It can be a bit more challenging to plan a birthday celebration when you live in Minnesota and your special day falls in the middle of January. Couple that with the fact that most of your friends live an hour and a half away in Chippewa Falls, WI and what do you get? Well for one special girl with a uniquely blended family it means that we will be making waves at an indoor water park @ Wisconsin Dells!
Once we made our initial debut to the Dells, my little PBB got hooked and ever since it has become an annual tradition for our family. Throughout this blog post I will do my best to take my readers along for the fun. So hold on you might get wet!
Kalahari – 2011
On Madison’s sixth birthday I had made arrangements for us to spend a long weekend at the Kalahari Resort at the Dells.
Being that this was going to be Madison’s first trip to an indoor water park, I wanted to make it special. After all, this vacation was dedicated to her birthday celebration. I had planned out all the details perfectly and may have been even more excited than her. No surprise there because at heart I am still just a big kid.
The real surprise for Madison came when Nellie and I were waiting for her as school came to an end. When she came walking out she was shocked and said, “I didn’t know you could come all the way here.” I have her a big hug and scooped her up. After getting my little monkey hug she scurried over to ‘Bullet’, my silver Mazda 6 that I had at the time, and jumped in the back. I had meticulously packed the car perfectly so that we had all the things that we needed for our trip, which meant we were just a bit more cramped than usual.
I drove the next three hours slow and easy through blizzard-like conditions. The girls caught up and relaxed as much as possible; Madison of course began getting more and more anxious the further we drove. When we finally broke down and told her we were going to a water park, she was happy but had no idea really what that meant.
Finally, after the slow and steady drive we made it to the Kalahari – an African safari themed water park. The resort was enormous. After checking in and unloading all of our gear in our ‘hut’ we hoped into our swim suits; the indoor water park was going to be open for a few more hours and we wanted to take advantage of that. At the entrance of the park we got our wrist bands checked and were allowed into the park to start our adventure. The park seemed to never end, and there were so many things going on that it was really exciting even for the adults.
At this time my daughter didn’t know how to swim, and neither did Nellie, however, the water park was already ahead of us on this one and offered its guests a free life-vest to wear. This made me a bit more comfortable for both of them and it allowed me the ability to relax a bit. The park had many fun things going on and each of us seemed to have our own favorites about the place. Once we had gotten all pruned up from a couple of solid hours in the water we decided to head back to the room and get cleaned up.
Starving we decided to order a large pepperoni pizza from one of the resorts food eateries. What kid can refuse a steamy and delicious pizza especially on her birthday weekend. We devoured the pizza in a snap. I recall feeling really proud that we were doing this for Madison and even for ourselves. It is nice to beat the cold of the midwest for a weekend in the Kalahari.
The rest of the trip was exhilarating. The resort offered us many different amenities and activities that we took full advantage of including an indoor theme park beyond just the water park. As a family we went on the indoor ferris wheel, played a round of mini golf, and even went go-carting! This was the first trip that Nellie and Madison were able to bond and get closer, probably because neither could swim well, but mainly this allowed us to really be a family. Sunday came quickly and our trip concluded with one more splash in the water park. We then drove PBB back home and called it a successful transition to the big 6!
Lastly I leave you with a review of the Kalahari water park. Please note that my review only includes the indoor offerings.
Kalahari Resort Review: Rating A-
Best Features: water park size, indoor temperature (84 degrees), rides, theme.
Worst Features: room amenities and quality, food costs, concierge / check-in process.
Resort Style & Theme: The Kalahari provides a special experience and they have really differentiated themselves with a unique and fun theme – African Safari. This is blended throughout the entire compound through great interior decorating and the sights offered are sure to impress.
Rooms and Amenities: The rooms are pretty basic and the beds are not like an upgraded plush Marriott, but it does the job. We stayed in a ‘Hut’ room which came with two standard double beds and has all the basics including a flat screen tv. I would rate the room at C+, nothing special but adequate for a trip where you plan to stay very little time in the room.
Indoor Water Park: The water park was really awesome and provided something for everyone! At 125,000sqft of indoor heaven, it’s big enough to consume an entire weekend with enough variety to keep any possible boredom at bay.
- Tikes (1-3) are provided an area available that includes a zero depth walk-in pool with many kiddy things to do. Especially nice if you are bringing a little one under 3 or a non-proficient swimmer.
- kiddos (4-9) are provided many different options of water rides and slides. Please note, There are restrictions based on height requirements. You must be at least 42 inches tall to be allowed on most of the intermediate rides. Some will also require a parent to come along for the fun. For this group there are several indoor slides and water-coaster type rides. My personal favorite for this category was the ‘Master Blaster’.
- Tweens (10-17) will still have a blast darting around the water park and hitting some of the most thrilling rides. Being 48 inches tall unlocks all the gates to the African kingdom. With this you are able to ride some pretty intense group rides and hit the riptide wakeboard area.
- Adults (18, 21+) have some pretty sweet privileges inside the water park too. Yup that’s right not all the fun is for the kids. Parents can stay in the same indoor park area and enjoy a beer or spirit of choice and lounge in one of their several hot tub areas located near their bar /cabana area. They have a few bars that also offer flat screen TVs if you just have to catch a sports game, but I recommend avoiding this and spending some good one-on-one time with the kids. There is a lazy river that circles the place and starts and stops on either side of their wave pool. This is a family favorite and great for grandparents or anyone that’s looking to relax at a slower pace.
Food Options: Many options are made available to tempt guest’s taste buds any you never have to leave the comfort of the building. However the convenience does come with a premium price tag that may have guests providing their own snacks and coolers full of goodies. A pizza will run you anywhere from $22-28, but who can resist a slice of heaven? I strongly recommend stopping in town at the nearby Walmart and pick up a few things to hold the kids over between meals.
Indoor Theme Park: If guests are staying more than 2-3 days, or need a break from their fingers pruning up, the theme park is awesome. The Farris Wheel is a family favorite; additionally the go-karts and mini golf provide other great ways to spend your stay-cation. Each of these can have a significant waiting line depending on the timing of your visit.
I hope this resort assessment was helpful, and after having been to a few indoor parks at the Dells, I would say that this one takes the cake!
So what are you waiting for, if your looking to have a blast this winter check out the Kalahari resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI!