Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort Review - The Perfect Spot for a Fun-Filled Winter Getaway

The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort in Wisconsin Dells is the perfect spot for a fun-filled winter getaway.

The Wild WaterDome spans over 70,000-square-feet and features a special foil roof which keeps guests toasty. This area is also home to the nation’s largest indoor wave pool, The Great Wave, which is an impressive 15,450-square-feet, and is capable of 5-foot waves.

The mission? Spend 72 hours in America’s largest waterpark resort, with the goal of staying dry as long as possible. At the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort in the Wisconsin Dells, it’s a formidable but rewarding challenge to take in all of the on-site, land-based activities before happily throwing in the towel in favor of the slides, pools and waves that have put the Wilderness on the map, both regionally and nationally.

As for our family, we lasted 2 days dry and then 1 day wet – and enjoyed every minute of our fun-filled winter getaway.

Margarita’s Swim-Up Bar in the Wild WaterDome offers an adults-only area for getting splashed, doused, or perhaps even soused. Other areas of the property attracting a mainly adult crowd include the Sundara Spa and Wild Rock Golf Club.

But before diving into life on the dry side, take a moment to consider the willpower needed to resist the lure of the water at a property that’s featured on extreme waterpark lists everywhere, including the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks.

By the numbers

* The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort located in the Wisconsin Dells is America’s largest waterpark resort.

* The Resort's total water options span 500,000 square feet which is more than 12 football fields of water fun spanning four indoor and four outdoor waterparks. The Wilderness property itself is 600 wooded acres.

* The Wilderness Resort is home to three waterpark resorts: Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, Wilderness on the Lake and Glacier Canyon Lodge.  With 58 water slides, you’d need an extended work sabbatical (timed for summer) to truly explore all 33 indoor and 25 outdoor slides.  Picking and choosing is the fun part.  For those keeping track, that’s 2 Extreme Slides, 2 Thrill Slides, 10 Kiddie Slides, 14 Banana Slides, 3 Raft Slides, 4 Racer Slides, 7 Tube Slides and 16 Body Slides.

* If slides aren’t your thing, check out the 4 lazy rivers, 2 lazy lakes, wave pool, 5 kiddie pools with play structures, 5 toddler pools, 3 lily pad walks, 9 hot tubs, and 8 activity pools.

Room for More. All told, more than 1,100 lodging options are available spanning from guest rooms to vacation villas to cabins to luxurious two- and three- bedroom condominium units overlooking Lake Delton. Pictured here is a Double Queen Room.

 Wild Fun Pass

If you’re intent on exploring the newly expanded dry parts of the resort, then the Wild Fun Pass is the way to go in winter at $24.95.  It bundles great savings (half off) for the Wilderness’s most popular attractions and rides and includes: admission to Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course that lets guest teeter on thick ropes suspended three stories up; 18 holes of black light 3D mini-golf (nine at the Wild Abyss and nine at Wild Buccaneer); a bumper boat ride; laser tag at the OK Corral Lazer Arena and Marshall Training Lazer Maze and admittance to the Indoor Go-Kart Track.  

Ok Corral Lazer Tag Arena lets 30 people at a time compete in a showdown while competing for top scores among with those in the room – and with 10,000+ people who proceeded you. The tag area offers multiple levels and lots of good places to hide and pounce for sneak laser attacks on the unsuspecting outlaws below. Explore the saloon, fort, jail and covered wagon while collecting points and taking points away from other players. It’s a futuristic Wild West playlot that guests line up for again and again.

You can easily spend three or four hours experiencing all of the offerings – so make sure to keep a half-day free to work your way through the Wild Fun Pass punchcard.  There’s something to be said about keeping wet days wet, and dry days dry, when it comes to optimal efficiency and comfort.

 Eats and Treats

There are more restaurants and eating options on the property than you’d ever need, including:  the Wild Canyon Café, a family-style restaurant where kids eat free with each adult meal purchased; Field’s at the Wilderness - Premier Steak House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé James DresserSarento’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria; Monk’s Bar & GrillThirsty Buffalo SaloonSurvivors Bar and GrillKlondike Pizza Kitchen; and a wide variety of grab and go options at various waterparks and in coffee shops.

 Friendly Staff

Everywhere guests trek, there’s staff to help and direct.   Pause by a map of the delightfully sprawling grounds and a red-shirted Wilderness staffer asks if more directions are needed (why, yes).  In the pool area, a lifeguard volunteers waterproof tape from a first-aid kit to ensure a child’s arm cast would stay dry.  Even the police officer pulling poolside security duty takes time to chat amicably with children just to make sure they have a positive association with an officer down the road, should they  need it.  All of the watchful attention, even beyond the vigilant life guards, sets the Wilderness apart.  It might help that they know everyone on site is a guest, as the resort does not offer day passes to non-guests.

Wilderwoods Go-Kart Trail. This new indoor, two-story attraction offers a 525-foot long course that’s a total adrenaline rush through crazy turns and cork screws in one of 20 electric cars.

 Memories in the Making

* Having logged nearly 500 hours roaming the Wilderness over the last five years – first with babies, then toddlers and now school-aged children – there have been many favorite moments and memories-in-the-making that can’t be captured with broad strokes, or by the numbers.  Here’s a snapshot:

* Get your walk on.  Without even realizing it, you can easily stride 2-3 miles over the course of a day.  It felt invigorating and allows plenty of time for daydreaming as you cross the indoor skywalk and marvel at the serene snowy Wisconsin landscape.  A free shuttle bus is also available to zip guests to areas of the property near and far.

* Giant hot tubs. The family-friendly hot tubs found throughout the property let you chill out – literally – as you cross a steamy chasm and find yourself outside breathing fresh, frigid air while still submerged in the warm pool for an otherworldly rush.

* Boost me, baby.  The new indoor Go Karts are a highlight, and a Boost button on the electric cars adds an extra mile-per-hour of speed for careening through the course for both laps and vertical climbs.

* Pizza room service. The pizza and cheese bread scored major points for the late-night kiddie crowd, and pairs exceptionally well with a streaming movie rental just before bedtime.

* Underwater fantasy. You’ll find both familiar and new-to-you species in an “underwater” miniature golfing adventure that’s best experienced with the 3D glasses provided.  Video flat screens add drama and excitement to the experience as Poseidon beckons to golfers between rounds.

* Arcade escapade. Luckily, the video games and follies of chance are priced more similarly to Chucky Cheese, than say – Dave & Busters.   Parents will be happily surprised that it can take a few hours to spend $20 in credits on the games, if you’re watchful.


Klondike Kavern within the Wilderness Resort is a 65,000-square-foot indoor waterpark that offers The Hurricane, the Dells’ tallest indoor 4-person raft ride which plummets thrill seekers at a 45 degree angle down a six-story drop through a funnel – at 20 mph. Fog machines, strobe lights and sound effects add to the thrills before the ride ends in a splash pool.

For more information on the resort or for reservations, visit Wilderness Resort website or call 1-800-867-WILD (9453). Wilderness Resort is located off Interstate 90 and 94 just minutes from popular attractions such as Dells Boat Tours, the Original Wisconsin DucksTommy Bartlett ShowHo-Chunk Casino and Tanger Outlet Mall

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