Our Trip To Wisconsin Dells (Part 3) – Restaurants

Two days ago I discussed our lodging while staying in Wisconsin DellsYesterday, I provided details regarding the numerous attractions and water parks within Wilderness Resort.  Today, I’d like to share our restaurant experiences with you.

Field’s At the Wilderness – Located in a separate building on the Wilderness Resort property, this steakhouse absolutely won me over.  It was by far my favorite.  I particularly appreciated the interior’s tasteful design, the elegant ambiance, and the rare combination of both friendliness and professionalism displayed by the staff.  Our waiter in particular, a young man, conducted himself seriously, yet also offered a ready smile and jovial demeanor.  Yes, the menu is expensive, but I consider Field’s a treat worth the expense.  We ate here at night after checking in at the Glacier Canyon Lodge, and it provided the perfect respite after the long drive.  Visit Field’s website HERE.

Buffalo Phil’s Pizza and Grille – Both friends and online reviews urged me to take my family to Buffalo Phil’s, so we made sure to pop by around two in the afternoon for lunch.  Located not quite a mile from Wilderness Resort, Buffalo Phil’s is right next to perhaps the nicest outlet mall I’ve ever seen.  Once again, this staff conveyed both warmth and professionalism.  Don’t expect the elegance of Field’s, though!  Buffalo Phil’s is decorated with all kinds of stuffed critters, including an enormous buffalo.  It has a small arcade with a very friendly claw machine, but the rear of the restaurant feeds into a giant–and I mean giant–arcade called Knuckleheads.  The real attraction of Buffalo Phil’s, however, is the fact that your food and drink will be delivered by a model train on rails.  My kids absolutely loved this feature, and I did, too, honestly.  They took this premise very seriously.  We we got drink refills, even they were transported to us by train!  When I walked in, I was sure to tell the host we wanted to sit by the tracks for the train delivery, and he assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.  This turned out to be true.  The whole eating area is arranged so that a train can reach virtually any table.  Our waiter was friendly and capable, and the food tasted delicious.  Be aware–they give you more than you can probably eat.  It’s pretty rare when I can’t finish a sandwich, but they had so much meat piled on mine that I had to give up.  I heartily recommend you give Buffalo Phil’s a try.  Visit their website HERE.

Sarento’s Italian Restaurant – The Internet counted Sarento’s Italian Restaurant among the best in the area, so we thought we’d try it out for dinner.  Located just around the corner from Wilderness Resort, Sarento’s sports lovely decor as well.  However, the staff, while polite, did not quite reach the standard we experienced at Field’s and Buffalo Phil’s.  In fact, when I got up to use the bathroom, I saw the hostess on her cell phone.  Maybe this shouldn’t turn me off as a customer, but it does.  Furthermore, our waiter did not impress me at all.  He struck me as a bit too informal, and seemed almost annoyed to have to wait on us.  He didn’t know much of anything regarding the menu, and told me to look at the flier when I asked about the specials.  For the amount of money I was about to spend, this did not sit well with me.  I actually wanted to leave before we even ordered, but my wife talked me into staying.  Though a young man, I expected better.  I would like to say, however, that at times a young woman would check in on us, and she maintained a personable, capable persona that I appreciated.  Had she been our primary waitress, I imagine the experience would have been much different.  Though the food tasted good, I can’t really recommend Sarento’s over Field’s or even Buffalo Phil’s, for that matter.  I would put it at the bottom of our list.  You can visit Sarento’s website HERE.

Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewery – I’ll be honest–I had no desire to visit this restaurant.  We’d spent a long day surrounded by other people’s children and the last thing I wanted to do was visit a restaurant that I knew would be teeming with more of the same.  However, a good friend told us we had to check it out and my kids genuinely wanted to go, so I relented.  I’m so glad I did!  We had a fantastic experience at Moosejaw.  The hostess must have sensed my distress because she placed us in a room virtually by ourselves in a spacious corner next to a stone fireplace.  Our waitress, Lynn, was phenomenal–probably one of the best wait staff I’ve ever experienced.  She was funny, friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, engaged,  and just a true delight.  She made amazing recommendations to us, offered to take our picture as a family when she saw us snapping the kids, and made sure to clear away any garbage almost immediately–even the straw wrappers!  Our pretzel bite appetizer was delicious, my personal pizza tasted great, and our Sasquatch dessert for four left us giddy.  Thanks to Lynn, this restaurant both impressed and satisfied.  I highly recommend it to families visiting the area.  You can check out their website HERE.

So there you have it!  We were only in the Dells for a few days, but we managed to eat pretty well, wouldn’t you say?  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.

