We were hosted by Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos for two nights to make this post about the Kalahari Resorts expansion possible. We appreciate their support of Jersey Family Fun and our efforts to share fun family attractions with our readers. As always our opinions are our own. Please contact [email protected] if you are interested in hosting a Jersey Family Fun blogger and her family at your location.
We have been lucky to embark on a lot of family travel since I’ve become a Jersey Family Fun writer. Truly there hasn’t been one place we haven’t enjoyed, but there’s one place where my family is guaranteed to have fun, relax, and disconnect from our devices. One place, where we feel like we are on a vacation far from home but are really just under 2 hours away from our central New Jersey home, it’s Kalahari Resorts. From our first visit to Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos in November 2015 when the park was just a few months old, to this most recent visit we have never been disappointed, except when it’s time to leave!
Before telling you why you’re going to LOVE the Kalahari Resorts expansion, I need to first tell you all about WHY Kalahari Resorts excels at family travel. All three Kalahari Resort locations are owned by the Nelson family – Todd and his wife Shari began Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin in 2000, and they, along with their 5 children (and their spouses) are the sole owners today. I had met Todd and his daughter Natasha at the Mandela Poster Project art exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and was so impressed with their passion for Africa, their business vision, and their hospitality.
Over this latest weekend trip to the resort however, it became so clear that the Nelson family’s commitment to hospitality, to each other, and to African culture is why Kalahari Resorts are the success they are. On Sunday morning we saw Todd and his son moving through the lobby and the breakfast buffet checking on operations and righting whatever wrongs they found. They are always working, at an earlier event, Todd told us, “We live what we love.” Lucky for us that they do, because the waterpark at Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos doubled its size to 220,000 square feet of fun, hospitality and family bonding, all thanks to the Nelson family’s vision.
What’s new with the Poconos Kalahari Resorts Waterpark with the Kalahari Resorts Expansion?
First, check out Jenn’s visit when Kalahari Resorts was under construction. Looking at those pictures and then mine (our full Facebook album is linked below) shows just how far it came in a short time! It’s DOUBLE the size! If you’ve been to the Kalahari Waterpark in the Poconos before you’ll recognize the first part after walking in, but the rear is all new. My favorite part of the Kalahari expansion is how BRIGHT it is now! With a glass wall near the wave pool and retractable glass roof sections the park now has an energy I didn’t realize it was lacking. Snow was on the ground outside while we were there, and to lounge in bathing suits while looking at the snow was a reminder of how lucky we were not only to be there, but to have this great resort so close to home.
We lounged, but of course we played as well! The Coral Cove toddler area is more of what Tiko’s Watering Hole offers in the pre-existing section, with tables nearby so parents can rest while the kids play in water a foot deep or less.
My children are 7 and 11, and could not get enough of the new Cheetah Racers slide at Kalahari Waterpark. On our first night the park was quiet and I think they raced their father 10 times. My 11 year old wasn’t feeling brave enough for the Screaming Hyena but dad tried it. Then the kids convinced me to join them on a tube ride. I’m not brave enough for the majority of these rides, so we spent a lot of time together in the new family indoor/outdoor hot tub (Paxton’s Grotto), and the Dungeons of Hout Bay wave pool. The pre-existing hot tub was our favorite part of the waterpark but I think this new one tops that! It’s right at the glass wall and the sunlight offers even more relaxation. The conveyor belt that connects the new and old lazy river is a fun feature too – like you’re on a grocery belt!
What you’ll find in the expanded Kalahari Resorts Waterpark in the Poconos:
- Coral Cove kids play area
- Shooting Stars basketball pool
- Paxton’s Grotto swim up bar
- Paxton’s Grotto indoor/outdoor hot tub
- Dungeons of Hout Bay wave pool
- Cheetah Race
- Elephant’s Trunk slide
- Victoria Falls
- The Smoke That Thunders
- Kenya Korkscrew
- Zulu Grille
- Expanded Cracked Coconut bar
- Expanded Lazy River
- Zig Zag Zebra
- More seating, restrooms,and cabanas!
Ready to eat?
New Kalahari Restaurants with the Kalahari Resorts Expansion
Also inside the Poconos Kalahari Resorts waterpark is a new food restaurant – the Zulu Grille. Conveniently located next to my favorite glass wall and hot tub, the Grille offers the same items as the pre-existing food venues, and dedicated tables for eating. That’s a big help during those busy waterpark hours! For those who want to really treat themselves (or have a large group), there are new cabanas also. Cabanas come with food and beverage delivery and room for 8 or more. For someone who really wants to celebrate or indulge – there are even ones that have private hot tubs!
Check out our article about MORE new dining at Kalahari Resort outside of the waterpark. There are some great new options that go beyond pizza and french fries.
Getting Your Game On with the Kalahari Resorts Expansion
The smart designers of Kalahari Resorts put the entrance to the waterpark inside the arcade! So don’t think you can avoid it! Nor will you want to when you see the fun prize and arcade games they offer. We love how the prize area is a whole ROOM! Our kids can’t get enough of earning tickets, and I am a big fan of (slightly obsessed with, to be honest) the Wizard of Oz game so we always make time for the arcade. Not into video games? We had some nail biting games of air hockey and my son had to be pulled away from the football throw game. Try one of their “experiences too” – there’s bowling, glowing mini golf, laser tag and more to appeal to every age. Read more about the arcade offerings here.
Kalahari Resorts Virtual Reality
The Kalahari Resorts expansion in the Poconos brought more space to the arcade and a new experience for teens and adults. Remember I have a 7 and 11 year old – at first I declined the opportunity to participate in The Arena Virtual Reality Experience as it’s for ages 13 and up. After some discussion with park executives, my husband couldn’t resist the chance to fight zombies. For about a half hour, he strapped on a headset, backpack and became immersed in another realm where his body controlled the game!
Our words can’t do it justice, but you can watch a video here. It’s a must do for the older crowd.
Tips for visiting Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos
- The Kalahari Resorts expansion means the resort now doubles the previous size, that can mean double the people. We found that dinner and later was the best time to enjoy the waterpark with shorter lines and more available seating. Checking in around noon on Sunday brought a massively long line, so arriving a little later can actually save you some time!
- Valet parking is $25/night, but you can park on your own at no cost.
- Outside food isn’t allowed in the waterpark or the common areas of the resorts, but all rooms have a refrigerator and a microwave. The dining options are plentiful, but if you’re looking to save money, packing a cooler can go a long way.
- A trip back to the room can be a long walk. Pack for the day! Lockers are available though only at the entrance and they seem to fill by mid day. Leaving your items out is at your own risk but we haven’t had any issues in three visits without using a locker.
- We don’t find it to be too cold inside the waterpark but of course everyone feels temperatures differently. Towels are available to all guests but they’re small, so if you tend to be cold, or want to have a towel that covers you, plan to bring your own.
For more photos from our trip to Kalahari Resorts, check out our Facebook Album.
Every time we visit Kalahari we have fun! Read about all our visits to Kalahari Resorts with Kids. To make your reservation for Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos, click over to their site at www.kalahariresorts.com/pennsylvania.
In full disclosure we were hosted by Kalahari Resorts for two nights to make this post possible. We appreciate their support of Jersey Family Fun and our efforts to share fun family attractions with our readers. As always our opinions are our own.