What are the two things Texans like to do most in the summer months? That’s right, complain about the heat and complain about the heat. Luckily there’s an awesome solution to our misery, and it’s located just a few miles down the road from Austin: Schlitterbahn.
In addition to being a totally amazing word to say over and over, preferably with a mouth full of peanut butter and rocks, German-themed Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas has been ranked the #1 waterpark in the world for the last 18 years.
It’s located on the banks of the spring fed Comal River, and boasts over 40 attractions on its 70 acres. The place is HUGE (which you quickly realize if you forget to wear your sandals when walking on the blazing hot pavement–yeowtch.) And it’s open year-round, even when it gets down to a chilly 75 degrees here in Texas. One of these Decembers, I might just have to head down there in a mohair sweater.
I recently spent a weekend at Schlitterbahn with my husband Chris, and two sons Sam and Jack. Joining us was Laura from The Queso, with her son Harry and her husband Steve. His name isn’t really Steve, that’s just his waterpark name because he’s really cool. (My waterpark name is Wedge Salad for reasons I do not wish to get into right now.)
Now, the details! Schiltterbahn is divided in four parts thusly:
The Original Schlitterbahn
Home to Schlitterbahn Castle (no word on if there is a Schlitterbahn Royal Family in residence, but I did see a few snooty lizards in tiaras), this section is very Texas Hill Country-esque with its canopy of mature trees, and water that comes straight from the spring fed Comal River. No concrete and cement ambiance here; it’s half-waterpark/half-nature/all fun. (I should sell that tagline to Schiltterbahn, shouldn’t I?)
This area has eight tube chutes, seven kids’ play areas, a wave pool, and two swim-up bars with heated pools. Oh, sorry, let me rewrite that last phrase the way Steve and I said it during our trip: SWIM-UP BARS WITH HEATED POOLS, Y’ALL. That way if you fall off the barstool, you just happily splash into a pillow of water and don’t get concussed.
The boys all loved the wild Soda Straws and Down Hill Racer rides in this section, and the milder but still fun Congo River Expedition. Laura and I enjoyed the Raging River Tube Chute, where you sit in tubes and bump and splash along the rapids and yell things like, “Lift your butt NOW, dude! No chafing! No chafing!” Because we are ladies.
Note that there is a convenient free shuttle to take you from this part of the park to the other part of the park because it’s too far to walk. Plus the short shuttle ride is a great time to rest, recharge, and admire the other waterpark guests’ tattoos.
This section of the park was named for the world’s first surfing wave invented 25 years ago, the Boogie Bahn. We weren’t brave enough to try it, but it’s a lot of fun to watch other people do so, especially when they wipe out and lose their shorts. Surfenburg is also home to the first uphill water coaster, The Dragon’s Revenge, AKA my kids’ favorite ride. I was a good sport and went on it, but unfortunately its crazy intensity caused some, um, issues with my swim skirt. (See: Wedge Salad) Also know that nobody is impressed if you yell, “I AM THE MOTHER OF DRAGONS” while you fly down the slide. Found that out pretty quickly.
Surfenberg also contains the Kristal River (alas, not filled with the rapper champagne Kristal, but filled with water), the Squirt’n Sliden and a giant kids play area. Lots of fun. Next up:
It sounds like what you’d yell if David Hasselhoff ever became an astronaut and zoomed his rocket into space (“3-2-1…BLASTENHOFF!), but this part of the park is where the most award-winning attraction in Schlitterbahn history resides: the uphill water coaster Master Blaster. Laura loves the Master Blaster and went on it about eight times, making her my most brave/crazy/wet friend ever. I went on it once. Here I am, slightly traumatized, coming in for a landing, and looking for Steve at the swim-up bar:
The six-story Master Blaster uses “patented water injection technology” to send you on a super fast, thrilling ride that isn’t at all like the usual water slide. It is so much fun, but not for those who don’t want to get soaking wet and do that kind of screaming where no sound comes out.
Two other rides take off from the same tower as the Master Blaster, the Black Knight and the Wolf Pack Raft Slide, and they’re both definitely worth the climb up six flights of stairs in your bathing suit. Blastenhoff also contains the Torrent Wave River, which is an endless river (seriously, endless) with a wave pool. Very relaxing and meditative.
Guess what you’ll find in the Tubenbach area? Tubes! (If your guess was “bachs,” you’re not quite picking up what I’ve been laying down here, are you?) Use your tube on The Falls, the world’s longest tubing adventure. And for those who don’t want to wait in lines or tube around, this area also features several beaches to play on. If your kid is at that age where he/she considers sand to be a delicacy, take note.
Even more good news for your waterpark planning: Schlitterbahn has lodging. Like, a lot of lodging. Meaning, you can come for just the day, or you can make it a destination waterpark and pack a suitcase. There are a many affordable and attractive lodging options, ranging in size from from hotel rooms, to Treehaus Luxury Suites, or a seven-room house that fits 23 people. Perfect for those people who like to wear matching orange t-shirts that say things like “ANNUAL ANDERSON FAMILY REUNION AND FIST FIGHT.”
We stayed in a super cute and convenient Riverbend cabin that was right next to the Torrent Wave River. This was the view right outside our door:
Our cabin included two beds, a pull-out couch, and a full kitchen, with everything you’d need to make a family meal. We even had our own BBQ grill and picnic table outside our door. But the biggest perk of staying in Schlitterbahn lodging is you get extended access to some of the most popular rides, including the Master Blaster. We were able to get in line a full hour before the park opened to the general public, which was fabulous. Late night swimming and outdoor movies are also offered to lodging guests.
Other Schlitterbahn Things of Note:
Coolers – Unlike almost every other park in the entire universe, Schiltterbahn lets you bring your own cooler into the park. Pack your own picnic and save a bunch of money. (No glass or alcohol.)
Free Parking – Not just on a Monopoly board, but at Schlitterbahn, too. Also, no charge for tubes, life vests or boogie boards.
Cabanas – Schiltterbahn offers a number of private cabanas that, depending on price, include everything from BBQ palapas to mini-fridges and TVs. We usually rent one because it’s more comfortable, it gives us a meeting point, and there’s food and drink waitstaff who are always available to deliver funnel cakes and more funnel cakes.
KBAHN – Yes, Schlitterbahn has its own radio station that blasts music all day long. Here’s me and Laura having a nice moment in our cabana, sipping on our frozen drinks and listening to the theme from “Miami Vice.” (I was upset because she said she was Crockett and I had to be Tubbs.)
All in all, it was a really fun trip, close to home and hassle-free. The boys are already begging to go back, which we probably will do soon because I’m in full-on complain about the heat mode right now. IT’S SO DAMN HOT.
For more information, visit Schiltterbahn.com. They have three other locations in Texas: Galveston, Corpus Christi and South Padre, and there’s also one in Kansas City, Kansas for some reason. Check it out!
Passes and lodging provided by Schiltterbahn. Chatter, opinions and attempts to be funny provided by me.