For someone with a phobia of heights and not a daredevil by any means, going on the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, as part of a team afternoon, with R, M and P, filled me with dread and when the day arrived I was a bundle of nerves.
What didn’t help was I read reviews that stated “not for the fainthearted” and for “adrenalin rush seekers.” I am a wimp.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit, which is Sir Anish Kapoor’s sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to me, looks like a giant Shisha pipe, and the slide looping around it from a ground level view is slightly terrifying. You can even choose to abseil down it but I personally don’t have the courage to go that far! It is pretty new, having opened towards the end of June.
Once we took the short DLR ride from work to the park, we first went to the viewing platform, which has an alternate view of the cityscape of London, the Olympic park and Stratford in general. It is lovely up there and you can even walk on the outside bit with a mesh floor. Just don’t look down if you are scared of heights!
We then walked down the mesh stairs to the floor where the slide starts from and joined the queue of excited people waiting their turn, as well as onlookers watching each person take the plunge. You could hear lots of screams, but it was unclear whether they were of terror or excitement.
It is said to be the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide and guaranteed to give you a hair-raising London experience. It definitely did do that.
The scariest bit is when it is your turn to go, you have to push yourself down the slide into the unknown and as each person took their turn, most let out a scream or gasped, which really did not help mine or M’s fear, and the closer we got to our turn the more I was starting to chicken out.
M even almost gave her ticket away to another lady at one point who wanted to go but the tickets were sold out. So glad she didn’t and lesson from this is really recommend booking in advance!
We were soon kitted out in dodgy looking head gear, tight arm pads, and if you weren’t wearing trousers, you were given knee pads too. I am so glad we weren’t allowed our phones or cameras up there so there is no evidence of how bad we looked!
You can store your belongings safely in lockers as I am sure you don’t want to lose anything in that slide.
Once it is your turn to go on the slide, you are given a upmarket version of a helter skelter style mat, that you have to keep your feet firmly in and hold on to.
We sent R, our manager first, as we were still so scared, and he didn’t even scream as he descended down the structure, absolutely loved it and waited for each of us to arrive at the end.
M went next and it took her a few minutes to pluck up the courage to go through with it and in the end the attendant pushed her down. She let out a scream initially, and as I was going next, I could see her arrive at the end on a screen next to where I was lying down and waiting my turn, and she looked terrified, which made me more nervous so I said to P, that I couldn’t go through with it.
A few words of encouragement later from P, and there I was, lying down ready to experience the slide. I couldn’t bring myself to push myself down as I was totally freaked out at this point and so I asked the attendant to push me while I shut my eyes.
In order to go down the slide correctly, you have to lie down, tuck your chin in and keep your elbows in.
After 178 metres of scary but exhilarating twists and turns, loops, jumps and a little bit of throwing around whilst weaving 12 times around the structure at rapid speed, I arrived at the bottom, having absolutely loved all 32 seconds of it.
I won’t lie, the scariest bit is right at the start when you are initially about to go down as you have no idea what to expect, but after a few seconds it is amazing! You can get glimpses of the city and Olympic stadium as you go down if you haven’t closed your eyes, as the top part of the slide is clear.
The last stretch is a 50m drop named the “the bettfeder” (bedspring in German) for a final bit of butterfly inducing fun, before you finally come to a stop into the bright open.
It is less scary than a rollercoaster, and you definitely do get an adrenalin rush, which I discovered, I was actually fine with.
I was left wanting to go straight back up on it, and as I chatted to M and R, while waiting for P to arrive at the finish line, we all felt “euphoric”, word of the day by M. I would definitely go again and next time it will be less shrieks and more attempts to catch glimpses of the views as you go down the structure.
I really recommend booking tickets in advance. The Slide cost £15 for adults, £10 for children. Even if you are scared of heights, it is so worth it, not that bad at all, and so much fun! Something to do at least once 🙂 You can go grab food or drinks in neighbouring Westfield after, meaning you can make a day out of it.
For more information and to book tickets go to: http://arcelormittalorbit.com