Go BIG or Go Home
What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

Kalahari Resort: Largest Indoor Water Park in the United States

Kalahari Resort, Sandusky, OH

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Let’s be clear; going to a water park is not my favorite way to spend a day. For the kids, however, it’s better than Christmas3. Therefore, a day at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH — the largest indoor water park in the country — is akin to spending Christmas3 at the North Pole, with Santa himself handing out the gifts.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Of course, it’s not about what I like to do, is it? And since we were visiting Cleveland, making a side trip to Sandusky — one hour west — was easy. This lakefront town is home to Cedar Point, one of the country’s largest theme parks with 17 roller coasters, many of them record-breakers.

Our destination, however, was the Kalahari. There are two Kalahari resort properties; the other is in Wisconsin. The Sandusky location not only contains the largest indoor water park, but also a smaller outdoor water park, which is circled by a zip line and ropes course overhead.

Yep, it’s BIG. The entire indoor park is 173,000 square feet, which is three times the size of a football field. The pools hold more than 1.3 million gallons of water. This is all in addition to the resort’s 77,000-square-foot outdoor waterpark, 884 guest rooms and 192 condos, the Spa Kalahari, shops, an indoor mini-glow golf course, indoor playground, the largest arcade in the Midwest, a fitness center, three eateries, and a 215,000-square-foot convention center.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

With water slides galore, a lazy river, a huge wave pool, and more, the kids were in their glory. We spent most of our time in the 12,000-square-foot wave pool, where I was relieved to find that The Girl could stand and manage without me. We’re still waiting for that liberating moment when she learns to swim, so we don’t always have to be in the water with her.

Wave pool

Our favorite spot

The other hit was the Zambezi River, the lazy river which surrounds the entire park. We also visited the outdoor park, which was more crowded because it was the opening weekend of the season.

Kalahari water park

Ten minutes here, then back to the wave pool

On this trip, The Boy was mellow, and passed on many of the thrill rides. He was all about the FlowRider at Six Flags Great Escape last year, but decided against waiting in the line at Kalahari. I tried to convince him to try the “Swahili Swirl,” since it’s the “world’s largest behemoth bowl,” but he pointed up in the direction of the line of people snaking up four flights of stairs to get to the start point. His tween-ish facial expression was an unspoken combination of “Seriously?” and “As if.”

The Girl had a similar pre-school version of that expression when I brought her over the Kids Safari play area for children ages six and under. She enjoyed the slides for about a minute, then wanted to go back to the wave pool. As a parent, I appreciated the shallow water and the great visibility allowing you to see your kids from every angle.

water slide

Another ten minutes here, then back to the wave pool

For a pragmatist, the best thing about indoor water parks is that it’s a weatherproof attraction. It is always 86 degrees within Kalahari. It actually felt even warmer when we were there, because the Texlon transparent roof allows the heat of the sun to in, and you can get sun tanned. Or burned, if you forget your sunscreen.

How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):

I am too adverse to sitting around in a damp bathing suit all day to rate any water park, so I’ll let the kids do it.

The Girl: 10!

The Boy: 9. (He took off one point for the long lines)

Hey YOU! Go BIG:

Kalahari Water Park 

7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky, OH 44870

(877) 525-2427

If you do go, check out the article I wrote for Family Vacation Critic providing tips to planning a water park trip. Especially the part about having an exit plan which minimizes meltdowns.

water park

"I'm not leaving. Ever!"


  1. Leigh said,
    August 1, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

    Sounds awesome but I’ll definitely need to read your article before heading there. My kids have mega meltdowns when we leave a regular swimming pool so I can only imagine what’ll happen at a water park. Oh, & I’ll be sure to check out the roller coasters too, wimps! :0)

  2. TravelGal said,
    August 1, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    Sounds and looks like so much fun! With all of those slides and pools, I can see how kids wouldn’t want to leave!

  3. Mike said,
    August 2, 2012 @ 10:50 am

    Sandusky is a place? Will have to find it on a map 🙂 As a germa-phobe, I say “no way”, but I have to admit that it is intriguing. If the kids find out about this place my thoughts won’t matter anyway.

  4. Steve said,
    August 4, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    This looks great, and it’s gonna give my kids another reason to bug us about going to Ohio on vacation. It just doesn’t sound natural to say that, but now that the non-roller coaster rider has something to do, I fear it’s inevitable.

  5. August 5, 2012 @ 11:36 am

    Looks like you had so much fun, I can see it in the kid big smile!Definitely one to keep for future trips. Thanks! 😉

  6. August 6, 2012 @ 9:39 am

    A really good place for family get together especially this summer. Everyone will surely have fun especially the kids.

  7. September 1, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    Hey Traci

    I have seen commercials about this waterpark and it looks like tons of fun! I have to admit, I’m a big kid at heart and I love water parks too! Do you think there are enough adult water attractions to keep a big kid at heart entertained?


    • Traci Suppa said,
      September 2, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

      Yes, I would say the lazy river is good for grown-ups who like a laid-back experience, and the wave runner / surfing simulator is fun for thrill-seekers.

  8. December 22, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

    Looks awesome. There’s another Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells. I’m hoping to make it out there sometime. It’s not as big as the one in Sandusky, but it’s got a lot of the same attractions. I love the resort’s African theme.

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