Aqua Park is back with a splash as this year it doubles in size

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One of last Summer’s biggest hits returns tomorrow with a splash.

Following its highly successful launch in 2016, Aqua Park Rutland returns to the Whitwell shore at Rutland Water for a summer of thrills and spills.

The park hosted a special preview day for invited guests and members of the media on Friday last week, when Rutland county councillor Alan Walters and Miss Rutland Galaxy Katherine Vernon cut the ribbon, before the first visitors jumped with gusto into the chilly waters - with black clouds overhead.

This year the park has more than doubled in size going from an area of 4,000 sqm to 8,000 sqm and jumped from 17 inflatable obstacles to more than 40, including a bespoke obstacle named The Beast. The obstacles are challenging and fun to climb, jump, crawl, launch, slide and splash. Commissioned by the park’s co-founder Richard Drinkwater, The Beast boasts slides on three of its four sides and an inflatable diving board thought to be the tallest in the UK. According to Richard, it’s “seven metres of sheer excitement.”

Other new obstacles include the Action Tower XXL and the Ice Tower XXL giving guests the chance to flip and dive from the obstacles - instead of last year’s “feet in first” policy that still applies for most of the obstacles.

Thanks to the increased size, this year the park will be able to take even more guests - about 100 per hour-long session, who instead of gently wading in from the side will enter via a pontoon - the first obstacle being a brave leap from the pontoon into the reservoir.

Richard himself will be among the guests at tomorrow’s opening, having been too busy with preparations to get his feet wet beforehand. But he said he was delighted to be bringing the Aqua Park back to Rutland Water - a county which had been so supportive last year.

He is hoping that this year visitors from further afield including Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire, will be attracted to not just the Aqua Park but Rutland’s other attractions.

He said: “We were so pleased last year with how it went so now it’s just about getting the word out there that Aqua Park Rutland is bigger and better this year and worth coming back for.

“There’s nothing like it in the UK, it’s unique and The Beast is one of a kind.

“I’m really excited for the opening weekend. It is just really great fun and for me, it is just fantastic to see people having fun and enjoying it.”

Last year, the Leicester Tigers squad enjoyed the Aqua Park and they’re already booked onto an exclusive session - and last week’s pre-opening event had guests from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue and East Midlands Ambulance Service, as well as excitable youngsters from Catmose College.

Other improvements to the Aqua Park included upgraded changing rooms and brand new wetsuits - but the policy on borrowing them has changed after last year saw more than 300 wetsuits taken during the season. Now guests will have to hand over the wetsuits and buoyancy aids, which are both mandatory to wear, before heading to the changing room. Participants will also see a safety video prior to entering the water and there is a change to the layout of the site.

Richard said these changes had been made to ensure a memorable experience for guests and birthday parties, hen and stag weekends and corporate team building days are all welcomed - or, of course, just a fun day out with friends and family.

With temperatures set to soar over the weekend, the opening is already looking set to be busy and Richard said that ahead of opening some time slots over busy periods like the Bank Holiday weekend had sold out in advance.

He advised people to pre-book to avoid disappointment.

The inflatable park is set to return again next year as well as the organisers have signed a five-year contract.

Richard said the majority of the profits made from last year’s season have been invested into making this year’s experience better - and he’s hoping to continue to improve as the years go on.

This year the park is open longer. Last year it didn’t open until July and this year it will stay open longer until September 23 - meaning even more splashes - with weekend openings until July. Because the size of some of the obstacles has changed, the minimum age of participants is eight but Aqua Park Rutland will be running special sessions for guests aged between six and 13, making sure that no-one misses out on having a super-soaking time.

Tickets are priced at £20 for a 50-minute experience, including a free wetsuit and buoyancy aid in order to tackle the awesome obstacles, balance beams, climbing walls, trampolines and blast bags and more. The course features obstacles such as Cyclone, the colossal Revolution, Jungle Jim, Kaos, Tango, Freefall Extreme, the Summit Express and many more which promise to deliver real excitement and very wet landings.

Aqua Park Rutland is pledging to support the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance as its chosen charity for 2017 and will be making a donation at the end of the season.

To pre-book or to find out more visit www.aquaparkrutland.co.uk.