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Culture / Entertainment

Texas’ Best Waterparks — 10 Spots That Make Summer a Splash

From the Mega Parks to the More Hidden Escapes

BY // 07.09.19

It’s summertime in Texas, and that means one thing — it’s waterpark season. Everyone wants to make a splash, cool off from that summer sun, go on thrilling rides and float around in lazy rivers.

Luckily there’s no shortage of these aquatic paradises in the Lone Star State. There are close to a bajillion waterparks spread across the state, from New Braunfels and Katy, to Garland and San Antonio.

No two waterparks are the same. There are serious choices to make, whether you’re after an adrenaline rush or the opportunity to float in a tube down a natural river with a perfect temp.

Some have been around for as long as your water-faring Texan can remember. Others have just recently opened after literal years of setbacks. But every single one is worthy. There’s just one question — were to start?

Now, you know PaperCity wouldn’t leave you hanging. We’ve pooled our resources and created a guide to the Texas’ Best Waterparks.

Go ahead. Get in the swim of things.

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Schlitterbahn Waterpark 

New Braunfels; Galveston; South Padre Island; Corpus Christi

This Texas-sized classic is nothing short of an icon — four epic waterparks all rolled into one on the banks of the sparkling, 72-degree Comal River. Over 40 years ago, Schitterbahn began taking shape, becoming a haven for rides, tube slides, tube chutes, lazy rivers and wave pools.

It’s so massive you have to take shuttles back and forth from the Original Section, with its mighty castle, to Surfenberg, Blastenhoff and beyond. The Master Blaster Water Coaster sends you soaring up, up and away, and you can test your surfing skills on the Boogie Bahn.

Back in June, it was announced that Schlitterbahn New Braunfels — along with its many counterparts — was sold to Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment in a $261-million deal. Here’s hoping the Midwest can’t spoil this Texas magic.

Tickets cost $54.99 for adults and $41.99 for children and seniors for any day admission. Two-day tickets and season passes are also available. Plus, if you stay at the Schlitterbahn Resort, you can save up to 40 percent on tickets.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown

21300 Interstate 45 North, Spring

This game-changing, somewhat new waterpark is the totally revamped Wet ‘n’ Wild Splashtown that everyone knows and loves. Well now, there’s even more to love — like the transformation’s new Caribbean spin, making your time at Houston’s new Six Flags more like a tropical vacation than your run-of-the-mill waterpark.

Six Flags brought in some brand-spanking new additions to the 41 existing rides and attractions. Big thrill Wahoo Wave, a six-story-high water slide, is truly over-the-top.

This backyard paradise is even tech-savvy, outfitted with Wi-Fi, which means global ordering and easy food pick-up through the app. Diamond or Diamond Platinum Parking grants you exclusive parking areas, reserve lounging and more. And don’t forget — your monthly membership allows you year-round access to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

Single-day tickets start at $41.99, while passes start at $67.99 and monthly memberships run as low as $6.99.

Typhoon Texas Waterpark

555 South Katy Fort Bend Road, Katy; 18500 TX-130 North Service Road, Pflugerville 

Oh, the beloved “Double-T.” Typhoon Texas has more rides and attractions than you can imagine. It’s no surprise that it’s spread to multiple locations, promising sun-soaked days of fun in Katy and the Austin area.

The Tidal Wave Bay is definitely a classic — a whopping 375,000-gallon pool that stirs up waves up to three feet tall. The aptly named Snake Pit sends you spinning down double and single tube slides, and the Lone Star Racers let you challenge your friends while you sail belly-down towards the watery finish line.

In-park entertainment is another pro. A new feature this summer, when the sun goes down, the park glows in the dark, open til 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. And our only reaction to the Summer Event Series is whoo, boy — dueling pianos, and movies, and music, oh my!

Tickets range from choose-your-day, from $20 to $38.99, to any day, $39.99, to season passes starting at $69.99

Aquatica San Antonio

10500 SeaWorld Drive, San Antonio

Sail the High Seas at this thrilling waterpark, known not only for its sunny beaches, serene pools and heart-pounding rides, but also for is family-friendly service. People say there’s something for everyone at this SeaWorld affiliate — and they’re not wrong.

The most outstanding part of Aquatica is its island angle, which comes to life through an underwater grotto brimming with tropical fish of all shapes and sizes. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a manta ray attraction where you can shoot down a slide and see them from all sides, or even get all close and personal and touch one if you’re lucky.

Then, you’ve got top-notch traditionals like the recently unveiled Ihu Breakway Falls, known as the tallest drop slide in all of Texas, with a ring of tubes encircling a plunge that’s almost 80 degrees. And on the more kid-approved side, there’s the Walhalla Wave, sending riders to a zero-gravity wall and that intense weightless feeling.

Weekday single tickets start at $39.99, weekend tickets start at $49.99 and the Seaworld and Aquatica Flex ticket start at $79.99.

aquatica san antonio
Aquatica San Antonio is affiliated with SeaWorld.

Great Wolf Lodge

100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine

 Where to begin with this out-of-this-world stunner? This lupine lodge is home to not only dry-land excursions and adventures, but also the unlikely and totally exhilarating indoor waterpark element.

