Splash during any season
By Mimi Slawoff
The Wilderness Resort (The Wilderness Resort)
Who cares if it’s raining or pouring, no-one’s going to be snoring at these top Midwest indoor water parks located in full-service resorts bursting with amenities. White-knuckle rides cater to thrill seekers while little squirts happily splash in shallow pools decked out with fun water features. At day’s end, kick back in comfortable digs at these six weatherproof resorts.
The Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI
With eight water parks (four indoor, four outdoor) and several lodging options to choose from, this 600-acre resort screams family fun. Among the themed indoor water parks is Wild West, featuring a raft ride, tube slides, a four-story interactive play area and bumper boats. Rides like Mine Shaft Drop and the Hurricane make the Klondike water park a winner. There’s a swim-up bar (sorry kids, adults only!). The water parks are for resort guests only. Lodging options include a hotel, cabins and condos.
(MORE: Find other kid-friendly things to do in Wisconsin Dells.)
Tan-Tar-A Resort, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Look out below! Water blasters and a six-foot wide wooden bucket that drops 600 gallons of water on those standing below are main attractions at the resort’s Timber Falls Indoor Water Park. Designed as a three-story wilderness tree house, the park features more than 600 feet of slides, an activity pool with water basketball and a lazy river. Accommodations vary from standard guest rooms to six-room houses.
Great Wolf Lodge (Flickr: CliffMuller)
Great Wolf Lodge has indoor water parks at five Midwest locations with numerous jaw-dropping slides for thrill seekers and zero-depth entry pools for little ones. While sharing some similarities, each resort offers its own twist on amenities. Winding four-story slides, an interactive tree house with suspension bridges, a three-person toboggan-style ride and lazy rivers offer cool comfort in the 84-degree water parks. Hit the sack in the resort’s standard or themed suites (where kids get their own cozy space).
(MORE: Find kid-friendly attractions near Great Wolf Lodge, Sandusky.)
Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort, Utica, Illinois
Swap city lights for nature sights at this Starved Rock area woodsy-themed resort, home to the Grand Bear Falls Waterpark. Glide down rushing water slides and soak up fun at Ranger Station, an ultimate aquatic play zone with water features, slides, ropes, landings and waterfalls. Enjoy modern amenities in the rustic-style lodge.
Kalahari Resort (Kalahari Resort)
Among the largest in the Midwest, these two indoor water parks feature a boatload of pools, slides and attractions. Hang 10 on the Flow Rider attraction, wade in the surf at the wave pool and get splashed around in the not-so-lazy river. Catch rays under the transparent roof or relax in a private cabana. The resort’s African-themed rooms are a cool place to call it a night.
Castle Rock Resort & Waterpark, Branson, Missouri
While not as big as the mega resorts, the Castle Rock Waterpark packs a punch with two 500-gallon tipping buckets and several kiddie pools with rain showers, waterfalls and themed water slides. Shoot some hoops or chill out on the lazy river. Accommodations include nearly 100 rooms connected to the water park so you never have to step outside – unless you want to.
Mimi Slawoff, a Los Angeles-based journalist, contributed this to www.MiniTime.com.