We were meant to go on this slide at the Sir Anish Kapoor designed ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford, which is the largest piece of public art in the country (the sculpture, not specifically the slide), a few weeks ago. However, it was having technical issues so they let our little party of two adults and two children to the observation deck and rescheduled the date for the slide. We’re rescheduling that separately and since the location let us use our vouchers for three adults instead, my friends Ross and Liam came along with me.
It’s quite a big piece of public sculpture when you’re standing at the bottom, so I did think maybe I had been a little too brave. The sculpture was designed to be a permanent reminder of the 2012 Olympics Games which were held here, and the Olympic Stadium (now West Ham Football Club) is just over the road.
It’s possible to see the slide merged in with the sculpture, with some gaps in the metal so that riders of the slide can have a little look out whilst plummeting down. It wasn’t designed like this, but so many people thought that the original sculpture allowed people to slide down that they added the feature in 2016.
We had seen this a few weeks ago, but this is the slide arrangement. It goes without saying that I was beyond brave, although Ross and Liam were quite courageous as well I suppose. Liam doesn’t let anything stress or worry him, which annoys me, so he was fine. We had a wait in the queue of around thirty minutes, although we had arrived early and so that balanced out nicely. That wait is the worst bit, especially when some people decide to scream loudly down the entire slide when they’re chucked down it. It adds worry to the whole proceedings…. Whilst waiting in the queue, I had a nice conversation with the man behind who was doing the slide with his son, and we both agreed how brave I was.
They require every rider to wear a hat and elbow protectors and I thought I looked a bloody idiot. But safety first…. After the opportunity for a photo, it was then time for my little slide. They ask you to get partly into a bag thing, lie all the way back and then shuffle forwards before plunging down into oblivion. There’s a sign saying that the staff won’t push you down, although they did help the children gently which was done rather kindly. The staff also spoke a number of languages, so a French speaker was able to talk to the French group which was handy.
The ride reaches speeds of 15 miles an hour and although the start seemed quite sedate it all sped up quickly. There were plenty of twists and turns, including a corkscrew, before the 40 second ride is complete. There were more twists and turns that I had expected, although nothing too dramatic (although I shut my eyes for some of it). I stopped a bit short of the end, as did Liam, and the guy there was a bit grumpy telling me to shuffle along. Although he was being rude to everyone else, but he’s probably heard every line possible standing there all day. I have to say though that all the other staff (and there’s lots of them at the venue) were very friendly and conversational, so it all seemed welcoming. The venue had been great in responding to e-mails as well, trying to sort out dates and the like.
We were allowed back up to take photos of the surrounding area, although I’d already done that a few weeks ago. I’ll add photos from that in a separate post this week (how exciting for my three readers…..). We walked back down the 430 or so steps back down, although they do let you go down in the lift.
Whilst walking down it’s possible to see the slide winding its way down. It’s not cheap to go on the slide, about £17 each, but I had Virgin vouchers that I needed to use up. I admit to being a bit worried whilst waiting at the top, as I tend to be concerned about throwing myself down a huge tunnel, but it was an enjoyable experience and I’d do it again. One of the staff said that the split of screamers and silent riders was about the same, although I was obviously silent and placid and didn’t yell loudly, which Ross and Liam also fortunately replicated as I didn’t want us to be a raucous group.
So, all very lovely, and I’d recommend others to chuck themselves down the slide as well. It’s not cheap, but as a staff member said, it’s an experience that can be crossed off the bucket list and it’s suitable for children of around eight years or older (and up to 22 stone, but beyond that there’s a danger of getting stuck). For those who are even braver, you can abseil down the tower as well.