With four locations across the state of Texas, Schlitterbahn is easily Texas’ most prolific and beloved waterpark. The original site in New Braunfels has been delighting Texans since 1979, and in 2009 the lucky people of Kansas City became the recipients of the first out-of-state location. There are also Texas locations in South Padre Island, Galveston Island and Corpus Christi.
The park started out with only four water slides and 20 lifeguards, and has expanded to miles of waterways and thousands of employees statewide. If you’re from Texas, every hot and miserable summer brings on longing visions of the water slides and lazy rivers that dot Schlitterbahn locations across the state. But while you’re floating, you probably never wondered too much about the now monolithic water play land.
So just in time to plan your next New Braunfels vacation, here are 10 facts about the park you’ve probably never heard.
10. Schlitterbahn may look blue, but it’s green.
Schlitterbahn maintains a commitment to the beautiful natural environment of which the park is a part. At the New Braunfels location, some of the rides even lead tubers through portions of the Comal river. Schlitterbahn uses filtration systems to recycle 98% of the water used in the park, and have even placed recycling bins alongside trashcans throughout the parks. Schlitterbahn also employs a sustainable building philosophy, upcycling many different types of materials to build its parks.
9. You can visit the Lost Pines at Schlitterbahn.
After the 2011 Labor Day fire in Bastrop devastated much of the famous Lost Pines region, Schlitterbahn purchased many of the salvaged pine logs to be upcycled into furniture, artwork and other amenities around the new South Padre beach resort. The logs were scheduled to be turned into mulch, but received a second life at the South Padre Schlitterbahn. Some were also used in the construction of the new Corpus Christi location.
8. The Galveston Location is “convertible.”
The Galveston Schlitterbahn located in the historic Texas port city was opened in 2006 as the world’s first convertible water park. The park was constructed with removable walls and ceiling that enclose the park during the cold winter months, allowing it to be open year-round.
7. Schlitterbahn salvaged several WWII Naval ships.
Among the many salvaged items used in Schlitterbahn’s sustainable building philosophy is a decommissioned World War II Naval troop transport ship, the USS General John Pope. She’s not alone though, the General John Pope has been joined by USNS General Edwin D. Patrick, which was an army transport ship that served during WWII and Vietnam. Some of the reclaimed items include the ship’s sleeping cots, some life boats and dinghies.
6. The Schlitterbahn castle is historical.
The medieval castle greeting guests at the original location was modeled after one of the towers at the Solms castle in Braunfels, Germany. German heritage is strong in New Braunfels and central Texas, and this icon paid tribute to one of the founders of the settlement, Prince Carl of Solms.
5. The new park is built on an old park.
When the park first expanded its original location to include Blastenhoff and Surfenburg, they did so by purchasing a nearby outdated yet historic waterpark and resort called Camp Warnecke, which had been operating since 1918.
4. They use ancient technology to move the water.
Water in the parks is moved by use of an Archimedes screw, the invention of which is attributed to the Greek inventor as early as the third century, B.C.
3. Half the park is river water, half is chlorinated.
The New Braunfels park is built on the nearby Comal river, and half of the park uses the water from that spring-fed river to power many of its rides. Parts of the park even contain rides that flow through the river itself. The tubes in this half of the river are classic rubber inner tubes, but since they degrade in chlorine, the tubes in the half of the park that uses chlorinated water are made from other materials.
2. It’s a waterpark innovator.
The park designed the Dragon Blaster in 1994, just a few years after Thomas Lochtefeld invented and installed the first ever artificial, surfable wave machine, which the company designated “Boogiebahn.” Whereas most waterslides use gravity to move riders along, these rides both work on the same principle, shooting thin layers of water at high-pressure speeds to propel riders upward. Leave it to Texans to figure out ever more increasingly inventive ways of keeping cool in the summer.
1. “Schlitterbahn” means “slippery road”
The german roots of New Braunfels run deep, and when the Henry family decided to build a water park, they paid homage to those roots by naming their waterpark after the German word “schlitter” meaning slippery, and “bahn” meaning road. This name is a clear expression of the many waterslides that built the foundation of what is now a great Texas tradition.