live in Kent), but when he got to there he realised that he didn’t have our son’s 11-15 Zip Oyster Photocard.
Being the honest sort, instead of claiming that our son was 10 (he’s 11), he asked if he could swipe his oyster card twice to pay for him.
Sadly, it doesn’t work like that and the bus driver wasn’t the sympathetic sort either, so VIP had to trundle back home, kids in tow. By the time he got back, time was ticking on, so he decided to jump in the car and drive. Not a great idea.
Calling me in a panic (and missing our slide time) he was trying to locate the car park for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The learning lesson here folks, is that there isn’t one.
To cut a long story short, I eventually found someone in the park who could help him and handed over my phone so he could tell VIP where to look for parking – it ended up being the Westfield Shopping Centre.
When we returned (two hours and 40 minutes later) it came to £6.50. The guy told me that the park “was a public transport park only” and that there was no allocated parking. So be warned.
While VIP was parking I managed to get myself to the ArcelorMittal Orbit's welcome desk to change our ride time – fortunately, they were very understanding and this went without a hitch.
The views across London
Now that we had a later ride time, we decided to take in the views over London from the 80m high viewing platform – right at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit – which features an outdoor observation walkway. Up we went in the super fast lift or, if you’re feeling active, you can always opt for the 455 stairs!
On a good day you can see for up to 20 miles. The visibility was good on the day we visited, but not crystal clear. We could see the city and it was great to look down at The Stadium and nearby landmarks which are clearly signed on the platform so you know what you’re looking at.
We spotted landmarks such as The Shard, the BT Tower and Canary Wharf, and the kids also enjoyed watched people walking and jogging in the park below as they “looked like little ants.”
The viewing platform also features giant concave mirrors – which the kids loved, while VIP and I were taken with the interactive touchscreens.
After watching people ride The Slide (it takes around 40 seconds to get from the top to the bottom of the 178m tunnel slide!), we were raring to go.
Well, I say ‘we’ – Luis (my son) and I were really excited, VIP had reservations and Nadja (age 9) was just plain scared. It’s funny what goes through kids’ minds isn’t it? She asked ‘What if the slide breaks when I’m inside?’.
After plenty of reassurances and a gung-ho attitude from myself (hoping she’d follow suit), she seemed to come round to the idea.
You have to be eight years old (and at least 1.3m tall) to ride the slide (you wear protective gear – a helmet and elbow pads and have to get into a sack).
You also have to keep your head up off the sack at all times. I guess they put the minimum age at eight as they need to be able to follow instructions and keep hold of the sack at all times.
So I volunteered to go first – and I loved it! I whooped and laughed for the full 40 seconds, delighting at being thrown from side to side, going from pitch black to bright lights and enjoying a couple of thrilling drops as well as a tight corkscrew named ‘the bettfeder’ – bedspring in German.
It was over quicker than I wanted it to be and I’d have happily gone straight back up for another slide, or three. No sooner had I got off when I heard Luis coming down after me – he made lots of high-pitched screams (he’d call them shouts) and came out the other end laughing.
It was then that I decided to race to the locker to get my phone to try and get Nadja coming out on camera. If you watch the video (below) you’ll see that I just managed to get her as she came out the tunnel.
Even VIP enjoyed it. He was mostly concerned with getting bumped and bashed (and bruised) from being flung around, but the protective gear helped prevent any scrapes.
All of us would have gone back up for a second go (a second ride costs £5), but the kids were starving and I had to get back to work, so we nipped into the nearby café to grab and sandwich before heading back to the shopping centre to play ‘find the car’.
More to do
Although the main purpose of our day in the park was to ride The Slide, there are plenty of other things to do and attractions to see, so if you wanted to you can make more of a day of it.
Examples include checking out the nearby funfair, going on a exploration trail through the landscaped gardens, watching the kids play at one of the adventure playgrounds, grabbing a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many cafes and enjoying an inflatable AquaSplash water obstacle course at The London Aquatics Centre.
- Combined ticket prices for the ArcelorMittal Orbit and The Slide when bought in advance are £15 for adults, £10 for children, £46 for a family of four and £12 for seniors and students.
- To use The Slide you must buy a combined ticket for the ArcelorMittal Orbit and The Slide
- Tickets for The Slide are issued in 15 minute timeslots and are valid for one use of The Slide. Additional tickets can be purchased for £5 on the day.