The End of an Era?
As I'm sure many of you have heard by now, it was announced last week that the Cedar Fair company purchased Schlitterbahn Waterparks. This announcement comes with many questions and uncertainty for the future of this unique brand of waterparks. We wanted to take some time to share a bit of info on the sale and weigh in with our thoughts on the possible pros and cons of this new acquisition.
How it All Began
Schlitterbahn Waterpark in New Braunfels, TX began with the purchase of a campground by the Henry family in 1966. By 1979 the park opened with 4 waterslides and the iconic 60-ft tower that still stands there today.
Over the next 35 years, the park slowly added slide by slide, opened additional parks around Texas and Kansas, and rightfully won the title of Best Waterpark in the World. Schlitterbahn won numerous awards, had Travel Channel highlights and TV specials, and continued to delight families for years, until tragedy struck.
The Fall of the Brand
In 2016, tragedy struck at the Schlitterbahn Kansas park when a young boy was killed on one of the park's slides. The idea for Verrückt, the world's tallest waterslide, came from Jeff Henry, co-owner of the Schlitterbahn Waterparks. Much backlash, as well as a multi-million dollar lawsuit fell upon Jeff and the Schlitterbahn brand when it was revealed that he had no formal engineering training while designing this record-breaking ride. After some digging, it would also be revealed in the months to come that Jeff Henry had a dark past and multiple charges were filed against him for various crimes. This was ultimately the beginning of the end for Schlitterbahn.
In Swoops Cedar Fair
3 years after the Kansas park incident, as well as the announcement that that park would not be re-opening, it was announced that Cedar Fair, one of America's largest amusement park chains, purchased the New Braunfels and Galveston waterparks for $261 million. The company also secured the rights to the now closed Kansas park for an additional $6 million. Cedar Fair currently operates twelve amusement parks, eleven water parks, and five hotels in the US and Canada.
The Bad That May Happen...
Cedar Fair is a large corporation which could mean more rules and less personality. Park guests loved the "family business" vibe of Schlitterbahn waterparks which included perks like free parking, the ability to bring in ice chests with food and drinks, free open-air shuttles, and free tubes! There is, of course, concern with a large company like Cedar Fair coming in and making changes to some of these things that guests have been used to doing their entire lives. If some of these changes were implemented, we wouldn't be surprised if many park-goers rethink a visit to the park.
Cedar Fair doesn't have the greatest track record for keeping things original when it comes to their waterparks. Innovative and record-breaking roller coasters? Sure. Amazing and unique water rides? Not so much. They tend to build the same slide complexes made by the same manufacturers again and again. And while they're not bad slides, they are common. And a park with the title of "World's Best" should be anything but common.
One of the biggest fears here would be that Cedar Fair, despite having the money to do so, would not plan to invest much into these parks. While Schlitterbahn has great rides already, building has been at a stand-still for the last few years. It's time for something new! If Cedar Fair plans to take the money made from this park and funnel it to some of their more successful parks (cough Cedar Point cough) that could be an issue. We could be faced with Dorney Park syndrome here and not see any real new additions for quite some time.
While Schlitterbahn-goers are long overdue for some new thrills, we also aren't ready to give up some of our iconic retro slides. The New Braunfels park is absolutely oozing with charm and personality, and these rides are completely original. One of our greatest fears with this new sale is that Cedar Fair will opt to remove most of these slides to be replaced with something by ProSlide or WhiteWaterWest. While both of these companies make AWESOME rides, they also make up 90% of the waterpark world which means you can get that just about anywhere.
The Good That May Happen...
In a perfect world, Cedar Fair would be able to blend the charm that the parks already have, with some newer, more modern slides. The park as it stands can be a bit confusing and hard to navigate, since so many of the slides are very long (up to 45 minutes) and can intertwine. Cedar Fair may be able to come in and alleviate this issue without jeoporadizing any of the originality.
It should be no surprise to anyone that Cedar Fair has money. Much more money than Schlitterbahn Parks did. This, obviously, can be a great thing for the parks. The company will be able to make changes quickly as well as get started on some new developments. Unlike with the previous owners, we hope to see some progress made to the parks pretty soon.
As mentioned above, Cedar Fair currently owns eleven water parks. There is always a possibility that rather than those parks rubbing off on Schlitterbahn, we will see Schlitterbahn rub off on them. Having a park full of original and unique rides could mean great things for the other waterparks in Cedar Fair's lineup. Will the exposure of these original river attractions spark something amazing in other parts of the country?
