Thursday, August 3, 2017

Kalahari Resort-Wisconsin Dells

I shared yesterday our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells. Today I thought I would share with you about our stay at the Kalahari Resort.
We have stayed at Kalahari both times we have vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells. It is our most favorite place!!
The resort has a safari-African theme to it.

HOTEL ROOM

For our first trip to Kalahari, we booked a standard room which I believe was called The Hut Room.
It had 2 full beds and a couch that pulls out into another bed. It also had a mini fridge and microwave. This was great because, once again, we just packed and ate breakfast in the hotel each morning.
The rooms were very clean and I loved the African decor.
For the second vacation, we booked the Combination Suite. It came with 2 bedrooms and a living room as well as full kitchen!!
Having a designated place to hang out was sooo nice with kids! Janessa tends to wake up early so it was nice to be able to take her into a seperate room to play and not worry about waking up everyone else. It's a great way to save on time and money to be able to cook in a kitchen too. Of course we were on vacation so I didn't want to have to cook, but we packed along a lot of snacks and easy microwavable food for quick lunches & breakfast. The kitchen was FULLY STOCKED with pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and more! It had a full size oven, refrigerator, and even a dishwasher! It was soooo convenient! 
 The grandparents came along on our vacation so it was really nice to have seperate rooms and yet, at the same time, be connected. 

As for our bedroom with our three kids, we had 2 queen beds. Our room also came with a mini fridge & microwave.

WATERPARK
As for the waterpark, we loved the waterpark at Kalahari a lot more than Great Wolf Lodge. Don't get me wrong, Great Wolf Lodge was great, but here are a few reasons why I LOVED Kalahari.
At Kalahari, the indoor waterpark was in ONE large room! This was nice because I knew the entire family was all in one place. The outdoor pool wasn't even accessible in the area so no worries about kids sneaking outside. So here are some other things I loved about the waterpark at Kalahari.

First off, BABY SWINGS!!
Kalahari has a few sections of baby swings so your little ones can dip their toes in the water and have a good time since they are too little to swim. For my girls who hated being in the water, they actually LOVED being in the swings.
 It really helped transition them into water and helped them become comfortable in the water.
By the second day they were brave enough to get all the way in the water and splash around.
But another reason I LOVED the baby swings was because it gave this momma a break! My babies tend to be on the chubby side which makes them very heavy and tiring to hold . It was nice to be able to have a break from constantly carrying or holding them and it made them happy too so it was win-win. 
They also had a great section just for toddlers and little ones. It had a small lazy river just for them-how cute, right? 
This part was full of smaller slides they can do and little statue animals to sit on or spraying water.
We didn't spend a lot of time outside (early June is still a tad cold outdoors) but on the days it got up the 80's we ventured outside. 

Again, they had a section for the small toddlers with baby swings and smaller slides to climb and slide down.
And if you have older kids or want to ride some bigger rides, they have PLENTY of huge awesome rides outside! 
Be sure to try out their newest thrill slide "Smoke Thunder"!! It's a super fast ride but, wow, worth going down at least once or twice!

Back inside, another reason I loved Kalahari was the middle section for kids of all ages. It was a great section for my 5 year old who is too big for the baby section but too small for the older rides or deep ends.
 It had a large jungle gym in the middle, when you climbed up it lead to various slides to go down! This picture just shows half of it! There are a ton of slides to choose from in various sizes! 
Ashton's favorite was the yellow Snake Slide! He went down it countless times. It was a great slide for little ones. Adults are not allowed to ride down these slides with their kids but they are made for kids so there's not much to worry about. I saw some TINY kids going down them and loving it. 
In the middle there are basketball hoops and basketballs for the kids to play with in the water.
 We spent a lot of time here in the middle. It was great I could put my youngest in the swing and sit back and watch my other two climb up and go down the slides or watch them splash in the water. I love it wasn't completely open to the rest of the swimming area. 

There were only 3 small narrow exits if they would escape, so I could always see if they were headed out of this area but they never did-it was too much fun to leave. 


Another great thing about Kalahari is the Family Raft Rides!! I hate riding on bottomless tubes while trying to hold a small child. It's uncomfortable and I always feel like I'm going to fall off. This was not the case at Kalahri! Sure they had tube rides, but they also had some great rides you could do as a famiy on a raft that has a bottom you can sit down on! There were 2-3 like this we went on over & over again. And if you like Lazy Rivers, they have one of those too.

