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Take the Plunge at the Best Water Parks in Sandusky, OH

best water parks in sandusky ohio

In this article you will find a summary of the best water parks in Sandusky, Ohio.

Sandusky, Ohio is paradise for anyone who loves rollercoasters and water parks. This place is jammed full of fun family attractions and is home to two of the biggest companies in the water park world! Both Cedar Fair and Kalahari Resorts are headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. That explains why this small town in northwestern Ohio is jammed full of so many world class attractions.

If you are looking for a getaway that your kids will love – Sandusky, Ohio won’t disappoint. In the warmer months, the amusement park at Cedar Point is full of fun rides and attractions and – as the name implies – it’s located on a point! The Summer is also when some of the water parks on the list below truly come to life.

But don’t fear, Sandusky Ohio is a year round family fun destination – even in the snowy cold months. That’s because most of the water parks have awesome indoor options.

Keep reading for more about all the water park options available in Sandusky, Ohio below!

Kalahari Resorts – Sandusky, OH

sandusky ohio kalahari resorts
source: Kalahari Resorts

Address: 7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky, OH 44870

The Kalahari in Sandusky, OH is one of the biggest indoor water parks in North America at 173,000 square feet. Not only is water water park large, but the whole resort is gigantic. It feels a lot like a massive Las Vegas resort, but for kids. That’s especially true when walking through the arcade with all the neon lights, noises and crowds of people! Overall, this is a first class water park resort with something for everyone.

Like all Kalahari Resorts, the Sandusky location is targeted for older kids compared to Great Wolf Lodge. They have something for kids of all ages, but with a better selection of high intensity rides for kids, I think a 12 year old would have more fun at this place over a Great Wolf Lodge – if only because there are way more kids their age here.

There are eight slides which range in thrill level but the majority of this water park is dedicated to the high volume attractions like the wave pool, lazy river and smaller pools with basketball hoops. There are two areas for younger kids: Coral Cove and Kids Safari. Both are jammed back with slides, water and climbing for the little ones to enjoy.

Part of the attraction of the Kalahari is that it is a full service resort that’s open year round – compared to outdoor water parks. The halls are endless and the resort is sprawling. It is over 1.3 million square feet (over 22 football fields) with over 890 rooms, 46 water slides and 9 pools. The size of the Kalahari Sandusky is truly impressive.

If you’re looking for more details on the Kalahari Sandusky, OH Resort, check out my recent stay here.

  • Day Passes: Kalahari does sell day passes to the water park, but they’re limited and vary based on demand. For most days, there are 150 day passes available but the prices range from $55 to midweek, off peak days to $85 on peak days like weekends or pretty much any time through the summer. There are discounts available for Military, Seniors or evening passes.

  • Cabanas: The indoor water park is huge and part of the reason is that is has an incredible amount of cabanas. It can be hard to find a spot to leave your shoes and towels because so much of the place is either reserved seating or cabanas. If you’re planning to stay for the full day and you can afford it, you’ll really appreciate having a cabana or some reserved seating.
    • The prices range based on demand but premium seating (a table and four chairs) starts around $110 for a weekend day. That prices can change quite a bit based on when you book it. For example, the same premium seating can be $110 on a weekend day when booking months out but it’ll drop to about $50 for a midweek day. If you’re willing to roll the dice, the price will also drop as it gets closer to the date. If you book on the same day, that $110 premium seating can be had for $80.
    • If you have a larger budget, there is a great selection of cabanas. The premium option is the Private Pool Cabana which is about $1,100 for a prime weekend day. The price varies quite a bit but the private pool is pretty big and seems ideal for birthday parties or small gatherings.
    • Personally, I’d be looking for a more private option. Many of the cabanas are located in busy areas where everyone will be walking by watching you be lazy on the couch watching TV (yes, many of the cabanas have their own TVs!). Many of the cabanas have walls around them for privacy which is something I would really enjoy.

  • Signature Ride: This place is so big with so many options that it’s tough to pick just one signature ride, but I’ll go with the Tanzanian Twister as it’ll get you racing pretty fast then drop you out through a hole at the bottom.

  • Pros: This place is huge! If you go in the summer when the outdoor water park is open you in for a treat. This is one of the best indoor water park resorts in North America with everything you would hope for in a water park. It’s full service resort with a spa and some nice restaurants for the parents and the ultimate entertainment at the water park. If you’re tired of hearing the dreaded “I’m bored” from your kids – it wont happen here!

  • Cons: On a busy weekend day, it can get REALLY busy. If you’re looking for something relaxing, you’ll probably want a private cabana. The water park is high energy with kids running all over the place screaming with excitement. That’s no different from most other water parks, but since this is indoor and there is limited seating, there aren’t many quiet places to sit and relax without paying for a cabana.

