What It's Like Inside Olympic Park

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Of course, nothing beats the atmosphere of attending an event, especially one set in Olympic Park, the heart of the Games, home to the Olympic Stadium, the opening and closing ceremonies, and many popular sporting events. Only people with tickets to a sporting event at Olympic Park or people with tickets to visit Olympic Park are allowed inside, so it was a real stroke of luck that one of the games' major sponsors, McDonald's, offered me and my family some tickets to visit Olympic Park. Tickets to the park had sold out just as quickly as tickets to the Games, so I was delighted to receive the opportunity to check out the inside of Olympic Park and soak up the atmosphere.

The Olympic Park is located in East London, approximately 30 minutes away from central London (Paddington Station) when traveling by Tube. Actually, we had been warned that it could take up to an hour, but fears of crowded trains and lost tourists seemed to be unfounded. Organizers have worked hard to make the Games a pleasant experience for locals and visitors, and their efforts clearly showed. There were prominent signs to all Olympic venues throughout the Tube system, and as we exited the Stratford Tube stop, there were hordes of Games volunteers herding people in the right direction. We had to go through airport-style security (scanners and X-rays) to enter the Park, but there were plenty of open lanes to keep the lines moving.

Even though we weren't attending any events, there was more than enough for me and my family to see and do to keep us busy throughout the day. Olympic Park covers a 500-acre area, and is home to seven sports venues -- the Olympic Stadium, London Aquatics Centre, Basketball Arena, Copper Box, London Velopark, Riverbank Arena, and Water Polo Arena -- the Athlete's Village, The Orbit, and several sponsor pavilions.

The Olympic Stadium is where the opening ceremonies were held, and where athletic events and the closing ceremonies will be held. It also holds the Olympic flame, which we really wanted to see but couldn't because we didn't have tickets to the stadium.

Right beside Olympic Stadium is The Orbit, an observation tower built to commemorate the 2012 Games and Britain's largest piece of public art. Visitors can take an elevator to the top, where I imagine they can enjoy amazing views of London -- but like everything else, tickets to the Orbit were sold out.


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