Castaway Bay, Sandusky, Ohio
Our family is no stranger to these wintertime oasis's, and for years we've wanted to visit Castaway Bay and now we finally got the chance! We enjoyed it so much, we decided to go back the following weekend! (and subsequently the same time a year later). Below we've compiled 12 reasons why you shouldn't wait as long as we did to give Castaway Bay a visit! This may be one of the most comprehensive reads you'll find as you'll get the review from our 3 trips (now totaling 12 in the last 3 years), which sort of makes us "Professional Castaways", so take your time and enjoy!
(Note that many pictures are slides with detailed descriptions so be sure to look through them all!)
One big advantage Castaway Bay has would have to be the wide range of available room configurations. Boasting a whopping 237 rooms with 13 different room layouts, ranging from double beds to multi-room suites! In addition, all rooms feature a mini fridge / microwave and (most) a balcony or patio, many with views of the beautiful Sandusky Bay and if you're lucky, a view of Cedar Point's breathtaking Roller Coasters off in the distance. With a large family like ours, the different room options are a plus that prevents us from having to book separate accommodations.
The first (& 2nd) trip we stayed in the "Tarpon Suite" which has a King bed in its own separate room and a balcony, which was immediately claimed by the ole lady and I. The kids didn't have any issue with this as they were surprised to find that they had their own room with 2 sets of bunk beds and a Tv! The suite also includes a huge closet that's more like a small room. What was cool about this addition is the kids used it as a changing room when someone was in the bathroom and it was still large enough to store luggage for 8 plus a stroller and wagon, out of sight, providing a more comfortable environment within the living spaces.
We've also stayed in both "Pelican" & "Starfish" rooms, which can be rented individually or as in our case, connected by an adjoining door. Both rooms have 2 Queen beds, but the "Starfish" included an extra mini couch that pulls out into a bed, allowing for 5 people to stay in the room.
2. Dining Options
When visiting an Indoor Waterpark, especially in the Winter, You'll want to minimize the need to leave the resort (I mean who really wants to leave the comfort of a tropical paradise and have to venture out into the cold cruel world we know as reality), And Castaway Bay definitely has you covered here.
On-site are several dining options where you can grab everything from a quick bite to eat or snacks, to a full blown meal:
Ebb and Eddy's: Home to Starbucks, Muffins, Bagels other snacks and quick bites. You can also grab a triple scoop of Toft's famous Ice Cream in several different flavors. E&E's is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. with great views of the bay!
Mango Mike's: A Full Blown Breakfast Buffet that's surprisingly not full of the typical buffet fare that makes feel like you've consumed slop and immediately start to question you purpose in life afterwards (i'm not the only one that feels this way right?). Aside from the aforementioned fact, we loved Mango Mike's because the kids could fill up with whatever they wanted for one price! Vegas was a fan of the pancakes while Scoop was in Bacon Heaven.
Big Daddy's Snack Shack: Located inside the waterpark, This is the place to grab Pizza, Pop (Or Soda depending on your area of upbringing) & Pretzels plus all of the usual suspects kids gravitate towards.
For a filling sit down meal, rather lunch or dinner, look no further than the massive Quaker Steak & Lube located on site serving everything from appetizers to ribs and of course their legendary wings. In the Winter months, sit inside and view the Bay via the large windows that surround the restaurant while watching your favorite sporting event on one of the many TV's. Now However in the summer, feel free to sit out on the large deck that connects to the boat docks and abuts the Bay. Recommendation: Go for the Skillet Mac and Cheese with carnitas. I ordered this and a side of wings... After the Mac and Cheese, I could barely eat the wings. I did however, but barely 🤣🤣 The kids love the kids meals and the portions are enough for the kids under 10. Mj had the Boom Boom Shrimp meal, which came with 12 pieces of Shrimp, needless to say he tapped out after eating only 6!
