Being voted the “World’s Best Waterpark” for 24 years is a guarantee that your family will find Schlitterbahn a fun, imaginative, aquatic entertainment center. Just ask the experts at Amusement Today who present the annual Golden Ticket Award to the original Schlitterbahn, an enormous waterpark spread over 70 acres of New Braunfels in South Texas.
Both the original Schlitterbahn and its sister property, Schlitterbahn Galveston, are thoughtfully family-friendly. Each of the parks has free parking. Schlitterbahn parks also feature picnic areas so that families can swim and play without having to buy the park’s food.
What’s News in New Braunfels and Galveston
Starting with the purchase of the original New Braunfels and Galveston parks by theme park operator Cedar Fair in 2019, there’s lots of news. The parks have successfully transitioned from a family-owned business to being part of a large company. Rides and attractions have safely reopened since the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Both Schlitterbahn parks operate seasonally from late spring to early fall.
There are literally miles of tube chutes, rivers to float on, uphill water coasters, surfing, splashing and relaxing zones. That’s why you can expect great things at Schlitterbahn and its resort hotel this season.
Schlitterbahn’s Water Rides for Toddlers & Tykes
The New Braunfels park’s 70 acres are divided into loosely themed areas. The biggest sections of the park are Blastenhoff, Surfenburg and Schlitterbahn West.
The original section, Blastenhoff, has a classic wavepool and large kiddie pool. At the Wolfpack Raftslide, three-person rafts hold the entire family on a spiraling 700-foot run, making it a more staid option than the newer shorter rides distinguished by special effects. Families with younger children appreciate that the older section is more shaded in the waiting areas. Also, lines are generally not as long.
Facilities cater to young children too. Look for the kid-friendly water playgrounds and shallow, gentle wave pools. Lifeguards put safety first and they’re very careful with young swimmers. Use the park’s iPhone application to track family members’ whereabouts and find the nearest locker room. The park staff will close a ride if the source water turns brown (much of the park is lake-fed so the water supply is subject to rainfall).
The enormous Tubenbach area has a 3,600-foot-long river ride. Said to be the world’s longest, Tubebach pits riders on inner tubes against whitewater rapids, waterfalls, and waves. In addition to a whirlpool ride, there is a Boogie Bay Kids’ Area stocked with pint-sized water slides. Little ones like the Treehaus cabins that hang over the the riverride banks. Relax at the several beaches or hire a large family-size cabanas.
When the sun gets lower, stroll the Wasserstrasse river walk along the banks of the Comal River.
Grown Up Thrills at Schlitterbahn
Of the signature rides, Torrent is a very popular one that propels guests through space with powerful blasts of pressured water. Appropriate only for thrill-seeking older kids and parents, the Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster is over 1,600 feet in length combining the thrills of a roller coaster with a waterpark slide.
Dragon Blaster is another, dragon-themed inner tube ride. Climb on and speed along a track as if you’re in a rickety wooden roller coaster.
Teens can go straight to the Dragon’s Revenge in Surfenburg, described as “spinning tunnels, theatrical lighting, fiber optics, riveting original music, aromatic atmosphere, fog, faux fire and an encounter with an angry dragon.” Yes, it all takes place in 1 minute 45 seconds.
Congo River Expedition, another award-winner, is a multi-sensory jungle adventure (possibly scary for your littlest ones.) Cross a makeshift rope bridge, enter the Congo River Outpost, and find a camp under the glowing mouth of an erupting volcano. Special effects and animatronics kick in to keep all water play fans engaged in the story. The finale includes being tossed over the edge of a plummeting waterfall.
New Braunfels Family Attractions
Outside the waterpark, New Braunfels is located just a half-hour from San Antonio and 45 minutes from Austin, Texas. The fun family vacation destination was founded by German settlers in 1845 and, beyond Schlitterbahn, boasts other signs of the town’s German heritage. For example, each fall, join in the Wurstfest festival that calls itself “a 10-day salute to sausage.” The festival takes place in Landa Park, an expansive park that doubles as one of the state’s top destinations for family reunions.
Year round, boat on two beautiful New Braunfels rivers. The area has many affordable Airbnb and hotel options in addition to the park’s resort.
The local McKenna Children’s Museum is one of the top children’s museums in the region. Explore the great outdoors at Natural Bridge Caverns (a National Natural Landmark discovered more than 50 years ago). At the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, families can see wildlife from their car windows on a Texas Hill Country style safari. Read more for many other suggestions on family attractions in New Braunfels.
Schlitterbahn in Galveston
Families visiting Galveston typically allow a day to sample the 33 water attractions within this 26-acre water park. While not as large as the New Braunfels location, Schlitterbahn Galveston does offer something new.
The Galveston Island Waterpark is advertised as the “world’s first convertible, climate-controlled indoor/outdoor waterpark.” Being under cover and playing in heated pools at Wasserfest is a very different family experience compared to what is usually found at a beach resort.
At Schlitterbahn Galveston, three interconnected rivers together form an innovative Transportainment river system. In addition to Wasserfest, explore the Blastenhoff and Surfenburg zones. Look for uphill water coasters and the signature Boogie Bahn surf ride. If the kids get water-logged, check out the five kids’ activity areas scattered throughout the park. Don’t let teens miss Massiv.
Massiv, said to be one of the tallest watercoaster attractions in the world, was built in 2016 to commemorate the park’s 10th birthday. What a present! Fans still adore the multiple uphill sections and triple drop finale.
Schlitterbahn Trip Planning Trips
Schlitterbahn Waterparks typically open in late April and operate daily until early September. They may reopen for certain weekends and school holidays throughout the year. One admission fee includes all the rides. Daily fees vary by park and season. Children ages 3-11 and those over 55 years get a 10% discount. Infants 2 and younger can enter free. The best deal is the two-park season pass which starts at $150 per person and includes parking.
The original Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort (830/625-2351) in New Braunfels, Texas is extremely popular. This Texas Hill Country style resort dates back 50 years and is open year round. Families choose between rental homes, hotel rooms, more upscale Tree Hauses, lofts and condos depending on their needs. For summer 2023, packages offer a 40% discount if you combine the two for a water park vacation.
Have you experienced the pain we have of being at a theme park all day and only going on two rides? If so, you know why we suggest visiting Schlitterbahn on a weekday, preferably not in the heat of summer. You may also want to book their resort or just out top value hotels on Booking.com nearby, so you can break up your visit over a few days.
For more info about the region, visit the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.
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