London fun for you and your little ones

Olympic Park: visiting with a baby?

Posted by on Sunday, 19 February, 2012 in Featured, Parks, Rainy day, Shopping, Sporting Events, Sunny day

Olympic Park: visiting with a baby?

If you’re one of the lucky few who secured tickets for the London Olympics this summer, and you’re planning to take your baby along, here’s our take on visiting the Olympic Park. OK, so the park’s not officially open (or even finished) yet, but we managed to get hold of some tickets for the cycling test event at the brand new Olympic Velodrome this weekend and thought we’d share our experience of the facilities so far.

 

There’s been a fair amount of press coverage about the fact that you have to buy a separate Olympics ticket for your baby, even if the baby wasn’t born when you made your ticket application. It remains to be seen whether the organisers will do a U-turn on that particular issue, but it was certainly the case that my nine month old son needed his own ticket (and therefore was allocated his own seat – totally pointless, but handy for all the coats and bags) to attend the test event. It was worth the entry fee though, as there was a carnival atmosphere and fantastic support for the British athletes – a promising taste of what’s to come this summer.

Entry to the Olympic Park is through Westfield Stratford City, which was incredibly busy this week due to the combination of half term shoppers and the 6,000 people heading to the Velodrome, and no doubt will be even more crowded during the Olympics. Nonetheless, there’s an enormous choice of food and drink outlets, plus excellent facilities for children if you want to kill some time before heading into the Olympic Park.

The Olympic Park itself has airport-style security (with airport-style queues), at which we were presented with a plastic bag for “prohibited items” (for some reason, the prohibited items listed on the gate were different from the information provided with our tickets for the test event), before passing through the scanners. I assume that the same, or a similar system will operate during the Olympics. If that’s the case, then expect not to be able to take liquids in containers larger than 100ml unless the contents are medicines or baby food (which you may be required to taste). The rules also indicate that visitors will be restricted to one small lunchbox of food – so expect to be relieved of some cash at the sponsors’ fast food stalls…

Interior of Velodrome

The general accessibility of the Park is difficult to judge, as it’s still largely a construction site, and we were taken by shuttle bus from the entrance of the Park to the Velodrome. We were impressed by the friendliness of the stewards and other staff, who gave us priority when boarding the shuttle bus with a pushchair in both directions. On arrival at the Velodrome, we were ushered into a tent where we were asked to check in the buggy as they are not allowed inside the venue – be prepared to carry your baby and any essential items from that point onwards (or take a sling).

Interest rating

Clearly, the whole idea of a test event is to iron out issues before the summer, so I imagine that some of the things we experienced will be improved or altered by the time the Olympic Games open. Even so, we had a great family day out and are much more excited about the prospect of the London Olympics (despite not having any tickets) than we were previously. We found the experience of visiting the Olympic Park with a baby to be overwhelmingly positive. That said, it’s realistic to expect that patience will be required for the transport and security elements of a visit to the Games themselves, as tens of thousands more people will descend on Stratford in July and August than were present for the test event.

Facilities

The babychanging facilities at the Velodrome were surprisingly decent for a sporting venue (although the door didn’t lock, which I would have preferred). Unfortunately, the facilities were not marked on the venue map, and the stewards I asked for directions did not know that they existed.

Café

The food outlets at the Velodrome offered hot and cold drinks, beer and wine, sandwiches, ice creams and snacks. The prices did not seem unreasonable given the captive audience – approximately £2 to £2.50 for a hot drink, £4 or so for a sandwich.

Enter the Olympic Park via Westfield shopping centre

Getting there

For the Olympic Park, follow the directions to Westfield Stratford City.

Map

Pin It