Is the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in London worth it?

Is the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in London worth it?

Located at the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the ArcelorMittal Orbit stands as a bold and enduring monument to the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. Designed by the world-renowned sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and visionary engineer Cecil Balmond, this iconic structure ingeniously combines art, architecture, and engineering. Not only does it offer one of the best panoramic views of the British capital, but the tower also houses the world's longest and tallest slide, promising thrilling sensations and a memorable experience for all its visitors.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

From 13.09 € (or £11.50)

From £11.50 (or 13.09 €)

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This architectural work is not just a tourist attraction; it embodies a design feat with its intertwined steel forming a bold spiral that challenges the London sky. The slide, a dizzying spiral that wraps around the tower, adds a touch of thrill to the aesthetic and panoramic experience, making each visit unique.

Find more family outing ideas in our article What to do in London with children?

History of the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Construction

The design of the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the result of a remarkable collaboration between Anish Kapoor, a renowned sculptor famous for his thought-provoking artistic installations and urban sculptures, and Cecil Balmond, a leading structural engineer known for his innovative approach to architecture. Together, they envisioned a structure that would not only be a work of art but also a lasting symbol of the spirit and ambition of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The project took shape following a conversation between Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal, and Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, at the Davos Festival in 2010. Johnson was looking for a way to create an iconic monument for the Olympic Games that would remain as a permanent legacy. Mittal agreed to fund the construction, providing the necessary resources to turn this bold concept into reality.

The construction of the tower cost nearly 19 million pounds sterling, of which 16 million pounds were covered by the Indian steel group ArcelorMittal. In return, the company was granted the right to attach its name to the tower, thus reinforcing its commitment and presence in such a large-scale project.

The tower's design was selected for its boldness and its ability to represent the energy and transformation brought by the Games to East London. The construction process itself was a technical feat, using more than 2,000 tonnes of steel to erect this remarkable sculpture. This collaboration and funding resulted in the creation of the tallest sculpture in the United Kingdom, a twisted steel structure that rises to a height of 114.5 meters into the London sky, offering a new icon to the city's skyline and a landmark for the transformed Olympic Park.

Design and architecture

The ArcelorMittal Orbit stands out not only for its imposing stature but also for its avant-garde, almost futuristic design, which plays with shapes and perceptions. Inspired by the movement of orbits in space, the intertwined steel structure adopts an original and complex shape, symbolizing both dynamism and innovation. This design is not only aesthetic but also addresses a concern for durability: about 60% of the steel used is recycled and comes from sources such as decommissioned cars and washing machines, illustrating the Games' commitment to the use of sustainable materials.

The concave mirrors, a stylistic signature of Anish Kapoor, are strategically placed to transform and play with the perspective and reflection of the surrounding urban landscape. These mirrors do not merely reflect the visitors and the landscape; they also create captivating visual effects that alter and enhance the London skyline. This interaction between art and architecture invites continuous and renewed exploration, with each visit offering a different perspective depending on the viewing angle and light conditions.

View from the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London (Photo credit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park)

The tower also incorporates remarkable technical complexity. The structure is composed of 35,000 bolts and 600 prefabricated nodes, assembled in a helical shape that defies the conventions of traditional architecture. This required exceptional engineering precision, with each piece manufactured to fit perfectly with the others, ensuring the stability and safety of this large-scale sculpture.

The design of the slide is the result of a collaboration between Anish Kapoor and the artist Carsten Höller, who brought his unique expertise in interactive design. Together, they created an element that is not only functional but also deeply integrated into the artistic experience of the work, strengthening the link between art, architecture, and enjoyment.

This revolutionary design not only redefines the London skyline; it also invites visitors to interact with the work, encouraging them to reflect on the connections between art, technology, and the environment. The ArcelorMittal Orbit is not just a tourist attraction, it is a poignant example of how contemporary art can influence and transform public space.

ArcelorMittal Orbit slide

The ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, commonly referred to as "The Slide", is recognized as the longest and tallest tunnel slide in the world, making it a major attraction for thrill-seekers. Perched at an impressive height of 76 meters, the slide spirals down the tower in a breathtaking descent, enhanced by 12 tight turns that energize the experience.

During this rapid 40-second descent, visitors can reach speeds of up to 24 kilometers per hour. This high speed, combined with sudden changes in direction, guarantees an adrenaline rush, making each slide memorable.

ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in London (Photo credit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park)

The slide is designed with a combination of stainless steel sections and transparent parts. These are strategically placed to offer users breathtaking glimpses of the city below, through windows that flash by during the descent. This feature allows for a rapid and surprising visual immersion, giving visitors the thrill of a free fall while briefly enjoying the panoramic views of London.

The very structure of the slide is a technical feat, incorporating durable and safe materials to ensure an experience that is both exciting and secure. The attraction is designed to accommodate a wide range of visitors, adhering to strict safety standards to ensure that everyone, from seasoned adventurers to novices, can enjoy this unique descent without compromising their well-being.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

From 13.09 € (or £11.50)

From £11.50 (or 13.09 €)

With its innovative features and bold design, the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide is not just an attraction; it is a moving work of art that offers a new way to see and experience the city of London.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit slide is not accessible to children under 8 years old or shorter than 1.3 meters, to ensure their safety and that of other visitors.

User experience

For those daring to venture on the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, the experience promises to be memorable from the start. The 34-second elevator ride to the launch platform builds anticipation. Once at the top, visitors are equipped with protective sleeves and a specially designed mat for the descent. These items ensure not only their safety but also optimal comfort for sliding at high speed.

It is also possible to descend by elevator or via the staircase of 455 steps.

The descent itself is an exhilarating combination of speed and smoothness, with sections designed to maximize the sensation of weightlessness. Tight turns and fast straights provide unique adrenaline rushes, while the slide's transparent sections offer fleeting but spectacular views of London, adding a visual dimension to the physical excitement.

ArcelorMittal Orbit slide in London (Photo credit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park)

In addition to the direct experience of the slide, the wait is enriched by interactive screens strategically placed along the queue. These screens provide fascinating information about the design and construction of the tower, allowing visitors to understand not only the architecture of the ArcelorMittal Orbit but also the technical innovations and creative design that make this slide so unique. This educational approach turns the wait into a learning opportunity, making the entire experience richer and more engaging.

The slide experience does not end at the base of the tower. Once the descent is completed, visitors can choose to go back up to enjoy the view again or explore other attractions of the Olympic Park. This ability to offer new experiences with each visit makes the ArcelorMittal Orbit an attraction worth revisiting, offering new sensations and perspectives each time.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

From 13.09 € (or £11.50)

From £11.50 (or 13.09 €)

Every element of the slide experience has been carefully designed to ensure excitement, safety, and engagement, making this vertiginous adventure one of London's most sought-after attractions for thrill-seekers and the curious of all ages.

ArcelorMittal Orbit observation platforms

The two observation platforms of the ArcelorMittal Orbit offer breathtaking and expansive views of London, extending up to 32 km around on a clear day. Located 80 meters above the ground, these platforms are privileged viewpoints to admire the iconic landmarks of the city such as The Shard, The Gherkin, and the BT Tower, as well as other notable sites like the London Eye, Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, the Westminster Abbey, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park itself.

The observation is enhanced by the presence of interactive panels that provide fascinating details about the visible points of interest, thus offering an educational experience in addition to the visual aspect. Each panel is designed to provide contextual, historical, and architectural information, allowing visitors to not only see but also understand the urban landscape before them.

Observation platform of the ArcelorMittal Orbit at night (Photo credit: Miles Willis)

These platforms offer a unique opportunity to see the city of London from different angles and at different times of the day. Sunrise and sunset provide particularly spectacular moments, where the sun's rays illuminate the city in warm colors, accentuating the beauty of the metallic structures and glass that characterize London's urban skyline. At night, the city lights up brilliantly, transforming observation into a magical experience.

Telescopes are also available for those who wish to take a closer look at specific details or distant sites.

The observation platforms of the ArcelorMittal Orbit offer more than just a 360° view of London; they provide an immersive experience that blends visual beauty, education, and wonder, making each visit unique and enriching.

Practical information

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is currently closed for maintenance and is expected to reopen in June 2024.

Small lockers are available at the base of the tower to store your personal belongings securely. A £1 coin (deposit) is required to use a locker.

Opening hours and prices

The ArcelorMittal Orbit and its slide are open every day of the week:

  • Monday to Friday: from 11am to 5:30pm - with last entry at 4:30pm.
  • Weekends and public holidays: from 10am to 7pm - with last entry at 6pm.

