Winter waterparking

In Wisconsin, February is the worst month. In November and December, holiday cheer can temper the snow and frigid temperatures. January rides on the coattails of those months. But February gives the promise of spring with the dreary weather of winter. Kids and parents alike get squirrely. Cabin fever peaks.

Enter my newfound solution – winter waterparking! Last month, our family headed up to the Dells for our first indoor waterpark experience. I researched a few hotels considering price, amenities for toddlers, sleeping arrangements and added extras for adults. I found that Great Wolf Lodge was the option for us. And – by rearranging our schedules to go on a Friday – we got a great rate.

The room

Because we went with my parents, we chose a Loft Fireplace Suite. The lofted space upstairs is equipped with a half bath, a full bed, a TV and plenty of space for a pack and play. The main downstairs space included a full bathroom, sink/mini fridge/microwave, two full sized beds, a couch with a pull-out bed, two TVs and a fireplace. Morgan had plenty of space to run around and play,

1,000 gallons of water at Fort Mackenzie

1,000 gallons of water at Fort Mackenzie

and we adults were able to relax and have a bit of separation for her early bedtime.

The waterpark

Every one-night stay includes two days of admission to the waterpark, starting as early as 1pm. We started with a complimentary life jacket, and found our way to Hawk’s Beak kiddie slides to get Morgan warmed up. Four different kiddie slides offer ease of use for little ones, with just enough “thrill” involved. From there we headed to Slap Tail Pond, the wave pool that has a zero-depth entry and goes up to 5 feet deep. The waves come at five minute intervals, and Morgan especially enjoyed the countdown!

After a quick snack (and drinks for the adults) at the Wolf’s Den Snack Bar, we found Morgan’s favorite spot – Fort Mackenzie. The interactive “treehouse” is four stories tall, filled with bridges and spray stations, topped with water slides to make your way back down. I was surprised our nearly three-year-old could ride the “big” 4-story slides by herself, but she sure did enjoy them. Perhaps the best feature of Fort Mackenzie is one that took us all by surprise – a 1,000 gallon bucket of water that tips over from the top!

We spent the full day weaving our way through the other areas: the lazy river, family-friendly “hot springs,” and the 200 feet long lookout mountain slide. There was definitely enough to keep us busy.

Is this what a "water break" looks like?

Is this what a “water break” looks like?

Food (and drinks)

We were all pretty wiped after our long (nap-less) day, so we opted to order pizza from the downstairs Hungry As a Wolf instead of going out. It was quick, affordable and tasty. Hungry As a Wolf also offers coffee (much needed) in the mornings, and sweet treats all day. We also enjoyed breakfast downstairs at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill. Again, the prices were reasonable (less than $10 per adult with the add-on deal we bought when we made our reservations) and the food was pretty good.

Other things to do

In addition to waterparks and restaurants, Great Wolf boasts an Elements Spa, a Scooops Kids Spa, an arcade and daily kids’ activities. For our one-night stay, we didn’t take advantage of them. But they are on the list for next time!

A quick ride at Knuckleheads

A quick ride at Knuckleheads

We also started our Dells getaway with a lunch stop at Buffalo Phils. It’s conveniently located near Great Wolf (and great shopping at Tanger). The food isn’t bad for family friendly fare, but the fact a toy train brings it to your table it what makes the experience worthwhile. The staff is friendly, and puts extra care into surprising little ones with new toys or other distractions on the train each time it passes.

The restaurant is connected to Knuckleheads, which is a destination of its own. We were in a hurry to get to water fun, but had to make time for some jumps on the indoor trampoline and a few toddler friendly “rides.” Morgan had a blast! With the variety of arcade games, bumper cars, a roller coaster, bowling and jungle gym space, you could spend more than a few hours there.

Our entire family enjoyed our time in the Dells, and we’ll likely make it an annual trek. Here’s to spring in Wisconsin!

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