Great Wolf Lodge vs. Kalahari vs. CamelBack’s Aquatopia! THE POCONOS Water Park SHOWDOWN

We went to all three water parks in the Poconos (Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Aquatopia) to find out which one is the BEST water park. Read on to find out which one is the BEST water park for your family vacation!

We recently made a trip to the Poconos in Pennsylvania to visit a water park resort – but didn’t know which resort we should go to – so we went to all 3 of them! (Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Camelback’s Aquatopia) Which is the right waterpark resort experience for your family? Keep reading our Poconos water park guide & comparison to find out!

From our experience after visiting Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Camelback’s Aquatopia indoor water parks in the Poconos – we felt that:

  • Great Wolf Lodge Resort was best waterpark for families with toddlers & young kids – since they do the best job theme-ing the entire experience – from the rooms, the lobby, the kid’s activities – all the way to the water park.
  • Kalahari Resort would be the best waterpark for families with older kids & teens – since it is the biggest water park, has the most food choices & the suites are the largest, and
  • Camelback’s Aquatopia Resort was the Goldilocks of waterparks, being somewhere right in between – since they have an indoor water park that is larger than Great Wolf Lodge’s water park and the most activities for tween (10 – 13) aged kids! (rock wall, laser tag, bumper cars, escape room, virtual reality, etc)
IntroductionGreat Wolf Lodge Review
Perspective & Evaluation CriteriaKalahari Review
ConclusionCamelback’s Aquatopia Review
Comparison Chart
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Check out our comprehensive comparison chart of these three indoor water park resorts here: Waterpark Comparison Chart: Kalahari, Aquatopia & Great Wolf Lodge

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Introduction

We recently took a little trip to the Poconos and stayed one night @ Great Wolf Lodge immediately followed by a one-night stay @ Kalahari. We have been to both resorts in the past – but thought it would be fun to do a back-to-back comparison.

On a subsequent trip (after COVID) we also visited Camelback’s Aquatopia. All three resorts are really good choices for water park fun with a family. It is really the other aspects of the resorts and accommodations that will determine which resort is the better choice for your family! We did the empirical research – so you don’t have to!

The Poconos – AWESOME for Water Parks!

Update: December 6th, 2021

Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Camelback’s Aquatopia resort are all located in the Poconos and are VERY close to each other! (especially Aquatopia & Great Wolf Lodge) If you were to drive from Kalahari, to Great Wolf Lodge, and then to Aquatopia the total distance would be approximately 11.3 miles and take just 26 minutes.

For size reference, Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is the smallest at about 79,000 square feet. Kalahari’s waterpark is the largest at 220,000 square feet & Camelback’s Aquatopia indoor waterpark is right in the middle at 125,000 square feet. That’s an AMAZING 425,000 square feet of indoor water parks in a very small geographical area!!

Poconos Water Park Map showing Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge & Camelback's Aquatopia
Total miles = 11.3 to go from Kalahari to Great Wolf Lodge, and then to Aquatopia!

For the size of the main lobby, it is the same order with Great Wolf Lodge’s lobby being the smallest, Kalahari’s main lobby being the largest and Aquatopia’s lobby size somewhere in the middle.

Water park temperatures at all three Poconos water parks is the same @ 84 degrees, year-round.


Background on Each Water Park

The Great Wolf Lodge resort in the Poconos was constructed in 2005 – and is one of roughly 19 locations for the chain. The Poconos location has 401 rooms and each wing of the lodge has 4 floors. On our previous visit a couple of years ago we felt the place was showing some wear and tear. I am on the mailing list and recently got a promotional offer that indicated the rooms had recently been renovated. So we decided to check it out and see how things had changed.

Kalahari Resorts opened in 2015 in the Poconos. There are currently 4 locations for the chain with the Poconos location being its largest facility. Kalahari is absolutely immense! Each wing of the resort is 8 floors high and it has 977 rooms in total. The resort recently completed a huge expansion that added 130,000 sq feet of conference facilities to the 100,000 sq feet of existing facilities.

