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wisconsin dells best water parks

Wisconsin Dells is known as the Water Park Capital of the World. For a city with a population of less than 3,000 people there is an incredible selection of world class water parks. This area has long been known for its natural beauty and in recent decades it’s been the birthplace of some iconic water park brands. Both Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari Resorts were founded in this area.

So what is it that’s so special about the Wisconsin Dells? Not only are there so many water parks in such a close vicinity, they are some of the best water parks in the nation! Because it’s Wisconsin, most of these water parks have massive indoor facilities and are open year round!

I’ve put together a summary to show you which water parks are the best. Let’s check out the six best water parks in Wisconsin Dells.

Noah’s Ark WaterPark

noahs ark water park
source: Noah’s Ark Water Park

This is America’s largest outdoor water park at approximately 70 acres and it is truly sprawling and jammed with something for everyone. Experience over 50 water rides, slides, wave pools and more – all among lush landscaping and surrounded by the natural beauty of the Wisconsin Dells.

  • Day Passes: A day pass at Noah’s Ark is $59.99 at the gate, but you can save $20 and pay on $39.99 if you buy your tickets online.
  • Signature Ride: The Black Anaconda. This is one of America’s longest rides at over a quarter mile long and reaches speeds close to 30 mph. This is a can’t miss ride if you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping. I love how long this ride goes on for. After climbing so many stairs for all those short slides, it’s fun to see one which has an awesome payoff like this.
  • Pros: Great quality rides and so many of them… you won’t have any issue finding enough to do to fill a day at this park. There is a reason this is consistently ranked as one of the best water parks in America.
  • Cons: Because it’s outdoors in Wisconsin, it’s only open in the Summer. Also, it doesn’t have any on site accommodations, so you’ll have to stay off-site and drive over.

Wilderness Resort

wilderness resort water park
source: Wilderness Resort

Another water park, another water park claiming to be the biggest! While it is true that Noah’s Ark is the largest water park, Wilderness Resort is also the largest water park resort. It’s set on over 600 acres of land, compared to Noah Ark’s 70 acres. However, much of the land at the Wilderness Resort is dedicated to their accommodations.

Just because much of their property is taken up by accommodations doesn’t mean they’re lacking in water parks. They still have plenty of water parks! In total, they have over 200,000 sf of indoor water parks plus even more outdoors. Because the site is so large, they have broken out their water parks into eight individual water parks: four outdoor and four indoor. Thankfully all the indoor water parks are all connected, so you don’t have to go outside in the colder months. This is why the Wilderness Resort is one of the best water parks in Wisconsin Dells all year round.

  • Day Passes: This is on the higher end for the area at $79.95 to $89.95 and can vary further from that based on the season. It’s the most expensive day water park on this list. Although they do have competitively priced overnight accommodations which include water park passes.
  • Signature Ride: The Hurricane. This is a relatively family friendly ride, although there is a height restriction of at least 48 inches, but it’s a unique ride which defies the convention of what a water slide is. It takes a while of watching it just to understand how it works.. it’s on my bucket list for sure. I can’t wait to check this one out!
  • Pros: Great quality rides and so many of them… you won’t have any issue finding enough to do to fill a day at this park. There is a reason this is consistently ranked as one of the best water parks in America.
  • Cons: This place is huge. It takes a long time to walk between all the parks. You may even want to drive within the park to visit all the different areas. It’s really spread out, so you’ll spend a good part of your day walking around.

Kalahari Resorts – Wisconsin

kalahari resorts wisconsin dells
source: Kalahari Resorts

I’m a big fan of Kalahari Resorts. They’ve done a great job jamming in a whole bunch of fun into one resort. They are also able to make it an enjoyable trip for both kids and adults. But for me, their Wisconsin location is getting a bit tired and it’s also the smallest of all their locations at 125,000 square feet (indoors). It’s still an incredible property and I doubt you’ll be disappointed if you go. But compared to the really high bar set by their incredible newer locations, this location is not as exciting.

My favourite part of any Kalahari is that it’s not only for kids. You can bring your kids and have a fantastic day at the water park, but there are still things to do at the resort after the kids have gone to bed. This includes things like bowling, multiple bars (some even featuring live music) as well as a fitness center. If you’re able to sneak away during the day, they also have a spa and salon.

While Kalahari is undeniably a world class water park, that’s not all this resort has to offer.

  • Day Passes: The price and availability will vary based on the season and demand. The price of a day pass will typically vary between $59.99 to $69.99 although peak days can see the price rise above $80 for a day pass. The best way to guarantee yourself a pass is to book a room at the hotel or book your day pass well in advance of your visit.
  • Signature Ride: The Smoke that Thunders. This one may not be as much of a thrill as some of the other signature rides on this list, but I love the weightlessness feeling of being momentarily hung up in the air as your tube hangs on the side of the wall in this slide. Note: Kalarahi uses this name again at other locations, but they’re completely different rides.
  • Pros: Kalahari Resorts are great for any age. They have plenty of things for kids and teenagers while also working hard to entertain adults also. It may not be as large as the Wilderness Resort, but it’s all contained in one large water park, so there is way less walking compared to the Wilderness Resort.
  • Cons: This location is smaller and older than the Texas and Poconos locations of Kalahari. It could use some updates, but it still has all the amenities we’ve come to expect at a Kalahari resort.

