Kalahari vs Wilderness: Best Indoor Water Parks In Wisconsin Dells

Last Updated on September 21, 2023

When planning my trips to the Wisconsin Dells, visiting indoor water parks were a ‘must do’ on our list.  Travelling as just adults with no kids, it was important for us to find a water park with enough thrill slides to keep us entertained. We didn’t want to have little kid slides, we wanted big ones that get the adrenaline going! 

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Best Indoor Water Parks in Wisconsin Dells

I have been to both The Wilderness and the Kalahari. Here’s what I thought of the 2 parks, the battle of the best indoor waterparks in Wisconsin Dells: The Kalahari vs The Wilderness!

Kalahari vs Wilderness

The Kalahari | Wilderness Resort

The Kalahari

🗺1305 Kalahari Dr, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, United States

🎢Indoor Water Park Thrill Slides: 9 (5 extreme)

⭐️Pro: Day passes available

🏨Other hotel attractions: Zambezi Outdoor Waterpark (8 water attractions), Tom Foolery’s Adventure Park, escape room, bowling, go-karts, Sky Trail ropes course, spa, dining options and more.

Wisconsin Dells Indoor Water Parks
Best Wisconsin Dells indoor water parks – The Kalahari

Something that I learnt quickly about the Wisconsin Dells is that you can easily spend a lot of money very quickly. A huge plus of the Kalahari is that they offer day passes to the water park.  

The cost is still pretty steep – $39.99, but compared to the $200+ a night room rate (which includes water park passes for up to 4 people), when travelling as just a couple, you can save a bit of money by just buying a day pass and staying at a cheaper nearby hotel.

Tip: Watch out for resort taxes on hotels.  Some have a huge resort tax, the nightly rate may look reasonable but it can easily double once you reach the checkout.  There are a few hotel that have a lower tax, you just have to look for them!

The Kalahari is an Africa/safari themed hotel and resort.  Even though the Kalahari’s indoor water park is just in one building, we felt that the amount and variations of thrill slides on offer knocked socks off the ones at the Wilderness! If your looking for things to do in Wisconsin Dells for adults, the Kalahari should definitely be on your radar.

Kalahari Water Slides

There are:

3 raft slides including a water coaster (meaning the rafts can go UP hill as well as the typical gravity slide)

1 tube slide (double or single riders)

5 body slides (1 regular body slide, a ‘toilet bowl’ slide with a drop into a 9ft deep pool and 3 vertical drop slides with disappearing floors!)

I loved the drop slides! Honestly I think the person that invented them may have been a bit crazy, but they definitely add a little extra kick of adrenaline! The tube ones were more ‘comfortable’ than the open vertical slide that gives you a giant wedgie and sends a tidal wave of water up your nose!

Kalahari Indoor Water Park
Sahara Sidewinders

I also really enjoyed the Tanzanian Twister slide, you go down a normal tube slide and then enter into a section that looks exactly like a toilet bowl with a hole in the middle. After doing a few laps of the bowl, you drop through a hole into a splash pool…if you can fall through the hole feet first, that’s the best way to go!

Kalahari Wisconsin Dells Indoor Water Park
Tanzanian Twister

Other Kalahari Water Attractions

On top of these, there are also a couple of smaller ‘play’ structures that have a few more body slides, a lazy river and a wave pool.  The Kalahari’s wave pool isn’t as big as the one at the Wilderness, however tubes are allowed in it.  It’s not very powerful though, the biggest waves are only in one corner and as you can imagine, this is where everyone gathers.

Kalahari Flowrider
Flowrider at The Kalahari

The Kalahari has a couple of ‘pay to play‘ type attractions too.  From a Flowrider surf simulator, a VR ‘snorkelling’ and a mermaid experience to a swim up bar in a hot tub (regular sized cocktails are $11).

For us, a day pass was plenty of time.  Visiting in winter, the indoor water park is open to hotel guests from 10am – 10pm. Day pass guests are permitted from 12pm, a total of 10 hours!

Kalahari Indoor Water Park Wisconsin Dells
The Kalahari Wisconsin Dells

There are large changing rooms, lockers available for rental and free use of pool towels.  I was amazed by the swimsuit extractor, which squeezes all of the water out of your swimming costume, so you don’t have to pack it while it’s still dripping wet!

Once you’ve finished at the water park, you are able to use the other facilities at the Kalahari!  We did the 30 minute escape room and went on the indoor go kart track.  Again, if you had kids, you could spend a fortune as there’s the Tom Foolery’s indoor theme park with an arcade, rides, a climbing course, mini golf and bowling lanes, which all cost more.

The Wilderness

🗺511 E Adams St, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, United States

🎢Indoor Water Park Thrill Slides: 13 (2 extreme)

⭐️Pro: 4 indoor and 4 outdoor waterparks (including separate ones aimed at young children)

🏨Other hotel attractions: 4 outdoor waterparks, laser tag, Sky Ropes course, mini golf (indoor and outdoor), go-karts (indoor and outdoor), arcade, Timberland Playhouse, Polka Dot Pots, escape room, Wilderness Canyon Zip Line, horse drawn wagon rides, dining options and more.

The Wilderness is an old Wild West come log cabin/woodland theme and is said to be the biggest indoor water park in the Wisconsin Dells.  It’s actually 4 separate water parks within the resort, which are all connected by indoor sky bridges and walkways.

Unfortunately, there are no day passes available for the Wilderness.  All hotel facilities, other than the outdoor zip line course, are for hotel guests only (even the ones that cost extra apparently!).

However the room rate is slightly less than the Kalahari and they sometimes run discounted stays, which is what we took advantage of during our visit.