No need to load your car down bringing items from home. Located within the main lobby concourse are 2 stores where you can purchase everything you may need to complete your trip:
Nick Knacks - Since each room has a fridge and microwave, why not stop in and grab all of your convenience items such as snacks, milk, food in addition to medicine and hygiene products.
Pearl's Swimwear- Great spot to buy all your Castaway Bay branded merchandise from Swimwear and clothing items to Cedar Point posters, maps and all the souvenirs you want to keep the memories alive well after your return home.
Let's face it, there aren't many of us that can walk out of our front door and into 82 Degree weather year round.
Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Castaway Bay is 1 hour from Cleveland and only about 2 hours & change from Detroit, Michigan or Columbus, Ohio. In other words, you'll be pulling up in the parking lot before your kids have the chance to ask "Are we there yet?"
5. Water Water Water
I mean this is what you're here for right? The centerpiece of the resort is the Waterpark and boy is she lovely! The design is perfect as there is only one way in and out and plenty of seating all around so we can allow the kids to play while keeping an eye on them.
Large enough to keep kids and adults entertained for the day but small enough to where you won't have to worry about losing track of your group (which is a God send when you have 6 little ones to watch out for). Plenty of attractions for all ages, which is something we were first concerned about as some waterparks only focus on one main demographic and either the kids will be satisfied and your teenagers bored, or vice versa. But Castaway Bay definitely mirrors Cedar Point in the fact that they know how to cater to all in one location.
Some of the water attractions include:
6. It wouldn't be a Cedar Point property without a....
Roller Coaster.. well not technically a Roller Coaster, but Castaway Bay is home to one of three Water Coasters in the STATE! While definitely not in the same class as the Magnum XL-200, it provides just enough thrill to entertain adults and make your little ones feel like they have overcome their fears at the finish line! Scoop and Mj ride "Rendezvous Run" everytime we come, but this last trip was special as Munchie put on her brave hat and finally gave it a try! She had a blast and immediately jumped back in line! Chipmunk, your turn is next....
7. Club Castaway
Club Castaway is a huge benefit for families as we have been to many other indoor waterparks and what CC offers for free, some others charge for. Located on the 3rd floor, they have several free activities the kids will love, especially the free cookie decorating classes. I mean free cookies AND all the icing your can pile on that round disc of goodness? I see no reason to complain here!
Also available are paid add ons for a very low cost such as "Color your own T-shirts, Pillowcases and Book bags", that can either be included in a room package or bought individually for $10 or less. This was the kids first time and they decided to color a T-shirt and pillowcase and really took it seriously. We thought this would only take 20 minutes or so, but they were so into it, 2 hours later and Mj was just putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece. A great option to explore when you want to step out of the water for a bit.
In addition, there are other fun activities such as "Karaoke With Peanuts" (Can you control the crowd better than Lucy?) , "A Peanuts Dance Party" (Linus has some serious moves i'll tell you that!), Activity of the day crafts or games, "A Meet and Greet with the Peanuts Gang" and a nightly Snoopy movie and storytime. This was a fun way to wind down after the waterpark as the kids put their PJ's on and found a spot to lay down while watching. These extras provide family bonding time that we all talked about well after the trip concluded.
Be sure to pick up an Island Times Newsletter in the lobby each day for a schedule of events!
Also, leave a letter for Snoopy in the Mailbox and he will write you back and drop the letter at your door in the morning!!
8. Crabbies Quarterdeck Arcade
Question of the day "How many arcade games can you fit comfortably in a 6,000 Sq. Ft. room and still have space for kids and their parents? anyone know the answer class"?
If you said a whole lot then guess what! you're right!
Crabbies Quarterdeck arcade is the video game paradise we dreamed of as kids, this is what "Putt Putt" or "Aladdin's Castle" (big nostalgia moment here), would've morphed into if they survived past the 90's. Here you'll find pretty much all of the latest games for kids young and old and you'll have no problem keeping the kids entertained for hours!
"But wait.. play for HOURS??!? Who can afford THAT?!?!
