It wouldn’t be a Schlitterbahn anniversary without a big splash.
Commemorating Schlitterbahn Waterpark’s 40th birthday, Schlitterbahn staff held a day of events Friday starting with letting the first 40 guests in free and concluding with the “world’s largest waterpark selfie” at Blastenhoff Beach.
The day of celebration marked a bittersweet transition for the park, after the announcement last week that Schlitterbahn has been sold to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.
“Turning 40 is amazing,” said Winter Prosapio, corporate communications director for Schlitterbahn.
Schlitterbahn New Braunfels was the first waterpark in Texas, the second in the world, is the biggest in the United States, and has been voted the best waterpark in the world for 21 years, Prosapio said. In celebrating 40 years of fun, Schlitterbahn New Braunfels is celebrating the oldest anniversary of any waterpark brand in a single location.
“This soft foam used on water rides and water playgrounds — that was invented here,” Prosapio said. “The Boogie Bahn — a front surfing wave, that was invented here. A whole sport was born of that invention.”
The Henry family changed not only New Braunfels but the entertainment industry with their experimenting, Prosapio said.
“The original castle and four slides were part of the Landa Resort and were just built to attract more tourists to stay,” Prosapio said. “But they quickly became the main attraction and the water park overtook the resort as a destination.”
Prosapio, who has worked at Schlitterbahn since 2013, said generations of families have now worked at the waterpark.
“My sons worked here, and I know several other employees whose kids have worked here or work here now and they used to work here,” Prosapio said.
By introducing Schlitterbahn to New Braunfels, the Henry family changed the town, Prosapio said.
“Yes, the river was already here, but Schlitterbahn grew to be this massive provider of jobs and a huge draw for tourism,” Prosapio said.
The anniversary marks the end of an era, as the Henry family announced last week the decision to sell Schlitterbahn to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, Prosapio said.
“But we’re very excited for this new chapter,” she said. “The company plans to invest $10 to $15 million in Schlitterbahn over the next few years. Just think about how much the parks will improve.”
Schlitterbahn’s 40th Anniversary party began at 8 a.m. Friday, with the first 40 people at the main entrance receiving free tickets for the day. The first 500 guests received free sunglasses from the original entrance.
An official cake cutting took place at 10:30 a.m., followed by an alumni lunch at noon.
From 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. pro surfers took to the original Boogie Bahn to show off their moves, before Schlitterbahn employees and guests got together for the “world’s largest waterpark selfie” at Blastenhoff Beach at 3 p.m.
“The Galveston and South Padre parks also did a selfie,” Prosapio said.
With how much Schlitterbahn has grown and changed the industry over the past 40 years, Prosapio said she can’t wait to see what the next 40 years hold for the waterpark.
“We want to thank the community for accepting us, because we could never have done all of this without their support,” she said.