Schlitterbahn - Part 1
Two weeks ago I got to live out a dream of mine… to visit the aweome Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, Texas. In particular, I was able to bring my family down to visit Schlitterbahn for the first time ever… and make a return visit for myself that was long overdue. To expand upon that last bit, I did visit Schlitterbahn once about twelve years ago… for about 3 hours. It was not a planned visit, as a buddy and I were on a road trip, realized we were going to drive by this waterpark with very limited time, and decided to stop in anyway. That was our big mistake, because having never been to Schlitterbahn before, we had no way to know just how unbelievably huge Schlitterbahn is, and with only 3 hours, we only scratched the surface of the park. I knew I had to return…
Reviewed By: Lance Hart
For those of you still wondering… Schlitterbahn is a waterpark kind of out in the middle of a very unassuming area of Texas called New Braunfels, which was settled by hundreds of German immigrants back in 1800’s. Roughly translated from German, Schlitterbahn is said to mean Slippery Road, so this explains the big Bavarian looking castle themed buildings all over the place.
This is all irreverent in the bigger scheme of things, as what you really need to know is that Schlitterbahn is the Walt Disney World of waterparks… and you need to get there ASAP. The comparison to Disney World is very apt, as Schlitterbahn is a waterpark resort… featuring three separate waterparks and on-site resort rooms. The Original Schlitterbahn and primary resort area is actually separated by several city blocks from what is known as Schlitterbahn East, which is made up from the two parks: Blastenhoff and Surfenburg. The Schlitterbahn resort provides non-stop free bus transportation back and forth between the two resort areas all day long, making getting around the resort a carefree experience. Trust me when I say that one afternoon at Schlitterbahn is simply not enough… you need to spend the night and spend at least two or more days to take it all in. Yes, it is that huge…
To start things off, lets take a quick look at “The Original Schlitterbahn” waterpark, which is also the largest piece of the puzzle. Upon your arrival at this unsuspecting location, once you get beyond the castle facades, the one thing that may strike you right away is the sight of inner tubes. Black tubes, coming in about half a dozen different sizes or more can be seen everywhere, as at the heart of it all Schlitterbahn is a tubing park. Everywhere you look, you see tubes in rivers… snaking in and out and around each other, through tunnels, under buildings, past other slides, down hills, past resort rooms, and on and on and on. Everywhere you look is water, and you quickly try to determine just where these rivers begin… and where the heck do they end? The answer isn’t easy, and only after spending a couple of days at Schlitterbahn do I think I finally have it all figured out.
In short, the river tube runs are massive, and while you could wait an hour to get on one on a crowded day, you will find yourself happily floating in the cool waters for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on which river you choose. Yep… that was not a typo. A typical ride on the park’s incredibly long Raging River Tube Chute lasts between 40-45 minutes, and it stretches from the front far corner of the waterpark, all the way across and then over to the far back corner of the park, through the resort area, and eventually down into the Comal River itself for a little bit before you are funnels off the river, down a chute and into an exit area. Along the way you will pass right next to most of the park’s other slides and tube chutes and though several tunnels (both short and long) including passing under the entire main entrance building structure. While the action is slow for the most part, there are plenty of little hills and dips along the way to keep it very interesting.
Another exiting and long attraction is the Congo River Expedition, which is not at all what you expect it is. Waiting in line to enter, you pass through the center of what simply seem to be a lazy river that has had some nice themed sections added to the loop. A tunnel full of jungle overgrowth, lightning and audio storm effects, then you float past numerous animatronic jungle animals (monkeys, snakes, crocs, an elephant) who all attempt to give you a good hosing down, before you end heading back to the starting point. But that is just the start of your adventure, because instead of getting out here, lifeguards coax the tubes down a side river, past signs indicating that a closed diamond mine lies ahead. Floating into the mine, and soon in utter darkness, you can hear only the increasingly loud sound of rapid flowing water getting closer and closer as you approach and pass over a large waterfall. At this point the second half of your adventure has begun as you travel back into the resort area and head towards the Comal River again for a very long run alongside the river, before dropping down into a trough that runs alongside the river for quite a long ways before you get out.
Want more? There are three more giant tube slides to try out… the Hillside Tube Chute, passing through a beautiful castle gardens area before traveling under and through the locker building, down several falls before plunging you into the huge Lagoon area. On the other side of the entrance you will find the Whitewater Tube Chute, which has a series of fairly intense twists and drops, which drops you off next to the entrance to the Cliffhanger Tube Chute, which takes you on another journey across the park before plunging you down a very VERY large hill for a final splashdown at the end.
Still want more? The Original Schliterbahn also features a wave pool, the Bahnzai Pipeline slides, the high speed Soda Straw body slides, Downhill Racers, Double Loop slides, three complete kiddie play areas for the little ones, and even a carousel! All built up in a very natural setting alongside the Comal river, which almost gives the resort a campground style feel to it at times. Speaking of the river… the river is spring water fed, and attraction in the Original Schlitterbahn uses this natural spring water (run through a purification process first) which keeps things at a comfortably cool 72º all year long.
Watch the video below then Go read: Schlitterbahn: Part 2