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Blastenhoff is a Blast
After years of hearing about and longing to visit the almost-mythical Schlitterbahn, I finally made the pilgrimage in May 2013.
Dating back to 1979, it is one of the oldest water parks. As such, it is quite unique in that, in the early days of the industry, there were no established water park ride manufacturers, and its owners had to make it up as they went along. It has evolved into one of the largest water park resorts and one of the most popular in the U.S. and throughout the world. Although it is open seasonally, its attendance numbers approach those of parks in Florida that are open year-round. And its visitor numbers dwarf those of other U.S. seasonal parks.
Compared to most other lookalike water parks, Schlitterbahn has lots of quirky charm, particularly in the original part of the resort. As you check out the images, keep in mind that I visited near the beginning of the season, and parts of the park were not open to guests including The Falls (a massive tubing ride) and the... entire original area. I did get to tour the whole resort, however, and I have some interesting photos of water slides and other attractions without guests -- or water.
The photo above is of the Blastenhoff tower in one of the newer sections of the resort. On the blue track and tubes, a pair of riders are about to blast off in the Master Blaster water coaster. Schlitterbahn's owners developed the uphill water coaster concept and sell the rides to other water parks. At the base of the tower is The Torrent, a not-really-lazy river that includes strong jets of water to create waves and fast currents.
You can read more about the park in my review of Schlitterbahn New Braunfels.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Room with a View -- of Water SlidesThe resort has over 250 hotel units, including cabins, cottages, bungalows, and suites. The water park attractions were originally added to what was known as the Landa Resort as a way to offer activities to its overnight guests. Today, the massive park is a destination in its own right, and the accommodations allow guests to stay on the property and enjoy a mini water park vacation.
As you can see in this photo of the original part of the resort, the water slides have been built quite close to the old-school motel rooms that date back to the Landa Resort days. Imagine waking up to hooting and hollering riders as they zoom past your sleeping quarters.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Rolling on the River
The lovely Comal River flows alongside the resort. Some of the water slides empty into the river. Keep in mind that passengers in tubes are typically floating in the river, but I visited during the early part of the season when sections of the resort were closed.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Just Add WaterThis is one of the water slides that meanders through the original part of the resort. Because it was early in the season and this section of the park was closed, there were no riders -- or water for that matter.
It's interesting to see the slide, which is one of the earlier ones built by the park. Whereas most modern-day water slides are made of Fiberglas and are attached to a tower structure, some of the older slides at Schlitterbahn are fabricated from concrete and are built into the ground.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Schlitterbahn Guests Up in a Tree. S-W-I-M-M-I-N-G.Among the more modern accommodations at the sprawling resort are the lovely "Treehaus" suites, which remninded me a bit of a rustic ski chalet. I stayed in a studio suite, which included two queen-sized beds, a pair of bunk beds, and a pull-out couch. The kitchenette offered a full-size refrigerator, range, and dishwasher. The unique headboards on the queen-sized beds were made from salvaged antique doors.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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The Tubenbach section of the resort features The Falls, one of the longest water park rides in the world (according to the park). It was closed the day I visited (hence the lack of water), but it was impressive to see its massive length (over 2/3 of a mile). Riders are free to float in an endless loop in the river ride and experience The Falls' drop by riding in a lift mechanism the resort dubs an "AquaVeyer."Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Kristal Clear River
The Kristal River, an endless lazy river, makes a loop around the Surfenburg section of the resort.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Dragon's BreathOne of the themed rides at the resort is Dragon's Revenge. Riders are shown walking up to the smoke-filled dragon's lair loading area. The ride was formerly known as the Dragon Blaster, and is the world's first uphill water coaster. Jets of water propel passengers' rafts up sections of the ride's flume for a coaster-like experience. Themed elements, such as a water curtain with the projected image of a fire-breathing dragon, are featured throughout the ride.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Let Me Go Mom!In addition to the more thrilling and adult-size attractions, the park also offers water slides and other rides for younger kids.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Surf's (Always) Up
Another one of the featured attractions in the Surfenburg area is Boogie Bahn, the world's first wave-making bodyboarding ride. A perpetual wave allows riders (who have mastered the skills) to skim the surface. Other water parks have similar surfing attractions, but Schlitterbahn developed the concept.