THE new indoor aqua park at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre has fully opened for the first time.
Representing a £25m investment as part of the Leisure Transformation Programme, the park features three high speed water sides including the first drop slide in the UK and Ireland. 
The centre is also home to the North's first and only surf simulator which is set to be a hit with those who cannot make it to the coast, or those wanting to ride a wave for the first time. 
For those under-12, there is a new adventure wet play area and all under-fives get free access to the water park.

General Manager, Julie Bolton said that it is fabulous to have these facilities for everyone in West Belfast and beyond.
Speaking to, she said: “It is great to be able to bring children in now and see them with their parents and guardians and seeing them enjoying the facilities that we have and actually getting to try them out.
“We have three slides, our yellow slide is called Abyss and it is a vertical drop slide. You stand on it and it has a plastic bottomed floor that you see right through. It has all that adrenaline rush as it drops you.
“We also have Vortex which is our purple side. It is a very dark slide and is quite dark at parts through the tunnel and it is all about speed. It is a really fast one and exciting one for all the family.
“Torrent is our green slide and it is the one you use a rubber flotation device on. You can double up and come with a friend or family member and get on that one. It is a bit like a water rollercoaster with dips and turns which is exciting.”

Julie is keen to point out that there is something for everyone and with the Little Lagoon, they have a space for toddlers and babies to get used to the water and build their confidence through touch and feel. 
“We have the aqua play area for under-12s who maybe don’t want to use the main slides and there are smaller versions of the slides within it. 
“It has a tip bucket which kids and adults love. This again is about getting children to feel confident in water through play.”

The new leisure centre also features a separate teaching pool which allows the teaching staff to dedicate their time in a quieter space to teach children the skills they need to progress and become swimmers.  
Almost 70 per cent of staff at the centre came through the Better Leisure Employment Academy, a programme that helps the unemployed and economically inactive gain new skills and qualifications and secure employment on a new career pathway. 
Since 2017, the Leisure Transformation Programme has delivered over 100 new jobs and led to 68 career promotions across the city.

Head of Service at GLL, Jacqui Pope added: “We are delighted to launch our aqua facilities at Andersonstown Leisure Centre and bring some much-needed fun and enjoyment for local families after an incredibly challenging year. 
“Spending time in the water, burning off some energy and enjoying a day out with family is exactly what people are in need of as we rebuild and recover from the pandemic. 
“With world-class water slides and Northern Ireland’s only surf simulator, Andersonstown Leisure Centre is just the place to blow off steam and we are overjoyed to be welcoming people back again. 
“With the removal of the stay local message, the fun to be had at Andersonstown is a possibility for all and we have tried and tested safety protocols in place to ensure a safe, stress-free and enjoyable return to leisure.”
For more information or to book a trip to the Leisure Centre, visit the website or download the Better app.