In a press release following the announcement of the sale, Cedar Fair made a statement about the "attractiveness of the demographics in the growing Central Texas region." Traditionally, Cedar Fair is known less for their waterparks and more for their amusement parks. With the attractive growing market here in Texas, does Cedar Fair have plans for a new park sometime in the future? That would be the dream.
Time Will Tell
Ultimately, we will have to wait and see what the future holds for our beloved Schlitterbahn.
For us, this a yearly tradition with friends and family and we would hate to see this sale affect what we love most about these parks. We are staying positive and hoping for the best!
Only time will tell.
Welcome back to Ride or Dine, everyone! It's been a while since we've brought you a new blog. To be fair, we've been out of theme park season for a while, but we are happy and excited to be back in the swing of it and beginning our 2019 theme park trips! This past week was one of our first trips of the year and man oh man did we kick the season off right!! We visited Knott's Berry Farm for their annual Boysenberry festival!
This was our second time at Knott's and I have to say this time was a very different experience for us. The first trip was pretty quick (only one day in the park) and the crowds were OUT OF CONTROL! We've come to learn that Knott's Berry Farm is pretty much always busy, but the first time we were there it was just too insane. This last trip we had two full days in the park and crowds, while still heavy, were a bit better than last time.
So, one cool thing we learned about Knott's that we didn't really realize before is the fandom for this park is REAL! It's not quite on a Disney level...but it's pretty close. The amount of Boysenberry t-shirts, hats, dresses, etc., in the park was CRAZY! And so awesome to see!! It really helps to get you hyped for the park and the events happening! Who knew people would rally so much for boysenberries!? (Although if you haven't had boysenberry flavored snacks, you really are missing out on a gem!)
The entire park is decorated with boysenberry-themed decor, extra floral, and banners and signs! It looks so nice and everywhere you turn there's a perfect photo-op.
This festival, dedicated to the birthplace of the boysenberry, features unique boysenberry-inspired foods, drinks, live entertainment, and attractions.
Guests are able to visit Cordelia's Pie Kitchen, a replica of Cordelia Knott's original kitchen, and create their own Boysenberry tarts. Guests can also take a stroll through the crafts fair or sip wine at the "Tied up in Knotts" Art Show.
There are also plenty of live shows and entertainment provided through the park that guests can enjoy! We had a great time watching some of the Calico Park Games like the pie walk and the Pie-eating contest!
Congrats to this little pie-eating champion for taking home the grand prize-
A freshly-baked boysenberry pie!! ...and bragging rights.
And of course, the star attraction of the festival- The Boysenberry FOOD!
Going into this festival I was fully convinced that I would get tired of the boysenberry flavor halfway through the fest and that I'd end up just breaking down and ordering chicken fingers because I'd be craving normalcy. Parker was fully convinced he wouldn't be able to get enough Boysenberry and that he'd end up wanting to get two of everything- this was one of those few shining moments where Parker was right and I was wrong :P
The festival offers these nifty tasting cards for $35 (unfortunately there are no pass discounts on these bad boys), and they get you 8 items. You can mix and match which 8 items you want from this list of 14 options.
In addition to the stands offering these 14 festival items, there are also food locations across the park with festival-exclusive items that you can purchase. While those are not included on the tasting card, we HIGHLY recommend several of those items!
The tasting card lanyard conveniently reminds you of the items you can choose from and a map of the locations that those items are sold.
The tasting card item booths all look something like this. Most festivals we've been to have booths with several items available to purchase at each. But, the extremely efficient Knott's Berry Farm has ONE item per booth. You pay at a separate register and take up your receipt or tear off one tab from your sampler card and exchange it for one item.
Tasting Card Items
Boysenberry dry-rubbed flank steak with boysenberry cream cheese topping. This was one of the top items of the festival without a doubt. The cream cheese topping was amazing and the steak was cooked perfectly!
A great way to start off the sampler!
Boysenberry Jerk Chicken Wings. This was one of Brittany's favorites but not Parker's. He thought the sauce didn't match well enough with the chicken's seasoning. Still a win for me, though.
Boysenberry glazed salmon over mixed greens and topped with a boysenberry vinaigrette. If you like salmon, you will like this dish! It's so refreshing and light. The fruit was perfectly sweet and matched so well with the boysenberry glaze on the fish. The vinaigrette was also good, although very different than we were expecting. It's more a creamy dressing than an oily dressing. Also, sometimes it's nice to stop and eat a salad in the middle of eating nothing but terribly unhealthy foods for two days straight haha.
