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For Christmas this year rather than buying our kids a bunch of toys that they didn’t have room for and would barely use we decided to go to Kalahari indoor water park in Pennsylvania and have that be their Christmas present. Since my son’s birthday is close to Christmas too we made sure to do extra things for him to celebrate his birthday.
We drove down to Kalahari through a snow storm and very cold weather. This was our first trip there so we really had no idea what to expect. Imagine our surprise when we pulled up and saw fountains and waterfalls flowing outside despite the 20 degree weather. We parked our truck out front and went to check in. I should mention here that we are Disney World fanatics so whether I want to or not I always judge things like this against a Disney standard which can seem unfair but really I have no choice, my brain has decided this is the way things are done.
The lobby was impressive. It was decorated for Christmas and included a giant Christmas tree and sleigh around the fountain that was covered with animals. I did not include this in my video but I have included photos. When you walk past the fountain there are comfortable chairs next to a fireplace and just past that was a scale model of the existing water park and the expansion which is suppose to be completed in 2017. Just past that is a very large window that overlooks the waterpark. To the left of this window are two sit down dinning restaurants, one is more upscale than the other but I will talk about the food later. Our check in experience was nice, they provided my son with a button to let everyone know it was his birthday. We asked to add a birthday party package to our experience and I will talk about this later as well but I do want to mention here that I wish that the birthday party package had been explained to us when we asked for it and you’ll see why later. We all got our bracelets and we were ready to go to our room. The bracelets are important, they open your room and some can be used for purchases if you would like and they are how you get into the water park so you will get one for each member of your family.
The kids and I took a few things up the to the room while my husband went to find a parking space. You can get a valet service that is (I believe) $25 or you can try to get one of the few 15 minute parking spots available near the building, which by they way people were parked at way longer than 15 minutes, like, long enough for snow to build up on them when it wasn’t snowing very hard longer than 15 minutes. My husband ended parking way out by the convention center which wasn’t that big of a deal because the convention center is very impressive to walk through. There are carts by the elevators to help you get your stuff to your room which was very handy and I’m not just talking about the 2 or 3 carts you typically find at hotels I mean smaller carts and a lot of them very neatly organized. We got to our room and used our wristband to get in and I have to admit that we were yet again quite impressed.
We had a standard room without the bunkbeds and it was very roomy. There was a closed off closet that included a dresser, iron and ironing board, extra blankets and pillows and the safe. I will say that having the dresser located here was actually kind of a pain because my daughter insisted on using it which meant she was in the way whenever anyone wanted to get in or out of the room. The bathroom was very nice and the tub was quite large and it had very good water pressure. The sink is in the room rather than the bathroom which I liked a lot but the extra toilet paper wasn’t in the bathroom which would have been a pain if one of us was alone and needed it. There was a microwave, ice bucket, coffee maker and a pretty large mini fridge. We had 2 (I believe) full size beds and the couch pulled out into a sleeper sofa. I tried to sleep on the bed the first night but I did not like it, if you moved even a little bit the whole bed moved so that means if you’re trying to share the bed with your partner or one of your kids and one of you moved the other one felt it, not good for a light sleeper. Also I have a bad back and the beds made it worse for me. The second night I ended up sharing the sleeper sofa with my son and sadly I thought that was a much better bed. While I’m on the note of things I think could have been improved upon, more table space or counter space would have been nice for when we were eating in the room, there was plenty of room for it to be added. Also a luggage stand would have been very helpful as well.
We left the room and went to the water park. Be aware that they are very smart and you have to go through the arcade to get to the water park or as we started calling the arcade the kiddie casino because I feel like we lost all of our money there. :-) Make sure you bring extra money for the arcade, we really did have a lot of fun in there and make sure you play the black light mini golf but don’t do the laser thing, it was a complete waste of money.
The water park is pretty amazing and it is hard to believe that it is going to be even bigger soon. My favorite thing about any water park is the lazy river and I really liked that this one went all through the park so you could pretty much see all the different areas from it, also it had multiple entrances which I also appreciated. My kids and my husband went on all the water slides and my son and daughter both liked the water roller coaster the best. I enjoyed taking my son over to the kid section because he is right on the cusp of being to big for it. There were tons of things for infants to do there, lots of little seats for them to sit in and play with the water. There were water slides for toddlers and they even had their own little lazy river. When I wasn’t in the adult lazy river or watching my kids in the giant splash park my husband and I went over to the swim up bar area and got a drink (in case you’re wondering they are not at all inexpensive) and we would hang out there or go outside from there because it was an indoor/outdoor “hot tub”; I put that in quotes because it was not as warm as the actual hot tub but the lack of children in it made up for the cooler temperature. When I did get cold, believe it or not you can get cold in there, I went to the other indoor/outdoor hot tub and that one the kids could join us in. If you’ve never been outside in a hot tub when it is snowing you should, it is wonderful. At one point the whole family played basketball in the water basketball area which is more fun than it sounds and honestly even as someone who is not a fan of water activities I really enjoyed myself.
