Wisconsin Dells is the perfect location for Lake County families who want a short weekend getaway or a not far away vacation. Located just two and half hours away it’s a fast drive and offers plenty for families to do so it will feel like you’ve gone much farther. We recently stayed at the Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness Resort, it offers all the amenities a family could want or need to make a vacation fun for everyone!
Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells
We stayed in a two-room deluxe condo. With four children, the days of getting one or two regular rooms are long gone! Thankfully we are out of the crib stage so that everyone can use the beds provided. The two-room condo’s rates are based on a four-person occupancy but can sleep up to 7 people. Our kids shared the one bedroom, which came with bunk beds (twin over a double) similar to what they have at home. The room also had a murphy bed in the living room and a king in the other bedroom. Our toddler is still at the stage where he is not a fan of sleeping away from home, which means mom and dad still get stuck with whatever the living room offers for sleeping. After many nights sleeping on hotel pull-out beds, I can tell you that a murphy bed is way better!
Another benefit of staying in a condo is the kitchen! We could shop at a local store and get everything we needed for breakfast and lunch, which saved us money and meltdowns. Our kids get up at 6, vacation or not, so having some milk and cereal in our room is a great way to fill the time before the pools open.
The Wilderness Resort has four indoor waterparks, bumper boats, a ropes course, mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, an arcade, and more! Covering over 600 acres, the resort has plenty for everyone to do and tons of fun to be had. The best part is that you never have to leave the building. There are walkways connecting everything. Some shuttles run throughout the resort and to area restaurants. We forgot to bring our stroller, which was tough with two little ones – there is a lot of walking – but there are also many stairs and paths that go in and around the pools. I suggest babywearing to hold tired kids post swimming. Also, bring robes or wearable towels; the pool towels need to stay in the pool area (you trade cards for towels), and it will help keep kids warm on the walks in between.
Our kids are ages 1 to 9, and none are the greatest swimmers (swim lessons are on our list for 2015!). The Wilderness provides life jackets for all sizes and tubes to float in so even non-swimmers can enjoy the pool safely. Of the four indoor waterparks, my kids enjoyed the Wild Waterdome the best.
The Wild Waterdome is located under a large windowed roof, like being in a greenhouse! The roof actually allows the sun to come through and will enable visitors to tan in Wisconsin in the winter! My older kids loved the wave pool; they could have stayed in it all day long. Attached to the wave pool is a smaller kids’ area with sprayers, two slides, and shallow water perfect for toddlers. My two little ones loved this area! I think part of the reason that this pool was such a big hit was that it was so large and open. Even with a lot of people visiting, it didn’t feel crowded or loud.
The second pool we visited was the Klondike Kavern which has a large water play feature, swings for little ones, the Hurricane Thrill slide, and the lazy river. My little ones (1 and 3) did not like this pool at all. It was crowded and loud. The play area has a large dump bucket, and while there are plenty of places where they could play without being splashed, the noise of it dumping freaked them out. We stuck to the lazy river.
One of the best features of the Wilderness are the two-seater tubes.
If you have toddlers, I recommend you get to whichever pool you are going to be at as soon as it opens and grab one of these for every toddler you have. It was perfect for riding around the lazy river and was also great for letting the little ones sit and ride waves at the wave pool’s shore. Forget renting cabanas. If there were an option to reserve these to guarantee they would be there waiting for you, I would be all over it!
Since I still have nappers, I spent the afternoon working in our room – another bonus for a kitchen/sitting area, fresh coffee! The big kids and dad checked out the bumper boats and the third waterpark while the little kids napped. We had a wild, fun pass that is great if you bring multiple kids and plan on doing numerous activities. The passes can be used the whole time (or you can bring them back!), and they are not assigned to a person. So if one child loves the bumper boats and another only wants to do laser tag, they can swap cards so you aren’t paying for things they won’t do.
My kids had never done laser tag or a laser maze before and they loved it! Going in over and over again. The only downside was that there was nothing in the literature we had or in our room about the restrictions on the bumper boats or go-karts. My one daughter was too short to go on the bumper boats alone and neither of my older kids was tall enough for the go-karts alone. Since we have four kids there was no way for both adults to take the older ones. This of course led to great disappointment when they walked down there only to find out they couldn’t go.
Overall the Wilderness is a great location for a family getaway and the kids are already asking when they can go back.
For reservations or additional information please call 1.800.867.WILD (9453) or visit www.WildernessResort.com.
Disclosure: My family was provided accommodations and Fun Passes to assist in this review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.