Water Park Guy’s Insider Tips:

  • If you have a child under 48” they’ll be required to wear a life jacket. There were plenty available at the park, but if you have a life jacket from home that you know fits your kids, I’d suggest bringing it. The one we found for my son was a bit big for him compared to the one he has at home which fits really nicely.

  • If you can afford it – get a cabana or reserved seating. On a busy day, it can be hard to find a spot to sit and relax. When booking a cabana, you’ll have to decide if you want convenience close to the action or something more private. Count me in for something more private so I can catch an afternoon nap in private!

All in all, if you or someone in your family enjoys water parks – a Kalahari Resort is a must visit. The Sandusky location is truly impressive in its size and scale. It’s an amazing escape from a midwestern winter and when it’s warm enough to go outside it’s even bigger with an awesome outdoor water park.

Castaway Bay – Sandusky, OH

castaway bay sandusky ohio

Address: 2001 Cleveland Road, Sandusky, OH, 44870

First, I’ll start with an admission. When I started researching this place online, I was really unsure about whether or not it would even be worthwhile to include. The photos online show a really old run down hotel and since it’s competing with some really impressive water parks in the area, I didn’t expect much. However, after visiting the resort, I was really impressed!

The resort was completely updated by Cedar Fair in 2022. That is the same company who owns Cedar Point Shores, Knott’s Soak City and many more. They turned this tired hotel into a modern water park resort.

The biggest difference between this hotel and the Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio is that this is located on the water and has more of a boutique feel to it. It’s smaller and more relaxed (it has a Caribbean theme!) than the high energy the Kalahari which is more of a mega-resort.

Even though this place is smaller, it still has a really impressive water park with most of your standard water park features like a wave pool, splash pad, slides and climbing structure. It also has things to keep the kids busy outside of the pool like morning yoga, an arcade and bowling alley.

The hotel itself is beautiful with all the common areas being completely remodelled. The restaurants are overlooking the water and everything is brand new in 2022.

  • Day Passes: Access to Castaway Bay is only for guests. They do not sell guest passes, so it you want access to this water park, you’ll have to stay at the resort.

  • Cabanas: There are no cabanas for rent at Castaway Bay, but during my time there I saw plenty of chairs and places to sit and relax. It may not be the same as having a pre-reserved spot like a cabana, but because the water park is accessible to resort guests only and the hotel only has 237 rooms, you don’t need cabanas the same way they’re almost a requirement at some of the larger resorts.

  • Signature Ride: Rocket’s Canopy Coaster. This ride is a coaster which means it’ll take you on downs and ups! This two person tube ride will zoom you around the water park before dumping you into a pool of water at the bottom.

  • Pros: Castaway Bay is a nice mix of all the amenities you would want at a water park hotel (plus an unexpected bonus of beautiful natural setting being located on the water) but in a smaller format. It isn’t as loud or high energy as some of the bigger resorts or water parks.

  • Cons: Because, this is a smaller resort, it doesn’t have a huge selection of high intensity slides/rides. The water park is only 38,000 square feet and is focused more on the under 12 age group. If you are travelling with teenagers, this may not be your best option.

Water Park Dad’s Insider Tip:

  • Although this is owned by the same company as Cedar Point and it’s really close by, there is no shuttle. That means you’ll have to find your own way to the theme park if that’s on your itinerary.

Castaway Bay is a beautiful resort filled with so many things for the kids to do. While it’s not the largest water park in the area, it is much more relaxed versus something as big (and sometimes overwhelming) like the Kalahari. Being located directly on Lake Erie is an incredible perk in the warmer months. This also gives you great proximity to Cedar Point if you’re planning on heading there.

Great Wolf Lodge – Sandusky, OH

great wolf lodge sandusky ohio

Address: 4600 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Great Wolf Lodge is has a pretty reliable offering. They have a consistent experience amongst all their locations so if you’ve been to one, you pretty much know what to expect when showing up to another location. That makes sense because their formula clearly works, so why change it?

As much as I love Great Wolf Lodge, the Sandusky, Ohio location is one of their older and smaller locations. The water park is only 30,000 square feet and only has three non-toddler slides. All the attractions here are low to medium thrill level.

While most Great Wolf Lodges are focused on younger kids, this location is especially so.

  • Day Passes: Great Wolf Lodge is now offering day passes to guests who aren’t staying at the resort. However, considering how tame this water park is, the day passes are extremely expensive at approximately $70 for a midweek full day pass and $100 for a weekend full day pass.
    • If you’re looking to save a little on day passes, the prices do drop if you book months in advance. The prices above drop to about $50 for a weekday pass and $70 for a weekend pass when booking well in advance.