"YOU can, thats who!!"
Unlimited Gameplay all day or for a 2 hour block is a deal you seriously cannot refuse, especially when you consider how fast a kid can spend $5, one of these packages are a no brainer! Now the downside is the unlimited gameplay does not apply to ticket and merchandise games. You can however purchase token packages that will allow you to play redemption machines. We purchased one of these as well after seeing the HUGE prize counter with all of the options, you'll want to also!
Recently Crabbies has upgraded and added Tigapo, a new payment / ticket system where you download the free app to your cell phone and whenever you want to play a game, simply hold your phone in front of the sensor and GAME ON! To make things easier, the app also tracks all of your ticket winnings so you no longer have to lug them around or spend time counting them. We love the app because we purchased one package and were allowed to split the credits up amongst all the kids phones and as a bonus, each person that downloads the app receives 20 free credits!!! No cell phone, no problem, your credits / tickets can also be loaded onto "tags" that you can scan as well, which was perfect for Vegas as he doesnt have his own cell phone..... yet.
I myself camped out at the old school air hockey table.... By the way, Castaway Bay, if your listening, can us older "Mall Era Arcade" Gamers get a NBA Jam machine?? Thanks!
By now hopefully the picture is forming that Castaway Bay is not only an Indoor Waterpark, but a complete family resort that caters to families not only in regards to amenities but also financially. With rooms priced for every budget, you're sure to find a price point that agrees with your wallet. The resort itself is usually always priced below other waterparks in the area
Doing a price comparison, I researched rooms at both Castaway Bay and another local nationally known Indoor Waterpark, for Friday, April 13, for one night for 6 guests (2 adults, 4 children). The competitor didn't offer a room with bunk beds, so I chose a comparable room which had 2 queen beds and a full size sofa sleeper (This was the cheapest comparable room for comparison)
For the Tarpon Suite at CB, the rate is $297.74 taxes included Vs. $437.92 at the competitors resort.
The competitor is a great resort without question, but from a value to entertainment perspective, Castaway Bay wins hands down! In addition to the above bullet points, a HUGE perk is during the regular Cedar Point operating season, as a guest of Castaway Bay, you have the option to purchase park tickets to one of the greatest amusement parks in the world at a discounted price AND gain a 1 hour early admission into the park before the general public! Also another perk if you happen to have a Gold or Platinum Pass to Cedar Point, you will automatically save 10% off your room rate!
Talk about the icing on the cake!
This last bullet point could and actually should take precedence over all the others as this goes a long way. I can say that the professionalism exhibited by everyone in the staff from the Housekeepers and Maintenance personnel down to the Front Desk staff and Lifeguards, is something I have never witnessed in any of the places we have stayed (THE Ritz Carlton included).
The Lifeguards would stop and talk to the kids while asking what rides they liked the most. The hotel staff would joke with them in passing with one even saying as we were walking down the hallway "Watch out for that puddle!" making all the kids stop and double check the carpet they were walking on!
The guest experience here is bar none and definitely a big influence on why we will continue to go back (After frequenting much more expensive resorts for years), I can honestly say that in comparison, there is no comparison when it comes to the overall guest experience in and outside of the water attractions.
Any questions or issues we had, were always answered promptly and without making us feel as if we were being a pain, which speaks volumes because we don't make a lot of money and vacations, no matter how close to home they may be, are something we look forward to, so feeling like a guest vs a customer makes a huge impact!
The great mystery of Ebb & Eddy...
Throughout the resort you'll run across various "plaques" such as the one above that tells the story of Castaway Bay and its residents. So as we were walking thru Ebb & Eddy's, the kids spotted the above plaque for Ebb and immediately went searching for Eddy's plaque. To their dismay, they couldn't locate one and for the rest of the trip, they pondered what exactly happened to Eddy! (This has actually been a bargaining chip they use since returning home to go back saying "we have to find Eddy!")