Great Wolf Lodge – Wisconsin Dells

great wolf lodge wisconsin dells
source: Great Wolf Lodge

This is the birthplace of the entire Great Wolf Lodge chain of hotels. They now have many locations all over North America, but this is the original. For the nostalgic Great Wolf Lodge fan, that’s pretty cool. It was originally built in 1997 but was renovated more recently in 2012. A fun fact about this location is that it was started by Andrew Waterman, the same person who started Noah’s Ark (the first water park on this list).

Great Wolf Lodge is one of the smaller resorts on this list, but it packs a big punch for its size. It’s less of a pure water park like a Noah’s Ark would be and more of a full resort for children. It’s specifically focused on kids 12 and under and isn’t the coolest place to be for teenagers. While that could be a drawback for some, if you have kids under 12, you are likely to have an amazing time at this water park.

  • Day Passes: Historically, Great Wolf Lodge didn’t sell day passes, but they’ve recently added the ability to buy day passes to their website. You’ll want to book in advance as there are only a limited number available depending on the day and the price will fluctuate based on demand.
  • Pros: They have so many extras that the other water parks don’t have like Magiquest, Clubhouse Crew, themed rooms and a bunch of other fun activities. The water park is great for kids under 12 and has all the standard features you would expect.
  • Cons: Because there are so many Great Wolf Lodges around the country and they are all pretty similar, if you’re coming from further away, I would recommend you stay at one of the other resorts when visiting the Wisconsin Dells. That’s because you can probably get the Great Wolf Lodge experience closer to home. Thankfully there are plenty of other water parks for you to choose from!

Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park

mt olympus water park
source: Mt. Olympus

This is one of the older parks in the Dells, but they have continued to add new features which make it a really fun water park. Mt. Olympus is full of exciting slides but offers way more value than any of the other parks on this list as their ticket prices are a fraction of the rest. While most day passes at the other parks cost $50 or more, at Mt. Olympus they have a current special of $10 per ticket for all of 2023. Tickets at the gate are higher at $30, but you can save a lot by planning ahead.

With such an affordable price, you may think you’ll be getting less but that’s not the case. This water park has all the staple rides and attractions as well as some unique things that you won’t find elsewhere in Wisconsin Dells. For example, Poseidon’s Rage wave pool is one of the most intense in the country with waves of up to nine feet! That’s so big it almost seems dangerous.. make sure to keep the little ones out of the water when that wave comes out.

  • Day Passes: Like I said, these day passes are only $10 when you buy ahead online which is incredible value.
  • Signature Ride: Medusa’s SlideWheel. This is the first of its kind in America and is 74 feet high and lasts about 115 seconds long as you slide back and forth within the giant slidewheel. This slide was only opened in 2022 and has already won a bunch of awards for it’s innovative design. At $10 for a day pass, I’d happily pay that price just to ride this slide.
  • Pros: If you picked up this water park and placed it almost anywhere else in the country, it’d probably be the best. However, because it’s in Wisconsin Dells, it’s super competitive and comes up short compared to some really stiff competition. The biggest reason to check out Mt. Olympus is the price. It’s insane value for the money compared to everything else in the area.
  • Cons: It’s old. The accommodations here are really dated and the water park could use some updates. I’ll give them credit that they’ve added some cool attractions in recent years, but it’s not as new and flashy as some of the other water parks in the Dells.

Chula Vista Resort

chula vista wisconsin dells
source: Chula Vista

This is a family owned property which has been in the same family since the 1950s. It’s one of the smallest resorts on this list. Their indoor water park is comparable in size to Great Wolf Lodge. Although the outdoor water park at the Chula Vista Resort has more to offer than Great Wolf Lodge. The indoor water park is called the Lost Rios and the outdoor water park is called Adventure Lagoon.

This resort is located outside of the downtown core of the area and is beautifully set along the edge of the Wisconsin River. The resort grounds feel more like a peaceful getaway than most of the other intensity focused water parks. If you need some help getting in the mood for relaxation, they have an on site spa which should help.

The water park is not to be overlooked as it’s respectable and kids are likely to have a great time here. But this resort is not on the same intensity level as some of the other parks on this list.

  • Day Passes: The cost of a day pass at Chula Vista Resort is similar to other parks in the area at $49.99 which seems fair.
  • Signature Ride: Fly’n Myan. This is a “Zip Coaster” which is pretty unique. The reviews are very mixed, but it’s not a very common style of ride so it’s probably worth a try if you’re there. There were only ever two of this style built and the other one at Kalahari’s Ohio location was shut down in 2020. By water slide standards, it’s a long ride and it’ll fly you all around the indoor water park.
  • Pros: The resort is set on the edge of the Wisconsin River. It’s a peaceful setting and they’ve built a riverwalk throughout the property. I also like that there is an underground tunnel which connects the indoor water park with the main hotel. This is key on a cold Wisconsin day!
  • Cons: The location is outside of town so it means you’ll likely spend some time in your car driving to and from downtown. If you like to stay up past 7PM, you may need to drive into town as this place gets quiet in the evening. There is no nightlife to speak of here compared to some of the other resorts like Kalahari which caters more to guests of all ages.

What is the best water park in Wisconsin Dells?

If you’re visiting on a hot summer day, I would go with Noah’s Ark. If it’s a miserable cold and snowy day in February, I would go with the Kalahari Resort for it’s amazing indoor water park. If you’re not sure what the weather will be and want to hedge your bets, I’d suggest the Wilderness Resort as it has the best of both worlds. Whatever you end up choosing, you are going to have an amazing time.

Wisconsin Dells has a world class selection of water parks and they’re always improving – so you can keep coming back to see what’s new. There is no shortage of fun to be had when going to Wisconsin Dells.

If you enjoyed this, please check out my other water park research here.