Then: When recognizing the Wisconsin Dells’ Kalahari Resort in 2004, the judges noted its excellent management, commitment to customer service, and the spirit of staff teamwork that make the waterpark great. And that spirit was matched by the best, most modern amenities — including a traditional indoor pool, three outdoor pools, six hot tubs, two lazy rivers, a wave pool, two vortex pools, 18 waterslides, and the only indoor surfing machine in the country. On the philanthropic side — and in keeping with the African theme that runs throughout the park — Kalahari was co-sponsor, along with the Noel Fund, of an effort to build a self-sustaining African village for people living with AIDS. Visitors were encouraged to participate by tossing donations into the mouths of rhino sculptures.

Now: Today, Kalahari’s Wisconsin Dells facility is billed as Wisconsin’s largest indoor waterpark. Indoor amenities include the 250-foot Super Loop waterslide; the 570-foot Master Blaster, which provides a 35-second thrill ride; and a 920-foot lazy river. Indoor body surfing is still popular on the FlowRider, and Tiko’s Watering Hole provides a unique playpark for kids. Outdoors, guests can enjoy the 77,000-square-foot Zambezi Waterpark, which features a 420-foot slide called Extreme Rush — ideal for older kids — and for little ones, Splashdown Safari, a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket at the top of a play structure. Kalahari’s water activities are supplemented by the dry indoor theme park, several restaurants and a golf course. The resort has made a commitment to water and energy conservation, and supplies half of its hot water needs through rooftop solar panels. Kalahari recycles thousands of pounds of waste products every year, and participates in a soap-recycling effort that has provided nearly 65,000 bars of remanufactured soap to needy people around the world.