In the depths of Schlitterbahn – behind a nondescript door, Sarah sifts through the keys, and glasses, and phones, and sunglasses, and shoes, and towels, etc… with the sole purpose of reuniting you with your stuff. One of two employees devoted only to the Lost and Found department at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels each summer, Sarah gets up in the morning looking forward to making someone’s day, nearly every day, by revealing an important or treasured item has been FOUND!
Often when she has matched a guest with an item she’ll exclaim, “You’re the winner!” much to the delight of the voice on the other end. While I visited the secret Lost and Found stronghold, she had just returned a set of keys and an ID. Sarah was nice enough to sit down with me to give you an insider’s look at the daily operation of Lost and Found at the World’s Best Waterpark!
We’ve all had the unpleasant experience of realizing something is missing. Whether it is an inexpensive pair of flip-flops or a brand new cell phone, locating something that is lost can be stressful. And Schlitterbahn New Braunfels is a BIG place.
What if I lose an item? If you have lost something, the best place to go is the Guest Service desk closest to the place you think you misplaced it. If you’ve lost a mobile phone, check out this website and track your mobile. In New Braunfels these desks are the same as the locker areas, except at the main entrance. At the main entrance, we have a dedicated Guest Service desk inside the Fest Haus. During the day recovered items will be turned in there and it is your best first stop. If the item is not there, they will give you a Lost Item Report. “This information helps us reunite you with your item. So be specific and answer every question,” Sarah says, “And give it a little time, if you notice something missing after you rode a slide, it may take time to make its way to the Guest Service desk.”
How do you collect lost items? Employees and guests are encouraged to take all recovered items to the Guest Service desk in that area. The item will remain there until the park closes. After the park closes in the evening, the managers collect all of the lost items at each Guest Service desk AND the Lost Item Reports then bring them to the super secret Lost and Found fortress. “Items are turned in throughout the day, employees pick up some things, managers do sweeps of the park after closing, and we even have a team that collects items specifically lost in the water,” Sarah said. “I don’t know who they are or where they look. But every morning there is new stuff.”
What is the next step? Lost Item Reports are organized by day and location, but requests also come in by email and phone and are logged in one record. The items are labeled by date and location as well. “Then the real work begins,” sighed Sarah. “We go through every item and every record to see if we have a match.”
So where do you start? “Keys, wallets, phones, and IDs are matched first,” Sarah said. “If there is a possibility the guest is still in the area, we want to get these important items to them right away.” She also noted that valuable items like high-end sunglasses, jewelry, and prescription glasses are also given special attention and kept into the late fall in some cases to give the owner time to claim them. These special items are also kept in a lock box inside a locked office in the secret stronghold.
What do people lose most often? “Sunglasses! All types of sunglasses come through here, and the vast majority are never claimed.” She paused for a moment and then said that next on the list is men’s wedding rings. “We don’t really see a lot of jewelry, but the most likely jewelry item is men’s wedding bands.” Lost jewelry can often be recovered via the use of a metal detector. However, very few people have access to equipment such as this, which is why private Metal Detecting services are a popular choice for many people that have misplaced their high-value items.
And what happens to items that are not claimed? It varies depending on the item. Prescription glasses go to our local chapter of the Lions Club. Their well-known Better Sight Initiative provides glasses for individuals in need. Other items are donated as appropriate.
Do you have any advice for guests? Use the lockers for keys and any other valuable items.
Make Someone’s Day: Of course one of the best things about working in Lost and Found is that Sarah gets to hear the excitement and relief when she has found something for a guest. This summer a woman called to report a lost Aggie class ring. Sarah got to call and tell her it had been recovered. The grateful Aggie Alum nearly blew the speaker out the phone, she was so happy! Another gentleman had lost a camera full of pictures of his grandchildren. The camera, intact and full of photos, was found and returned to the proud grandpa.
You can also read about one of the best Schlitterbahn Lost and Found stories from Schlitterbahn South Padre Island here. A couple found a long-lost wedding band.