Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kalahari Water Park and Resort - Review: Part I

An Oasis in the middle of Ohio


Our family recently spent three days and two nights (Wed-Fri) at the Kalahari Water Park and Resort in Sandusky, OH.  This is the third water park in two years that Mommy Stuff and I have taken our two boys (the others being Zehnders in Frankenmuth, MI and Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, OH, too.)

I won't compare the other resorts to Kalahari here, for a couple of important reasons – 1) we spent more time in Kalahari, and 2) the more we've been to water parks, the more we have learned.

Let's run through the process and features, and along the way I'll provide our opinion.

Online Booking
The website is ok to use – not super simple, not overly complex.  Being the bargain hunter I am, I naturally sought out the deals section.  This part can be confusing – for the same dates there are multiple packages available, and it's not always easy to see "value" in the choices. 

Locating the right resort and booking the dates was pretty straight forward.  You get a quick confirmation of the booking automatically once you complete the process. 


Unloading and Checking in – AKA herding the kids and your stuff

Entrance of Kalahari (courtesy of Kalahari)

Getting the stuff out of our vehicle and into the hotel was pretty quick.  The process was simplified by having bell hops pounce on you in the pull up lane(s) of the covered entrance.  They direct you to a place to park temporarily.  They start immediately putting your stuff on a baggage cart, and are quite friendly.  This frees you up to get to the front desk, confirm your stuff and get your hotel room keys.  They then lead you (and tow your stuff) to your room.   I tip the helpful, and these guys were very good.  Really reduces the stress level and struggle of herding kids and your stuff in a strange, sprawling resort.

Kalahari also offers a lot of food choices (and simply amazing baked goods – like a donut the size of a man hole cover!) for those ravenous, to those that are snackers.  Our package included breakfasts for all of us each day, one sit down dinner and one pizza. 

Our arrival evening we had dinner at The Great Karoo Restaurant. 

The kids got a buffet, which was affordable and had enough variety for those that can't make up their minds.  My wife and I ordered normal menu items.  The food was good, and hot.  The only downside was the service time.  While our waiter was very kind and friendly – it just appeared that the whole staff was overwhelmed by the volume of people, which must be odd for a Wednesday night.  The total experience, while long, was good.  But I don't recommend the oatmeal, fried ice cream dessert at all, though.  It was not good, not fun, and not enjoyable. (Mommy Stuff didn't think it was THAT bad J )

Breakfasts for our package were served in The Reserve. 

This, too, was a buffet style breakfast.  Our waiters each time we dined there were much more timely and just as friendly.  The food was quite good, and Momma Stuff and I discovered a secret passion for creme stuffed churros we didn't know we had (similar to what we saw on Food Network Best Things I Ever Ate)! 

The kids roundly enjoyed the variety, and the d├ęcor kept them entertained.  The only draw back is the restaurant opens at 8:30am, and the water park at 9.  I don't like to dine in swim wear, so that put us into the water park after it opens, when many of the more choice seating locations are taken.  Be advised.

We also had dinner in the same locale, and that was super for the boys.  Teen music plays, there are contests and activities for the kids to participate in and overall the vibe is fun.  Again a buffet choice is available for the kids and that worked well for the little one.  The food is average at best, which was fine for the atmosphere.  We did have an appetizer, to which D man quipped – "It's not Calamari, it Kalahari!"  Look out Eddie Murphy!  The resort had a one child eats free coupon at this restaurant, which was nice way to save a little, and a kind gesture.

In sum – good to average food, awesome sweets/snacks/desserts, slow wait staff, very friendly wait staff, decent value, and kid-centric fun.

Coming next, Review Part II - Attractions and all the rest

As of this writing, the writer has not been compensated for this review.  This review is for the purposes of information and experience sharing.  The views of the author are his own.

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