(This is a special rambling review by my husband, Levi, who was very nostalgic when it came to visiting the park and insisted he write the review.)
Condensed version of this review: Drop everything and go. Now.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI (1410 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.) has been a tradition of my family for many years. The first time that I went there was 19 years ago. Going there always brings back a twinge of nostalgia from that very first trip. My trip in 1994 was with my 6th grade class (on a nice day before Memorial Day weekend, so the whole park wasn’t open at the time). That day was spent endlessly racing the go karts and floating around on the bumper boats (I can’t remember if it was that day or not, but I also embarrassed myself by falling off the ziplines twice at Paradise Lagoon. Probably better that I don’t remember what day that happened). My good friend Colin had pleaded with me to go down the Kowabunga almost all day. Finally he was able to convince my timid self to go down once. I was hooked.
After that first time our family would make one trip a year to “the dells”. What a trip to “the dells” meant was a trip to Noah’s Ark Water park. Nobody ever asked where in “the dells” we were going. Noah’s Ark was “the dells” as far as we were concerned. I feel as if I, along with thousands of others, have watched this park evolve over the years. In the past 10 years though I have only been there 3 times [2003, the day this happened (this was also the first time my wife had been there, and this still baffles me that she never went as a kid), and 6/17/13].
New Family Traditions at Noah’s Ark
We (me, wife, our son and daughter, sister-in-law, and niece) were provided the opportunity to go to this park for the first time in years (last time my then 2 year old son was the king of Tadpole Bay and 3 week old daughter was confined to a stroller). I had my reservations going into the day. The park was sold last year and they have implemented paid parking and erected a fence around the entire perimeter. This took away where we always parked, at the top of the hill where we would walk down by the Stingray and into the park. This turned out to be a good thing as we found a nice place in the shade in the preferred parking which was closer to where we wanted to be anyways, and since there is a fence there is no need to wear an annoying wristband! It took a little while for us to get into the park as it was report card day – a day where students can bring report cards with A’s and B’s to the park for a free fun day!
We were provided with our very own cabana (Ours was located by Paradise Lagoon. The other cabanas are located by the Big Kahuna, Wave Pool, and Endless River). When I was told about this I thought, “Well, this is silly, what is this good for, there are chairs all over”. How wrong I was! This provided our very own area that is saved just for us. It also creates a “home base”, so the kids will always know where we can meet up at. The cabana is shaded and gives you your own area out of the sun and a place to put your belongings. As long as you are at the cabana you have a server coming by all of the time to see if you need anything. Our servers were excellent and the cabana was a pleasant experience.
Planning our day at Noah’s Ark Water Park
The first rule of the day is that we would not go on anything my son couldn’t go on (he is 44” tall, which ruled out the following rides: Black Anaconda, Point of No return, Scorpion’s Tail, and my all time favorite, Black Thunder). My son, niece, and I set off to find Surfing Safari first. To our surprise it was closed [according to their facebook page it was open the next day]. Then we tried out the bumper boats, in which I parked mine right away and my son’s stopped in the water and had to be towed back to shore as he was having a hard time getting it going again. I personally think that they keep these since it was the first ride at the park. This was the end of our bad experiences for the day.
Next we headed over to Flash Flood. Since the lines form quickly for Black Anaconda and Scorpion’s Tail, there was no line at Flash Flood. The 3 of us went 3 times in a row! Later we met up with the rest of the group my son and niece were telling my daughter how great that ride was. She was ready to drop everything and go. Many people were surprised to see her on that ride as she is just over 36 inches (the minimum with an adult). She loved it too, and we all spent a bunch of time on the ride and the splash bridge (a bridge in front of the ride that splashes everyone standing on it).
Ok, so the rest of the day is a blur of good times weaving back and forth across the park. It went something like this: “Let’s go on the stingray”; “hey the other side of the Kowabunga is open now, let’s go again”; “We should race again” & “I’m going on the green one” (referring to Quadzilla); “carry me” (that would be my daughter, no wonder why she wasn’t as tired as everyone else at the end of the day); “A dinosaur!” (Time Warp); “I can’t see where we are going” (Dark Voyage); “random screaming” (my niece on about every single ride); “I want to go with you so we can try to get to the top” (son and niece wanting to go with me on the Stingray); “random giggling” (at the 4D theater when we would get sprayed with water); and “let’s go on this one” (my daughter telling me which water slide to go on at Slidewinders – one that she could ride between my legs).
