Tell me this isn’t something every parent wants to hear after a weekend of fun? My 7-year old said this to me on our car ride home from Wisconsin Dells after a weekend stay at Wilderness Resort and it felt like parental success! We did it. We spent a weekend in a space with endless options of fun that our kids actually got tired. But not just tired – so tired that they admitted to being tired. As any parent knows, this is huge. They played hard, the swam hard, they slept hard. And they were so darn happy. THAT is even more fulfilling than them being tired. Happy, tired kids. #winning
Our visit to Wilderness was such an incredible delight. Located in the heart of Wisconsin Dells, about 3.5 hours from the Twin Cities, this massive family-centric resort hosts four indoor waterparks, four outdoor waterparks, three arcades, a giant family adventure center, a new in-flight theater, pottery painting, on-site dining options, kids clubs, condos, cabins, newly-renovated hotel rooms, and so much more. I’m excited to take you on the tour of our weekend – and if you’re looking for a fun and family-friendly way to spend some time (that is guaranteed to tire out even your most energetic child), book your stay at Wilderness today!
And be sure to check out the numerous specials they offer all year long before you make your reservation.
For our May weekend away, we enjoyed two nights in the Wilderness Resort’s main hotel. The resort is so large, it consists of many different sections including the Wilderness Resort’s main hotel, Glacier Canyon Lodge, Wilderness on the Lake, and a variety of villas, condos, and cabins (coming soon – Treehouse cabins!). Depending on the kind of getaway you’re going for will help decide your lodging choice. The main hotel at the Wilderness was the obvious choice for our family since waterparks, activities, and the ease of on-site dining were our top priorities. Check out their Accommodations page for more information on all lodging options, but if you want to be close in proximity to the super family fun, I do recommend Wilderness Resort’s main hotel. Plus – BONUS – all of the hotel rooms have recently been renovated and they are clean, accessible, modern, and spacious (many can accommodate up to seven guests).
When you book your room, know that full waterpark access is included with your stay. Your waterpark wristbands are valid from the time you check in until close on the day you check out – and you will need all of that time to thoroughly enjoy all four of their indoor waterparks! YES, there are FOUR!
As many large resorts can feel, the Wilderness can seem overwhelming upon first visit. The layout is spread out but all walkable (and they do offer shuttle buses if needed), and you can get to three of the indoor waterparks without stepping outside (the fourth is a quick shuttle ride to Wilderness on the Lake). Pack your bag, grab the fam, and head out for a full day of waterpark-hopping enjoyment!
Here is the breakdown of the waterparks offered at Wilderness Resort:
- Klondike Kavern
This 65,000 square foot park has a good number of thrill rides if you have older and more adventures kiddos, but also has a lazy river and hot tub, basketball nets, plus a small kids playground with a dumping bucket, smaller slides, and water blasters.
- Wild WaterDome
Ahhh, wave pools. Who doesn’t love a good wave pool? My whole family jumped waves and dove under them for far longer than we thought we would. The WaterDome is bathed in natural light for a tropical feel and is easily my favorite waterpark to sit in a lounge chair for some R&R. I credit this waterpark alone for the exhaustion of my children. Thank you, Wild WaterDome. We should hang out more.
- Wild West Waterpark
This newly-renovated waterpark was our family favorite – hands down. The Black Hole thrill ride alone was the highlight of my oldest’s trip (well, that and go-karts). This waterpark seems to have the most for a variety of ages with its indoor/outdoor hot tubs, kids play area (smaller slides included), a swim-up bar (yes please), PLUS four brand-new thrill slides that were just genuinely so much fun! The “racing” feature of the new body slides and tube slides made it extra exciting because who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? There is darkness, lighting effects, twists and turns, and decently warm water to make the whole waterslide adventure thing an absolute joy (plus there are lots of nummy new food options here…more on that later).
- Cubby’s Cove
Cubby’s is actually located at Wilderness on the Lake and is perfect for little ones who like a good zero-depth play space, lily pads, and basketball hoops. Do note that all children under 48″ are required to wear a life jacket at Cubby’s Cove.
*For all height, age, and weight restrictions, visit their website here. Life jackets are available on-site.
