Superlatives matter, so when a place touts itself as the largest indoor water park in the nation, you naturally want to pack a swimsuit and go check it out. That means traveling to Kalahari in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, an Africa-themed family fun palace with a footprint of 1.4 million square feet.
There’s a lot going on at Kalahari, including a massive convention center, almost a thousand guest rooms, an outdoor ropes-and-zipline park, a full-service luxury spa and salon, shopping, and a 40,000-square-foot arcade packed with every technology-enhanced virtual game experience you can imagine. But make no mistake—it’s the daredevil water experiences that draw crowds here year-round.
Kalahari’s superstar is its 220,000-square-foot indoor water park, boasting 34 enormous waterslides—those multicolored tubes that snake around at impossibly twisted angles from ceiling to floor throughout the park. A lot of these slides are the kind that turn knees to rubber and make hearts pound, yet trembling survivors eagerly scramble back up for multiple runs.
Some mammoth slides accommodate four-person rafts, where riders cling to rubber grips as they soar and twist in oscillating funnels, never knowing what to expect around the bend. Hold on tight because rushing through long tunnels of rapidly alternating color segments creates an almost psychedelic experience, disorienting even the most experienced thrill-seekers. Other tubes are just plain fast, like the Tanzanian Twister, which shoots riders through a funnel flume at 40 mph before free-falling into a pool, or the Screaming Hyena, which starts through the roof, 60 feet above the floor, with a trap door that whisks away to send riders plummeting nearly vertical at 25 mph.
Know a child who wants to swim like a graceful mermaid or a fierce shark? Kalahari has fitted tails, flippers, and fins, plus lessons to actually make that happen, for an extra $35 fee. And those in the mood to “shaka” can hang ten on The Flowrider, a 5-foot wave simulator for surfers and bodyboarders (with lessons starting at an additional $50).
Parents can avoid tears by noting in advance which slides have minimum height and weight requirements, but there are plenty of options for smaller or more timid visitors, such as lazy river tube rides, water basketball in the Lost Lagoon, or zero-depth wading in Coral Cove. In warm weather, the outdoor water park opens with a large swim area, a sun deck, and more water activities.
Energy fills the house at Kalahari, so adults might shake off the day’s excitement by lounging in the warm waters of the adjoining indoor and outdoor spas or by swimming up to either of the two adults-only pool bars, mellowing out with a cold brew or one of those colorful “monster” cocktails that look so yummy you might even order two.
Kalahari’s all-under-one-roof concept encourages guests to park the car and stay, play, and dine at the resort. The big incentive: All registered guests get free water park admission included with their stay. Day and seasonal passes are available for those who stay elsewhere or live within driving distance. (Prices vary according to date and time, with discounts for non-swimming spectators and military.) Overnight rooms and suites accommodate from one to as many as 22 guests. Some have fireplaces, wet bars, whirlpool tubs, pool tables, or—ooh la la—heart-shaped baths.
Kalahari has 11 restaurant options ranging from quick bites to world-class dining. End a perfect day at the classy Double Cut Steak House, or try out Cinco Niños for made-from-scratch Mexican, Sortino’s Italian Kitchen for whole-family meals, or B-Lux Grill and Bar for great game-day pub fare. Or refuel at any of the six poolside dining outlets.