We all drove down from Dallas starting at 9am and arrived in New Branfels at about 1:30pm, with two Blu-Ray movies (Hellboy and Cloverfield) occupying my time to make the hours go by faster. We quickly checked into our hotel and were inside the Schlitterbahn gates at around 2. We started off on the newer side of the park, the Blastenhoff and Surfenberg side. We decided to skip the three big slides on the Master Blaster tower and do them tomorrow, and instead, we were basically on that side for some fun on the Torrent River and a ride through the park's new, highly advertised Dragon's Revenge.
After burning our feets on the walk over the blazing asphalt and concrete (yeah, we'll have cheap sandals for tomorrow), we got in line for Dragon's Revenge. Now, I've ridden the ride when it was previously known as Dragon Blaster without the theming, and I never had much desire to reride it.
After waiting in a 45 minute wait to get an inner tube and walking to the main slide entry (complete with very cheesy, cheap, yet effective theming), we were on the ride. It starts off with water jets shooting us up into the main tunnel, which is effectively hidden with the use of fog. From there and until about the midway point of the ride, there was no theming; no fiber optics, music, special effects, or anything. I thought that was disappointing. However, the second half of the ride greatly improves. The next few tunnels had some decent fiber optics on the sides of the tubes, even if they were nothing special. The very last tunnel makes the 45 minute wait worth it, since the slow decent down on the long tunnel ends with a mist waterfall with a CGI animation of the dragon projected onto it. It's still the same ride as before, but it is improved. Maybe the Schlitterbahn marketing team overhyped this thing, but it was still a fun ride with the second half's theming making it worth rerides. It's a solid 7/10.
We decided to scorch our feet again and head back to the Blastenhoff area for some relaxation time on the Torrent River. For those who don't know, the Torrent River is a lazy river and wave pool hybrid. I love this attraction. It isn't boring like lazy rivers are because the waves make it exciting and relaxing at the same time. It's a good 8/10. This always seems like a favorite for the people at the park, as this is one of the most crowded attractions I see on all of my trips.
Soon after, we decided to head back to the part of the park that gives the resort the charm it needs to make it automatically better than every other water park in the country: the original Schlitterbahn with the multiple tube chutes. Luckily, it was obvious while walking in that the lines weren't that long on this side, and as the day went on, I was correct. Our first ride was my favorite ride at the park: Hillside tube chute. It's a five minute tube chute built into the ground, and it winds through the public lockers and into the main pool. This first trip on the ride was fun, but I didn't enjoy it. Why? The water was incredibly cold, and I did not find it in the least bit comfortable. I adjusted after that ride, and the rest of the day was much better.
The next attraction was the Raging River, which is an tube chute that stretches the entire length of the park and ends in the Comal River, which supplies the entire park's water and powers all of the attractions (it's incredibly clean). It has a couple of short, yet steep drops, but it mostly feels like a lazy river. If it weren't for the drops, it would be a fairly boring attraction, but because of the drops and the differing views it gives of the entire park, it is one of the premiere attractions at Schlitterbahn. It's a great 9/10.
We walked back to near the front of the park to ride White Water, which is the tube chute that the park advertises as the thrill ride of this side of the resort. This time, the marketing is correct, and this is another brilliant tube chute that Schlitterbahn is genius at designing. It begins with two big, steep drops that will get you absolutely soaked and may make you fall off your tube. It's a short attraction, but it is a thriller with plenty of great drops. 8/10
The next ride was Cliffhanger, since its entrance is right next to White Water's exit (minus a walk up the stairs). It is a cross between White Water and Raging Rapids, as there aren't many big drops until the very end. This is more of a relaxation kind of ride with small drops meant to keep interest up. It's good, but nothing great. A good 7/10.
Throughout the rest of the day, we hung out by the hot tub bar, re-rode Cliffhanger and White Water a couple of times, hit the Banzai Pipeline (a great inner tube, enclosed tower attraction), and rode the Comal Express(another tube chute that is basically the bastard child of the family; it's there, but nobody really likes it and it inconveniently placed away from the rest of the attractions).
To finish off the day, we took one more ride on Hillside. Now that we were used to the water temperature, I remembered why this was my favorite water park attraction. The first part of the ride, with twisting, tiny drops meant to just get your wet and not really thrill the pants off of you, is effective, and the second part of the ride, with twisting, quick drops finishing everything off. I love tube chutes, and this is the crown jewel of them all. It's a perfect 10/10. I just won't suggest using this attraction to get used to the cold water; with a ride like White Water, the cold water hits you like a shot in the head and forces you to get used to it almost immediately. With Hillside, it's like many stabs in the back that takes far too long to immediately adapt to (bad analogy, since nobody is immune to guns and knives). Still though, it's a brilliant tube chute. I love it.
I'm glad I'm back in New Braunfels. Schlitterbahn is a wonderful water park that is better than most amusement parks and has the best, most original assortment of tube chutes in the country. Tomorrow we will hit some of the newer, bigger attractions, but nothing rivals the charm of old attractions.
Still, today was a blast. Great attractions, top notch service, great and fun lifeguards, and free parking (sorry not to mention this earlier) make New Braunfels a great place to spend a couple days away with friends and family. Tomorrow should be great.
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