Need a one stop shop destination for a family vacation? The Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville, TN can help. The resort offers big, colorful water slides for the thrillists in your family and separate water park accommodations for infants and toddlers. Free shuttle service to everything and multiple eateries within walking distance make things easier for families. If you’ve ever taken kids to a water park, you know how important that is!
When we spend hard-earned money on a family weekend getaway, I appreciate having everything we could ever need on-site. That’s especially true during long days at a water park with kids.
Seriously, if I can throw on a cover up and put tank tops on the kids and easily walk to a variety of restaurants and entertainment in our flip flops – shut up and take my money.
Where is the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort?
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort. We were passing through Sevierville, TN on our way to Pigeon Forge and I said “whoah, what the heck is that place?” The colorful, gargantuan water slides jump right out at you from the road.
When we drove by Sevierville again on our way out of town, I got right to work planning a summer “school’s out!” celebration. The trip also ended up serving as a reward to my 9-year-old for amazing grades at the end of a difficult school year. Our reservation also happened to fall on Father’s Day weekend. So it was a triple whammy vacay!
How Big is the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort?
There are 3 guest buildings on the property: Stone Hill Lodge, River Lodge and the Sevierville Golf Club building with a corresponding club house and golf course. You will also find 3 huge water parks, one of which is indoors. The Sevierville Events Center is also on-site. All are in close proximity and a free shuttle operates continuously throughout the day, stopping at each location.
We stayed at the Stone Hill Lodge where the Salamander Springs outdoor water park is located. We easily made it to the indoor and outdoor water parks located next door at River Lodge during our stay. I think our longest wait for a shuttle was 10 minutes when the indoor water park closed at 10 p.m. and the shuttles were fully loaded.
What are the Kid Favorites at Wilderness at the Smokies?
Hands down, our favorite activity was the Surf Rider at Wild Water Dome, the indoor water park on the property. Hilarity ensued as both father and son tried their hands at the Surf Rider for the first time. It’s not easy! Watch the Surf Rider in action here:
We had a BLAST with the Smokies Surf Rider today but as you can see it isn't for the weak, young or old. Wipeouts are so gold! #wildernessatthesmokies #hosted #tmom
Posted by Real Honest Mom by Audra Rogers on Saturday, June 17, 2017
It was so fun to sit and watch everyone in line try it out. There are several rows of comfy chairs placed in front for easy viewing. A lifeguard assists riders and supervises the attraction at all times.
TravelingMom tip: You must sign a waiver to receive an armband to try the Surf Rider. An attendant will assist you with signing a waiver at the computers in the lobby just outside the doors near the Surf Rider.
The neighboring Great Wave wave pool was also a big hit. Towards the deep end, several signs are posted that say “Warning: strong swimmers only,” which is smart, as the waves are strong.
I was expecting my 4-year-old to be fearful of the wave pool, but he had a blast, staying towards the shallow end. Complimentary life jackets and towels are located at every water park if needed, and several lifeguards keep watch throughout.
We also greatly enjoyed going down the bigger slides as a family. There are height and weight restrictions for younger children to ride alone, but most are okay to ride with an adult.
What Ages Are Best for the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort?
I was impressed with all of the toddler and infant features at each water park, almost jealous in fact. My kids are older, but I stopped to check out what each park had to offer for littles. There are plenty of things to do for kids, teens and adults of all ages.
At Stone Hill Lodge, the outdoor Salamander Springs water park is geared for younger ones. The deepest end of the small pool was 3 feet and also has a big splash pad and a crowd-pleasing bucket. There are also two slides that we all rode and enjoyed. While it’s the smallest water park on the property, it wasn’t boring. An activity room for kids and a snack bar are located just inside.
The big daddy slides are located at Lake Wilderness (outdoor) and Wild Water Dome (indoor), but every park has separate accommodations for infants and toddlers as well.
There are also bathrooms, cabanas, miniature golf, cocktails and snack shacks close by.
I’ll never forget how we made two big rounds along the lazy river as a family, connected by our inner tubes. The wave pool at Lake Wilderness sends fun waves down the lazy river for a little extra fun.
Where Can You Eat at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort?
I kept seeing “Kids Eat Free for breakfast and dinner” on signs up and down the hallways and in a brochure in our room. I was so skeptical at first, thinking this probably meant that adults would be $50 or something.
But the breakfast buffet was about $11 per adult and the food was good with several hot options. It was so convenient to just walk downstairs at Stone Hill Lodge and eat breakfast at the Hidden Trail Bar and Grill. Drinks are extra, but all in with drinks and gratuity, breakfast for us was between $30 and $40.
We dressed in our swimsuits beforehand and headed straight to the water parks after we ate, so I felt it was very convenient as well as affordable. Plus, we didn’t have to worry about cooling off a hot car in the parking lot to drive to a restaurant. You also have the option of Wilderness In-Room Dining if you want to stay in for dinner after a long day at the water parks.
Do Water Park Tickets at Wilderness at the Smokies Cost Extra?
Guests at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort have complimentary access to all of the water parks with guest armbands. The only extra tickets you have to buy are the tickets to the Adventure Forest. It’s an indoor area with a ropes course, laser tag, bowling, arcade and miniature golf.
We stayed for two days and found plenty of things to do without having to buy the extra passes, but the option is there if you need it.
Another thing of note: since the check-in time at the resort is 4 p.m., guests can do an early registration/check-in at noon to enjoy the water parks as their room is prepared. Guests may also stay and enjoy the parks after checkout at 11 a.m. Lockers are available near the pool areas for a fee.
Wait Times at the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort
We waited in line for about an hour to ride The Wall, one of the more thrilling water slides. My 4-year-old wasn’t tall enough to ride, so he and my husband did the slides next to us. They were able to do their slides 3 times as we waited.
Popular attractions have lines, so that is something to be expected in general and especially during busy summer months. There are lines because they’re worth it!
There is so much to do, it’s not hard to steer kids towards something else for a little while if you need to.
The slides, free shuttles and easy access to amenities scored big points with our family. We would stay at Wilderness at the Smokies again in a heartbeat.