Vacation Destination In Trouble
For decades Texans found it relaxing and a cooling experience to build a raft and lazily float along the Guadalupe River around such towns as Kerrville, Seguin, Gonzales, Cuero and New Braunfels. The river ran past them all, and generations made treks to camp out, fish and float. There are stories of Santa Anna's soldiers frolicking in the river in the years prior to the Mexican losses at San Jacinto in the early 19th century.
Sometime in the late 1970s, Bob and Billye Henry, two august floaters themselves observed the little businesses that sprung up along the river mostly to return down river floaters back up the river to their vehicles and campsites. For about $2 (in the 70s) locals with pickup trucks would take you back up the river to your camping area. The Henry's thought of a way to capitalize on the whole 'river floating' experience.
In 1979 they opened 'Schlitterbahn' in New Braunfels. Schlitterbahn is German for 'slippery road' and the waterslides and pools just about lived up to the natural thrills of the waterfalls, rocky steppes and slowly winding turns of the real river. Since then, millions of vacationers from all over the country have made the trek to Schlitterbahn's in five different areas for days of thrilling water splashing fun in the hot summertime.
Presently the company has five current destination parks in Texas and Kansas and are looking to Florida if the company survives.
In the quest for ever more thrilling water experiences the company built fantastic features, and sadly one of those in 2016, a 168 foot tall (almost 17 stories) a ten-year-old child was decapitated. As a result of the investigations, Jeffrey Wayne Henry was arrested on 26 March and charged with 2nd-degree murder, and multiple counts of battery and endangerment of a child. The designer of the ride, John Schooley was also indicted and also pled not guilty along with the Kansas parks former manager Tyler Miles who was also charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Now the financial backer of Schlitterbahn Waterparks some $174 million in loans is getting antsy about the company's future. The parks are collateral for the loans, and the bank fears that anxiety about safety in the parks will blunt attendance in the coming seasons. EPR Properties has said it could consider foreclosing on the parks if the Henry family defaults on any of the elements of the loan according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Needless to say, this has put a crimp on the waterpark company's ideas for expansion into Florida and other locales and while it's hard to imagine the parks shutting down completely, the future may hold a type of corporate management structure not seen before.
Of course, this will all take time to pan out, no need to change your vacation plans for now. As they say in the river country, 'life is more fun when you're all wet'.