Coaster Kingdom

Tutuki Splash (Port Aventura)

To many peoplesí surprise, it is not Dragon Khan that is the most popular attraction at Port Aventura, but Tutuki Splash. This view though is rather blinkered though, as on reflection not only does Tutuki Splash suit a vaster range of people, but also Spanish summers can top 35 degrees, so an instant cool-down is something worth queuing for, and that they do.

Careful planning can avoid queues though. Fortunately most of the planning has been done for us though in the form a brilliantly designed park. The path is designed as a large circle meaning ridesí queues are normally quite short and donít suffer from early morning and late evening rushes as people work their way across the park. It should also be one of the first rides to head for as most saunter over to Dragon Khan.

To get to Tutuki Splash you hang a right so that you end up walking in an anti-clockwise direction around the earlier mentioned path. Through the lush Polynesian plantations Tutuki Splash will be virtually invisible, and as you  approach the cove in which the spectacular Polynesia show takes place on, subtle gaps in the flora will invite you to Tutuki Splash.

The Tutuki Mountain on which the ride is built is a smouldering, semi-active volcano. The dowdy and dull mountain faÁade richly contrasts spectacularly with the fertile and luxuriant green vegetation that fades into the lake that the path looks out upon.

Scoring through the centre of this volcano, plunging from behind the summitís crater, the drop that dips midway before tumbling into the lake that encircles the base of the volcano.

You enter to the right of this most enticing view, and the path takes you first through some more plants native to Polynesia and then through a series of thatched huts, all cooled from above by large fans, all a welcome relief from the invariable Spanish heat.

As you get closer to the volcano, it writhes in activity, a deep rumble profound and rich enough to make the ground vibrate. You are probably right to question whether it really is such a good idea riding this.

As you bunny hop between these huts, you soon arrive at the station. Riders are let onto the platform in boat-sized groups before boarding and having a single chunky lap-bar lowered either by themselves or by operators.

Soon as the boats are loaded, you are taken further into the fertile undergrowth. You make a turn to the left before approaching the rocky base of the volcano. To your right, a few pools of volcanic water and cascading down, a large waterfall.

You enter the base of the volcano, through a cavern. Above, stalactites, and as you continue to round the same gradual left-hand turn, the resonant rumble of the volcano swells to a roar before you go plunging down the first drop. The drop is small, yet still large enough to tease and enough to at least get you slightly wet in anticipation for the largest drop.

Back seat riders will get a shock when the waves rebound off the banks splashing up the back of the boat more often than not soaking at least your back. The scenery here remains pretty much unchanged. Hidden in the foliage are more thatched huts, and you pass under a bridge that crosses over to a pathway that for a while runs parallel to you.

You soon turn back around to face the volcano, the rather daunting lift-hill, and of course the forthcoming drop. As you approach the lift, unfortunate timing could result in more than you bargained for - as a boat comes plunging down the plummet the wave created upon splash down will invariably come to close for comfort.

And so the climb begins. The lift is shallow, and gives you an opportunity to see another boat meet its watery demise. You have more than enough time to admire the modest view as you begin to climb the volcano. To your left you will see Dragon Khan, which, reassuringly, is still far taller than you. To your right, the station area and acres of tropical plants and trees.

As you rise, you will pass the dramatic pools of water formed on the volcano, and as you level out, look to your right and a dark pool bubbles aggressively. And at the top, the boat coasts round on its wheels at a surprising rate, turning 180 degrees before dropping.

At the top of the drop you are thrown up in a fit of airtime before hitting the bump halfway down. At this point, the relevance of the bar dawns as your rear leaves the seat and your legs hit the restraint, you tighten up your lower body in an effort to stay restrained before the boat comes crashing to a near halt, hitting the water as a wall of water rises way above your head and comes thundering down like someone has just opened the hatch on a submarine.

There really arenít many things to compare the impact and subsequent drenching on Tutuki Splash. Not having experienced at close hand a dam burst in my face it is hard to say, but the sheer amount of water that is dumped on you just defies sensible description.

You will probably fail to notice the bridge under which you pass, and the turn that takes you back to the station. You will probably be raving to your friends about it, wiping water from your eyes and at least trying to look composed.

The Giant Splash is hard to do wrong. It is nice to note that even the first drop on Tutuki Splash is impressive. The volcano is impressive, but probably not quite up to the standard set by many of Port Aventuraís rides and attractions. It is also a nice length. Whilst Tidal Wave is perhaps too short, and Le Grand Splatch is too long (by about seven miles), this takes you around the back and front in a round about manner without you wishing the ride onto the drops.

Capacity seems to be quite reasonable, another reason why the slightly longer circuit works in its favour. The biggest design fault though is the bridge that crosses the splash down area. On most Giant Splashes, the bridge is chapter two in the aquatic saga that is subject to almost as much water as the boat itself. Whether intentional or not, it is a shame that although the water will appear to hit the bridge, almost always misses and goes straight under. It makes an unevenly loaded boat more of a surprise though, but such an occurrence is rare.

Mustnít grumble though, if you ride the ride you canít possibly get wetter, but it would be a nice way to finish off what is a superb ride.

4/5 Marcus Sheen