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Pack Your Bags: Kalahari Resort, Sandusky, OH

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If all this Michigan winter has you wishing you lived much further south, take a break from the ice and snow and give yourself a little taste of summer at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. Just about 2 hours away from Ann Arbor, it is the perfect family get away!

While I had heard great things about Kalahari, my expectations are generally rather low when it comes to water parks, but we were thrilled with everything we encountered there. For instance:

1. Our rooms were big, comfortable and clean. There was a kitchen to use in the room we reserved, but not in all rooms (great if you want to save money by bringing your own food), and everything you would need was furnished there. We got a great deal on our hotel, so we booked 2 suites, but our family of 6 and my in-laws could have easily fit in one suite. You can request a port-a-crib or roll away bed for an extra $10 per night.

2. The food was pretty good. We decided to go with the breakfast buffet before we entered the water park and it was buffet-ish but offered lots of great options for the kids. There are plenty of food options inside the park. There was a pizza joint inside the park where we ordered a gigantic pizza that fed everyone for almost an entire day (though the quantity was better than the quality). The adults enjoyed the grill shop inside the park that offered a great chicken sandwich and burgers with gluten-free buns. Our favorite spot was the dessert and ice cream shop just outside the water park called The Candy Hut. They had so many delicious concoctions that we couldn’t try just one! If you have a sweet tooth, you will not be disappointed.

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image via Kalahari

3. It was great for the little ones. You don’t have to pay water park admission for kids under two, which I love, but even better, is that there were great places for them to have an enjoyable time splashing in the water or swinging on swings. The only downside for these little guys is they HAVE TO wear a life jacket at all times in the water, even if they are just in the shallowest part of the wave pool or if you are holding them. Kind of hard on a 1 year old.

Kids Safari Tilted Image
image via Kalahari

4. It was pretty good for the middle ages. If you are under 42 inches there were a lot of places for you to play; however, it can be a bummer that some rides are off limits since my boys are little daredevils. That being said, there was still a lot of fun to be had (some big slides that were open to all,warm family hot tubs, Flo Rider, lazy river, and wave pool topped my middle’s list).

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image via Kalahari
image via Kalahari

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image via Kalahari

5. It was amazing for the older ones. If you have kids that are over 42 inches, they will absolutely love their experience here. The big water slides are fantastic…daring but not too scary and they spent lots of time swimming in the wave pool and floating the lazy river. The Flo-Rider was incredibly popular but worth the wait, and the water basketball, lily pad cross, and hot tubs were the icing on the cake. Easy to stay busy all day.

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image via Kalahari

image via Kalahari
image via Kalahari

A few things we learned:

1. Book your stay as far away from weekends and holidays as possible. This might necessitate a day off of school or work, but it will be worth it. It was exponentially more fun without the crowds.

2. Don’t try to be the first ones at the park. It is everyone’s idea, so go ahead and sleep in…on the up side if you are an early riser anyway, we got a great place to put our stuff and staked out perfect lawn chairs since we were there so early. We were there on a Monday and it was PACKED in the morning from the weekend. The lines were really long for most of the big rides and we waited sometimes as long as 45 minutes, which was a bummer. Then, by about 1pm, about half the park had cleared out and everything was much more manageable. After about 4pm we basically walked onto every ride and barely waited for the Flo-Rider. Places like Kalahari are so much better without the crowds. If you have older kids who can handle staying up late, stay until closing! This was just our experience, and it may be different if you are there in the middle of the week or during a less busy time, so ask the staff… earlier could be better for you.

3. Booking 2 rooms may be a better deal than buying individual passes for the extra people. We got our hotel rooms for about $160 each night which included 4 water park passes. Each pass is $46, so it made more sense for us to book two rooms than pay for the additional passes we needed even though we could have squished into one suite.

4. Go with extra adults or another family. Kalahari is a big place, so you will want adults supervising each group of children as they explore the park. The park is huge, so you cannot keep your eyes out for multiple children. In our family, one child could go on the biggest slides, two were in the middle, and one was a toddler, so it was nice to have the 4 adults so everyone could fully enjoy the park. We combined for many of the attractions, but when we split up the extra hands and eyes made for a great time for all.

5. Decide if you will do more that the water park. There is a paint your own pottery studio and a giant arcade if you need some dry time fun. We let our kids each play a few tokens on our way out, but the slides and pool keep you plenty busy.

Big Game Room Arcade

6. Life jackets and towels are provided. The towels are certainly not plush, so you may want to bring your own and life jackets are required for some children.

7. Get the most our of your stay. Check in time is generally after 4pm, but you can do a pre-check as early as noon and start using the water park. Check out is at 11am (so your belongings have to be out of the room), but you can continue to use the water park that day as well. A good argument for getting an extra room instead of extra passes, since you can use the water park both days.

Cost:

Hotel Rooms: During the month of February there are many nights at the Kalahari resort where rooms are between $159 per night and $199 per night (more expensive days being weekends). This includes the 4 water park passes and a $50 food credit, so it is a GREAT deal. Click here to reserve a room at a great deal and check rates. ┬áBe aware that there are still taxes and a $15 resort fee. The deadline for booking on this deal is FEBRUARY 7, so don’t waste time.

Water Park Passes: $46 for everyone over 42 inches (per day), $35 for everyone under 42 inches (per day), FREE for children under 2.

Lockers: These are basically a must at the waterpark. The cost is $6 plus a $9 deposit.

Overall, Kalahari is a must do for families during the long Michigan winter!

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