“I want to go back to Kalahari.” That’s the last thing our five-year-old, Hayley, said last night before her head hit her little Disney Princess pillow, and I couldn’t help but share her sentiment. “Kalahari”. A name with more syllables than any toddler can typically annunciate, and yet she managed to scream it, sing it, and sputter it as she drifted off in her car seat on our drive home from the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio yesterday.
We don’t go on vacation often. When we do, it’s to grandma’s house up north. So you can imagine our expectations when splurge a whopping $200 for a one night’s stay in a “waterpark resort” in Sandusky. For $200, I want something pretty freaking fantastic.
But to be honest, I expected to be disappointed. Sure, it’s a little ‘negative nancy’ of me, but as far as I was concerned, I ‘knew’ how these waterpark hotel shmotels go. The lobby’s drenched with wet kiddie footprints from wall to wall; your flip-flops go flying out from under you as you unintentionally surf up to the check-in counter and there’s algae accumulating in the corners of the elevators. When you get to your room, the air swells with the stench of chlorine and you feel like you’ve sponged up the mysteriously warm lap pool before you’ve even had a chance to toe-test the waters. Ew.
Well, I’ll tell you, when we arrived to the Kalahari, I was delightfully mistaken. We pulled up to the palatial over-sized resort and were immediately impressed by its grandeur. We stepped through the doors into a beautiful lobby, sensory-overloaded with authentic African décor, and an entire community within Kalahari walls: walk-up store fronts and bakery cases lined the walls… candy shop, ice cream shop, coffee shop, restaurants, gift shops, swim shops… did we mention the live baby tiger photo op? and oh, yes, the check-in desk. We arrived to our “standard” room furnished with two queen beds, a fireplace and a balcony. The balcony overlooked an entire outdoor water playground, pools and a tiki bar. (Hmm, could the water park be as impressive?)
We skidaddled downstairs to the indoor waterpark (past the enormous arcade, indoor playground, putt-putt golf course, pottery painting activity center, build-a-bear workshop, caricature drawing stand, hair wrap stand, spa and salon) and were overwhelmed with the number of water slides, not to mention the sheer height and twisting, turning, (slightly anxiety-imposing) paths of them. From family-style slides that run from ceiling to ground level, a water rollercoaster, simulated surf center, tube rides, lazy river… I-myself-couldn’t wait to get in my suit (something normally less-than-exciting). We went on everything. And a many times over. And after a full day at the park, we dried off, showered, primped and went to one of the resort restaurants—yum–and then went BACK to the water park until 10pm without question.
We planned the trip with the mindset of ‘doing it for the kids’, and came home with stories to tell about what Kalahari did for our vacation. I’m impressed, Kalahari. Thanks for watering down my cynicism and being the DIFF on our vacation. It was worth every dollar and we’ll be back next year.