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Kalahari is fun for all ages.
Kalahari is fun for all ages.

Kalahari renovates, invigorates

All of the Wisconsin Dells' water parks have their individual charms, but I've always appreciated the Kalahari Resorts because all of it's under one roof. It just makes the experience easier, specifically in the wintertime, when we don't have to travel from building to building with wet heads.

"We have always been committed to being under one roof," says Daylene Stroebe, who has served as Kalahari's general manager for 10 years. "People told us they feel safe letting their older children walk around on their own."

Recently, Kalahari renovated again, and added three new water slides that required workers to, literally, raise the roof to accommodate. Two of the slides are the first indoor Super Loops in the country. All three of the new slides have a 60-foot drop and riders zoom at speeds up to 25 m.p.h.

I went on all of them and they are pretty nuts. They rank in high thrills with the Master Blaster, a roller-coaster-like water slide and the Tanzania Twister, which we call "the toilet bowl." I never went to water parks before I had kids, and never understood why other adults I knew did, but now I get it. A good water park offers experiences for all age groups, including adventuresome adults.

My kids were too old to get into it, but Kalahari also recently unveiled a new Kid's Play Zone for little water lovers. It's super cute and revolves around a character, Tiko the Elephant. Years ago, I would have really appreciated the layout, which has lots of room for parents to hang out right next to the slides as well as double-wide slides so parents can actually slide next to them.

The Kids' Play Zone also has it's own mini lazy river with little inner tubes. All of the amenities for the Play Zone came from parents' and kids' recommendations.

It had been a few years since we last visited the Kalahari, so the indoor theme park was new to us, too. We splurged on the wristbands ($9.95 for kids 6 and under; $19.95 for kids 7 and older) and in doing so they had unlimited access to 3-D laser tag, a six-story indoor Ferris wheel, miniature golf, rock climbing wall and a go-cart track. Games – from air hockey to skee ball to video games – cost extra.

We found Kalahari's service exemplary. Every staff person we came in contact with was extremely friendly and helpful, from the guys working the FlowRider surfing pool that gave my inexperienced son extra pointers on how to stay afloat to the go-cart workers who let me ride without a wristband for free because my kid was too-short and too-scared to ride alone. These kind of niceties really make a difference, and we enjoyed every minute of our stay.

Plus, the daily complimentary cookie decorating and the live animals in the lobby – we saw baby tigers and a baby kangaroo – added a lot of value to our experience.

There is also a new tile safari-themed floor in the lobby, and Strobe says now that they completed the renovations, a $5 million plan for the next stage of upgrades is already materializing.

"We plan to take about 50 percent of our space and add new, exciting options," says Stroebe. "At this point, we are exploring about a million different ideas."


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