Wilderness Klondike Kavern
Klondike Kavern indoor waterpark at The Wilderness

Guests are given a towel card which can be exchanged in the parks for 1 towel.  You are free to take the towels between the water parks, you can also switch a wet towel for a dry one, but at the end of the stay you HAVE to leave either all the towel cards in the room or the correct amount of towels, if you didn’t exchange it back for the card.

We only visited 3 out of the 4 Wilderness indoor water parks, the 4th was smaller and aimed at kids.

Wild West

Personally I thought the ‘Wild West’ was the best indoor waterpark for adults at the Wilderness as it had the most extreme slides.  My favourite was ‘The Black Hole‘ which was so FAST and what I like to call, a toilet bowl slide!  This park does seem to be closed during the week more than the others.  There’s also a small indoor/outdoor hot tub.

The Black Hole from the outside!

Klondike Kavern

The Klondike Kavern lacked seating, but it has the Hurricane raft ride, another major thrill water slide that looks like a giant sideways funnel.  It also has the Claim Jumper Challenge which is a cross between a water slide and a video game.

In all honesty, I was useless at it. The tube had coloured buttons on the handle and when you passed under a light in the tunnel (at speed), you had to then hit the matching coloured button. It could also be ridden with a 2-person tube, minus the buttons and just enjoyed as a slide, which I thought was much better as it went faster with 2 people.

Wilderness Resort Slideboarding
Claim Jumper Challenge

Wild WaterDome

The Wild WaterDome is mainly just a giant wave pool (the largest indoor wave pool in the USA!) and two 4-person raft slides.  This is the best park if you just want to relax, it’s the only one with sun loungers. Apparently the way the roof is designed, you are able to get a tan year-round!

Wilderness Wave Pool
Wild WaterDome at The Wilderness

Some of the body slides and tube slides felt a bit same-y after a while, there are only really 2 unique ones. We found that by staying at a resort, we didn’t really leave the resort, which to some people is exactly what they want (no worry of driving anywhere etc, there’s a reason they sell giant refillable cocktails).

Of course exactly what the resort wants you to do, so you just spend even more money on their other attractions and food outlets…the 3D mini glow golf at the Wilderness is fun, as is the paint your own pottery.  Staying outside of a resort (in a cheaper hotel), gave us an excuse to explore more of the Wisconsin Dells and other attractions it has to offer!

🏆Wilderness vs Kalahari?

What is the best indoor waterpark in Wisconsin Dells?

Best Water Park in Wisconsin Dells for Adults: Personally I think the Kalahari is the best Wisconsin Dells water park for adults as it has more extreme slides. I also like the way you can buy a day pass which means you can stay at a cheaper hotel. This is good if you don’t plan to spend every waking hour of your trip to the Wisconsin Dells in a water park!

Best Wisconsin Dells indoor Water Park for Kids/Families: The Wilderness – for the water parks that are aimed especially at the younger visitors. Potentially there’s less chance of children getting bored, as you can switch between the different parks, rather than just stay in one! Also there are a LOT of different activities on site.

🏆Best Indoor Water Park in Wisconsin Dells for adults: Kalahari

Other Indoor Water Parks in Wisconsin Dells

Mount Olympus

🗺655 N Frontage Rd, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, United States

🎢Indoor Water Park Thrill Slides: 4 (0 extreme)

Mount Olympus is another of the Wisconsin Dells resorts with indoor water parks. It consists of many different buildings spread out across the whole of the Dells. During the summer, there’s an outdoor water park and theme park with loads of go kart tracks and 5 rollercoasters, but they too also have an indoor water park open year round!

As you’ve seen in this Kalahari vs Wilderness comparison, both parks have between 9 and 12 thrill slides, whereas Mount Olympus only has 4. Mount Olympus has quite cheap room rates HOWEVER, they do have a high resort tax rate which bumps the price up. The indoor waterpark also closes during the summer season.

Great Wolf Lodge

🗺1400 Great Wolf Dr, Baraboo, WI 53913, United States

🎢Indoor Water Park Thrill Slides: 4 (1 extreme)

Great Wolf Lodge have day passes available for the same price as the Kalahari, but like Mount Olympus, there are only 4 major thrill slides.  They do have one extreme thrill ride: the Howlin’ Tornado, which is similar to the Hurricane raft ride at The Wilderness.

If you have children, not having many thrill slides may not be a problem, but as adults, it’s something worth considering to see what will give you the best value for money!

The Great Wolf Lodge chain has locations across the US, perfect for if you are looking for other indoor waterparks in the Midwest that are great for families with younger children

Wilderness Resort vs Kalahari FAQ

What’s the biggest indoor waterpark in the Dells?

The biggest indoor waterpark in the Dells, under one roof, is The Kalahari. However, The Wilderness Resort is technically the biggest, with 4 indoor water parks, connected by indoor sky bridges and walkways.

Does Kalahari give you towels?

Yes, the Kalahari give you towels for free to use while at the water park. When you’re finished, simply throw them into the towel return basket.

Other Wisconsin Dells Posts You May Enjoy

Wisconsin Dells Itinerary | Weekend Getaway To The Wisconsin Dells USA

Things To Do In Wisconsin Dells in Winter | Wisconsin Dells Winter Getaway

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The Best Indoor Water Parks in the Wisconsin Dells USA
Best Indoor Waterpark Wisconsin Dells

4 thoughts on “Kalahari vs Wilderness: Best Indoor Water Parks In Wisconsin Dells

    1. For me I pulled up all the ones I could think of and then looked at the amount of thrill slides they had! If they only had a couple, we knocked them on the head. The Wilderness had cheaper room rates which is how we first decided to go to that one but when he went the second time we looked at the Mt Olympus indoor park first but then the Kalahari looked 100 times better! There are even more outdoor water parks so that’s a whole other decision on its own! Apparently Noah’s Ark is the best outdoor one!

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