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.
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.
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.
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:
7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky, OH 44870
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.