For years the Wisconsin Dells has been known to travelers as a summer getaway for fun in the sun while enjoying some of the nations best water rides. Now the excitement doesn't have to end when Labor Day comes around. The Wisconsin Dells now hosts a variety of Indoor Water parks that are a great alternative for winter vacations. One such resort is the new Great Wolf Lodge. For a while I've watched it being built on my travels up north on I90/94 and this past Christmas got to experience it first hand with our family.
My wife and I arrived on Saturday where we were warmly greeted by the front desk clerks. The lobby featured a giant cuckoo clock which would give a performance at set times during the day. We met up with our family on one of the floors where the little ones were busy decorating Christmas cookies as part of the many activities sponsored by the Great Wolf. Some of our family was found down at Youkon Jack's, the Great Wolf's own game room.
We could test our skill on over 70 different games to win tickets which could be cashed in for a any number of prizes. The big prize in our group was an Angelica doll from the Rug Rats that little Brooke's dad won for her. There was also a 3-D theater show featuring Biko the Bear next to the arcade.
One of the biggest parts of our stay was the huge indoor water park. You could climb around in the "Tree House" There were tube rides where guests could go solo or ride double as they splashed there way down and around curves, through water falls, and into dark tunnels that would open up into a gaping pool of water. We had a great time as we carried our inflatable tubes to the tops and anxiously awaited our turn down the slide. There were body slides for those brave enough to go with out a tube where all you have to do is lay on your back and head feet first through a series of twists and turns that are sure to get your heart racing. I had to remember to plug my nose at the end of the slide or else I would get a snort of water. The lodge also boasts a giant 50 gallon bucket that sits high on top of the rides and fills up every 5 minutes.
A bell sounds, warning that the bucket is about to empty its contents and all who are in range are sure to get drenched. I expected everyone to run away when the ringing started, but instead they all fled toward the center to experience the bucket's full dousing force.For those of us not up for thrills and spills, the water park also offers "Spirit Island", a more relaxing part of the water park which features smaller tube rides and a lazy river where one can kick back and relax in the water as the current carries you around in a circle.
There are also a couple kiddie pools with mini water slides for those to young to enjoy the bigger rides. We enjoyed dinner at the Great Wolf's Loose Moose Bar and Grill. It was a decent menu where you could enjoy anything from sandwiches to prime rib.
You could even try and elk burger. While dining, some of our younger group members were pleasantly greeted by the lodges own furry mascots, Biko the Bear and Wiley the Wolf. After dinner, a walk through the bakery across the hall made us almost forget how much we had already eaten. It would be hard to go down the water slides tonight, though some of us did try it. We then checked out the Buck Horn Exchange gift shop where we looked for souvenirs to remind of us our stay.
For those not up for water rides that afternoon, they could enjoy time at the Great Wolf's Cameo Spa and Salon where you could get your hair done or have a nice massage. If you felt like working off some of your meal, you could check out the Iron Horse fitness room also located in the lodge. The next morning we were treated by my Mom for a breakfast brunch in one of the Great Wolf's private party rooms. It was a nice buffet setup with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit and muffins, The kids were then surprised by a visit by Santa Claus who was also around the lodge that weekend. He brought gifts to a lot of smiling faces.
The group then went on an old fashioned hay-ride where a tractor pulled everyone around the outside of the resort to view Elk and other wildlife. We were joined by Wiley the Wolf who I suspect was looking for some stray elk. There was way too much to see and do for just a weekend stay.
The best part was being able to enjoy everything right at the resort and not have to go elsewhere for food and entertainment. A lot of times I find a hotel room is just for sleeping, but it was nice being close to the water park and activities. It was a perfect alternative for a winter getaway.
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By: Michael Meister - WisconsinGuide Magazine