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GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

Honolulu, Hawaii
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GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

We are flying into Detroit for a Tigers game, and staying there for one night. Then driving down to Sandusky to spend time at Cedar Point. The water park hotel portion is a bonus. Not sure how much time we will spend there in the entirety. Cedar Point is our focus, but we are from Hawaii and of course, love the water, too. We will be buying the Platinum Pass, so don't need to stay on property (and from the looks of the reviews, the properties are quite shabby). We are flying home out of Cleveland.

I like the Kid Cabin suite at GWL, and my understanding is that the water park is only for hotel guests (?). But I really like the full kitchen we would get at Kalahari (King Lodge suite). Our twin sons just turned 7 (but 54" and 52" so can go on big coasters -- and LOVE them). Is GWL enough to keep them busy or do we need the big bang of Kalahari? I'm not excited about the massive amounts of people there or the fact that they apparently oversell day passes. Any truth to either of these?

Thanks!

Sandusky, OH
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1. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

Hi Two Peas, you do have a dilemma. Kalahari is a much larger water park than Great Wolf Lodge. Both only let in to capacity. If you are going in the summer they both have outdoor pools as well. If your children are 7yrs old they would enjoy either but Great Wolf Lodge would be less hectic. They do have a Meijer (groceries) right next store and within walking distance a Steak and Shake. Also, they just put in an awesome game in called “Magic Quest” it’s quite a hit. Here is the policy of GW:

Our water park is exclusively reserved for our guests. In the event you have visitors during your stay, a limited number of additional water park wristbands (valid for one day only) may be purchased. Additional wristbands are $30.00 each and you may purchase one guest band per registered guest (3yrs+) in your suite. For the safety and security of our guests, wristbands are required at all times when inside the water park facility.

I have also stayed at Kalahari and you can’t beat the awesome rooms they have and the extra things to do. It’s really just something to see.

I am so glad you are coming to our area. We have many things to do here. Please e-mail me with any other questions. jayme@ghostlymanor.com

Honolulu, Hawaii
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2. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

Thank you, Jayme!

You gave me such good information, but you made both sounds so fun, it actually made the choice more difficult haha. I know the boys would absolutely love the theming at GWL, and Magic Quest sounds super fun. My husband had a good point, which is that we won't be doing much cooking since we'll be so busy at the park. Having the grocery store right there is a huge bonus though, as we will be picking up snacks, drinks, and grab-and-go types of foods. And even if we eat out all the time, it will certainly be cheaper than anything around here (where milk is $10/gallon!)

I was worried that the boys would think the water park at GWL is too "babyish", because they are pretty daring. But I'm sure they'll have fun no matter what. My husband is concerned that we will burn out on Cedar Point after a couple of days (he is from KY/WV so he is a Kings Island expert). I don't think so, but I'm also the one that books WDW and DLR for 10 days at a time.

If we do end up spending a lot of time at GWL, would they be bored?

I also liked the zipline/outdoor park/animal adventures at Kalahari, but again I fear that they will be just too crowded.

Thanks again for your help!

P.S. Ghostly Manor looks cool! Too bad the boys are such chickens. They love "upside down roller coasters" and The Tower of Terror, but I have to cover their eyes during the video portion in the library. Same with Haunted Mansion. But maybe someday! haha

Sandusky, OH
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3. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

I have a 7 year old grandson and they can get bored at anything sometimes right? You have many other options in our area to do. You are not going to want to stay in a water park all day anyway. I do have another suggestion. When you buy Milk make sure you buy the Toft's brand. We also have a place called Toft's Dairy where you can get their ice cream. I know your kids will like this. Please feel free to e-mail me directly also jayme@ghostlymanor.com

Cleveland
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4. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

Most kids do get bored at Cedar Point after two days. Some of the bravest boys cave quickly at Cedar Point depending upon how they are feeling. Even experienced adult roller fanatics can have a bad day dealing with the Gs on a hot, humid day.

In my experience, the coasters with negative Gs, such as the Magnum most frequently bother younger and lighter riders, especially if they ride with an adult and the seat belts aren't tight for them, so have the twins ride together. The Mean Streak is very rough, but has positive Gs. The Gemini, once the tallest and fastest in the world just a few decades ago, is great at night and often a favorite of kids (partially because they can ride it as fast as they can run to reboard it). Check out fast passes for one day if the park is crowded. CP also has its own water park.

Check out The Henry Ford in Dearborn for a night and perhaps a couple days before heading to Sandusky. There's nothing like it in Hawaii or, in totality, anywhere else in the U.S. The tour of the Rouge final truck assembly plant is excellent if production is taking place. The factory was designed to accommodate tours with a balcony above the assembly floor. Visitors get to see robots in action (e.g., windshield installation is entirely automated). The attached visitors center is excellent. The Rouge was the world's first integrated manufacturing facility (iron ore, coke, rubber, etc., in one side, cars out the other side) and once employed 100,000 workers. Now the frame assembly has hundreds of robots and production takes place in the dark (to assist laser vision) and is not part of the tour. The museum is one of the best, if not the best, transportation museums in the U.S. It also emphasizes the industrial revolution, with even whole power plants available for tour. Greenfield Village offers a glimpse into the lives of the likes of Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, but also a chance to ride real Model Ts!

