“Let’s go to the Wilderness” now has a much more fun connotation to children in the Tennessee area. To many, this vacation proclamation does not mean a trip to an isolated expanse of nothingness, but rather to one of the premier water parks in the Southeast—Wilderness at the Smokies.
This attraction, which opened in 2008 in Sevierville, Tenn., just north of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains, boasts a massive indoor waterpark, as well as outdoor water fun and other enjoyable opportunities.
This is all connected to a resort hotel, so even in rain, sleet or snow, families can stay in the hotel and walk down the hall for swimming and splashing all year long.
The indoor portion of the water park features a huge funnel-shaped slide, the Storm Chaser, which is lit from the outside, making a beautiful neon nighttime presentation to attract the eyes of those driving from I-40 to Pigeon Forge.
Guests can climb the stairs and choose from four other equally tall slides, some requiring tubes for the journey down, some not.
The wave pool is another popular indoor attraction; here, visitors can either jump and splash wildly with the waves, or recline on one of the many large floating tubes offered by the wilderness at let the machine-made waves carry them where they may.
Life jackets are also readily available at no extra charge for the weaker swimmers, or for those who just don’t want to put a lot of effort into staying afloat.
Meanwhile at the Wilderness, an attraction just a couple of hours drive from Murfreesboro, a kids area offers all sorts of things to climb, splash, twist and play on, as a massive water bucket high above slowly fills with water and, when full, tips over and pours its contents on the crowd below, generally to the squealed delight of the excited youngsters clustered beneath it.
A separate splash playground area for younger kids is roped off, and in this area, small children, some of whom cannot even walk yet, can splash calmly in very shallow areas, safely away from the more energetic older children.
The Wilderness offers water basketball in yet another pool area, and even a surfing simulator, where a powerful sheet of water is shot up an incline with enough force that aspiring water athletes can ride a surfboard or bodyboard on it.
A large hot tub is split between the indoor and outdoor portions of the Wilderness waterpark.
Visit the attraction during the summer months, and even more opportunities are available outside.
Additional slides, one with an extreme trap door entrance, await in the outdoor portion of the Wilderness.
Beyond the waterpark, the Wilderness also boasts a large video arcade with lots of fun games for all ages. As gamers play skee ball and racing games, kids attempt to navigate the ropes of an obstacle course, known as Tree Top Towers, overhead.
Try some wonderful fudge varieties in the hotel’s gift shop or play a game of laser tag; for the golfers, there are 36 full holes of golf at the Sevierville Golf Club, right next to the Wilderness property.
When you spend the night at the resort, everyone in your party gets free admission to the waterpark. While admission is available for those not staying at the resort, room rates can be as low as $99 per night, and guests can visit the waterpark during all days of their stay. Even if you only stay one night, you still get two days of fun at the fabulous water attractions.
For more information, visit wildernessatthesmokies.com.