You read that right. The one potential drawback of waterparks is that they get so incredibly hot in the dead of summer, and it’s not unusual to feel your skin baking in the sun. But Wolf Lodge brings its twisting turning tube slides in the comfort of a building with perfect climate control.

Great Wolf Lodge, part of North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resort hotels, features Fort Mackenzie, a water fort tree house, a giant bucket water drop, the four-story Coyote Cannon, a lazy river, wave pool and slides galore.

Getting a room at Great Wolf grants you waterpark access the days you’re staying and all day on the day you check out.

Big Rivers Waterpark

23101 Highway 242, New Caney 

After delay, and delay, and delay, Grand Texas’ Big Rivers Waterpark has finally opened. The hotly anticipated waterpark was a head-turner from the start, promising non-stop wet, dry and aerial fun.

Big Rivers brings a Rio Grande Lazy River, said to be the largest lazy river in the entire Houston area, while the Boca Chica Wave Pool is all about generating the tallest waves around.

Wild Isle lets parkgoers float on a spring-fed lake, surrounded by nature, with the opportunity for wild obstacle courses and bounces on inflatable slides. Zip lines, ropes courses and climbing walls abound.

Daily passes start at $39.99 for adults and $34.99 for children 48 inches and under. Season passes are $69.99 per person and $64.99 per person if you buy four or more at once.

Splashway Waterpark & Campgrounds

5211 Main Street, Sheridan 

Get ready to rock out — and camp out — at Splashway WaterPark, your family-friendly oasis. It’s hands-down one of the best places to beat the heat, knowing your little ones are safe because highly trained lifeguards abound. And don’t forget you can even bring your own cooler, so buying food on-site isn’t a requirement.

Splashway offers a wide variety of slides and activities, ranging from youth areas, to toddler areas, to areas for all. They’re clear on thrill level, with you adrenaline junkies sure to go after the Dueling Splash Blasters, swirling-funnel-filled Loco Mono and Midnight Storm that surrounds you in exhilarating, jaw-dropping pitch-black can’t-see-anything perfection.

Then, the camping. You can go the purist route in your own tent, go a little more modern day with cabin rentals or cottage rentals. Then, for you glampers out there, you can bring your RV. No matter what, you’re a reasonable drive from Austin, Houston and San Antonio. During your stay, if you want to be a fish out of water, hit up the putt putt course, volleyball court or playground.

General admission for adults is $39.99 online and $44.99 at the gate, and $32.99 for kiddos under 42 inches either way, and free for children two and under. Season passes run $119 per person and are valid every day during the summer.

Hawaiian Falls

Garland; The Colony; Mansfield; Roanoke; Waco 

Pick a location, any location, of Hawaiian Falls. You’re sure to have an epic aqua blast whether you choose Garland, Mansfield, The Colony, Roanoke or Waco. This wildly popular waterland shares elements throughout each place, but some have unique bonuses.

The 12-acre Garland Hawaiian Falls is the original that’s bound to put a smile on your freshly splashed face. From the Keiki Kove, a land of rope ladders, geysers and a thousand-gallon dump bucket, to the Kona Kooler Lazy River, you’re surely in for a treat.

Hawaiian Falls is also your go-to place for summertime entertainment, fro, dine-in movie nights — think Disney delights like Moana — and fun-as-all-get-out luaus.

Daily admission tickets start at $19.99 on weekdays and start at $20.99 any days, depending on which location you choose.

hawaiian falls waterpark
Hawaiian Falls wants you to slip and slide.

NRH20 Family Waterpark

9001 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills 

The name may be a mouthful, but this waterpark has certainly mastered the “formula for family fun.” NRH20 is tucked into a Fort Worth suburb, and it allows coolers so you can pack your own eats — and it won’t break the bank.

Other pros? Think free parking and a covered family eating area. NRH20 is expansive, allowing for plenty of rides and attractions and is super easy to navigate. If you’re looking for a day filled with fun for everyone from the tots in your life to the teens and the seniors, things should go swimmingly.

Top attractions include the Sidewinder, where a trap door opens, plummeting you down a 60-foot free fall, the 98-foot-long enclosed Riggamaroll body slide and the Thunder, where natural light shines through the translucent slide as you twist and turn.

Weekday tickets are $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for children, while weekend tickets are $24.99 for adults and $19.99 for children.

Castaway Cove Waterpark

1000 Central Freeway East, Wichita Falls

This splashy amusement center is ideal for all ages, thanks to a healthy mix of rides and thrilling attractions. It may be hard to cool off in a state that gets as hot as blue blazes, but Castaway Cove has got your back.

This waterpark’s a little smaller than some others on this list, which has a good side — think lines that aren’t so crazy-long. It’s easy to hit up the rides in one afternoon, then spend the rest of your time floating on your back, gazing up at the sky in the lazy river. Reserve a poolside cabana for when you want to buy an ice-cold beer and cool off.

The Storm Watch Tower is a jaw-dropping combo of a corkscrew and serpentine tube slides that toss you down at intense speeds, while the breathtaking Pirate’s Plunge means you walk the plank — and are rewarded with a 37-foot vertical free fall. The transluscent waterslide allows your friends to see you take on this serious challenge.

Weekday admission for adults starts at $19.99 for adults, while weekend admission is $24.99. The Unlimited Season Pass costs $84.99 and comes with a 15 percent discount on food and merch.

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