What’s New at Wilderness?
Our family visited Wilderness Resort a few years ago and, while it was awesome then, it has made lots of changes since and they are all impressive.
As I said, the guest rooms were all renovated as well as the Wild West Waterpark. There is also a new restaurant called Swimm’n Chick’n (located in Wild West), a cute and funky eatery with all-natural tenders and wings as its main selling point, but it also offers salads, wraps, and kids meals. The tenders though? Those were miiiiighty tasty!
In the same waterpark (so don’t fill up on chicken) is the new Bear Paw Funnel Cakes. Enter: my weakness. So much delicious deep fried sugary goodness, and so many unique options. We had a hard time deciding between the one built like a s’more or the one covered in Fruity Pebbles. Mmmmm, fair food. Nothing better.
Not hungry for chicken or funnel cakes? Well, then we can’t be friends. Just kidding. What I meant to say was: Then you should check out the new Camp Social Food Hall, a large open space with plenty of seating and food options for a family with varying tastes. Choices include The Burger Bar, Tacolicious, and Coffee Canteen, or the Breakfast Bar. Also in the Camp Social space is a pretty massive gift shop and – my middle child’s favorite – The Candy Cabin.
OK, enough about food. Let’s move on to MY favorite part of our resort stay – Take Flight.
Take Flight is a brand new sensory experience built inside the resort where you are seat-belted in for a ride over the world, but really it’s on a 65′ fully-surround movie screen. I kid you not – you feel like you’re flying. The seats dip and glide while your feet dangle in the air (but really, not really) and you are splashed with gentle drips of water or find yourself inhaling the scent of oranges are you soar over a Florida citrus grove. You are fully immersed in the colossal space of our planet without leaving your seat.
Our family watched the “World Flight” option which took us from Italy to London to Egypt to Switzerland (and more). What was my only complaint about Take Flight? I wanted to sit there for 12 more hours and do it again and again and again and again. Oh, and I now want to spend millions of dollars on round-the-world excursions for everyone I’ve ever met in my life. It will open your eyes to some breathtaking beauty and you will be so grateful you paid for a boarding pass to Take Flight.
All riders must be at least 4 years of age and 32″ tall to ride. Rider minimum height unaccompanied is 42″ tall.
Admission to fly is $17.99/person but hotel guests save $5.
When the swimming is over, the fun ain’t done.
Oh, no, no no. The Wilderness Resort has put time and thought into making sure your family fun vacation is FULL. Like, really really full. That’s why they offer – not only four indoor and four outdoor waterparks – but tons of other activities, and all directly on-site.
What are the additional activities?
*Note that the purchase of a Fun Pass (for $29.95/person) includes a good majority of these activities. Look for the asterisk* which notates what is included. Or just check it out for yourself on the website here. You can upgrade for $17/each to “unlimited” allowing you to do these activities as many times as you choose rather than just once.
- Lost Cabin Laser Tag*
My husband was very impressed with this laser tag layout and its multiple levels. All five of us had a blast running around under the black lights trying to get the highest score. Know who got dead last? Yours truly. Of course. $8/person
- Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course*
Watching my youngest hype himself up to going on this ropes course that hangs above the arcade was one of my favorite memories from the weekend. He was so proud once he got up there and when he was finally able to tell dad, “I got this on my own. I don’t need your help,” was a beautiful moment of confidence. $9/30 minutes
- Wild Abyss Black-Light Mini Golf*
Enjoy nine holes of black-lit sea-life enjoyment with a game of mini golf. The holes aren’t difficult, but it’s a neat environment. $6/person for 9 holes
- Clip ‘n Climb Challenge Wall*
There were three walls to choose from and went from floor to ceiling with different themes and challenges. My daughter proved to her brothers that she can definitely out-race them on a climbing rock.
$5/climb or 3 climbs for $12
- Wilderwoods Indoor Go-Karts*
Always a favorite for my boys, this track is multi-level and can get going pretty fast. The ride time is nice and long so you do get good bang for your buck. Line can get long so maybe go close to open time or during meal times to avoid excessive wait times. You must be 56” tall and 10 years old to drive a Single or Double-Kart alone. $8/ride
OH! And let’s not forget “Junior Hour” every day from 8-9am where kids 6+ and at least 46″ tall can drive their own go-kart. My youngest popped out of bed for this opportunity and he thought he was so cool!