Put-in-Bay is a short ferry ride from Sandusky. Many water sports are available there, such as kayaking. Also there is Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, the largest Doric column in the world with an observation deck higher than the Statue of Liberty. Kelleys Island has perhaps the world's best glacial grooves, a National Natural Landmark. Check out Lake Erie islands in the following article.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-s407/Cleveland…

You might also want to consider an excursion to Dayton, the world's aviation history mecca.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60785-c185858/Dayton…

Cleveland is one hour east of Cedar Point.

If run into bad weather at CP, which might shut down the park, check out Cleveland. It has an excellent zoo, with one of the nation's largest collection of primates, the world-class African Elephant Crossing (featuring the larger elephants than the Asian ones displayed at many zoos), a working veterinary hospital, hand-feeding of giraffes, camel rides in the summer, animatroic dinosaurs this summer, and one of the nation's best Rainforest exhibits.

http://www.clemetzoo.com/whats_new/dinosaurs/

The Great Lakes Science Center is very good, but it features the Steamship Mather, a massive Great Lakes ore freighter that was a queen of the Great Lakes in the 20th century. It is one of the best ASME mechanical engineering landmarks to visit. A short walk from the Mather is the U.S.S. Cod, the only surviving WWII U.S. fleet submarine that hasn't been cut up to accommodate visitors, who enter and exit using the original ladders. The West Side Market also is very unique in the U.S.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-d272156/Clevel…

On weekend afternoons in Cleveland, you can visit the observation deck of the Terminal Tower, for a couple decades the tallest building in the world outside NYC. With luck, you might see an ore freighter using its thrusters to self-navigate the crooked Cuyahoga River, with bridges being raised and lowered accordingly. See the October 27 review for details.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g50207-d52…

Cleveland also is a great place to catch an MLBaseball game, with the stadium in the compact downtown.

Have a great trip!

Edited: 24 April 2013, 17:27
Cleveland
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5. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

In post 4, I said bad weather can shut down CP. What I meant to say is that wind and rain can shut down the big coasters.

Chillicothe, Ohio
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6. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

I have a 7 year old, so I feel you. If I were you, I would stay at GWL. If the boys get bored with that water park, then you can go to Kalahari with a day-pass. :) If you do that on a week-day, it won't be as crowded as weekends. There's lots of things to do in the area, and don't forget Soak City water park right there on the CP peninsula. Ghostly Manor is great for a rainy day activity (though I think they get pretty busy those days). Definitely take a day trip to one of the islands (Put in Bay would be my choice for a weekday activity).

Please let us know how your trip goes, or if we can help you further!

Honolulu, Hawaii
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7. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

Wow. Thank you so much for your replies.

Trans, I truly appreciate all of your info, especially the coaster advice and about The Henry Ford. The boys would LOVE that. We only have one chance to see the Indians, and that is our last day. We already planned to go to the Rock & Roll HOF that day. This year's inductees include two of my faves -- Donna Summer and Public Enemy (I know, right?) I need to decide if spending the $ for tix is worth it (I like to get great seats since we only get to catch games on trips).

Good idea of going to Kalahari for the day, IrishLake! I think we also get to go to Soak City with the Platinum Pass, right?

I decided to go with GWL for the smaller size, guests only factor, and also because I got the Kid Cabin for $400 less than the King Lodge for five days. Also, I wasn't thrilled with Kalahari asking for payment in full (in case the rate drops -- which I don't really expect it to, but still it wasn't enticing).

Thanks for your help! I know we will have a great time.

Cleveland
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8. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

If you're going to the Rock Hall, check out Rock Hall special packages at hotels, typically with free parking if you want to keep your car in Cleveland. If your husband isn't as fond of rock music as you, perhaps consider having him at some point take the boys to see the Great Lakes Science Center and Steamship Mather and the U.S.S. Cod, all short walks from the Rock Hall while you continue to enjoy the Rock Hall. It's likely your twins will be bored by the Rock Hall. Big rock fans happily can spend all day at the Rock Hall. Others are ready to leave after a couple hours.

As for the Indians, and probably in Detroit as well, definitely consider buying upper deck seats. Although your twins are very tall for their ages, my experience is that the steeper slope of the upper decks allow them to see what is going on when everyone is standing. Kids can be bored stiff when their views are constantly blocked in lower deck seats. If you take this advice, the best seats are as low as possible in the upper deck, somewhere between first and third. Keep in mind the sun location (home plate is in the east), a factor whether to sit on the first or third side depending upon the weather or the time of the game. Depending upon whom the Indians are playing, reportedly you can get good seats very cheaply at the last minute on stubhub.com, but personally I would take that gamble only if you don't care if you go to a game or not. Harry Buffalo on East 4th St. is good for a pre-game meal with kids (they have buffalo burgers and an open-window restaurant in the summer).