Camelback’s Aquatopia resort opened their indoor water park in May of 2015. It was voted the #1 indoor water park in 2015 by USA Today. It has a transparent Texlon roof that lets in natural sunlight – while providing protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Camelback is unique – in that it has both an INDOOR water park (Aquatopia, which is open year-round) and a separate OUTDOOR water park (Camelbeach) that is only open for the summer season. The size of the indoor water park is roughly 125,000 square-foot, which makes it slightly larger than the Great Wolf Lodge water park @ roughly 79,000 square-foot, but decidedly smaller than Kalahari’s indoor water park – which is roughly 220,000 square-foot. CamelBack (Aquatopia) has 453 rooms and there are 6 floors (above ground) to the lodge.


Perspective & Evaluation Criteria

We are a family of 6 with four kids ranging in ages from 5 – 12 years old. The drive was almost exactly 100 miles for us and we arrived a few minutes after 1:00 pm. We stayed @ Great Wolf Lodge on a Tuesday night and then Kalahari on Wednesday night of the same week. Many months later (due to COVID) we stayed at Camelbacks’ Aquatopia. The distance between Kalahari and Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is a mere 7 miles.

We review each of the Poconos water parks on several criteria – including:

  1. Theme-ing
  2. Accommodations
  3. Water Park
  4. Lobby
  5. Food Choices / Selection
  6. Activities
  7. Cost

If you want to cut right to the chase – you can jump to the conclusion by clicking here: Conclusion


In-Depth Reviews of Each Water Park:


Poconos Great Wolf Lodge Front Entrance

Great Wolf Lodge Resort & Water Park Review

1. Theming (Theme – ing)

Great Wolf Lodge does a good job of branding and theming (theme – ing) the lodge. Mind you – definitely not Disney level theming or branding – but a good job. The kids do enjoy the characters and overall lodge experience. The theming is carried throughout multiple aspects of the total experience. For example – when booking your accommodations you can select a themed suite, such as the KidCabin Suite – which we did. It is also carried through with the water park experience itself – with some of the attractions incorporating the characters and /or lodge theme. When you check in the lodge they should offer you and / or the kids wolf ears at no extra charge – since, after all – it is the Great WOLF Lodge!…

Great Wolf Lodge Lobby Sophie with wolf ears
Sophie with her little wolf ears @ Great Wolf Lodge.

Video Stories

One of the other simple theming aspects we enjoyed were the 2 Great Wolf Lodge video book stories playing on the resort TV channel. They looped continuously – so they are readily accessible at any time. One is about 13 minutes long and is about Brinley Bear’s fun day and the other is about 8 minutes long and is about the origin of Great Wolf Lodge.

2. Accommodations

Themed kidcabin suite @ Great Wolf Lodge Poconos Balcony view
Balcony View @ Great Wolf Lodge Poconos

Balcony

When we were last at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos we did not stay in a themed suite. We were on the bottom level – and we had a small patio walk out area next to the ropes course. The room was nice and clean – but nothing particularly memorable. This time we were on the third floor and had a balcony. I have read other reviews where people did not enjoy the balcony – but we did.

Our balcony overlooked a very lightly used service road – and then there was an unobstructed view of the forested mountain side. The view felt somewhat private and we really enjoyed it! The mountainous / hilly location complimented the overall lodge theme and it was nice to sit out there with the kids as the weather cooled in the evening. However, it was not a perfect experience – in that the air conditioner vented right out onto the one end of the balcony.

Themed Suite

We had a cabin themed room for this stay (KidCabin Suite) – and the kids enjoyed it more than I had expected! The “cabin” was towards the front of the room and was semi-private for the kids. It had it’s own TV and was adorned with a lot of cute character images. It felt cozy and definitely complimented the whole lodge theme & experience! From the accommodation standpoint – it was a much more memorable stay!

One of Melani and my pet peeves with regards to hotel accommodations is when there is only one night stand for a queen bed. We are happy to report that there were two night stands with our queen bed!

3. Water Park

Great Wold Lodge water park as seen from the second-floor window of the resort.

Wave Pool

We liked the water park @ Great Wolf Lodge! It was a nice touch to have the lodge theme and a couple of characters at the front of the wave pool – which is one of our favorite attractions. The wave pool alternates between wave / no wave cycles. To alert those in the wave pool of the wave rotation starting – it has a wolf howl. That’s theming!

