Ultimate Guide to Wisconsin Dells Indoor Waterparks: Everything You Need to Know

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Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Photo courtesy of Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells

Escape winter’s chill with a trip to the “Waterpark Capital of the World.” The small Wisconsin town of Lake Delton is home to five huge indoor waterparks! It’s located in The Dells, a glacially formed river gorge region. Drive time is less than two hours from Milwaukee and just over three hours from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

While outdoor waterparks are fantastic during the summer — the world’s biggest outdoor waterpark, Noah’s Ark Waterpark, is in Wisconsin Dells — they close once temperatures cool and the area freezes up for winter. However, in The Dells, when the weather outside turns frightful, the weather inside is tropical. Climate-controlled fun with balmy poolside cabanas and slippery waterslides make Wisconsin Dells a year-round playground.

Our waterpark-loving family has tested nearly all of the waterpark fun in the Wisconsin Dells area. Here’s what you need to know.

Water slides at the Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Great Wolf Lodge waterpark. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

1. Great Wolf Lodge

This is the flagship property of Great Wolf Lodge, the now wickedly popular waterpark hotel chain. Relax on the lazy river, enjoy the wave pool and find water activities to suit everyone in your group. With 76,000 square feet of waterpark attractions and 437 hotel room suites, we think this place reigns supreme for a family waterpark vacation.

Part of the allure here is the wide range of activities available on-site. Great Wolf Lodge is known for excellent family friendly programming. In addition to the indoor waterpark, expect to find kids crafts, cookie decorating and complimentary wolf ears for your entire pack. There’s also an outdoor waterpark open during the warmer summer months. Plus, this resort offers a full weekend worth of dining with five different restaurant options on-site. We never leave the property once we arrive.

MagiQuest at the Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells waterpark
MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

More than the Indoor Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge

MagiQuest is my family’s favorite non-waterpark feature of Great Wolf Lodge (it is also open to the public and has a separate entrance.) It kept our whole family racing up and down stairs, slides and even cargo net crossings, with wands in hand. We had hours of fun trying to collect clues and defeat dragons and ogres!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Keep your wand for trips back to the area! They work (years later) with a simple battery swap and can be tested by a master Magi at the counter. 

The three-story gamescape is akin to a treehouse with interactive screens and intriguing fantastical decorations to keep everyone’s imagination in high gear. The Great Wolf Lodge at Wisconsin Dells also offers ShadowQuest, Northern Lights Arcade and Build-a-Bear Workshop. Character appearances, kids’ yoga sessions and the famed Great Clock Tower Show are all dry land experiences that add fun to a Great Wolf Lodge stay.

Read More: Winter Fun in Wisconsin Dells

Waterslides tubes at Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Colorful tubes for slides at Great Wolf Lodge. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

2. Best Wisconsin Dells Waterpark Features

Part of the reason this property is at the top of our favorites list for best waterpark during the winter is the climate-controlled 84 degrees!

The smaller kid activities are also entertaining for the “big” little kids in the group. Whooping Hollow, with its Northwoods motif, is safe for smaller ones, but still thrilling enough for bigger kids. Fun additions like water swings and playground equipment situated in watery surf pools are a win. Fort Mackenzie is a treehouse waterpark activity play area with many levels for kids and parents splash in together.

The Howlin’ Tornado is the exterior feature kids see when you drive up to Great Wolf Lodge. The yellow and red megaphone is the infrastructure of the four-person raft ride. It screams around the funnel to shoot out of a tunnel to a fun family splashdown at the end. The indoor waterpark has many separate waterpark areas, all connected to the hotel. There’s even a hot springs-themed tub or a family warming pool, which I always appreciate after a long day of swimming with the kids.

Even with the outdoor portion closed for winter, you’ll spend your entire stay in the waterpark resort just trying to do it all! The hotel room is well-appointed, but I don’t think it really matters. We rarely were in the room except to sleep.

Read More: The Ultimate First Timers Guide to Great Wolf Lodge

Entrance to Chula Vista Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells Photo credit: Amanda Williams

3. Chula Vista Resort

This Wisconsin Dells waterpark resort is tucked away on the banks of the Wisconsin River, apart from the chaos of the main strip in the Wisconsin Dells. The location is beautiful and peaceful, with a quiet vibe. It is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing property for waterpark fun.

If you’re planning a longer stay, want to dine in-room and make your own meals, or have a particularly large group, this is a perfect setting. It offers large villas and suites with enough room to spread out during a waterpark vacation.

VRBO has several cabin rentals available at the Wisconsin Dells Water Parks at Chula Vista Resort.

The indoor tunnel is easy for stroller families and is a unique feature to the waterpark resort–no chilly outdoor walk necessary. Besides, my kids think this walkway is adventurous as we meander to the indoor waterpark.