- Three Arcades
Each arcade has its own variety of games so no two are the same. Some have more arcade-like games, and some more ticket-earning carnival-like games. It’s fun to check them all out and choose your favorite.
- Polka Dot Pots
Paint your own pottery and have it ready for pickup the next day. Prices vary depending on the project you choose, but if you’d rather do something creative, this is a fun and relaxing option.
- Timberland Playhouse
This indoor play place is a great place to run off steam for guests 12 and under. Plus, it’s included in your stay! Slides, swings, tunnels, ropes, bridges – it’s a nice space for youngsters who are sick of swimming but not ready for a nap (yet).
- WildKids Club
Also on-site is a kids club option for little ones where they can make a craft, watch a movie, get a glitter tattoo, color a t-shirt, build a stuffed animal, or one of the other activities on the daily agenda. Prices vary and some are free.
Want some tips?
Sure. Who doesn’t like to know things before heading out on an epic weekend adventure with children? I know I do. Here are some tips we found helpful on our weekend away:
- Bring your own towels. They do hand towels out and give you a towel pass, but since they all look the same and it was hard to remember to get a new pass with every waterpark switch, I wished we had brought our own bright pink and green towels from home. Which is allowed, by the way.
- Lockers and hotel room access can be done through the wristband you receive upon check-in. Our kids enjoyed this because it gave them the freedom to unlock the door at the leisure, plus it prevents you from having to dig through your pockets to find a key card. Yay for technology!
- No food is allowed in the waterpark areas. We would head to the room or to one of the many on-site dining options to grab a snack or meal when we got hungry and planned our waterpark time around meals and eating (we plan everything around meals and eating tbh).
- Life jackets and life guards are aplenty, so if you need one, just ask. Safety seems to be a top priority at Wilderness Resort. And what parent isn’t gonna love that? You can bring your own life jackets as well.
- Bring flip flops and maybe a waterproof bag for your goods. It’s a waterpark. Water is….well, everywhere. Things will get wet, including shoes, towels, dry clothes, etc. Just pack like you would going to a beach (minus the frisbees and sand toys).
- There are height and age restrictions on rides. They will weigh you before a number of the water rides which I found invasive at first, but just like going to the gym, ain’t nobody paying attention to anyone but themselves. You can see them all the rules and guidelines online here.
- There is a parking lot for each section of the resort and parking is free. There is also a shuttle that will take you from one end of the resort to the other if needed. Shuttle information is available at the front desk.
- We took a picture of the resort map on our phones instead of carrying around the printed one from the front desk. It took a day or so to fully acclimate to where we were at and how to get from A to B, so this was very helpful.
- Bring waterproof phone cases or money holders if you want to keep those items with you.
- Wilderness Resort is a no pets allowed facility, so Fido will have to stay home.
- Splurge on the Take Flight ride. I just loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat.
- Need a morning bite? There are plenty of morning coffee and bakery options but we enjoyed the speed and simplicity of O.P.’s Coffee and Market (with Starbucks coffee and yummy donuts). And it didn’t break the bank and was quick to consume so we could go do all the FUN STUFF! The food options are substantial – you can see them all here.
As is the case for everywhere in Wisconsin Dells, the summertime opens a lot more options, but we found that our two full days at Wilderness Resort were chock full of good times with or without the warm weather. If you do want to visit during the warmer months, you can look forward to four other waterparks (outdoor), an outdoor go-kart track, mini golf, a zipline course, and horse-drawn wagon rides. The outside activities are open Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather permitting, and a full list can be found here.
Don’t miss the Dells!
When in Rome….
Well, that could be said for Wisconsin Dells as well. The Dells are known for their quirkiness, their unique sightseeing options, their kitschy gift shops, their off-the-wall exhibits and their Main Street of attractions. We can simply never get out of town without trying something new and odd. If you see something, try it. Or don’t. I mean, you never know what you’re gonna get, but isn’t that what life is all about?
Happy travels and here’s to grabbing life by the horns!