You don't need a car in downtown Cleveland. If you want to drop your car at Cleveland Hopkins airport, the Red Line rail rapid connects the airport (station next to luggage pick-up) with downtown. There are free downtown bus trolleys that will get you near most hotels. RTA day passes are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-s303/Cleveland…

The Doubletree Lakeside, Hilton Garden, and Wyndham all reportedly offer free downtown shuttle service (check). They might pick you up at Tower City, the downtown rail transit hub, but cab fares anywhere downtown are a flat $5 plus tip and there are cab stands outside Tower City. The Doubletree Lakeside is closest to the Rock Hall, but is isolated from the rest of downtown. The Hampton Inn (no shuttle) is located between the Rock Hall and Progressive Field. Downtown Cleveland is very compact and walkable, and free shuttle service mitigates the location of hotels such as the Doubletree.

If you're considering the zoo, best visited by car, the Hampton Inn Airport on Tiedeman Road in Brooklyn is a good choice.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the best in the U.S. and admission to its general galleries is free, perfect for a visit with children. The CMA's armor gallery is one of the best in the U.S. and beloved by young boys. The CMA also currently is the most advanced technologically in the U.S. Its Gallery One and Studio Play digital attractions reportedly fascinate kids. You can reach the CMA on the 24/7 Healthline bus rapid which connects downtown and University Circle, one of the top cultural districts in the U.S.

Both the CMA and Rock Hall are open late certain nights.

I'm not certain when you're trip is taking place, but you also might want to check events at PlayhouseSquare, the second largest unified theater district in the U.S. and with superb theaters. There might be something there that would engage your children. E.g., on August weekends, visitors can experience an old-fashioned movie experience at the beautiful and huge Palace Theatre, which once offered movies and vaudeville acts in the Golden Age of Hollywood to packed audiences in the days before television. The Palace now normally hosts packed audiences as a leading regional destination for national tours of Broadway plays. PlayhouseSquare's Broadway Series now has 27,000 subscribers.

cleveland.com/movies/index.ssf/2012/07/cinem…

www.playhousesquare.org//default.asp…

BTW, with Cedar Fair platinum passes, you also would get free admission to King's Island. You might be interested in post one here:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28956-i265-k56830…

Honolulu, Hawaii
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9. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

You never cease to impress! Thank you!

I am a stubhub pro -- get all my baseball tickets there! We have front row field box tix for the Detroit game. I am all about an unobstructed view as well! I can't really commit to an Indians game mentally -- I am wondering if going to the HOF, MOA, and a game is even possible in one day? I agree that the boys will get bored at the HOF. I didn't plan to stay long, actually.

I don't think we will be heading to King's Island. We just went last year, and it's just too far for us. We are from an island, after all haha.

Cleveland
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10. Re: GWL or Kalahari or ??? -- 6 nights in August

The Indians game probably would be at night, so there should be no conflict unless the HOF or the MOA is open late.

The Rock Hall tickets aren't cheap. So perhaps have one parent entertain the kids at other lakefront attractions then switch off so the other parent can see it. The Rock Hall allows reentry. It doesn't have the best cafeteria. Many walk south on East 9th St. a couple blocks to the Galleria arcade, which has several restaurants, including the new Winks Bar and Grille. On weekends, the L-line free bus trolley runs between the Horseshoe Casino on Public Square and the lakefront attractions, including the Rock Hall.

In Detroit, consider taking GM's tour of the Renaissance Center. It's the only way to see views of the Detroit River, Ontario and Detroit from the top of the building. It's a free tour, as the Renaissance Center is GM's headquarters and is totally occupied by GM employees, suppliers, and service providers. The Detroit People Mover would take you from the Renaissance Center to near the Tigers' Comerica Park.

The Detroit Museum of Art also is one of the best in the U.S., but it has an admission charge. I don't consider it very visitor friendly (e.g., paucity of benches), but it does have an excellent gallery of Native American art, clothing, etc., which may interest your boys.

Your boys might be more interested in the Detroit Historical Museum adjacent to the art museum. It has part of an old assembly line that still operates, an old Detroit street setting recreated in its basement, and an OK model railway exhibit (if your boys like model trains, and you ever get back to southern Ohio, check out EnterTRAINment Junction in Cincinnati, a new attraction that claims to house the world's largest operating model train display).

Don't skip The Henry Ford in favor of the Detroit art or history museums IMO.

In Cleveland, if you're driving to the art museum, also consider checking out the nearby Lake View Cemetery. It houses the Garfield Monument, the largest presidential monument in the U.S. (be forewarned, President Garfield and his wife are in caskets and not entombed for some reason, re: your twins), and the grave site (marked by a giant white obelisk just northeast of the Garfield Monument) of the family of John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in American history measured by percentage of the nation's wealth controlled. The Wade Chapel at Lake View reportedly has the best remaining Tiffany interior in the U.S. Check the hours of Lake View and of the Garfield Monument and Wade Chapel, if interested.

Near both University Circle and Lake View is Little Italy. Presti's there would be a great place to eat lunch.