The standout here, which is unfortunately unavailable to kids who do not meet weight/height requirements (at least 50 inches tall and 115 pounds): the Fly’n Mayan water roller coaster. If you have younger kids who are too small to ride, make sure to take turns allowing adults and teens to experience this rip-roaring water coaster. It’s a highlight even during the summer months at this waterpark. The line for the ride is super short when it’s warm outside!

Mount Montezuma’s Mayan Temple features some really fast, bigger slides for the younger kids. But they were able to keep the attention of our preteen too.

Outdoor leisure pool at Chula Vista Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Small, quiet outdoor pool at Chula Vista. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

Non-Waterpark Activities at Chula Vista

While the indoor waterpark at Chula Vista is not gigantic, there are some fun features, including the lazy river. But mostly we love this property as an overall resort experience, which offers balance and relaxation for your vacation.

Because the hotel rooms at Chula Vista Resort waterparks are so welcoming, this is the resort for you if you want to split your time between water activities and enjoying your lodging accommodations. We recommend booking a suite to maximize your experience and truly unwind.

Chula Vista Resort also offers a myriad of dry land experiences, like mini golf, an arcade and a kids’ activity center. There are up to eight options on property for dining, depending on the season, if you choose to eat out.

The Spa del Sol is a luxurious option to elevate your Zen experience on-site. From here you can also access an 18-hole golf course in the summer months. As a fun bonus for the avid traveler, Chula Vista is part of Wyndham’s Trademark Collection. Rare for these type of family resorts, you can collect your travel rewards points when you book!

Exterior of Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Exterior of Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells at check-in. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

4. Kalahari Resort

This Wisconsin Dells waterpark resort and conference center is massive, like all Kalahari waterparks, including the newest one in Texas. It offers a getaway as adventurous as the African safari theme that greets you as you pull up — giant elephant statues and jungle music at the cul de sac. This property reminds me of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — perhaps a smaller, more quaint cousin.

Laser tag at Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Laser tag glowing course at Kalahari Resort. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

The Kalahari boasts 125,000 square feet of warm water activities and waterslide fun. This indoor waterpark is sprawling and exciting!

The Screamin’ Hyena was this adventure mom’s favorite slide on-site. It let me prove to my preteen that mom still “has moxie.” I entered the trapdoor slide fearlessly and took the plunge! It is a high-adrenaline slide, featuring a piped-in heartbeat pulsing into your ears before the countdown to the trap door opening, just in case your own rushing blood and anxious white-knuckle wait wasn’t enough!

Kalahari Indoor Waterpark at Wisconsin Dells
Kalahari Indoor Waterpark Entrance. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

Laser tag was open to kids much smaller than other courses and allowed our preschooler to run around and zap the competition alongside the bigger kids and grown ups. This was a popular spot for our family to eventually end up each day.

The Great Karoo Marketplace Buffet is a good value dining option with remarkable course offerings for a buffet-style restaurant (again, making me think of a Disney-esque dining experience.)

wave pool at Wilderness Resort Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Wave pool at Wilderness Resort | Photo credit: Wilderness Resort

5. Wilderness Resort

The new Wild West Waterpark is open (making the indoor and outdoor waterpark count at Wilderness Resort a whopping FOUR each for true year-round fun!) The Wilderness Resort has a gigantic WaterDome wave pool which is the perfect place to work on your tan even in the winter (Seriously, bring sunblock. The skylights soak the enormous room in natural sunlight all day.) The waterpark space of the resort totals more than 500,000 square feet (that’s around 12 football fields) for families to enjoy. Other indoor waterparks (and you have to hit them all, just for bragging rights) include: Klondike Kavern (which features The Hurricane thrill slide) and Cubby’s Cove (located at Wilderness at the Lake.) 

This property is gargantuan. Lodging options include the Wilderness Hotel, Glacier Canyon Lodge and Wilderness on the Lake. Luxurious cabins that can sleep up to 18 are nestled in pine trees and feature expansive decks and vaulted ceilings. The newly remodeled rooms in the Wilderness Hotel are perfect for a family base camp — we recommend booking a double suite wet bar for a family of four. This gives the space to spread out and a little separation from the convenient wet bar and living area of the suite. 

Food and Fun in a New Frontier

The Wilderness Resort features a Fun Pass which provides access to mini-golf, go-karts, mega arcades, Lost Cabin laser tag, climbing wall experiences, a zip line and escape rooms (off site with a free shuttle service.) Some experiences are included by simply being a guest of the resort, but for the ultimate experience for a long weekend getaway, upgrade to the Unlimited Fun Pass to have access to the most dry land and watery fun.

