Disclosure: At least some of this trip was comped or provided at a media rate
For those who haven’t been indoctrinated, Schlitterbahn is unlike most typical waterparks. Sure, you’ll find the typical wave pools and lazy rivers, but you’ll also find attractions and amenities that you won’t find anywhere else.
Throughout the company’s five locations (four in Texas and one in Kansas City, Kansas), each experience is a bit unique and offers visitors something special, from a spring-fed river in the flagship New Braunfels location to the world’s tallest water coaster in Galveston.
Here’s an insider’s guide to help you maximize your time and value on your next stay at Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
Five Insider Tips for Making the Most Out of Schlitterbahn Waterpark
Bring your own food. Unlike most amusement and waterparks, Schlitterbahn allows guests to bring their own food into the park. This allows you to save money on the typically higher priced convenience foods available on-site, and is also great for the people in your family who may have allergies or sensitivities to certain types of foods.
Save time with a Blast Pass. When my 7-year-old son and I visited Schlitterbahn New Braunfels last summer it was during peak season, with mid-day lines wrapped around the park for popular rides like Dragon’s Revenge (a medieval themed coaster and our personal favorite). You might be tempted to opt out of paying extra for a Blast Pass, but we found them to be extremely convenient. Just virtually queue up for your chosen ride at one of the stations located around the park, and your watch-like band will tell you when it’s time to ride. We were able to shave off hours of standing in the hot sun, devoting more time to having fun.
Stay on-site. Especially if you have little ones who are still napping (or even if just you would like some mid-day down time) staying at the park makes a lot of sense. Schlitterbahn offers a variety of types of accommodations throughout its parks, from economy to luxury, so search around for what makes most sense for your family. The “Splash. Sleep. Repeat” special includes two days of waterpark admission for the price of a one-night stay for each person in your party, a great value. Depending on which park you’re at, another perk of staying on-site is that you may be able to enjoy extended park hours offered exclusively to guests.
Snag some great off-season deals. Though most Schlitterbahn waterparks are closed from September to late May, two of them (Galveston and South Padre Island) offer indoor waterparks open year-round. But at the ones that don’t offer year-round water attractions, you can get a great deal on unique lodging during the winter months, and they still include amenities such as sand volleyball, heated pools and hot tubs. For example, a November midweek stay at the New Braunfels Treehaus Luxury Suites runs $148 a night for a seven-person studio versus $800 in peak season. Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a tree house?
Save your skin. Mitigate the hot summer days by bringing water shoes (some of the paved surfaces can burn sensitive feet) and apply plenty of sunscreen on legs and feet, which are exposed to the sun while tubing. You can rent a cabana for comfortable shaded accommodations throughout the day, too — you can even order food to be delivered to your cabana. Many parks offer after 3 p.m. discounts, as well — which is a great time of day to avoid peak sunburn hours.
Have a great stay, and be sure to say hi to Schatze (the park’s dachshund mascot) for us!
Guest author Cynthia J. Drake is a travel writer based in Austin and author of Budget Travel for the Genius.