It is highly recommended to purchase your tickets online in advance, especially during peak times such as school holidays and weekends. Online purchasing also offers the advantage of preferential rates, with significant discounts compared to on-site prices.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit offers various rates, with discounted prices for students, seniors, and families:

Rates 2024 Online
Adult From £15
Child (aged 3 to 16) From £7
Family (2 adults + 2 children) From £40
Student and senior From £12
Child under 3 years Free

Compare and benefit from the best price by purchasing your tickets for the ArcelorMittal Orbit from one of our partners:

ArcelorMittal Orbit

From 13.09 € (or £11.50)

From £11.50 (or 13.09 €)

Each ticket entitles you to one slide down. If you wish to experience it multiple times, you can purchase additional slides directly on-site, subject to availability.

To access the slide, you must have a combined ticket including access to the observation platforms and the slide. It is not possible to purchase a ticket for the slide only.

How to get there

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is located in the vast Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, an easily accessible location via London's public transport:

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  • By subway: the closest subway stations are Stratford (served by the Central (red) and Jubilee (grey) lines, the London Overground, the DLR, and national trains) and Stratford International (served by the DLR and national trains).
  • It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk or 5 to 10 minutes by bus to reach the ArcelorMittal Orbit from these stations.
  • By bus: several bus lines (308, 339, 388, and D8) also stop near the park.
  • By car: for those who prefer to come by car, the ArcelorMittal Orbit does not have a visitor parking - but several public car parks are available nearby, such as the one at the Westfield Stratford City shopping center which offers a large number of spaces.
  • By bicycle: for local visitors or those who wish to explore the city in an eco-friendly way, the park is equipped with well-maintained bike paths and secure anchoring points for bicycles are available at various locations around the park.

Each transport option offers its own advantages, whether it's the speed of the subway, the coverage of the buses, the flexibility of the car, or the health and ecology of the bicycle.

Accessibility

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is fully accessible to people with reduced mobility. Elevators are available to access all main areas, including observation decks and the slide start point. The paths leading to the entrance and around the structure are well-maintained and free of obstacles, making access easy for wheelchairs and strollers.

All signage within the ArcelorMittal Orbit is designed to be clear and easy to understand, with information available in large print and braille for visually impaired visitors.

Trained staff are always ready to assist visitors needing additional help.

Wheelchairs and audioguides are also available and can be borrowed for free at the entrance.

These efforts to make its attraction accessible to all make the ArcelorMittal Orbit a model tourist destination in London - where every visitor, regardless of their abilities, can enjoy a hassle-free visit.

Other attractions in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, home to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, offers a multitude of activities suitable for all ages and interests:

  • London Aquatics Centre: a world-class aquatic facility designed by architect Zaha Hadid. It provides facilities for swimming, diving, and other aquatic activities.
  • Lee Valley VeloPark: this complex offers a variety of cycling activities, including a velodrome, a BMX track, mountain bike trails, and a road track. It is an ideal place for cycling enthusiasts of all levels.
  • Copper Box Arena: known as the "Box that Rocks", this site from the 2012 Olympic Games is now used for a range of sports events and concerts. It also offers gym facilities for the public.
  • Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre: provides facilities for hockey and tennis, including courts used during the Olympics. It is a popular venue for learning and playing, with programs available for all ages.
  • The Tumbling Bay Playground: a playground that offers a natural and adventurous approach to play, with landscape elements like rocks, logs, and trees integrated into the play equipment for children.
  • Parklands and Waterways: the park itself, with its expanses of greenery and waterways, offers a space for relaxation and recreation, perfect for walks, picnics, and outdoor activities.

Each of these attractions contributes to making the Olympic Park a dynamic and diversified place to visit, offering much more than just the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Whether you are interested in sports, nature, or just a place to relax, the park has a lot to offer.

ArcelorMittal Orbit

From 13.09 € (or £11.50)

From £11.50 (or 13.09 €)

Visiting the ArcelorMittal Orbit is much more than just a tourist outing in London; it is the discovery of an architectural and artistic masterpiece that marks the city's Olympic history. Each visit is a unique experience, whether it's an adrenaline rush on the world's tallest and longest slide or contemplating the city from its observation platforms. This iconic structure merges art, architecture, and entertainment in one place, offering breathtaking views of the British capital and guaranteed thrills.

Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London (Photo credit: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park)

Official sources