Voted the world’s best water park 19 years in a row, Schlitterbahn is a quintessential family fun summer destination. Southern TravelingMom Melody wondered if she would be too old to enjoy Schlitterbahn’s feisty water rides and uphill coasters when she was invited to experience the high-energy attraction. Find out how she fared as she ventures out of her comfort zone to test the waters at the original Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas.
The Ultimate Schlitterbahn Experience
In 1979, the Henry family opened the first Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels, Texas. There are now five Schlitterbahn parks; four in Texas and one in Kansas. “Schlitterbahn” comes from from the German words for “slippery road.” The Henry family knows a thing or two about bringing big fun to families and keeping them coming back year after year. Schlitterbahn is home to many water park industry firsts, including uphill water slides and surf rider technology. I jumped at the chance to go to the flagship park when a press trip opportunity became available. I couldn’t wait to be a kid again and have the ultimate Schlitterbahn experience.
The first step in the ultimate Schlitterbahn experience is to pick your lodging.
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There is lodging for every budget at Schlitterbahn, including tree haus luxury suites, trendy lofts, cabins, and condos. To save money, purchase a park ticket and lodging package. Resort activities (such as scavenger hunts, board and yard games, s’mores and campfires), free Wi-Fi, movies, and extended ride times at the park are also included in your Schlitterbahn accommodations. I was in awe over the immaculate grounds. Beautiful blooming flowers and mature oak, cypress, and cedar trees grace the professional landscaping. The Henry family planted these trees when they first purchased the park.
The Parks of Schlitterbahn
Two parks make up Schlitterbahn, East and West. Though the distance is walkable, resort shuttles will take you to and from the parks. Colorful wristbands are worn for park admission, resort access, and purchased packages within the park (bottomless sodas, ice cream, meals, and more). Part of the fun is having an arm full of wristbands!
The East Park is home to the original Schlitterbahn surf technology, BoogieBahn. Grab a surfboard and lie on it while fighting the ocean waves created by a torrential current simulator. I tried the BoogieBahn. It was difficult, but a lot of fun. Experienced boarders will be able to surf the waves standing up or on their knees. Don’t be too scared of falling off and getting hurt. Part of the pool bottom is padded for safety.
The Blastenhoff area, Bay Pool, Master Blaster, and WolfPack are also in this park. My favorite ride was The Falls. Think of a rushing river with super-fast rapids, whitewater sized drops, and plunges. You experience all of this all while floating on a tube. At one point, you and your inner tube are loaded onto a fancy Aquaveyor, the Transportainment river system that was developed 21 years ago. It carries you from one part of the ride to another, almost like groceries being scanned in a store.
Skycoaster flight is the biggest thrill at East park. This free-fall ride swings like a pendulum and has big drops, perfect for adrenaline junkies. I loved hopping on the tamer Dragon’s Revenge with a friend and riding the two-seater uphill coaster. I was uneasy anticipating how the ride worked, but as soon as we took off I had the time of my life.
Kristal River is another enjoyable ride at East Park. Float with or without a tube, or even on a friendly alligator’s back, on this endless river.
Schlitterbahn’s West Park is the original park. The spring-fed Comal River powers many of its attractions. West Park has many children’s areas. I think it caters more to families with younger children.
Visit West Park to enjoy a heated pool, arcade, swim up pool bar, river adventure, and several tubing opportunities. Take a care-free 45-minute float on the Raging River or Congo River Expedition. Make the most of your Schlitterbahn experience by renting a cabana. Enjoy stellar seating, a TV, privacy, plus food and beverage service.
Make sure you take a picture of the iconic Schlitterbahn Castle. Ride the Raging River Tube Chute for an up-close view of it.
Tasty Food and Drinks
Schlitterbahn has several food and beverage locations, with a total of 700 picnic tables. In addition to free parking, transportation, and inner tubes, Schlitterbahn also allows picnics to be brought in. What a huge saving for families!
For those fancying something a little more upscale than park food, Schlitterbahn can cater your event. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered by the park and all of our meals were amazing. One dinner was at the Bavarian Haus, a historic house with romantic table settings and lots of charm. Behind, in the back courtyard, is a dance hall with sliding doors and thousands of hanging lights. It was perfect for a celebration.
Here are some of the fantastic food choices I was able to enjoy:
- Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, sausage patties, and other continental favorites
- Lunch: Fajita Fixings including beef, chicken, refried beans, queso dip, roasted poblano cream dip, salsa, and all of the traditional toppings
- Two Dinners: Ravioli with cream sauce, vegetable kabobs, beef brisket, cole slaw, mac and cheese, beef tenderloin, gorgonzola horseradish sauce, green beans, salad with fresh fruit, caramel cheesecake, and peach cobbler a la mode
Add-Ons: Park Extras
For the ultimate Schlitterbahn experience, rent a Blast Pass. This waterproof watch will keep track of your ride reservations, allowing you to enjoy the park and not stand in line. On-site photographers will capture enjoyable moments and add a sticker to your park wristbands. You can view and purchase your pictures using these stickers at a kiosk.
Family Fun at its Finest
My ultimate Schlitterbahn experience provided me a chance to enjoy activities I have not done for over 20 years. I loved every minute of my trip! This was especially so because Schlitterbahn provides wholesome fun. We were so busy laughing and floating that we didn’t even realize we had walked eight to ten miles a day. I can’t wait to take my children back to the Texas Hill Country for another fun adventure.
Pro Tip: Want to take the perfect Schlitterbahn experience photo? Stand in front of the pool with the winding blue Master Blaster and yellow WolfPack in the background.