Each indoor waterpark has its own eateries, from quick service snacks and sandwiches to bar and grill sit down dining. Swimm’n Chick’n is the new chicken eatery and bar located just on the other side of the glass from Wild West Waterpark. Camp Social is a new family dining hall that aims to recreate the spirit of summer camp and family road trips and offers a ton of options for even the hungriest of campers! No matter where you are in the resort or which waterpark you choose, you will not be hungry or thirsty!

Regrettably, Wisconsin winters do not allow for outdoor waterpark play, so while there are four outdoor waterparks sure to be amazing, we did not experience those during our December stay!

Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park Wisconsin Dells waterpark
Photo credit: Pixabay | Johnyen1

6. Mt. Olympus Water Park Hotel and Theme Park

A heavy-hitter in the Wisconsin Dells waterparks realm is the Mt. Olympus Resort. This property is sprawling across most of the “main strip” of town.

The “Mt. Olympus Hotel Rome” is on-site. It’s the most expensive option but doesn’t require you  to walk outside to get to the indoor waterpark. Any other rooms are “resort rooms” and generally are advertised as 2-5 minutes from the park, which could mean a few miles down the Wisconsin Dells strip. The growing resort has purchased real estate and renovated and rebranded most of the roadside hotels and motels in the surrounding area.

In two nights, we were able to easily do and see all the indoor waterpark slides and pools (the indoor park is smaller) and also enjoy the indoor amusement park. This winter visit is best for the 4-10 years crowd for activities available.

The indoor waterpark has a pretty rad “beached pirate ship” for youngsters. The indoor theme park includes rides for smaller kids, bumper cars, a climbing wall and an arcade. The rides are included with your stay and the kids spent more time doing the rides than the slides.

Hotel Rome

Our room in Hotel Rome was spacious and included bunk beds for the kids. In the warmer months, a “camping” option for traditional tents or a cabin equipped with all the traditional hotel amenities round out lodging options.

The deals are pretty palatable. We did the “pay now” option to save upfront. We received complimentary tickets to: Top Secret the White House Mystery, The Lost Temple (hands-down the family favorite) and Ghost Outpost (this one was pretty dark and gross, so best for the 10-15 years crowd.) All the attractions took less than 10 minutes each to visit.

It was cheesy and not something we’d plan into a vacation in the summer, but in the winter it was a unique way to spend a little bit of time after lunch.

Mt. Olympus hotel room
The beds within Hotel Rome were actually quite cozy and the theme was simple but fun! Photo credit: Amanda Williams

7. Wisconsin Dells in the Summer Months

Outdoor waterparks like Noah’s Ark and Mt. Olympus are great too. You really need to visit Wisconsin Dells more than once to see all this year-round waterpark paradise has to offer.

Meteorace Go-Karts at Wisconsin Dells
Go Karts at Tom Foolery’s on site at Kalahari Resort. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

Many places offer go-kart driving experiences. If you are going to go for that adventure, we recommend Tom Foolery’s on the Kalahari property over the infamous Big Chief Go-Karts on the downtown strip for safety reasons. We had a scary experience and subpar customer service, leaving with an ice pack and a vow to not return.

Our experience on the go kart track at Tom Foolery’s was excellent and safe.

The Original Wisconsin Ducks and The Wild Thing Jetboat adventure are classic family experiences available in the summertime.

If you want to simply enjoy a no-fuss slide and a really nice sandy shore, Baker’s Sunset Beach Resort is the ultimate in simple and rustic, but relaxing and affordable accommodations to simply chill in the beautiful northwoods. This more vintage vacation spot is the opposite of what you’ll find along “the strip.”

Burger and fries from Buffalo Phil's.
Great food, delivered by a train! Photo credit: Amanda Williams

For a delicious meal and a good time on dry land, check out Buffalo Phil’s Pizza and Grille for some great food, delivered by a train to your table! The restaurant is a great family option with good food and is connected to Knucklehead’s, a fun amusement area with rides, games and a trampoline park.

4 responses

  1. the Delton motel gives veterans a discount, then just drive to Mt Olimpus, $25 for parking and $30 for the park

  2. For an article supposedly written in November 2021 you’d think the author would know Tommy Bartlett’s water show closed permanently prior to the 2021 season. Also, how is this a review comparing all the Waterpark resorts and the author openly admits they haven’t even been to the (IMO) best one?

    1. Thanks for letting us know about the Tommy Barlett Water Show closing forever. That makes me really sad – I grew up going to Wisconsin Dells (my parents honeymooned there!) and the water ski show was always a highlight of the trip. I have deleted that reference in the post.

      As for your comment about the post being a review “comparing” all of the resorts, it doesn’t promise to do that. It is simply giving readers an overview of the big waterparks in WisDells.

      Which is your favorite waterpark and why do you think it’s the best one? I’d be happy to add your experience to the post!

  3. Do you know if any water park offers heated water?

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