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Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 | 1 comment

Family Fun at Kalahari Indoor Waterpark: Sandusky, Ohio

Family Fun at Kalahari Indoor Waterpark: Sandusky, Ohio


One of the realities of being a parent of youngsters is Northeast Ohio is that, at some point, you WILL find yourself at an indoor waterpark. It’s like driving a minivan – you swear up and down you won’t do it, then one day, you walk outside and a seven-seat bus has made its way to your driveway.

….It’s dreadful being a parent sometimes.

A few weeks ago, a work thing took me to Kalahari Indoor Waterpark and Conference Center in Sandusky, Ohio. Sandusky….the indoor waterpark capital of the universe. Aside from all the required walking in heels (Kalahari is m a s s i v e, and I don’t do flats), they have a great events setup, and I’d happily go back. But I imagine you’re not here to read about their conference center.

When my conference ended on Friday, I couldn’t in good conscience NOT have Futureman and the kids drive up {they’d vote me out if the fam}, so we all joined up for an additional night’s stay.

Here’s the spoiler: Kalahari is actually quite nice. I joke about how much I hate indoor waterparks, but in truth, Kalahari delivers a pretty great themed-out family experience. We’ve been twice now, so clearly we liked it enough to go back.

The Waterpark

The indoor waterpark is the main attraction – under the enormous roof is a bright, balmy space with 20+ waterslides, several small pools, one huge wave pool, a lazy river, indoor/outdoor spas, a ‘roller coaster,’ kiddie areas, restaurants and tiki bars, plus more I’m surely forgetting. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re teeny or 21-plus.

That said, your kids will only be able to enjoy the full range of aquatic offerings if they’re 48″ tall. That’s the minimum height for several of the most extreme slides, including our family favorite, the Swahili Swirl, which is pretty much like getting flushed down a ginormous toilet on a four-person raft. It’s definitely more awesome than it sounds.

So while my toddler had fun, the Kalahari experience was better suited for my ‘bigs’ (ages 10 and 8), and let’s be honest, my husband. I’ve heard that Kalahari is ideal for ages 8 and up, and I definitely agree.

Besides an array of multi-colored slides that twist and turn in {and even poking out} of the building, there’s some fun non-extreme activities, like two enormous indoor/outdoor spas, a basketball ‘court’ in a pool, even a surfing simulator. Gotta say that the outdoor spa on a crisp night feels pretty fantastic.

In warmer months there’s a smaller outdoor waterpark {tiny, really, compared to indoors} as well as a ropes course, zip line and more. The boys are insisting on a June overnight stay.


Kalahari delivers a Disney-esque ‘African Safari’ thematic experience from the moment the bellmen/valets greet you in head-to-toe Safari gear. The theme continues throughout the lobby, restaurants, waterpark, and all 800+ rooms. I cannot stress enough how expansive this resort is, and how much walking is likely required to get from here to there.

My room was nice but basic; if you can upgrade to a suite, do it – it comes with a nice fully-equipped kitchen and comfy lounge area with a fireplace.

Besides the indoor waterpark, there’s a huge arcade where you can watch your kids squander your hard-earned money on skeeball and basketball shoot-out. There’s even a little mini bowling alley. It’s the place to be after dinner if you’re a Tween.

Kalahari is not cheap. Standard rooms range from $179 to $300 per night on average, but they do come with four waterpark passes, good for both days of your stay.

Dining & Snacks

Kalahari has two main sit-down dining options, a big buffet restaurant and a TGI Friday’s type-place, which sane people will agree are both completely overpriced. We ate at the second option, called the Reserve, and while our food {American bar & grill fare} was pretty good, our bill was about $25 more than it should’ve been. Oh, hotels.

Of course, if you don’t mind, you can eat super-casual in the waterpark or food court for a cheaper meal; it’s just not my thing.

What you can’t skip is the candy counter in the main lobby, not that your kids would let you anyway. Think oversized chocolates, treats, and caramel apples. The dark choc sea salt caramels are not to be missed.


One last thing. Wouldn’t you know that with the help of a fellow foodie friend at the conference, we discovered the most wonderful brand-new specialty foods store called Vine and Olive. It’s just down the main drag from Kalahari and has a lovely assortment of wines, infused oils and vinegars, imported cheeses, prepared foods and Italian desserts. If you’re in the area, go! What I wouldn’t give for a location in Canton.

Visit Kalahari on the web at












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1 Comment

  1. You’ve encouraged me, I will one day be brave enough to take the fam!

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