Toddler Play Area / Splash Park

The splash park – or toddler area – of the water park was rather small. Our 2-year-old – who would have nothing to do with a life jacket – was able to play in the toddler splash park and wave pool as long as Melani or I was right with her.

Towel Check-Out

Towel check-out is something new since our last visit. At the towel dispensary you simply swipe your wrist band and the attendant will hand you the number of towels you request. When you leave – make sure to return the towels and swipe the wrist band again – or you will be charged for the towels. Apparently they were experiencing people taking the towels as souvenirs??

Miscellaneous

Note: There is no Flowrider / surfing simulator attraction at the Poconos location for Great Wolf Lodge. We have been to the Williamsburg Virginia location where there was one – but there is not one @ the Poconos location.

Animatronic display for Forest Friends Story each morning & night @ Great Wolf Lodge.

4. Lobby

The lobby is big – but not massive like it is at Kalahari! For the volume of people passing through it ( to check-in, check out, shop at the shops and access the activities) it feels a little small and congested. In the center – right past the check-in area there is a large animatronic display – where the nightly bedtime story (The Forest Friends Show) takes place. The sound system is rather poor and the performance is rather loud.

Speaking of loud – There is usually a dance party in the evening – which we found to be extremely loud! I actually made the kids wear earplugs (as did I) to go to this! Why do the adults with hearing damage always make the decisions with regards to volume level! Kid’s hearing is much more sensitive!

5. Food Choices / Selection

There is one primary restaurant on the main level on the left side of the lobby / front entrance. We have never patronized the restaurant – as it does seem expensive. But we generally don’t patronize too many sit down restaurants with 4 kids – with ages ranging from 2-10. Since we are usually there for just one night – we resign ourselves to it being a “pizza for dinner night”.

On the lower level by the entrance for the water park, there is a pizza place with some tables in the lower lobby area. We usually just order a pizza and eat it in our room – with maybe a salad.

Since our last visit to Great Wolf Lodge – they have established a relationship with Dunkin’ Donuts and there is one located on the main floor just off the right of the lobby.

6. Activities

There are a number of other activities available at the lodge. There is a very small – / non-standard sized bowling alley, a miniature golf course, an arcade, MagiQuest, etc… We have done some of the other activities in the past – but only if they were included with our stay – or one of the bundled package passes (Paw Pass, Pup Pass and Wolf Pass). Generally we are there for some water park fun – and that is what Great Wolf Lodge does best – so that is where we spend the majority of our time.

There are other places with better miniature golf courses and a regular bowling alley does a better job for bowling – so we tend not to spend our dollars on those activities when we are at Great Wolf Lodge. Use Great Wolf Lodge for what it is really good at – and skip the rest!

7. Cost

For our Tuesday June 25th, 2019 stay @ Great Wolf Lodge the cost of our room was $209.99 with taxes & fees amounting to $51.59, bringing the total to $261.58. Water park access was included.


Kalahari Resort & Water Park Review

1. Theming (Theme – ing)

Klahari is themed and decorated as an African resort. (Remember that Kalahari is actually a desert in southern Africa.) There are some characters for the kids – but they are not really developed and seem to have just been “bolted on” – as an after thought. There isn’t any story that goes along with any of the characters – as far as we were able to discern. This is probably a reflection of the fact that Kalahari is really a convention center – first & foremost – and the water park is just one of the many amenities they offer – albeit – a big one!

2. Accommodations

Our suite @ Kalahari was HUGE! It had a large walk-in area that had a sink and kitchenette. There were 2 bathrooms – one off the walk-in area and the second one in the master suite. There were a total of 3 TVs – one in the “Family Room” – where the pull out bed / couch was, one in the master suite and one in the second bedroom with the two queen sized beds. We joke that we lost Sophie – our 2 year old – for 5 minutes in the immense suite! Yes – there were two night stands on either side of the bed in the master suite.

Another note worth mentioning – the bathtubs @ Kalahari are huge!

3. Water Park

Kalahari indoor water park!

The water park @ Kalahari is HUGE. There are 2 lazy river type rides, the wave pool is immense, there are 2 hot tubs that are partly inside the building – AND partly outside of the building with a narrow channel to traverse back and forth. It seems that there are parts of the water park that are only staffed at peak attendance. For part of our stay both lazy river attractions were open – and there were other times when only one was open.

 Enormous wave pool @ Kalahari and the walls and ceilings of glass!
Enormous wave pool @ Kalahari and the walls and ceilings of glass!

Toddler Area / Splash Park

The toddler splash park area is very big at Kalahari – with a lot of water-table type attractions and activities for the little ones. Our obstinate 2-year-old was NOT able to enjoy ANY of these activities / attractions, or even the wave pool – due to the fact that she refused to wear a life jacket – which Kalahari required children under 4 feet in height to wear at all times when in any water.

Wave Pool

Speaking of the wave pool – we did find the buzzer alert to notify guests of the beginning of a wave cycle to be very harsh and not conducive to the relaxing atmosphere that should be associated with a wave pool.

4. Lobby

Ivory Coast Restaurant right off the main lobby.

The Lobby is one of the things I, and everyone in my family, really liked about Kalahari! Yes – it is HUGE – but it is also laid out well and serves as a destination itself within the resort. You enter Kalahari through a massive glass revolving carousel door and there is plenty of room for people to get where they are going – whether it is to check-in, get food, get to the water park or any other number of destinations. There is a huge fireplace towards the back of the lobby that is adjacent to a huge window that overlooks the water park. There is also a fountain near the middle of the lobby with chairs and tables to sit and eat. The lobby is ringed by various shops – and the floor has wonderful decorative murals inlaid in the marble (I’m sure these are probably decals??).

5. Food Choices / Selection

There are a lot of food choices @ Kalahari – of which we have only sampled a few. This is another thing that I think Kalahari does well – and it makes it a little easier to satisfy everyone and their differing tastes with so many food choices. As I mentioned earlier – with 4 kids ranging in age from 2 – 10 we are not very often dining in @ a restaurant.

What we usually do @ Kalahari is claim a couple of tables next to the fountain in the lobby and while one of us stays with the family the other runs around to the different food venues to obtain the items we desire to assemble a meal. Lately we have been hitting the snack bar (Pizza Pub) down in the arcade – for the burritos and then the store (Marrakesh Market) right at the edge of the lobby for some of the soups. Both are reasonable attempts at having a meal on the healthier side….

Sit-Down Restaurants

Kalahari features a number of signature sit-down restaurants (Sortinos Italian Kitchen (Italian food), B-Lux Grill & Bar (Burgers & Shakes), Double Cut (Steakhouse)…. We have not yet patronized any of these establishments.

Desserts

After the meal – there are plenty of places like the pastry shop, coffee shop or ice cream shop that have many enticing desserts for the children. We have patronized several of these places, if not all – and the kids highly recommend them!

6. Activities

Kalahari Arcade
Sophie @ Kalahari Arcade

There are quite a few activities to engage in @ Kalahari. Other than the water park & arcade – our family hasn’t really tried out any other ones. As I mentioned above – when we go to Kalahari (or Great Wolf Lodge, for that matter)- we are going for some water and swimming fun. So the water park is what we usually focus on. It is also something that Kalahari does well . We can engage in many of the other activities closer to our home (and probably at less expense).

With that being said – it does appear that the ropes course and zip lines are something that we may try in the future. The setting for them seems nicer, and they seem more elaborate than the ropes course offered @ Great Wolf Lodge.

7. Cost

For our Wednesday June 26th, 2019 stay @ Kalahari the cost of our room was $249.99 with taxes & fees amounting to $66.09, bringing the total to $316.08. Water park access was included.


Camelback’s Aquatopia Front Entrance

Camelback Resort & Aquatopia Water Park Review

Aquatopia FlowRider & Water Park
Aquatopia Wave Pool & Water Park
Aquatopia Lobby

We recently visited Camelback Mountain Resort’s waterpark Aquatopia (November 24th, 2021).

1. Theming (Theme – ing)

Aquatopia made an effort to do some theme-ing – with the Kartrite Quest /Adventures – but this really only covers the water park and the activities for kids to the left of the lobby. It doesn’t extend to the guest rooms and amenities. This seems to be an archaeology /exploration theme that they incorporate to water park. I’m not sure if it something that they created – or if it has its origins someplace else. Since we are fans of Indiana Jones – we like most archaeology theme – including this one – but I would not say the theme-ing is immersive – other than the lazy river.

Aquatopia @ Camelback Suite for 6
Standard sized bathtub in a small bathroom

2. Accommodations

The room @ Aquatopia that we had was a double queen suite, a pull-out sofa and a balcony. The room was very clean and up-to-date. It was nicely decorated and efficiently arranged. It was, however, small.

Although the room was designated for up to 6 people – it felt like we were on top of each other at times. That is with just 2 adults and 4 kids. In particular, it felt narrow. There was also only one sink in the room (as well as only one bathroom – which had only a standard sized tub).

We liked the artwork in the room. The photos were nature themed – and glossy. Most times I find that the pictures or decorations in a motel/hotel really don’t add anything to the experience. This was one of the few exceptions! I found the photos pleasing to look at and relaxing!

We also liked some of the efficiency features of the room. We liked the luggage rack near the door and the shelf over the microwave. Both seemed to make a small room work a little better – and not feel as small as it actually was.

The TV in the room seemed to be new and was the largest of any we saw at the three resorts.

Lighting

There were not lights on both sides of the queen beds – which made night-time reading hard for the person on the side with no light.

The side-lite mirror was a nice feature that we enjoyed.

We also liked the master light switch in the room – that made it very easy to turn off every light in the suite with one switch.

Aquatopia patio / balcony on first floor

Balcony

The balcony/patio was laughable. Our suite was located on the same level as the entrance to the water park – which was below the main level. Hence – our balcony seemed to be under ground – and we were looking at a high retaining wall for a view. It is hard to believe that Aquatopia/Camelback would actually be charging extra for the balcony /patios at this level!

Aquatopia @ Camelback – Wave pool
Aquatopia @ Camelback – Wave pool

3. Water Park

The water park @ Aquatopia was nice. I actually have a hard time believing that the square footage of the park is larger than the water park @ Great Wolf Lodge.

Looking up to the roofline – Aquatopia does feel more open and expansive – since it is more of a sweeping semi-circle in shape. Whereas, the roofline @ Great Wolf Lodge is blocky.

We did really like the lazy river at Aquatopia. It is the best themed lazy river out of the three water parks in the Poconos! We like archaeology and the lost river archaeology theme was interesting and well done. We really liked the 2 water falls that were present on the lazy river.

The wave pool was on par with that at Great Wolf Lodge. However, there seemed to be a noticeable amount of debris at the bottom of the pool – which seemed to a combination of plastic and dirt. It was unpleasant to see and to step on.

The splash park area of the water park devoted to smaller children (toddlers – Penguin Play Bay) – is very weak compared to Kalahari – and somewhat awkwardly placed on a second tier of the waterpark close to some steps going down. It seems, for obvious safety reasons, that a toddler area would be better located on the lowest level of the water park. In our opinion, the splash park at Aquatopia was the weakest of the three.

Aquatopia @ Camelback – Front Lobby Christmas time 2021
CamelBack’s Aquatopia – Front Lobby Fireplace

4. Lobby

The lobby at Aquatopia is more spacious than the lobby at Great Wolf Lodge – but far smaller than the lobby at Kalahari. To the left of the lobby is almost exclusively devoted to games and activities for kids – really tweens & teens. There is an indoor rock wall, laser tag, and indoor ropes course, etc. You can also see the water park from the windows on this side and from the Cafe & Bar.

Located below the main lobby is both the entrance to the water park and the arcade.

To the right of the entrance is check-in / hotel services. Across from that there is a small decent sized souvenir shop / store and a small dessert kiosk.

There is also a cafe (Cafe & Bar) and a restaurant (Horizons) located right off the main lobby.

5. Food Choices / Selection

The short of it – about the same as Great Wolf Lodge – and FAR less than Kalahari!

Most of the time we were at Aquatopia we ate FROM Trails End Pub & Grille. We usually ordered and brought the food to our room. This was because: 1) We are a family of 6 – and eating out is not usually relaxing or enjoyable! 2) With COVID still hanging around and the holidays right around the corner – it seemed to be prudent.

We did still struggle with the menu & felt that it was very limited – in that we found it difficult to find healthier options for our family. Yes, there were some healthy options – just not a very good variety. (We missed the burritos & soups from Kalahari!)

Berrelli’s Italian Chophouse wasn’t really an option for us – as this restaurant is physically located in a different building from where we were staying & where the indoor water park is located.

We did not have a car on the premises – so driving was not an option, and walking was not very appealing – since we tend to patronize the indoor water parks during the colder months – and it was late November when we were at Aquatopia.

Finally, we did have a rather poor experience one morning ordering from the Cafe & Bar (AKA, Mountain Market, World Bazaar Coffee Shop). My wife went there one morning to order some breakfast and it took nearly an hour to get our food after ordering it (she was also in line for nearly an hour before even getting to place her order). People who got there after her were served well before her. To the credit of one observant & kind employee – he noticed the exceedingly poor service my wife had received and apologized to her later in the day when he saw her. Still – it was a frustrating experience that cast a pallor over our time and experience there.

Desserts

There was one dedicated dessert/pastry kiosk located off the main lobby nestled in there with the souvenir shop. It had a pretty good selection of desserts and chocolates. There was a nice variety of the treats – and each of the kids was able to find something appealing to them. Not quite as good as the one @ Kalahari – but better than you will find at Great Wolf Lodge.

6. Activities

Aquatopia offers a great selection of activities for tweens & younger teens, both inside & outside! This is probably the one area that Aquatopia beats both Great Wolf Lodge & Kalahari. Many of the activities are located right on the main level – off to the left of the main lobby – so they are very visible.

When we go to one of the three water parks in the Poconos – we are usually going for water park & swimming fun – so other activities are not our primary focus. As I mentioned above, we can engage in many of the other activities closer to our home. Likewise, there is a cost associated with the convenience of those activities being offered right there – and that is cost. From what we saw of the pricing – most of the activities were on the more expensive side.

7. Cost

For our Wednesday November 24th, 2021 stay @ Aquatopia the cost of our room was $319.00 plus taxes & fees amounting in the amount of $71.10, bringing the total to $390.10. There would have been another $25 for parking – but we were able to avoid this – since we had relatives staying just a few miles away. The total cost for the night would have been $415.10

Billing Issue: I did have a billing issue with Aquatopia / Camelback. As I indicated above – I should not have been charged a fee for parking – since we did not leave a vehicle at the resort and were dropped off. When I checked out on the 25th I asked for a receipt, and the amount I was charged was correct ($390.10) When I received my credit card statement on December 9th – I noticed that what I was charged from Aquatopia/Camelback was $25 higher than it should have been. Camelback charged my card the correct amount – when I made the deposit on November 24th – and then on November 27th (2 days after we had left the resort) I was charged $25 for a parking fee. When I called, the charge was removed & the service rep was polite enough – but, apparently – Aquatopia/Camelback fully expects there to be a parking fee added to every invoice!

Other Reviews:

TripAdvisor review of Great Wolf Lodge Poconos

TripAdvisor review of Kalahari Resort Poconos

Booking.com review of Great Wolf Lodge Poconos

MommyNearest Great Wolf Lodge vs Kalahari vs Camelback


Conclusion

Great Wolf Lodge

If you want a very kid-centric experience from top to bottom – we would recommend Great Wolf LodgeGreat Wolf Lodge is the best for younger kids – because it has the most charm and does a better job of “theme – ing” with it’s characters throughout the entire experience (lodging, dining & water park) compared to either Aquatopia or Kalahari.

The kids really enjoyed the cabin themed suite – which was adorned with a lot of cute character images. They also enjoyed the Wiley & Friends video stories that you can find on one of the dedicated TV channels. It is the smallest of the 3 indoor water parks in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. It is especially better for younger kids – ones who don’t want or need a life jacket!

Great Wolf Lodge has more charm and we enjoyed the lodge theme & the characters. We also enjoyed the balcony. However, having fewer food venue choices and adult amenities limits your stay to a very kid-centric experience.

Kalahari

If you are looking for more of a balance between kid activities and adult luxuries – Kalahari has a wider range of offerings that will appeal to both adults and children. Kalahari is the biggest of the 3 and has a wider range of offerings that will appeal to both adults & children.

At times Kalahari actually felt a little too big for us. But having a wide variety of restaurants and foods was great! Likewise – the lobby is magnificent! Kalahari has the largest indoor water park of the 3, and is the largest resort located in the Poconos.

Aquatopia

Aquatopia is somewhere right in-between Kalahari & Great Wolf Lodge by almost every measure! It is in the middle in terms of the size of it’s indoor water park and in number of rooms at the resort. The fact that Aquatopia ALSO has an outdoor water park (Camelbeach) and it’s night-time illumination make it unique. Camelback’s Aquatopia seems to strike a particularly good balance for children in the 10 + age group. We say this because Aquatopia has the most activities (rock wall, laser tag, escape room, etc) at its resort that will likely appeal to pre-teens and early teens.



I asked everyone in the family – if we are going back down to the Poconos and staying at one of the resorts tomorrow night – where would you want to stay? (assuming same accommodations we had for this past trip) and this is how they all answered. (GWL = Great Wolf Lodge & K = Kalahari)

Family MemberPreference
SophieGWL
AnnieGWL
DominickGWL
GracieK
MelaniK
ChipGWL

If you would like to read a little more about our trip down to the Poconos you can do so here: Adventure Update # 018: My Tricycle is Very Very Fast!

Sincerely,

Chip
After reading this post - which Poconos waterpark do you THINK you are most likely to go to?


If you have visited all three waterparks in the Poconos – please let us know which one YOU liked best!

Which Poconos waterpark do you like best?

If you’re looking for other vacation ideas – check out our Family Travel Tips for Niagara Falls! It is a wonderful family vacation spot that offers a lot of adventure & nature!

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Chip

Blessed father of 4 wonderful children & trophy husband to 1 lovely wife. Part-time blogger, full-time nerd & aspiring Renaissance man!

Articles: 186

9 Comments

  1. Hey, thanks for the great reviews! I’m guessing the youngest of your children voted for GWL?

    • Jonathan,

      Yes – My oldest daughter and wife voted for Kalahari. The other kids and I voted for Great Wolf Lodge. If I was ever to get a weekend alone with my wife – we would go to Kalahari – since there are more amenities and it is not so kid-centric.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      Sincerely, Chip

    • I am planning to go to waterpark with three kids, so I really enjoyed all details! So I guess you just don’t need it that much…

      • You used the same bathroom photo for both resorts. Also, the post was never updated to include information about Aquatopia. Apart from those issues, I appreciate the detailed comparison.

        • Robert,
          Thank you for pointing out my mistake! Embarrassing that I never realized it was the same picture! I went back into our pictures and corrected the post with the actual picture of the Great Wolf Lodge bathroom. I also added a note how COVID-19 has delayed our plans to stay @ Aquatopia. Thank you, again.
          Sincerely,
          Chip

      • Hi Chip,

        Great review, we’re leaning towards Kalahari but wanted to know about outdoor activities in the winter, could our kids go snow tubing or something related at any of these three resorts? We’re going in January.

        • Kenny,

          All three resorts are located very close to each other in the Poconos. Most of the activities (at all of the resorts) are priced a la carte. However, please be aware that Camelback / Aquatopia charges for general parking – I think it is $12 if you are just coming to engage in one of the activities. We just stayed at Camelback the night before Thanksgiving and are actively working on updated the post. Here is a quick breakdown of the outdoor activities offered at each resort:

          Outdoor Activities:

          Kalahari: Monkey climb ropes course, zip lines and mini golf. Also, Outdoor pool and some small outdoor water slides (all seasonal)

          Aquatopia – Snowtubing, mountain coaster (4,500 feet steel track coaster), Euro Bungee – tethered bungee jump. (Basically a jumpy seat for adults.) Ax throwing, ropes course, zip line, off-road Segway tours through the forest & switchback UTV tour. Check with the resort to confirm which activities are offered during the winter.

          Great Wolf Lodge: Outdoor ropes courses – seasonal.

          Thank you for reading & for your comment / question! I hope you and your family have a wonderful stay!

          Sincerely,

          Chip

All constructive comments are welcome!

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