On our recent vacation to Galveston Island, TX, myself and my family decided to take in a day at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island. Schlitterbahn Galveston Island is one of a small chain of family-owned waterparks that include locations in New Braunfels, TX (on the outskirts of San Antonio), South Padre Island, TX, and Kansas City, KS.
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island is, from what I've been told, one of the smaller parks in the chain, but it is also one of the nicest. It's small size packs quite a punch for family fun.
The park is divided into three distinct areas. Wasserfest is an enclosed area that is open year-round. While the entire park is kid-friendly, Wasserfest has, in my opinion, the most kid-friendly attractions. The Wasserfest Kid's Area is just that. It features a pirate ship with a number of slides as well as a slide that allows children to take a dive off of a frog's tongue. Also in this area are the kid-friendly (with adult supervision) Loopy Luge and Guada-Loopy enclosed slides that put riders in complete and total darkness. One word of warning, though, about these two slides: I rode on them with my daughter, who's ten, and she literally bounced out of the provided tube and bumped her head on the slide. The slide is a two-seater, but I highly recommend that adults wrap their legs around their child sitting in the front of the tube to prevent such things from happening.
Wasserfest also features a hot tub, Torrent Beach (with another kid's area), the sixty foot tall Rohr! slide and the Torrent River, which generates waves up to 6.6' as it pushes riders along. It also interconnects with the Surfenburg via that area's Kristal River, a much calmer lazy river-type attraction.
The Surfenburg area of the park features a number of slides, including the very popular Wolf Pack and the Thunder Tub. These two slides feature big drops and a few big turns to please everyone. There's also the Banzai Pipeline which is a small, very easy going slide that's fun for all ages. This area features two other slides that are very unique not only for Schlitterbahn, but for waterparks in general. These two slides, the Tempest and Dragon Blaster, feature your standard drops, twist, and turns like most waterslides, but also feature uphill climbs (yep, I said, "uphill") in which the rider is pushed up by water propulsion. This leads to faster drop speeds and a very unique ride. These two slides are my favorite in the park. Both of them feature a very steep drop in the beginning, but after that it is all push and fall at a very fast rate. What makes these two slides even cooler? Just about anyone can ride them!
Other features of Surfenburg include the aforementioned Kristal River (which connects to both Wasserfest and the third area of the park, Blastenhoff), Kristal Beach, Boogie Bahn (a wave generator that you can actually "surf" on), and the Tiki Tikes kid's area that features a big shallow pool and more slides for youngsters to enjoy.
You can ride Kristal River to Whitewater River in the third area of the park, Blastenhoff. Whitewater River features a relaxing beach area as well as some fun rapids with big drops. The only complaint I have about Whitewater River is that after hitting a set of rapids, the current in the river is weak and swirls, which makes it hard to get to the next set of rapids. The area also features some big waterslides that I didn't partake in. One of them is Cliffhanger, which drops you 81' to a watery grave. It looked fun, but this fat boy didn't try it out. There is also the F5 Twin Twisters, which were bascially two intertwined corkscrew slides. Once again, they looked like fun, but I didn't give'em a whirl. The area also features a kid's area with another pirate ship in it called Treasure Island.
As a person who isn't that big of a fan of waterparks (gimme a rollercoaster any day of the week), I have to admit that I really enjoyed my time at Schlitterbahn Galveston Island. The park as a whole was extremely clean. I'm talking Disney World clean, and if you've been to Disney World, you know what I mean. There are literally people everywhere just waiting for you to drop a piece of popcorn or spill a drink so that they can clean it up. The bathrooms have attendants at all times making sure that you're restroom experience is a clean and nice one.
Rowdy visitors were dealt with immediately and quietly. I witnessed one young employee escort out three teenaged boys for horseplay that got a bit rough and then saw him deal with a drunk lady who claimed quite loudly that all she wanted to do was "sit by the pool and drank a beeyer!" (I intentionally added her pronunciation of "drink" as "drank" and her ability to turn the word "beer" into a two syllable word). Whoever he was, I have to commend him for a great job.
The park feature standards for such places as refreshment and snack stands, a restaurant, lockers for your belongings (which include keys you can loop around your arm or foot), places to catch a tan or a nap, an arcade, and even ATMs. The snack stands offer up typical overpriced park food like hot dogs and chicken strips. They also feature a souvenir cup that costs around ten bucks, but you can refill it for free all day long and, believe me, you'll appreciate those free refills. Oh, and how could I forget the centrally located gift shop that features everything from watersocks and towels to sunblock and t-shirts.
One more thing that I need to mention is the fact that the park allows you to bring in your own ice chest. Pack it with sandwiches and drinks if you'd like, but outside alcohol and glass containers are not allowed in the park. Your ice chest will be checked before you enter, so be prepared for that. If you do wish to partake in an adult beverage, you'll have to purchase it in the restaurant or at the swim-up bar.
Overall, I'd have to say that Schlitterbahn Galveston Island has won me over. Prices range from the thirties up to the sixties depending on your age and the time of year you visit. There's also a discounted afternoon-only ticket available. Online tickets sales are discounted as well, and they currently feature options to get one of the aforementioned souvenir cups, a towel, and/or watersocks to go with your admission.
If you're ever in the southeastern end of Texas, take a trip to Galveston and check out Schlitterbahn.
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