‘Is the helmet really necessary?’
The AttractionTix staff member pounded the helmet to snugly fit my rather large head. I grimaced as I looked at myself in the reflection of the window, ignoring the gorgeous skyline views of London to the south-west. I had a helmet that crushed my made up hair, I had elbow pads within sleeves that partially covered my burgeoning bicep muscles and quite simply, I looked like a tit.
Think the challengers on the TV programme, Gladiators.
But my vanity was soon dispelled when I heard a blood-curdling scream emit from a hole in the wall that soon echoed quietly, only to be followed by another one.
I raced over to look down the deep shaft where the transparent tube went downwards steeply and gulped.
This, my friends, is the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide.
What is the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide?
— Ed Rex (@rexyedventures) September 5, 2016
Named as Time Out London’s number one thing to do this year, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is truly the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide! Starting at 178m high, you race down at speeds of 15mph passing through the UK’s tallest public artwork and through light and dark sections with fleeting glimpses of London’s skyline. That is if you can get over the shock!
You would spiral through the artwork (I’ll get onto this) 12 times undertaking loops and curves including a tight corkscrew section called the ‘bettfeder’ (German word for bedspring) and a 50m straight run back down to Earth.
Oh my god, this is something I got to do, and it’s right on my doorstep at home!
Based in the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford in North East London, you cannot miss this structure that pops up in your eye line wherever you go, serving as a reminder of the London 2012 Olympics and ParaOlympics visual legacies.
Designed by sculptor, Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the Orbit is made together of 35,000 bolts and enough steel, some recycled, to make 265 double-decker buses. Wow zee. What’s more, once you get to the top, you’ll have 20 mile views of the London skyline in all directions.
Wait, so who is ArcelorMittal? They are one of the world’s largest steel company. And together with Boris Johnson, the then London Mayor at the time, created this Orbit to commemorate the sporting achievements of the the Games. ArcelorMittal see the steel as being the ‘fabric of life’ as what we have in our lives depends on steel including the vehicles we travel in, the washing machines, the buildings we work in and even the knives and forks we use to eat with.
The the Orbit was built. Composed of four uses of steel: the red super-structure, the spiral stairs, the Corten steel of the canopy and the plotted mirrors in the Upper Deck.
In 2012 during the Games, 130,000 visitors viewed the Orbit. But the Orbit was then reopened on 5th April 2014 to tie in with the laugh of the south side of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that has transformed in a new green space for London with meadows, wetlands and waterways.
Now, in 2016, the Orbit has reopened yet again but this time, with the slide…
Riding the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide…
Now, back to where I was when I felt my mouth run dry, my stomach was heaving and my legs were trembling at the thought of shooting myself down the slide. I’m normally good with heights, but hearing the shrieking screams of other bloggers and YouTubers on their way down to the bottom had me clenching my bum rather more tightly. The laughing and pointing of my stunned face from Roma of Roaming Required didn’t help either.
— Ed Rex (@rexyedventures) September 5, 2016
Soon, it was my turn.
Climbing into a sleeping bat kind of mat, which I tucked my legs and feet in, I laid down on the comfy mat, thankfully to avoid steel burns, and fastened my hands tightly on the pulley of the mat to ensure I don’t spin out of control.
Roma still continued to laugh at me and proceeded to thrust her GoPro in my face, whilst making silly faces at me.
I told myself not to swear either. I’m a gentleman and there’s no way I was going to lower the tone.
On the TV screen, next to the dark gaping hole of death where my feet was placed, (I’m totally being a drama queen, right?), I saw the previous occupant of the slide shakily climb out of the slide at the bottom, 178 metres down.
‘Go! Go! Go!’
Now, I had to go. Scrunching forward, I felt my feet slide sliding forward, then it was my butt, then it was my back and finally my head.
I dropped. Quickly.
There goes my promise not to swear.
Picking up an extraordinary amount of speed (felt like I was going through hyperspace to be honest!), light and dark soon flashed in my vision as I tipsy turved, swung round, looped and, quite frankly, I didn’t know if I was facing up or down at times.
All I know, my lungs had a good beating of screams.
The roar of my mat on the steel pipe pounded in my ears and my eyes widened in shock but soon turned to exhilaration. Here I was, feeling like I’m Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon roaring away. But as quickly as I dropped at the beginning, I soon pulled in at the end. The staff member down below greeted with a high-five as I clambered out, still gabbling away at how awesome the slide was.
This really is truly London’s number one attraction to do, I suddenly thought to myself raving about the experience, and I just wanted to do it again, again and again.
So, I did.
Just watch me slide away.
Need your ticket booked? Check out here: Get me my ArcelorMittal Orbit ticket
Find out more about the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide