Kalahari reopens in Sandusky, just in time to splash into summer

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ERIE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — Emerging from a 13 week slumber brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, Kalahari, Ohio’s largest hotel and waterpark, reopened on Friday.

Visitors arrived at the park ready to hit the indoor and outdoor pool, slides and beaches.

“We had plans to come here before the whole thing happened, but we just wanted to be able to come back and have a good time again after being cooped up for so long,” said Stephen Swinarski.

For 18-year-old Tryshawn Dantzler, a trip to Kalahari on reopening day was a gift from his family for graduating from high school.

“I wanted to do Niagara Falls or something like that, but when I looked online, it said ‘Kalahari reopens on Friday,’ and I’m like, ‘let me go book my room.’ So it was a pretty good win-win scenario,” he said.

Earlier this month, Kalahari and Cedar Point were among the amusement attractions that sued the state of Ohio, arguing that the state did not have the right to keep the parks closed.

A day after the lawsuit was filed, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the water parks would be allowed to reopen on June 19.

Kalahari fan Carlee Griebel told FOX 8 news: “We actually had booked it before it closed out and then we rescheduled it for when it was supposed to reopen the 17. then when they said the waterpark wasn’t going to be open, we rescheduled it a third time.”

Because of ongoing concerns about COVID-19, the operators at Kalahari are making some minor adjustments to some of the water attractions inside the park. To keep visitors at least 6-feet apart, there are fewer tubes in the wave pool and Lazy River and there are fewer lounge chairs and tables in the waterpark area. In addition, the staff at Kalahari is doing extra cleaning, and there are hand sanitizer stations throughout the complex.

While many Kalahari employees are wearing face covers, it is optional for visitors.

“With the chlorine and all that, I feel like it’s not really a big deal over here,” said Stephen Swinarski.

For many visitors, the reopening of Kalahari is a sign that summer has arrived and the fear of the virus is slowly fading away.

“It scared everybody, everybody stayed in the house, didn’t want to do anything, couldn’t give anybody a hug, you know so the reopening is good,” said Jamin Williamson.

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