  • Cabanas: Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio does have cabanas, but only a small selection and they don’t have any large options for big groups. The maximum amount of guests per cabana is eight. You’re not able to book online, so you’ll want to get in contact with the hotel directly for pricing and availability.

  • Signature Ride: Alberta Falls. It’s a stretch to call this a signature ride as there aren’t any amazing rides here, but Alberta Falls is the tallest slide and it goes outside which is always cool.

  • Pros: Great Wolf Lodge is great for young kids and while it’s known for the water park, it has so much more than that to offer. The kids yoga, Magiquest, story time, dance parties and many more attractions make this a great options for families with young kids.

  • Cons: As I mentioned, this is one of the smallest locations and doesn’t have as many cool slides and attractions that some of the other water parks in Sandusky have – or even as many cool rides as other Great Wolf Lodges have.

You won’t be disappointed if you’re coming here with young kids and realistic expectations. While it’s one of the more modest Great Wolf Lodge locations I’ve been to, it has all the essentials and could be a good home base to explore all the fun things Sandusky has to offer.

Cedar Point Shores – Sandusky, OH (formerly known as Soak City)

cedar point shores sandusky ohio
source: Cedar Point Shores

Address: 1 Cedar Point Dr, Sandusky, OH 44870

This water park has been around for a while but was recently rebranded in 2017. It was formerly known as Soak City, but is now called Cedar Point Shores as it’s located in the Cedar Point amusement park.

It’s an outdoor park which means it’s only open in the warm months, but when it is open, it’s pretty incredible to be right on the shores of Lake Erie. The views from the top of the rides are pretty great and set this park apart from most other water parks.

As far as outdoor water parks go, this is one of the larger ones and is jammed full of all the water park staples like a lazy river (actually two of them!), areas for toddlers and younger kids, heart racing high intensity slides, wave pools as well as lockers, cabanas, food outlets and more. This is a full service water park.

  • Day Passes: Typically, you can’t buy passes exclusively for the water park as they combine the admission prices with the Cedar Point theme park. There has been a few references to special tickets and exceptions where you can buy water park tickets only, but you’re likely going to have to buy a full day pass to the theme park to get access to the water park.
    • Keep an eye out for deals as the day passes are often discounted by buying on the Cedar Point website or regional promotions like discounts for Ohio or Michigan residents.

  • Cabanas: Cedar Point Shores has plenty of cabana options which range from 8 to 16 guests and some of the more premium options have couches and TVs. Check out the Cedar Point Shores website to reserve in advance.

  • Signature Ride: Portside Plunge. This slide tower was added when they rebranded from Soak City to Cedar Point Shores. There are four drop slides which is unique as you can get a group of four to race all at the same time. While drop slides are becoming more common, having four of them on one platform is pretty unique.

  • Pros: This place has a little for everyone plus it’s all set in a beautiful setting on a peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. On a beautiful summer day, there aren’t many better places to be.

  • Cons: It’s annoying that you can’t always buy a ticket for the water park only. The prices for Cedar Fair aren’t outrageous and are still cheaper than some of the day passes for other parks on this list, but it’d be nice to be able to buy a ticket for the water park exclusively.

Cedar Fair is one of the largest amusement park / water park companies around and it’s clear why. They do a fantastic job at creating attractions that are worth the price of admission and Cedar Point Shores is no exception. I think they nailed it on the rebrand and recent additions to the park. It’s a beautiful park where pretty much anyone can find something they’ll enjoy.

What is the best water park in Sandusky, Ohio?

Based on size alone, the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky is probably the best water park. It’s absolutely massive and is full of really fun features. It’s a great place to be when the weather outside isn’t water park weather as it has one of the biggest water parks in the country… but it gets even better in the Summer when the water park more than doubles by adding a huge outdoor water park.

I hate having to pick just one water park though because all four of these water parks are the “best” in some ways. The Great Wolf Lodge is best if you’re looking for a place for smaller kids who aren’t going to spend 100% of their time at the water park – they have the best non-water park options on this list.

Castaway Bay is great for families with small kids and after their renovations, it’s probably the nicest beautiful hotel on this list with all the staple amenities. It’s biggest advantage is the location as it’s right on the water with great views and easy to get to Cedar Point if that’s on your itinerary.

Finally, if you’re there in the summer months and planning on going to Cedar Point, it makes sense to pack a swimsuit and reserve some time for Cedar Point Shores. The views of the water and coastline are unmatched with any of the other water parks on this list.

Whatever you decide, you are sure to have a great time at these water parks in Sandusky, Ohio.

If you enjoyed this, please check out my other water park research here.