Having had such a wonderful debut, I felt the urge to book another family getaway this time at the Wisconsin Dells’ largest indoor water park, Wilderness Resorts. Selecting this resort was an easy decision after looking at all it has to offer a family. Consisting of three different housing complexes: The Wilderness, Glacier Canyon Lodge, and Wilderness on the Lake, it has the various accommodations that can appease both the budget vacationers and those looking to stay in a more lavish environment. The resort offered a rugged woodsy wilderness theme but was well done, almost manicured to the extent that it was still meant to impress the ladies too. Now, I will share with you a bit about our weekend staycation at this resort and also provide a detailed review for those looking for the inside scoop.
The Wilderness – 2012
Based on the same premise as the previous year (2011), I thought that it would be fun celebrating Madison turning another year older by making a splash with some friends! This year Nellie and I had decided that we wanted to invite my good friend Russell and his two sons and also his girlfriend Tina and her son. Since we were traveling as a larger pack this year we had to make different travel arrangements and also had to book a larger room. After getting Russ onboard and committed to the weekend we decided that we would travel out to Wisconsin in his Dad’s van. Once again we would leave on a Friday morning and make our way to the Dells! We stopped in Chippewa Falls to pick up the most important package, my Peanut Butter Bar!
After loading up on snacks and topping off the gas tank, we were well prepared for the remainder of the road trip. Luckily, Russ’s two sons are like Madison’s brother and they all were able to get along and joke around. Meanwhile, us adults were busily catching up and doing our best to avoid talking about our day jobs. Eventually we arrived at our destination, I was super excited to get settled and hit the water park.
As usual, I put a lot of effort into planning and preparing this trip. I knew we couldn’t have cramped corridors so I made sure to book a really nice condo room at the Wilderness on the Lake. I made sure that it would have several bedrooms, our own kitchenette, and our own hot tub that we could all enjoy throughout the trip. My buddy was great at pitching in and really helped to make the trip affordable. Totally doable even on a budget if you can plan ahead and split costs and get your own supplies ahead of time. One useful tip that I would recommend to anyone looking to bring your own food and snacks / supplies – try to limit your provisions to the bare minimum and set a little time aside to pick up things locally at the Walmart (about 10 minutes away from the resort).
The kids stormed the room and were wowed at the accommodations! Just like I assumed, as soon as we arrived we dropped our bags, changed quickly into our swim attire and made a mad dash for the indoor water parks. The cool thing about the Wilderness is that it has three separate indoor water parks available to its guests, but this came with a catch; to get to the other water parks we were required to take a shuttle. Given the frigid temperatures of a crisp January in Wisconsin, this was a bit of a pain point for me. Luckily the drivers were friendly and the trips to and from didn’t take too long.
This year I was much less worried about Madison as she had been now taking lessons and had become a much more proficient swimmer. She was able to relax and take in all that this resort had to offer and I was able to give her a bit more freedom here as she had her two ‘brothers’ to look out for her. It appeared to me that this resort had a much larger volume of guests which made the lines for the various water slides and raft rides much longer, but it seemed well worth it for the thrill that each group ride offered. A few hours later, we were waterlogged and tired. We made our way back to the condo and relaxed to some cool tunes flowing from my Jambox. The kids played in the hot tub for a while us parents were enjoying margaritas and getting dinner ready. Later that evening, as tradition would have it, we sang Madison the birthday song and she enjoyed a slice of her marble birthday cake. She really got a kick out of having her face screen printed on the cake, my baby girl was now officially 7 years old!
The rest of the trip was a lot of fun, Russell and I were able to be boys and run around and cause a minimal amount of ruckus and still remain responsible parents. The girls bonded too and the kids were smiles all weekend long. The trip was a huge success and I once again reaffirmed my love for this mecca of water park glory. Here is a fun picture collage of our weekend adventure at the Wilderness, enjoy!
The Wilderness Resort Review: Rating B
Best Features: water park size, luxury condos, variety of group water rides.
Worst Features: indoor temperature (left us all feeling cold), food costs, far to overcrowded.
Resort Style & Theme: The Wilderness Resort provides a fun experience and can leave a great impression on guests, however, being from the midwest, the ‘Wilderness’ theme didn’t evoke much of an emotional reaction. They did a nice job blending the theme throughout the entire compound and into the hotel condos/rooms. It definitely gives you the cozy cabin / campfire feeling.
Rooms and Amenities: You get what you pay for on this one. This year we traveled and split costs which allowed us to have a sweet condo. The condos are pretty decked out and came fully stocked with cooking utensils and majority of the amenities that a house would have. The beds were nice but still not quite that upgraded plush Marriott we all love so much, but it did the job. Our condo included a nice living space, a couple flat screen TVs, a pullout couch, a really slick Jacuzzi hot tub, and sectioned off rooms. My favorite was a dual shower in what would be considered the master bathroom, very nice! I would rate the room at an A, it left me feeling like royalty and this was a trip where we did spend a bit of time in the room shutting down the evening and having a nightcap.
Indoor Water Park: The water park was really large but I felt that the space was not optimized for as many cool raft rides and water slides that you would expect when you have over 500,000sqft of indoor space. It’s definitely big enough to consume an entire weekend, but I found that the two main indoor water park places Klondike Kavern and Wild West were very similarly constructed and were really not all that different. However, their indoor wave pool the Wild WaterDome was enormous and offered a lot of additional lounging space; great for parents that just want to lay back and keep one eye on the kiddos.
- Tikes (1-3) are provided an area available that includes a zero depth walk-in pool at Cubby’s Cove with many kiddy things to do. Especially nice if you are bringing a little one under 3 or a non-swimmer.
- kiddos (4-9) are provided many different options of water rides and slides. Please note, There are restrictions based on height requirements. You must be at least 42 inches tall to be allowed on most of the intermediate rides. Some will also require a parent to come along for the fun. For this group there are several indoor slides and water-coaster type rides. My personal favorite for this category was the ‘Hurricane’.
- Tweens (10-17) will still have a blast darting around the water park and hitting some of the most thrilling rides. Being 48 inches tall earns you the ability to ride even the scariest rides without your parents.
- Adults (18, 21+) somewhat limited privileges inside the water park, as you will likely be too busy trying to keep tabs on your kiddos, but if you get a moment you can enjoy the Sulfur Springs (hot tub) and relax. The resort also has a few bars that also offer some adult beverages. There is also a shorter lazy river called Bonanza Brook that call allow you to catch some chill downtime too. This is a family favorite and great for grandparents or anyone that’s looking for a slower pace.
Food Options: There are several food options made available at each of the indoor water park areas and sufficient seating too, however, the prices are out of this world and it makes sense to pack a lunch or head back to your room for a meal. I strongly recommend stopping in town at the nearby Walmart and pick up a few things to hold the kids over between meals.
Other Indoor Activities: I found nothing in this space to really be memorable other than going mini golfing. I think that this could be an area for investment for the resort. Not a wow factor here.
I hope this resort assessment was helpful, and after having been to a few indoor parks at the Dells, I would say that this resort might be best suited for a summer time visit as it never quite felt warm and often was over crowded. Overall, I would think about returning but might venture to other options before I go back.
So what are you waiting for, if you’re looking to have a blast this winter check out the Wisconsin Dells!