My yearly bucket list always includes as many experiences for Athena as for myself. Watching the joy on her face as she gets to cross off adventures is like an item itself. This year, she wanted to add more waterparks to her list so it seemed fitting to visit America’s largest waterpark resort, Wilderness Resort. The Wilderness consists of over 600 wooded acres in Wisconsin Dells and is home to Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, Wilderness on the Lake, and Glacier Canyon Lodge. Combined, these three properties offer four indoor and four outdoor waterparks that total nearly 500,000 square feet – that’s over 12 football fields of extreme water fun. With two golf courses, lazer tag, bumper boats, go-karts, zip lining, a sky ropes course, and mini golf, we could have stayed at Wilderness Resort for a month and never ran out of amazing things to experience but we wanted to soak it all up at the indoor waterparks. If we weren’t sleeping, we were in the water. It was so much fun I might put it on the list every year. I want to nurture Athena’s love for waterparks so it remains as strong as my own.
We chose Glacier Canyon Lodge as our home base. Our 900 square foot unit featured a living room, full kitchen, dining area, and two bedrooms. The master bedroom had a king-size bed and the second bedroom had bunk beds. Having a separate room for Athena is a game-changer. I like to have her in bed by 8 pm each night. When we share a room, I need to turn out the lights and lay down with her. My best hope is that she’ll fall asleep quickly and I can quietly work in the room once she’s in a deep sleep. Do you know how many nights I end up going to sleep at 8 pm because I don’t want to wake her? I’m a night owl. I like to work at night, watch tv, relax, or maybe even have a few drinks. It’s all out the window when Athena is in the same room. I can make up the extra cost of the room by cooking most meals in the suite and we’re all happier.
Waterpark access was included with our stay so we never left the property once we arrived. Our first stop was Wild WaterDome. The only problem was that once Athena entered the dome, she didn’t want to leave. With a swim up bar for adults, I was easily convinced to stay too.
The see-through roof bathed the entire 70,000-square-foot indoor waterpark in natural light as we enjoyed America’s largest indoor wave pool. Athena is a fantastic swimmer but I stayed close as the waves washed over us. When we needed a rest from the waves, I sat back and watched Athena play in the lagoon with water jets, spraying fountains, and slides. The dome turned a cooler day in Wisconsin into a warm summer day. I’d love to return in winter and watch snow fall onto the roof as I splashed in the waves.
After three hours at Wild WaterDome, we returned to our suite for snacks. I couldn’t convince her to stay away for long, though, and we quickly made our way to the next park. The Wild West spans over 70,000 square feet and has thrill rides, body slides, and a massive play area with dumping buckets, bumper boats, and an indoor/outdoor hot spa.
Now that Athena is 42 inches, a new world of adventure awaits. She could ride almost every ride with the exception of The Black Hole. Our favorite was Fantastic Voyage, 4-person raging raft ride.
Although she loved the “big girl” slides, she still has a blast in Ransack Ridge play area. With lifeguards on duty and great visibility of the entire area, I relaxed on a lounge chair while she splashed and played in sight. I wish I still had the energy of a child. She could run and play all day and still have energy to burn.
I would have been happy staying at The Wild West the entire time. It offered something for everyone. Luckily, we made our way to Klondike Kavern before leaving because it is home to my favorite slide in the entire park. The Hurricane is an extreme thrill slide with the best drops and angles. I zoomed down a 45-degree angle, zipped across a funnel at 20 mph, and experienced weightlessness before dropping into a splash pool, all while sound effects, strobes, and fog enhanced the “hurricane” effect. The Hurricane slide begins after climbing several flights of stairs, but I made the trek half a dozen times because it was that amazing.
I knew that Wilderness Resort was America’s largest waterpark resort but I didn’t expect three different parks with so many options for all ages. When you visit, I’d suggest spending at least three days. I bet you could make an entire bucket list with just Wilderness Resort.
***A big thanks to Wilderness Resort for providing the accommodations and park passes. As always, all options are my own.***