Boysenberry BBQ Chicken skewers with boysenberry aioli. Another one of the top contenders of the fest! This chicken was SO good. Honestly, both sauces on it were amazing and I think it would've been just as good with only one of either. But, the fact that they were together was perfect!
Boysenberry pot roast over boysenberry mashed potatoes. This one was a little interesting. The pot roast was awesome! It was cooked well, very soft, and flavored perfectly. The mashed potatoes were a little odd to me. Parker liked them, but I'm not sure I like the idea of boysenberry mixed in through the potato. I was kind of hoping for maybe some regular mashed potatoes with some sort of boysenberry gravy on top. Parker disagrees with that, but he was already right once earlier so I'm gonna give this one to me.
Boysenberry Habanero Baked Mac and Cheese. Ok, ya'll know we love a good mac and cheese! And this one did not disappoint. I had read some things online that said this dish wasn't great so I set kind of low expectations, but they were blown away. I will say, if the habanero part intimidates you at all- don't be. It wasn't spicy at all. But, it was tasty, cheesy, and we loved the bread crumbs on top!
Boysenberry cinnamon sugar flour tortilla chips with boysenberry ice cream. The chips were pretty good actually, but mostly we ordered this because I have a new obsession with soft serve. I don't know why, but sometime over the last year I started wanting soft serve EVERY time we're in a park. So this was a no-brainer! Boysenberry soft serve FTW!
Boysenberry waffle with a maple boysenberry cream cheese syrup. I will say, I was expecting a bit more out of this one. The consistency is less waffle-like and more muffin-like. It's very dense. But, the syrup was everything!
And PRO-TIP: Scoop the ice cream onto the waffle. Trust us, it makes it SO much better!!
ITEMS THROUGHOUT THE PARK
These are the other boysenberry festival exclusive items offered throughout the park that you cannot use your tasting lanyard on.
Boysenberry Pie Milkshake. This was one of my favorite items from the festival, and honestly, it should be offered year round. The boysenberry flavor is actually pretty subtle here, but there are pieces of actual boysenberries and pie crust throughout which make this shake one of my favorites of all time!
Boysenberry BBQ Popcorn Chicken. Alright, so we were a little disappointed with this one. This is literally just regular popcorn chicken (which we know you can't go wrong with) nothing different or special about it. The sauce wasn't my favorite, although Parker really enjoyed it. It had kind of a spicy kick to it, similar to the sauce on top of the Mac and cheese. Maybe it is, who knows? This one was just alright.
Boysenberry Cheesecake on a stick. In theory, this should've been my favorite item because I LOVE cheesecake. And I LOVE the novelty of eating food on a stick. But, this dessert was just SO sweet. I honestly could've done without the coating, because the actual cheesecake with boysenberry pieces throughout was really good!
Boysenberry BBQ Cheddar Pizza. Parker really enjoyed this pizza. I can't even really tell you what was on it besides cheddar cheese, ham, onions, sausage and maybe boysenberry bbq sauce? That sounds right based on what we tasted, but there are no descriptions anywhere!
Boysenberry Butter Grilled Cheese with Boysenberry Jam Sandwich. All we have to say about this is YES! This sandwich was the last thing we tried of the festival, and I think we definitely saved one of the best for last! Oddly enough, I feel like the sandwich could've used even MORE boysenberry flavor (I know, I know, how can we not be tired of it yet??). There was plenty of melty cheese and butter on the toast which paired so well with the sweetness of the jam. Absolutely one of the bests of the fest!
And there you have our review of the 2019 Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival! Honestly, we probably only tried a little over half of the items offered at the festival. They also feature a 2-ft long Boysenberry hot dog (INSANE), boysenberry chili, pineapple and boysenberry Dole whip floats, boysenberry corn dogs, and SO much more!
The boysenberry possibilities are endless! If you're interested in attending this year's fest, it runs through April 28th. But, that's coming up pretty soon, so we definitely recommend planning a trip for 2020 if you can't make it this year!
1000000% Knott's Berry Farm is one of the most historically rich, authentic, total package parks in the country. It has quickly become one of our favorites thanks to the coasters, theming, and of course-food! It's got such a great vibe and there is so much to do.
We hope to return soon.