I will say, they only thing I didn't like about Kalahari was the wave pool. They allow tubes in this section which just makes me so nervous about kids getting stuck under one & it just adds to the chaos. I only allowed Ashton in there if he was with his dad. The lifeguards there are top of the line but this is the only section I saw a lifeguard have to go in and grab a kid because they were getting in too deep in the waves.
But as you can see, there's a small splash pad for kids to play on, a playground with a small slide, and more baby swings in this section! 

Now aside from all the kid stuff, there are plenty of adult things to do.
The Wave Runner was a favorite of my husband. He took a small course that allowed him to be able to stand up and surf. 

If you don't want to take a quick learning course, you can belly board on it as much as you want! They also have a swim-up bar, some huge slides with the drop-floor, a hot tub area, and so many more slides!!
There's so much to do, you could never get bored.

And if you get tired of swimming, they have a handful of other things to do. If you want some fresh air, they have chalk outside for the kids to draw or a nice easy game of Bag Toss.
Or you can go inside and try their indoor amusement park!
There's a large arcade portion, indoor mini golf, go carts, obstacle ropes course, merry-go-round, climbing rock wall, and more! These are an additional cost of course but you can pay one flat price for your entire stay and go and play as much as you want!! They also have family bowling and a food court and more. Too many games and activities to count but, like I said, you just CAN'T get bored at Kalahari!

Like Great Wolf Lodge, they have special times for kids to take apart of activities. Like FREE cookie decorating in the afternoons!!
They also have other activities like coloring contests, scavenger hunts, craft time, etc. Just be sure to check out the activity calendar of events on the dates you go! They even have set times they bring in baby tigers! You can pay to get your pictures taken holding them  or it's just fun to see them up close!

And if you do go and your husband loves video games, be sure to have them try out their new Virtual Reality!! It's crazy!!! We did the Zombie game and it was terrifyingly real!! Seriously, pay the money to try it out-it is an experience!

Another couple perks with staying at Kalahari, you get free tickets to the Timbavati Wildlife Park & Tommy Barlet Show!! These are for a limited time so be sure to check the dates HERE!
We didn't go to the Tommy Barlet Show because I didn't think my 2 year old and 7 month old would want to sit a couple hours to watch it. But my parents went and said it was entertaining. Especially for being free!
As for the Timbavati Wildlife Park, it's nothing fancy. It was sad I felt like it was a bit run down and they were desperate for funds. They had some neat animals and you could feed the goats, birds, pet the cows, and they had a pig race. But being from Iowa, this was nothing new to me. And we live close to some amazing zoos like the St. Louis Zoo so this is nothing compared to that. But we tried it out for free! If your kids don't get the chance to see animals at the zoo or on farms then it's probably worth going to-again, it's FREE, but we went for a short while but probably wouldn't go again Mostly because my kids would rather stay and swim than walk around a hot mini zoo. This is just our preference though, I know some people who have gone here and loved it.

If you have little ones at Kalahari, I recommend taking a stroller. The resort is huge so depending on where your room is, it can be quite a jaunt to and from the waterpark! Especially if they get worn out from swimming, strollers are handy so you can carry all your stuff down anyways.
I hope this gave you a good idea of what it's like at Kalahari at the Wisconsin Dells.
I have more to share but that will have to wait until tomorrow where I'll compare the Pros & Cons of Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari and even share a few tips with you of what to pack or things to do/not to do!



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Vacation to Great Wolf Lodge

I've been meaning to share about our trips to the Wisconsin Dells for a long time now. In fact, I had one typed up over a year ago and must have forgotten to post it. Since then, we have taken another trip to the Dells so I thought I would finally share with you WHY we love the Dells and why it makes such a great family vacation destination!

(*I'll be sharing pictures from both vacations and since our trips were a year apart, you'll be able to tell whether the picture was from our 2016 trip versus our 2017 vacation because I was hugely pregnant with Janessa in the first one and Nessa is 6 months old in the latter. Also, Alaya will be crying in all the pics of our first trip and smiling in all our pics from 2017! )

We LOVE the Dells because where we live, it wasn't too far too drive and yet far enough it felt like we were "getting away". The kids did amazing on the 5 hour trip and didn't whine or cry once which was incredibly nice!!
While we were in the Dells we couldn't decide which waterpark resort to stay at so we stayed at TWO different ones during the week. 
During the first half of our vacation we stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge so I thought I would share with you a little about the resort and the things we loved or didn't like about the hotel.

It was an adorable hotel themed after a log cabin. In our first stay, our room had 2 queens and a pullout couch. There was even a microwave and mini fridge in the room which was nice since they didn't have a free breakfast so we just kept milk in the fridge and packed a box of cereal & bowls and ate breakfast right in our room. It was a very clean and cozy resort!
 The kids loved that there were stuffed wild animals on the wall throughout the lodge and each of the kids got a pair of wolf ears when we checked in.


