Our children (at the time of this trip) are 14, 7, and 3 year old boy. So, aside from the usual family travel issues, there are the insane issues of compatibility.
When planning our trip, taken in winter at the end of the holiday season, we thought long & hard about how to please them all. We knew water would be a hit, but with all the height & swimming ability differentials, we had to think past ‘a hotel with a pool.’ Fortunately, I am one who grabs free literature at gas stations, so I had a large booklet featuring the various hotels, motels & resorts in the area. Water parks are all the rage, there were plenty to choose from. But again, we had to think of what was safe for the littlest, yet not too boring for the oldest, and someplace where the two areas weren’t separated – mom & dad didn’t want to separate and be sidelined alone with no adult companionship all day…
Finally, in the big book of Wisconsin Dells Values, I spotted The Atlantis Waterpark Hotel. Promoting itself as ‘the perfect waterpark hotel for children 11 and under’, this resort had all the indoor water fun in one area — both the themed kiddie pool, and the regular deep pool. So two points there: one for the entertainment of all ages & another for not separating the adults.
Also this water area, the Aqua Kingdom, has a spa hot tub & snack bar, with the ability to view from most angles. You can eat, drink & be kind of merry (no alcohol in the hot tub), all in one spot. No drying off & getting dressed to eat made us able to get them to eat too.
The kiddie area has slides & tunnels, plus characters that spray, shower & sprinkle water, depending upon how the kids turn the wheels etc. Needless to say, the kids had a blast.
In the pool area, along with the snack bar, there is a game room, with plenty of games – from skeeball, to the latest video driving games. The kids can play, ‘win tickets,’ and exchange them at the snack bar for those typical prizes of candy and cheap plastic toys they so covet. It helps them pass the time for that ‘no swimming for an hour after eating’ rule. (And the kids can still be in their swim suits!)
Eventually, it will always become bedtime. Getting the kids out of the water, and heading to bed wasn’t too bad – we could bribe them with “we’ll be back tomorrow.” Getting all three to sleep in our hotel room wasn’t easy. It also wasn’t as hard as we has imagined in our nightmares… We placed the TV remote in the teen’s hands, left her in charge, and off we slunk to the hot tub for a little ‘grown up time.’
In the morning, to our shock, we learned the hotel does not offer breakfast. Not continental, not cereal, nothing, nada, zip. So we had to pack everyone back into the car, eat at a restaurant, then come back to the pool area.
My parents were allowed to visit with us in the pool area. As they were not staying at the hotel, I worried about them having difficulty getting in, but it was not a problem. They stayed, watched the kids play, hand lunch with us. It was a wonderful time.
The kids are dying to get back there, and even mom & dad are thinking of the next time…
But then we will remember to bring cereals & milk for the small refrigerator in the room.
(As a side note, though we did not use them, there is also another indoor pool, more suitable for older children, ages 7 and up, as well as an outdoor pool for summer use.)
The date of this vacation stay was January 2005. We enjoyed our stay so much, that we went back in January 2006 and January 2009, staying in the Neptune Suite, which has a separate room for the kids inside the room, allowing for greater privacy for both adults and children. Yes, we brought cereal and milk those times. *wink*
PS If you of a member of your family is a smoker, I can tell you that you can sneak out the side door of the warterpark pool area easily enough — but you’ll have to have a partner in your legal-drug-crime stand inside the waterpark by the door so that you can easily get back inside. Otherwise, you’ll have to hoof it through the wind and snow all the way back to the main hotel doors and meander your way back to the Aqua Kingdom. (Trust me, I know.) It sucks enough to leave the high humidity of a warm pool area and stand in the freezing cold as it is; walking through it only makes you angry (resulting in the desire for another cigarette).
PPS As noted, our last stay was 2009, and now a stay at The Atlantis includes access to Chula Vista Parks. It might have all along, but as we went in winter and the kids were so amused with the waterpark etc., we didn’t know or go. *wink* Anyway, rules, such as access to the pool for non-guests, may have changed. It’s best to call ahead and ask!