With my interest piqued as well, a few days after our return, I reached out to the resort to inquire about what happened to our old chum (I know this had to be the most left field question they've ever received). I was told they would look into it and get back to me.
To my utter surprise guess what, they actually did! I seriously didn't think my question would be taken seriously especially seeing they are smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest parts of the season, but they did.
It's the attention to detail, that really counts and helps to make your trip fully immersive!
11. Scavenger Hunt
Continuing to underscore our points about all the free options provided at CB is the Scavenger Hunt. You pickup a playing card at the front desk and set sail around the main lobby in search of clues. This was a game we were made aware of during our first trips however never took advantage of it, so we had to this go round!
Thinking this would be something that the kids would finish in a few minutes and not be of much interest, it actually turned into a very fun game as all of us got involved in the hunt! The kids would challenge and race each other for clues and give high fives when one would figure something out!
Finish the hunt and your bounty? A game card to Crabbies Arcade for some free video game play!! Pretty sweet! Tip: The clues are located inside the merchants in the main lobby so gameplay is only available during the stores hours of operation.
12. Photo Op!
A lot of people may not be aware but Castaway Bay was one of the last great ideas that former Cedar Fair CEO Richard Kinzel brought to fruition prior to his retirement a few years ago.
Theming has never been Cedar Point's M.O. as it is an amusement park not a theme park, However that all changed with CB. The island and shipwreck theme is carried all thru the property from design and landscaping down to the clues in the scavenger hunt, everything is cohesive and really helps to transport you away.
I don't know if Mr. Kenzel foresaw the "cell phone selfie" movement, but it sure seems as if he did because there are several places that are perfect backdrops for photos and selfies to help preserve the memory of your getaway for years to come!
In addition, the Peanuts gang roams around and poses for photos as well, adding the "Joe Cool" touch we all need! Vegas loved seeing Snoopy and would literally run to him multiple times and give him a hug. We had to pull him away so that other people could take a picture also!
Hopefully these 12 reasons will help you make up your mind next time you are looking for somewhere "all inclusive", value priced but not cheap and overall appealing for all ages! In addition, it is important to remember that Castaway Bay is a year around destination! In the warmer months, enjoy the sundeck and outdoor hot tub, step out onto your very own patio or balcony or enjoy a meal or drink on the deck of Quaker Steak while the breeze from the bay cools everything down.
Want more of a close up look at this totally cool resort? Check out our trip report video where you get to the kids perspective of Castaway Bay!
Follow us on instagram and click here for a chance to win 4 day passes to the waterpark!!
We have some EXCITING NEWS to share with you! Castaway Bay is currently undergoing a massive resort wide renovation! Scheduled to take place in 3 phases through 2020 / 2021, this will bring a totally new look that will transform the rooms, lobby / common areas, Mango Mike's restaurant and Ebb & Eddies!
Sadly the rooms will lose their balconies, which is a real bummer as they were a real standout feature however, the rooms should become a little larger after absorbing the balcony space (this is unconfirmed as I couldn't tell if the balconies were just being sheared off or walled in to expand the rooms). The resort will stay open during construction and should not effect the day to day operations, so no worries about dampening your fun!
It is still to be determined if the waterpark will gain any new attractions or if the beautiful "Spa At Castaway Bay" will reopen. Hopefully it will as it's the only Spa in the area with its very own private swimming pool. The above rendering of the remodel was featured at Winter Chill Out and as of press time, has not been published on CB's official site, so we're proud to bring this to you first. Stay tuned for more updates as the renovation progresses.
The "6 Kids Crew" Take On Castaway Bay!
Thanks for reading and drop a comment below! Also HERE for a Castaway Bay Giveaway!! (closed)
Please note: Passes for the contest and our stay were provided in exchange for our review of the resort. Our review is totally our own opinions. Giveaway not sponsored by Castaway Bay, Cedar Fair, Cedar Point, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
They also have a pretty cool twitter page too!