On Thursday we went to the O2 Arena in London for the first time to see a concert. All we knew was that doors opened at 6.30 so we arrived extra early to go for a meal.
The dome has eating venues inside it, which circle the central arena (which also has it’s own food hall for event ticket holders).
The plan was to use the Changing Places (CP) toilet. Whilst the location of the loo is given (both on the 02 and CP website), it became meaningless as it said Block 106 Level 1. We couldn’t find ‘blocks’ mentioned on the maps inside the venue or where this was in relation to our accessible seating in the actual arena.
We also didn’t realise that the loo is just for the Arena (and not for the cinema or restaurants within the dome, but outside of the central arena). This means it’s only really available from door opening times if you have event tickets and request an access key card.
As the doors were closed we asked a few people who seemed to be ‘sign-posters’ and they didn’t know what a CP toilet was and tried to send us to the cinema accessible toilet area. Eventually, we found a desk of some sorts tucked back out of view to the left of the arena doors. The person did say they were on level one and that we would be shown up to it because people weren’t allowed in yet and their was security about every 20 metres. So we waited about 10 minutes for our security escort.
Then we went on a backstage tour with our guide … to a standard loo. We explained we wanted the CP one and the guy said oh the ones on level 1 – follow me. *sigh
So we had to do the backstage tour in reverse, into a staff lift, and up to level 1. Entry to the loo was by key card and the security guy loitered in the lobby to escort us back down.
The toilet was slightly bigger than the regular accessible toilets – but one of the smallest CP toilets we have used, There was only just enough room to place my chair to the side of the toilet for a transfer (we were using manual not hoist transfers that night). So, it was a little disappointing on space available for my particular needs.
There is also a speaker system in the loo for public and staff announcements and they pipe music in which makes it hard to communicate with assistants during the moves/lifts etc.
The toilet is a regular one (no bidet / auto cleaning)
However, it was much better than the none CP one we glimpsed on the way in.
We then had to be escorted down in the public lift to the entrance to have our tickets scanned (doors were now open). We had now done a full loop which had taken 40 minutes of walking time all in all.
We then did the back stage tour again – this time to get to our accessible seating on the ground floor. We had a good view – but would have needed a full escort again to take the staff lift to level 1 if we needed the loo again. That is exactly what we had to do at the end of the evening. We had done so many laps of the back corridors that security staff now greeted us with a ‘hello again’.
All in all, regarding toilet facilities, it is great they have CP facilities but a shame they are not easily accessible from outside the central Arena, and are not easily and quickly accessible from the ground floor accessible arena seating.
Now that we know what to expect, we won’t go so early next time, so that we can time the loo for door opening times.