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(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

 

 

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Our Trip To Wisconsin Dells (Part 2) – Water Parks and Attractions

Yesterday I discussed our lodging while staying in Wisconsin Dells.  Today, I’d like to talk with you about the attractions we experienced.  Again, the whole goal of traveling to Wilderness Resort in the winter was to take advantage of the indoor water parks, so I’ll start with those.

Wild West (click to see gallery) – Located in the Wilderness Hotel, we entered this water park as soon as it opened on our first day.  As a result, we managed to easily grab seats near the giant play house.  This park by far proved to be our favorite.  They say it’s the largest of the three, and that seemed to be true.  My youngest daughter loved the play house with it’s mini-water slides.  I rode a few of them, too, and even though they were mini, they still provided a thrill.  My oldest daughter and I tried out the huge tube slides as well.  Though you have to climb quite a few stairs to get to these slides, it’s totally worth it.  The descent is a series of twists and turns in total darkness — it’s a blast!  The tubes are so long that they jut out from the building for several curves before reentering the facility.  We managed to get my youngest daughter onto the four-person tube slide, and she loved it, too!  If we’re being honest, I would recommend spending all of your time at this water park between the three.  More on that to come.

Klondike Kavern (click to see gallery) – We entered this water park on our second day.  Though we arrived twenty-five minutes after it opened, we literally could not find a seat or table.  We had to rest our things on the edge of a rock feature.  With that being said, my youngest again enjoyed the play house.  It was very similar to the other one at the Wild West.  My oldest particularly liked the lazy river.  However, as you probably guessed, this park was packed, so the lazy river felt more like bumper cars to me.  Also, lots of feet jutting out everywhere.  Lots.  Of.  Feet.  My oldest daughter and I also enjoyed the giant water slides, but they weren’t quite as fun as those at the Wild West.  I had to do one of them on my own, which was pretty cool, called The Hurricane.  One of the workers described it as like being flushed down a toilet, and he was right!  You start down a tube, enter a giant enclosed bowl, then spin around and around before dropping into a smaller tube.  As I said, I had to do this one by myself, and right before I started I noticed a sign that said not to panic if you become stuck in the bowl — someone will come help you!  That got the heart racing.  Luckily, I didn’t get stuck.

Wild Waterdome (click to see gallery) – This isn’t really much of a water park in the New Frontier area of Wilderness Resort.  It’s an enclosed section that allows sunlight through — kind of like a greenhouse.  It’s main, and almost only, attraction is the Great Wave, which is an enormous pool that creates giant, six foot waves.  My daughters and I stayed pretty far back in the pool where the waves weren’t quite so extreme.  It was fun at first, but the novelty soon wore off.  Again, because the place was so packed, every wave sent you careening into someone else.  We were in it for about forty-five minutes, and the lifeguards had to stop it three different times during that duration in order to jump in and save someone in distress.  People insisted getting as far into the six-foot deep end as possible, but once the waves started, couldn’t keep themselves afloat.  Not to worry — all three individuals were fine.  We got out because my daughter lost her footing and scraped her knee on the floor.  After the friendly first-aid worker patched her up, we sat along the edge of the Great Wave and watched the sea of humanity floating up and down like flotsam and jetsam.

Again, I would plan on an hour or two at Wild Waterdome, skip Klondike Kavern altogether, and spend most of your time at the Wild West.  It could simply be that because Wild West was much bigger, we didn’t feel quite so crowded, which increased my overall enjoyment.  Now on to the attractions in the Wilderness Resort that were not actually water parks.

Wilderwoods Go-Kart Trail (click to see gallery) – This was a blast!  These little go-karts could seat one individual or two, so my wife drove one with one of our daughters and I drove with the other daughter.  You begin by working your way up a corkscrew ramp, then you race down another ramp in circles as well.  They give you about five minutes to race.  In my experience, wherever your position was at the start of the race pretty much guaranteed your position at the end of the race, but it was still a ton of fun!  This feature costs extra, but you can purchase a pass that packages it with some other fun activities.  By the way, the workers were super friendly here.

Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course (click to see gallery) – Literally located above an arcade, this course also delighted us.  Before you begin, you will be tethered into an aerial track that prevents you from falling.  We all enjoyed this feature — even my six-year-old!  You will walk across balance beams, tight ropes, and rolling barrels.  I’m generally afraid of heights, but I felt perfectly safe and at ease because of the tether, so it proved quite fun.  Be aware, they make you remove all cell phones, purses, keys, wallets — anything that can fall off of you.  However, they provide you with a locker and key in order to protect your valuables.  You are allotted thirty minutes on the course which totally flies by.  I’m sure you could stay longer if you wanted.  They write the time you start on a wrist band and you are expected to follow an honor code.  I highly recommend that you give this one a try.  Again, this feature costs extra, but you can purchase a pass that packages it with some other fun activities.  The workers here were very safety-minded, engaged, and friendly.

