Like most of the major Dells resorts, the Wilderness is a veritable kids' paradise. In addition to the wonderful water parks, the property includes Dodge 'Em City, a huge indoor dry play structure with slides, ball blasters, rope ladders, and other diversions. Next to the play area is an enormous arcade with all the latest blast-em-ups, redemption games, and even a couple of bowling alleys.
The Wilderness also features an 18-hole golf course, an onsite day spa, and some of the Dells' finest restaurants. Field's at the Wilderness is an exquisite steak house. Housed in an adjacent building inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the d?cor is elegant, yet simple. This is the kind of place where the host takes your overcoats, and the waitstaff places the napkin on your lap (and the prices reflect the service). The menu features steak, of course, and Field's offers some unique "enhancers", including one in which the cuts of meat are encrusted with parmesan cheese and garlic-soaked mushrooms. Yum.
The Field family has been running its own famous Dells restaurant for years. In addition to operating the Wilderness steak house, the Fields also oversee the resort's Sarento's Italian Restaurant the Canyon Cafe family restaurant. When I visited, the Canyon Cafe's dishes tended toward comfort foods and heavy fare. Nearly everything came smothered in cheese. (This is Wisconsin, after all.) The prices were a bit on the high side for a casual family restaurant.
The hotel rooms come in a variety of configurations. The room I stayed in had a main sleeping area with two queen beds. A second area included a sofa that converted into a queen bed and a breakfast nook with microwave, refrigerator, and sink. When we pulled the bed out, we had a hard time figuring out where to put the coffee table that was in front of the couch without blocking the pathway to the bathroom. The Wilderness does not offer turndown service. In addition to missing the nice touch of a turned-down bed, we also found ourselves running out of towels without a second daily visit from housekeeping. Since multiple showers are likely in a resort that features lots of time spent in chlorinated water, the hotel should provide extra towels on their once-a-day rounds. They're a bit skimpy with the soap as well.
Other room types include amenities such as fireplaces and in-room whirlpools. Frontier condos feature three bedrooms while the vacation villas have two bedrooms. For large groups that really want to whoop it up, the Wilderness offers five-bedroom "Entertainment Cabins" that include projection TVs and stadium seating. The Wilderness on the Lake is a separate upscale condo resort that includes its own indoor and outdoor waterpark plus offers use of all the waterparks and other amenities in the main complex.
Wilderness Wisconsin Dells Visitor Tips
- Bring comfortable sandals. The Wilderness is enormous and you'll be doing plenty of walking. Going barefoot won't cut it, and you'll want footwear in which you'll easily be able to slip in and out.
- Consider bringing a robe. The air temperature in the Wilderness' water parks is a bit cooler than some of the Dells' other indoor water parks. And the long hallways leading to the parks can be a bit on the cool side also.
- Bring in your breakfast. Breakfast every day at the Wild Canyon Cafe or OP's Marketplace can get expensive. Take advantage of the rooms' refrigerators and microwaves. Either bring your own breakfast food with you, or go to a Dells' grocery store for some provisions.
- Escape to the "hidden" hot tub. Among the Wilderness' greatest delights are its indoor-to-outdoor hot tubs. If the ones in the water parks are crowded, check out the Dodge 'Em Eddy hot tub, which is off the beaten path behind the arcade and play structure in the resort's Dodge 'Em City.
- How about a dry sauna? If you really want to turn up the heat, try the dry sauna located near Baby Bear's Fort Wilderness.
- Consider a mid-week stay. During the winter, spring, and fall months, weekend prices remain fairly high. (Remember to factor in the included admission to the water parks when looking at room costs.) But the Wilderness (and other Dells waterpark resorts) often offer some great mid-week deals. If you can pull the kids out of school (or if you don't have school-age kids), you can save some big bucks and avoid big crowds.