We went back to the room, dried off and decided we needed to eat. Here is the part that I’m sure a lot of people are going to be wondering about. Again as Disney fans I always liked having the meal plan so everything was included and that is not an option here so make sure you bring a lot of money for food or plan on bringing it with you because it is not cheap. We thought about going to the buffet for dinner but for 4 of us it was going to be just under $100 so we moved on. I couldn’t even tell you how much it would have cost for the upscale dinning because I didn’t even bother to look. We went to the Ivory coast which is the less expensive sit down restaurant. I would like to say that this was worth the money but unfortunately I can’t. We were there at least 15 minutes before we ever saw a waitress which would have been understandable if it was busy but it wasn’t. My daughter and I got the same meal, a chicken, bacon ranch wrap, she got french fries and I got tots unfortunately mine came without the ranch and a tomato that had either been frozen at some point or way past its prime because it was mushy and gross. My husband got a burger that at first inspection looked good. He ordered it medium, when he got towards the middle we realized it was rare. For anyone who may doubt my knowledge on beef wellness I worked at a steakhouse for many years so I know the varying levels. We finally got a waitress to come over and show her and she graciously asked if he would like another one but he said he was full and just wanted to make sure the kitchen knew. The manager was nice enough to take 20% off of our bill which brought our 2 chicken wraps, a burger, a kids burger meal 2 drinks and a soup in a bread bowl down to just over $50.
In an attempt to try another eatery the next day we decided to get sandwiches from the counter service and it was so much better. The pricing was about the same $9 for a sandwich or panini and there were breakfast sandwiches and pastries and desserts and sides. We each got a sandwich and went up to the room, this is what I would recommend doing if you’re trying to stay on the resort and not spend a fortune on food. We did also get a pizza one night with our birthday package and that was pretty good, that would have cost $21 for a 14” pizza with one side. The day we left we had the breakfast buffet but only because it was complimentary and that was honestly very good. Our waitress was fantastic and there was a huge selection and the lady making the omelets at the omelet station was impressive but that would have cost us over $50 for breakfast if it had not been complimentary.
In case you are wondering why we got a complimentary breakfast here is the reason for that. Remember how I mentioned the birthday package a while ago. Well, as I mentioned we purchased it when we checked in. The birthday package is around $60 and includes a cake, balloons, a stuffed animal, 20 arcade tokens and a pizza. When we ordered it we were able to choose our cake and frosting flavors, tell them what we wanted written on it and tell them where and what time we would like it delivered. We decided in our room around 3pm the next day (they need at least 24 hours notice). The next day we called and asked to have it changed to 6:30 so that we could eat and celebrate and then go back in the park until it closed. I went back to the room at 4:30 and then at 6 I went quickly to find everyone to have them come back to the room to dry off for dinner. We waited until 6:30, then 6:45 and then 5 minutes to 7 and no birthday package. My husband called and they said they didn’t know where to deliver it and that they had called the room (I was gone for maybe 15 minutes getting them, there was no phone call nor a message on our phone), we then waited another 20 minutes before the package arrived and we noticed there wasn’t a pizza. There were balloons, a cake and a cute stuffed animal but no pizza. We were also told that the supervisor was personally going to deliver it to us but that was not the case. So another phone call to the front desk and that is when we were told that we would only get a voucher for pizza. This had not been relayed to us at any point, you would think the pizza would come with the cake when delivered. My suggestion for Kalahari for the future would be to have a pamphlet or brochure for people who get this package with details about its features and when it is booked it should be explained that you will need to order your pizza with a voucher that you won’t get until the package is delivered (I think you should get the voucher when you purchase the package so that you can order the pizza ahead of time). Unfortunately for us we ended up not being able to spend as much time in the park that night and we had our pizza at 9pm which actually made it extra yummy because we were starving. Because of the 45+ minute delay getting our birthday package we were offered the complimentary breakfast buffet, because of the complete miscommunication we were not charged for our birthday package. Please don’t get me wrong, every time an issue was realized the staff tried their best to fix it for us but this is something that could have easily been avoided and hopefully will be avoided by other people in the future.
All that being said we had a very good time at Kalahari and would love to make it a yearly thing so I can report back on all the updates and give tips to anyone interested. I also want to add a extra thank you to everyone who made my son feel special on his birthday, including the guy at the arcade ticket trading area that let my son get extra tentacle toys so he had one for each finger, the waitresses that sang happy birthday to him at breakfast and everyone that stopped and wished him a happy birthday after seeing his button. No matter what you do you should try out Kalahari, I would love to try it again when it is warmer too because there are things to do outside and I hear there is more to come for outdoor activities. Here’s hoping that we can make Kalahari a yearly tradition and that now that we have a little more knowledge about what to expect that our trips there get better and better.