Marshall Training Lazer Maze (click to see gallery) – Total waste of money.  Don’t bother.  It was included on our fun pass, so we gave it a go.  You enter a small room with lasers shining everywhere.  The worker gave us no instructions, no pointers, no information at all.  We had no idea what we were trying to achieve.  It lasted about two minutes.

OK Corral Lazer Tag (click to see gallery) – This was also included on our fun pass, and we loved it!  You are outfitted with a vest that has targets on both the front and the back.  A laser gun is attached to the vest.  You are thrust into a giant room with ramps, windows, walls dividing up areas, and even a stage coach!  Your gun shows you a time limit, so you have to try to earn as many points by hitting opponents as possible as quickly as possible.  It’s very dark with black lights providing the only illumination, so you have to be careful where you walk.  Though there’s no danger of falling off of anything, I nearly collided with several kids!  Once the game ended, you’re given a score card with all kinds of cool statistics about your performance.  My youngest wasn’t too cracked up about this one, but my oldest daughter thought it was really cool.  The main worker explained things well and seemed to genuinely want everyone to have a good time.

Wild West Bumper Boats (click to see gallery) – Located in a pool within the Wild West water park, these bumper boats were pretty fun.  They never get moving too fast, so the bumps are never too jarring.  The boats are also very easy to operate.  My ten-year-old had no problems moving the boat around at all.  Be aware, though, that they also have spray guns shooting ice cold water.  We all got shot in the face on numerous occasions.  If that’s not your thing, avoid this attraction.  It was included on our fun pass, though, so we gave it a try.  The worker was super friendly and helpful here.

Wild Abyss 3D Mini Gold (click to see gallery) – Also included on the fun pass, this little nine-hole course provided for a fun twenty minutes.  Though not terribly difficult, my kids both enjoyed not only the holes, but also the black lights, the 3D features, and the aquatic theme.  Honestly, though, my six-year-old got a little freaked out by the sound effects.  You can find this attraction beneath the ropes course off to the side.  The worker at this course barely spoke to us and seemed more interested in her phone than anything.

Mega Prize Arcades (click to see gallery) – There are arcades literally everywhere in Wisconsin Dells.  Wilderness Resort is no exception!  My oldest daughter loves video games, especially claw machines, so she had a blast sampling the various arcades located, well, everywhere.  The system in the Wilderness is interesting.  You load a card with a certain amount of money, which equates a particular amount of credits.  Each game costs a specific amount of credits.  You swipe the card through a reader on the game, which then deducts the appropriate amount of credits.  However, you’re also awarded “tokens” onto the card after each game.  When you’re ready to claim your prize, you go to the prize counter where a worker will swipe your card to find out how many “tokens” you earned.  You can then choose a prize accordingly.  In my experience, most of the workers would round up the token amount to the nearest ten.  They also have machines around that will tell you your “token” amount as well in case you fear the trustworthiness of the workers.  Most of the claw machines are scams, as you would assume, but there was one claw machine that awarded a win virtually every time I saw a kid use it — including my own!  This machine was full of giant, rubber spiked balls with faces printed on them.  I’d say they were probably twice the size of a basketball.  My daughter won one on her second try, and we saw kids lugging these balls around all over the place.  By the way, the workers at the prize counter were incredibly helpful and friendly at the Northern Lights Arcade beneath the rope course.

Timberland Playhouse (click to see gallery) –  Rejoice — this attraction is free!  My six-year-old would have happily spent our entire visit in this gargantuan play land.  Divided by netting, kids can climb up several levels and experience swings, slides, bridges, and obstacles.  Even though it was full of kids, it’s so big that my daughters never felt crowded or overwhelmed by too many people.  There’s plenty of seating next to the play house, so parents, this could be a good time to regroup, relax, or veg out.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section.

(Did you enjoy this article?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Our Trip To Wisconsin Dells (Part 1) – Lodging

As an educator, I’m enthusiastic about taking advantage of the ample vacation time we’re afforded.  Winter break can always be unpredictable due to the weather, but my wife and I decided to brave the relatively short drive north to Wisconsin Dells in order to enjoy the incredible indoor water parks we’ve heard so much about.

