Set to change the face of Corpus Christi as a tourist destination, Schlitterbahn finally comes to the Coastal Bend.
By: Colette Rye
The concept of a Schlitterbahn in Corpus Christi has been a topic of conversation for many years. The community dreamed about it, city council made it a possibility and the vision of co-owner and creator, Jeff Henry, is making it a reality. Schlitterbahn Upper Padre is nearing completion and is poised to change the face of Corpus Christi as a destination for the more than eight million annual visitors, as well as provide a first-class country club on Upper Padre Island.
Schlitterbahn began with humble roots in 1966 with the purchase of Camp Landa. According to company history, “along a stretch of a tree-lined, spring-fed river on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, Bob and Billye Henry and their three children began creating what would eventually become the world’s first water resort and the nation’s most popular summertime waterpark.”
Since what they were building had never been attempted before, the Henrys relied on their own vision of combining water fun and resort accommodations into a family destination. And in 1979, Schlitterbahn opened with four water slides built around a 60-foot-tall replica of the Bergfried Tower, the guard tower of the Solms Castle in Braunfels, Germany.
Fast-forward 35 years, and Schlitterbahn is opening its fifth waterpark in Corpus Christi, and it just opened Verruckt, the world’s tallest waterslide, at the Kansas City Schlitterbahn. Exceeding the heights of both Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty and named for the German word, “insane,” Verruckt has dazzled the world as a thrill-seeker attraction with features on the Travel Channel, Good Morning America, ESPN and media outlets across the globe.
Corpus Christi’s own Schlitterbahn Upper Padre was touted by the Los Angeles Times as the “No. 1 new waterpark for 2014.” The integrity of the brand continues, and Corpus Christi’s Schlitterbahn will deliver a completely unique waterpark. The original scope for the project has more than doubled to 51 acres and features the largest continuous river system in Schlitterbahn’s collection. The “transportainment” river design means that guests never have to leave the water to enjoy the rides. Instead, all rides are accessible by a series of access points throughout the more than 8,000 linear feet of river – over double the size of the New Braunfels river system.
The waterpark will also include several uphill water roller coasters called “Master Blasters,” as well as a “Shoot the Chute.” Park officials anticipate the local surf community will enjoy riding the Boogie Bahn surf simulator. Jeff Henry holds the patent on developing the technology for this incredible ride featured in amusement parks and cruise ships all over the world. The main structure also features a 90-room resort, meeting and special event space with large patios on each level overlooking the waterpark and the Veranda, a culinary masterpiece overseen by Executive Chef Zelina Rodriguez.
Adding another unique element to Schlitterbahn Upper Padre, this Schlitterbahn also features a country club. Schlitterbahn Beach Country Club is currently conducting a membership drive and waiving the initiation fee of $1,500. Membership is $125 per month and includes tennis, golf, a private members-only dining area and year-round access to a swim-up bar and kiddie pool, as well as discounts on family season passes and guest passes. The membership office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
As progress continues in the coming weeks, Schlitterbahn Upper Padre will continue to open new features and attractions. While the entire waterpark will not be operational for the 2014 season, this addition to the community has already generated much interest in the area and will continue to make a splash for years to come.
Colette Rye is the marketing director for Schlitterbahn Upper Padre. For more information, visit www.schlitterbahn.com/corpus-christi or call 361-589-4200.