Until next time, follow along with us on the rest of our 2019 theme park adventures here and through our Instagram @rideordineblog!
See y'all soon!
Fire and Ice and crazy heights
We recently got back from a very fun and theme park-filled trip to Ohio & Pennsylvania! Along the way we got to visit four parks including the ROLLER COASTER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD: Cedar Point. We spent three days at the coaster-packed park and had an awesome time.
New for 2018 at Cedar Point is Steel Vengeance! This hyper-hybrid record-breaking coaster was out of this world! Steel Vengeance is the tallest steel-wood coaster hybrid in the world! Many coaster and amusement park enthusiasts flocked to CP for the opening of this awesome re-vamp and we were SO excited to finally get to ride.
Despite lining up as soon as the park opened, we still waited almost 2 hours to ride the new coaster. (We stayed at Hotel Breakers, CP's hotel, which allowed early access into the park but not onto this specific ride on the days we were there). Although the wait time and the heat were brutal, both Parker and I agreed that the ride was worth it! Are you brave enough to take on the 200 ft drop and 4 inversions of Steel Vengeance?
While at Cedar Point we also got to experience their new summer event, Cedar Point Nights, featuring the Fire and Ice Tastebud Tour! Starting at 7 PM nightly, the park begins this summer party by opening the Fire and Ice food booths followed by glow and dance parties on the beach, the Fire and Ice Concert in the Park, and wrapped up with A Kiss Goodnight Firework display!
The Fire and Ice Tastebud Tour was right up our alley. We are a Theme Park FOOD Blog, after all. The Tour features four booths with unique food and beverage offerings. A sampler card can be purchased with 8 tickets. Each item is 1 ticket and there are 12 items between the 4 booths, so you can try almost everything with one sampler card.
The Four Booths:
The Strawberry Lemonade was a highlight for sure. It was SO good, this one is a must-try!
We both really enjoyed the seared tuna caesar salad. Despite featuring wasabi caesar dressing, the salad had no heat to it. But, overall, this item was toward the top of our list.
Unfortunately, we both wanted the firecracker shrimp to be better than it was. The flavor was good, but the shrimp wasn't even warm and it seemed like it may have been sitting out for a while. Also, as you will soon see, these white crispy things (I think they're crispy rice noodles, but I could be wrong) are on the majority of their dishes. It's not terrible, but given the high winds that Cedar Point faces, we were struggling a bit.
Sweet and Spicy Pork
Our favorite booth for sure!
The brown sugar skewered pork belly with Thai garlic sauce. The meat was a little tough, but the taste was on point! And, we were thankful for the skewer as many of the offerings here were very difficult to eat.
My mouth is watering just looking back at this photo. The chipotle spiked short ribs with garlic toast and avocado crema. Hands down the best item of the tour. We loved it so much we got a second one. It was also the largest item of the tour, so more bang for your buck!
I'm conflicted about this one. The fiery bourbon glazed wing (singular) is obviously pretty small. It's also in a little basket filled with those crispy white noodles again which made this incredibly difficult to eat. You can't put the basket down because the wind will blow it and all the little noodles all over the place (yes we're speaking from experience here), but it's hard to hold the basket and pick up a wing and eat it. And forget holding a drink, too.
BUT, the flavor was good. I enjoyed the taste, just wish it wasn't so difficult.
This was probably our least favorite booth. We didn't try the raspberry lemonade which I have a sneaking suspicion may have been the best thing at the booth, but what we did try was just mediocre.
The chicken and waffles with jalapeño butter.
Once again, very difficult to eat. I ended up just picking it up and taking a bite of it. Personally, I wasn't a fan of that bite, but, Parker liked it once he put the syrup on it.
This booth also featured a South Shore Perch Taco with jalapeño slaw and peach relish.
Down on the beach (right outside of the park) the fun continued with two more snack booths and the glow party, silent disco, and beach games.
Glow Dance Party
The Beach Grill Food and Beverage Booth
The Party Snacks Food and Beverage Booth
This is the homemade potato chips with the onion garlic parmesan dip. This stuff was seriously addicting! The chips were great on their own, too. But this dip...I'm still thinking about it now.
So, all in all, it was a successful trip to Cedar Point. We rode so many roller coasters, ate SO much food, and had such a good time. I seriously can't wait to go back!
We want to hear from our readers- How many of you have been to Cedar Point? What's your favorite coaster? And do you plan on checking out their summer Cedar Point Nights?
Let us know in the comments!!
Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!