When I was a kid, we never really took family vacations. With two working parents and three kids, I think time and money were both factors. When I became a parent, I prioritized making sure we tried to get away once a year—nothing fancy or far, just a chance to get out and spend time together as a family. As the kids have gotten older, they started to have some input on vacations, and they have been begging to go to a waterpark resort again. It had been about 3 years since we had last visited one, and I think they have asked weekly since that trip.
Little Getaway: Kalahari Resorts Wisconsin Dells
Last weekend my family and I were invited to Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells to participate in their Mommy Blogger Kalahari Kampout. It gave us a chance to really dive in and check out all that Kalahari has to offer to families.
Before our trip, pretty much all I knew about Kalahari Resorts was that it was the largest resort in the Dells. Being a lifelong resident of the Chicago area, I have only been to the Dells once before (3 years ago), so I went in with very few expectations. Kalahari blew them all away. It was a gorgeous resort, with enough to do to entertain kids (range from 1-7 years) and adults, and the staff and service were the best I have received in a long time.
When I checked in (before they knew I was with the bloggers visiting), I was warmly greeted and given information on all the activities they had that weekend (we stayed Friday-Sunday). In addition to the waterpark and theme park, they have Camp Kalahari. Located right outside the waterpark entrance and amidst the restaurant, Camp Kalahari offers activities, arts, and crafts for children staying at the park. It’s open almost all day for just drop-in coloring and the option to buy individual projects or special events scheduled throughout the day. While we were there, they had a cookie decorating every afternoon. While Camp Kalahari is not a babysitting service (you can’t leave your kids unattended all day!), the staff is very friendly and helpful, and you can leave your older kids to stay and work on a project while you grab a quick bite to eat.
Let’s move on to the main attraction, the waterpark:
Kalahari has the largest indoor waterpark in Wisconsin, and while you can tell because there are so many things to do, while you are in there, it doesn’t feel like it. The waterpark is set up as several different pools or areas that are all under one roof. The last waterpark we visited had them as separate pools that you had to visit, which was hard for kids of multiple ages. With Kalahari’s set up, I could easily hang out in Tikko’s Watering Hole with the youngest kids while dad and the oldest went to the Wave Pool or Leopard’s Lair and meet back together without having to leave the pool.
When I was posting photos from my weekend, someone asked me about the pool’s temperature and the park in general. The pools were all very warm. Tikko’s Watering Hole was the warmest. Before I was totally wet (when I was walking around in knee deep water), I was hot and sweating. The wave pool and slides are a little cooler by nature because of all the moving water. My super skinny kids have always tuned blue in waterparks after 90 minutes or so in the water, and they swam for almost 4 hours before we had to forcefully remove them because the little one had blue lips.
Tikko’s Watering Hole was by far the most popular with the 1.5 and 5-year-old. This new addition is a 5,000 square foot pool with slides, interactive play, and a 200-foot lazy river just for them. My girls spent hours on this! The oldest one sometimes would forgo the inner tube and used her life-vest to “swim” (float) around the river.
Another feature that I appreciated was the life jackets. My kids love water, but they are beach babies. They spent their early years on Lake Michigan’s shore on the Northside, and they have always done better with beaches than pools. None of them can swim. Kalahari has tons of life jackets spread out around the park for kids to use and require ALL children under 48in (all of mine) to have one on in any of the pools beside Tikko’s Watering Hole. There is even a guard in the wave pool area that I saw on more than one occasion go up and measure a kid and send them out to get a jacket. Safety is a priority at Kalahari. Those vests proved to be a real confidence booster and convinced all my kids to try the slides on this trip, something they have never done!
Lest you think it’s all fun for the kids, there is plenty, besides the lazy river, for parents to enjoy at the pool. Sadly being pregnant meant I couldn’t try out any larger slides, and I love water slides! Kalahari features America’s first indoor super loop slides, three of them. All present a near 60-foot drop, and the Super Loop Sahara Sidewinder slide takes you on a 250-foot journey from the roof of the waterpark to the water below.
By far the coolest thing they had, and something I was most disappointed to miss out on was the Surfari Flow Rider that allows you to surf inside. It was seriously so cool! We got to watch a pro demonstrate how it works, and then to our delight and surprise; he took the smaller kids out with him so they could try it out!
My son is still talking about it, it was so cool!
In addition to the waterpark, if you need more to do, there is a 100,000 square foot indoor theme park. Not just your standard arcade, this features a six-story Ferris wheel, ropes course, mini-golf, bowling, and go-karts. Even with the kiddie rides closed for renovation while we were there, the littlest one found games she enjoyed, even if she didn’t know what she was doing:
I know being green is important to many of our readers, so you will be happy to hear that it’s also essential to Kalahari. They make it a priority to maintain Eco-friendly practices to help reduce water and energy consumption. They feature low energy consumption water pumps throughout the park, use low flow dishwasher spray heads and low-flow shower-heads that reduce water consumption by 2.46 million gallons per year. They have also partnered with Clean the World to recycle soap and shampoo products left in the rooms for distribution to impoverished people worldwide. The Dells location also uses rooftop solar panels, which heat more than 50% of the resort’s hot water.
As with all resorts, there are many add-ons everywhere you go, from the candy shop and paint your own pottery to pictures surfing or with the baby tigers that visit on the weekend. What I enjoyed was the Theme Park was totally separate from the waterpark because honestly, when we go back, we would skip it entirely, and my kids would be OK. My younger ones were just too young to enjoy it, and it was deafening.
We stayed in a suite while there, really a must for families! It gave us two bedrooms and a pullout couch (should we need it) as well as a microwave and fridge. It also had two bathrooms, which made getting everyone cleaned up after the pool much easier! Kalahari is definitely on our list of must-visit again locations! b
Disclosure: My family and I were hosted at Kalahari for the weekend to learn about the resort. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.