We weren’t sure if we wanted to stay at Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari, or Wilderness Resort.  Ultimately, after getting advice from friends and doing a little online research, we settled on Wilderness Resort.  More specifically, we opted for Glacier Canyon Lodge, which is a component of the Wilderness Resort campus.  The two bedroom deluxe suites appealed to me, thus we booked it online.

If you’re also interested in this destination, my recommendation to you is to call them directly in order to book your room.  I’ll explain why momentarily.

Let me begin by saying that nearly everyone we encountered at the Glacier Canyon Lodge were perfectly friendly and helpful.  Our check-in process was fine and trouble-free.  Our check-out also proved uneventful.  In fact, we forgot to download new movies from Netflix for our youngest daughter before we checked out, but didn’t realize this fact until eating lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Because Glacier Canyon Lodge was literally across the street, we drove back to see if we could still use their free Wi-Fi from the parking lot.  We couldn’t, so we went inside.  I explained the situation to a young man at the front desk, and he promptly signed us in on my daughter’s iPad.  He explained to me that he had a two-year-old and a four-year-old, so he realized the importance of movies on road trips.

The rooms were very nice.  My children loved the bunk beds.  We found it quite homey and comfortable.  I liked that the kids had their own space as well as their own bathroom, yet we still shared family space in the kitchen, dining area, and living room area.  We were placed on the ground floor near the entrance.  At first I thought this was an advantage, but I soon realized that everyone who used that entrance essentially walked by our window, which frankly unsettled me.

These are not traditional hotel rooms, meaning that, yes, housekeeping will switch out your towels and take your garbage, but they will not make your beds, vacuum, clean the toilets, or anything else like that.  Keep in mind that you also have a fully stocked kitchen, though, which includes coffee mugs, plates, cups, bowls, silverware, pots, pans, and cooking utensils.  You are expected to load the dishwasher before you leave.  House keeping will actually run it for you and restock the cupboards.

Furthermore, as it turned out, we were literally as far away from the skywalk as one could possibly be.  The skywalk is an enclosed walkway from the Glacier Canyon Lodge rooms to the Wilderness indoor water parks.  We were told it would be a ten minute walk from our room, but it actually took us closer to twenty.  This is not a big deal, but with a six-year-old in tow, it got old fast.  After our first day, I actually started driving my family around the campus to the indoor area we wanted to visit.

We had a floor above us which initially did not concern us at all.  However, on our first night there, we encountered a serious problem.  The suite we reserved could sleep up to seven people.  The room above us had at least that many people, and they apparently belonged to a gymnastics team or a dance troupe or maybe even a jump rope brigade.  They started bouncing around at 10:30 at night and kept it up solid until 2:00 a.m.  Okay, whatever.  I thought maybe it was their last night and they were living it up.

Unfortunately, on the second night, at the same time, it started anew.  Once it got close to midnight, I called security.  This seemed to only exacerbate the problem.  At that point, I felt sure they would pay my room a visit, or perhaps even the aforementioned bedroom sliding glass door right next to the complex’s entrance.  Needless to say, my family did not sleep well that night, and I couldn’t go to sleep for fear of reprisal.

The next day, I visited the front desk and explained the situation.  I told them that if the guests above us were not checking out that day, I’d need another room.  To their credit, the staff at Glacier Canyon Lodge moved us immediately.  They gave us a top floor suite, just like the one we had.  Sure, it took us a while to repack our things, but it wasn’t that daunting.  However, when we entered our new room, it wreaked of bacon.  I mean, this room was pungent.  We called the front desk and told them this room wasn’t going to work either.  The stench gave me an immediate headache and my wife’s stomach turned sour which forced her to sit in the hall.  The manager got on the line with us, and, honestly, I didn’t care for his disposition.  He tried to be polite, but I could tell we were annoying him and I didn’t find him too eager to guarantee our satisfaction.  Nonetheless, we were placed in yet another new room.  The good news is that it was far closer to the skywalk; the bad news is that it was quite a walk with our luggage rack to the new location.  Luckily, the new room did not have any exterior entrances nearby, did not stink, and did not have loud neighbors above us.

If you’re excited to visit an indoor water park in Wisconsin Dells, I would not hesitate to recommend Glacier Canyon Lodge.  However, remember that the floors between rooms are very thin.  We could hear our above neighbors walking around even in our new room, but they had a more sensible bedtime and did not disturb us at all.  Just to play it safe, be sure to call in person and request a top floor.  Also, talk to someone personally and tell them that you’d like to be as close to the skywalk as possible.  These simple steps will ensure an even better experience.

I’ll soon discuss the indoor attractions as well as the local restaurants we tried.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)