On our second vacation, we only stayed there one night and they gave us a free upgrade to a room with bunkbeds!!! How fun is that? The kids thought it was the coolest!

The kid's "bunkbed room" actually had 3 beds! Two with the bunkbed and another single bed.
Aside from the kid's room, we had a queen bed and a couch which folded out into ANOTHER bed!!
It was huge. And I loved the fireplace! Cozy like a cabin.

Once check in, the kids were quite anxious to get right to swimming so as soon as we got there we changed into our swimsuits and went to checkout the waterpark.
It was the first week in June so we didn't play in their outdoor pool but we enjoyed their indoor pools. My boys especially loved the wave pool! The wave pool was one of the best I've been to. I love that they don't allow tubes so it felt safe and it was one of Ashton's favorite parts of Great Wolf Lodge.
And on the first trip, we discovered that Alaya HATES indoor waterparks.
Which was a lot of fun since our entire week-long vacation was planned around WATERPARKS! Jeesh.
She screamed and cried the first day whenever we were even near the pool!!
By the third day she still didn't like it but at least tolerated it.
In the morning when I would pull out her swimsuit to put on her she would start whimpering "momma, momma, momma" wishing I wouldn't put it on her. It was so sad but all I could do was laugh it off. There was nothing I could do about it and I wanted her to grow to like the water so I made her go swim at least in short spurts.
The nice thing about the waterpark being AT the hotel was I could easily take her back to the room while the boys stayed to swim. Also another perk to being at a resort, there was plenty of other things to do. They were extremely family and kid friendly that way.

They scheduled different fun activities throughout the day for kids to do like a coloring station, dance parties, kids morning yogacookie-decorating, and even bingo. And each night at 8 o'clock they have a storytime down by the big clock! All the kids can come down in their pjs and they will read a bedtime story to all the kids! So sweet! 

And if you want to throw away a few bucks they had a fun arcade next to the waterpark.
My boys love arcade games and Alaya loves to run around and watch all the flashing lights.
 AND, my boys really enjoyed the MagiQuest that was joined to the resort. 
At MagicQuest the boys were taken on an interactive scavenger hunt where they had to solve riddles to defeat a dragon and whatnot.
 The boys really got into the story aspect of it while us girls loved running around. The setup was like a large jungle-gym so it was a nice place to take Alaya so she could run off and burn some energy....and have some fun since she hated the swimming aspect of vacation. ha!
But once again, it was so nice everything was right on site so Alaya and I could go back to the room whenever we wanted while the boys went off to do their fun. 
Each afternoon us girls would go back to the hotel room to take a nap while the boys either played MagiQuest or went swimming.

The waterpark was  in one main area but was split into 3 different sections (not including the outdoor waterpark).
The first section included a couple waterslides, lazy river, a few kiddie slides, and a hot tub.
 Alaya's least favorite section was the most fun looking.
But she hated all the falling water-it was quite loud and I think overwhelming for her.
There was a baby pool right next to this part but she still hated that.
 And the other part of the waterpark included the wave pool, couple big slides, and a kiddie pool with these fun "jet skis".
Believe it or not, by the third day Alaya was actually somewhat enjoying this kiddie pool and loved sitting on the jet skis!! 

Despite Alaya hating the water, we had a good time nonetheless. And thankfully our second vacation to the Dells, she warmed up to the water much faster!! She still hated it the first day, but LOVED it once she got in and realized its fun!! There was definitely plenty of fun to be had and if you were crazy enough to be bored there was a Tanger Outlet Mall across the parking lot!!!
 I was quite excited about that!!!
One afternoon we walked over to the mall and came across a Build-a-Bear shop.
We decided to let Alaya get a bunny to cheer her up since apparently we were torturing her with all the swimming we were doing. She loved the mall and loved getting her bunny Nibbles. 
Overall, we loved Great Wolf Lodge especially for the price. They have deals going on quite a bit so if I remember correctly we got a 30%off discount for booking so far ahead. It ended up being around $100/night which included our waterpark passes so I think that's a VERY reasonable price for how much you can do! I went ahead and broke it down with a simple list of pros & cons of the Great Wolf Lodge Resort...

PROS:
*reasonably priced!
*provides lifejackets for kids 
*highly-trained lifeguards
*activities for kids
*next door to Tanger outlet
*fridge and microwave
*bands open doors
*lots of discounts available
*only hotel residents have access to waterpark

Cons:
*pool doesn't open until 9am
*additional costs for things
*no breakfast
*no family raft rides (everything was large tubes!)

Stay tuned, tomorrow I'll share about our stay at Kalahari Resort!