“Everything’s bigger in Texas” may be the state mantra, but Schlitterbahn Beach on South Padre Island, Texas, is thinking small. Last year it was honored by Texas Family magazine as the No. 1 kid-friendly attraction in the state. Located literally on the beach along the Gulf Coast, Schlitterbahn Beach features approximately a dozen attractions designed for the youngest guests and their families.
Once inside the park, guests can’t miss the five-story sand castle play structure. The park’s first attraction, this 6,000-square-foot family play structure includes a giant tipping bucket that holds more than 1,400 gallons of water, sea horse-shaped water sprayers, water cannons and geysers. It’s also received industry recognition from the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions.
“It is really a water fun house filled with hundreds of hands-on water-play elements, giant dumping sand pails and slippery slides,” says Jeffrey A. Siebert, director of corporate communications and sales. “Dozens of artisans and craftsmen worked many months building this fun and fanciful work of art.”
In addition to the sand castle, the Lily Pad also is built just for the little ones. This zero-depth-entry children’s wading pool features a tot-size frog slide and themed mushroom sprayers.
Water babies looking for thrills will find them on the four Master Blaster-style uphill water coasters — Sea Blaster, Storm Chaser, Gale Force and Tempest — and the Wizard’s Waterways body slides. Adventurers can experience Boogie Bahn, which was the largest stationary surf ride in the world when it opened in 2001, and the Rio Beach wave pool.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the beach is Rio Aventura, a state-of-the-art transportainment system. The technology has earned the industry’s highest innovation awards, including IAAPA’s Best New Waterpark Product and Impact awards; the World Waterpark Association’s Industry Leadership & Innovation award; and the Outstanding Achievement award from the Themed Entertainment Association.
Put simply, guests can ride the half-mile- long Rio Aventura between various attractions, minimizing wait times and enabling them to enjoy every possible minute of aquatic play. The transportainment system has slow-moving sections and more daring “white water” sections, such as the Agua Blanca and Toribo’s tube chutes.
Another one-of-a-kind attraction at Schlitterbahn Beach is SeaTrek, where animal lovers of all ages can experience the wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of scuba or snorkel gear, participants wear a custom-designed helmet that lets them to breath normally as they venture underwater and across an 80,000-gallon, lagoon-like tank. Guests also can get back to nature with direct beach access from several points within the park.
Rounding out the park are the family-friendly guest amenities. These include free parking; specially designed tot tubes; and North Beach Grill, a new concession option with a full menu of island-inspired meal options. Or guests may chose to dine at the Shrimp Haus restaurant. They’re also welcome to bring their own picnic baskets.
Besides Schlitterbahn Beach, there are three other Schlitterbahn waterparks in Texas and one in development in Kansas City, Kan. But when you add it all up, for the little ones, a day at the beach still ranks among the best.
YEAR OPENED: 2001
SIZE: 15 acres
SIGNATURE ATTRACTIONS: Rio Aventura
FUN FACT: Schlitterbahn Beach features the world’s first Transportainment river system.
NO. OF LIFEGUARDS: 250