Slidewinders is where we ended our day. (On a tangent – it is funny because back in the day the last slides we would go on were Jungle Rapids and Thunder Rapids – then the oldest slides in the park and close to the exit. I loved Thunder Rapids, which were very chill waterslides that used old tubes of different sizes and colors, and each slide would be broken up by different pool areas that had dead zones. Now Slidewinders is the oldest waterslide and part of me wonders how long it is until it is replaced by the next greatest thing.) There are 5 waterslides there, 2 which you cannot be over a certain height to go on. My daughter had a great time letting her brother and cousin know that they could not go on those (as they let her know how much fun they had on Time Warp, Quadzilla, etc.). There were no lines on the other three and I had a great time as my daughter and I would race her brother and cousin going down the other slides. The original kids pool is by Slidewinders too (there are newer kids areas now: OctoExplorer, Big Kahuna Kiddie area, and Tadpole Bay Kiddie Kingdom).
Some of our favorite rides at Noah’s Ark
As we were leaving from our fun filled day (10AM to about 6PM!) we debated what the favorite rides were. The idea was that if you could go to the park for 5 minutes, which attraction would you choose? Even though we bent the rules a little, this is what we came up with:
Me – Kowabunga, Black Thunder, Quadzilla
Niece (Aged 7)– “everything” – Flash Flood, Kowabunga, Big Kahuna, Paradise Lagoon
Son (Aged 6) – “everything” – Flash Flood, Time Warp, Kowabunga, Quadzilla
Daughter (Aged 3, going on 4) – Tadpole Bay, Slidewinders, Flash Flood, Congo Bongo
Wife – Cabana
Sister-In-Law – Cabana
Things that were closed on this day: Entire Wave pool area, the highest of Bermuda Triangle slides, Surfing Safari
Let me end on this. A lonely elephant stands by a non-existent ark; The go karts are long gone; there is no more mini golf; the bumper boats pond has now been converted to Flash Flood and the boats themselves have been relegated to a pool that is probably smaller than your community swimming pool; the Jungle Rapids hill is bare with the new Surfing Safari in its place; remnants of Thunder Rapids can be seen beneath the towering Black Anaconda; tank tag that greeted us on our way into the park is now the Stingray; and the lines that were once at the ticket booths in front of the locker rooms have been moved to new ticket booths on the edge of the park. While all of these things sometimes bring out the nostalgia in me, the focus is the “water” part of water park. “The dells” wouldn’t be what it is today without Noah’s Ark Water park. With our kids getting older, a new and updated yearly tradition has been born.
Tips for traveling to Noah’s Ark:
- Pack a lunch/snacks – you will save money and give you a chance to get a break from the park
- If possible, park in shade, even if it is a further walk to the park
- Pack as many people in vehicle (legally) to avoid extra parking fees
- Visit the rules page before going
- Get to the park early
- Wear waterproof sunscreen (even on the top of your head short haired people!)
- Locate a water fountain (there is one on the side of Paradise Lagoon) and stay hydrated
- Figure out which ride you want to go on first, everything will fall into place from there
- Make sure to try everything that you can go on at least once
- This year you can stop at a local Kwik Trip on the way and buy tickets there. You will save about 10 dollars and have your tickets already.
- More tips can be found at this link: Noah’s Ark Tips
- Visit this link to save $5.00 off your ticket at the gate: Noah’s Ark Coupon
More about Noah’s Ark
Noah’s Ark is located on 70 sprawling acres right in the heart of Wisconsin Dells, the Waterpark Capital of the World! Here you’ll find so many thrilling waterslides, not just one but TWO giant Wave Pools, two Endless Rivers, four children’s water play areas, bumper boats, and a mammoth 4-D Movie Theater. The list of exciting rides and attractions keeps growing. In the last few years alone, we’ve added some of the most thrilling water rides you can find, including Black Anaconda, America’s Most Thrilling Watercoaster, Time Warp, the World’s Largest Bowl Ride, and Scorpion’s Tail, America’s First Near-Vertical Looping Waterslide.
New for 2013 “Surfing Safari”! A fast paced surfing ride! Noah’s Ark isn’t just big on thrills, we’re also committed to providing the safest, cleanest, most unforgettable waterpark experience for the entire family. In fact, we’ve received the Top Award For Aquatic Safety every year since 1995!
The park is open each year from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, offering an entire summer of fun under the sun.
Have you been to Noah’s Ark Waterpark? Let us know your favorite attractions in the comments. Have a question about planning your trip? Let us know in the comments too.
Written by Levi Helgren, guest writer and husband of Jesica.
The Mommy Bunch was provided free admission to the park in exchange for this review, all opinions are our own.