Rooms designed for families, some with bunk and Murphy beds
Discounted area attraction tickets
Free Wi-Fi and free parking
Free shuttle between buildings
Far from other attractions
Buildings separated by the highway
Overpriced food and snacks
Time-share property with sales pitches
Fee for adventure center entry
Walls in rooms can be thin
This water park resort has mountain-lodge themed rooms designed for families, with bunks and Murphy beds; even the most basic room categories have microwaves. Access to three separate, on-site water parks (two outdoor and one indoor) is included in the rate, although the activities in the large adventure center -- including mini-golf, arcade games, a bowling alley, and laser tag –- are not. There are seven different eateries on-site, although food prices can add up. The secluded resort is about 30 minutes from both Gatlinburg and Knoxville, but next to a convention center and the Sevierville Golf Club. This time-share property shares grounds with a Wyndham, so guests should expect varying room quality and a sales pitch.
Family-friendly water parks in a sprawling complex
The kid-friendly Wilderness at the Smokies is the largest water park resort in Tennessee. Modeled after the huge water parks in the Wisconsin Dells, and owned by the same family company that operates many of them, the Wilderness at the Smokies Resort is a mountain-themed cousin to its fabled Midwestern predecessors. Kids run free here, and the resort is packed with activities for them, including three water parks and an adventure center. With seven eateries, there is a wide range of options that should satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, but prices can add up to more than some guests may have budgeted for.
Each building is attached to its own water park and restaurant, though all are open to all guests; the sprawling grounds can make for long walks, but the hotel offers a free shuttle. The two main buildings are across the highway from each other, but share the same mountain-lodge-cum-theme park decor. In addition to families, the hotel also attracts business travelers attending events at the neighboring Sevierville Convention Center and golfers hitting the links at the Sevierville Golf Club next door.
In Sevierville, half way between Knoxville and Gatlinburg
Located far out on Old Knoxville Highway, the resort is isolated from other regional attractions, but equidistant from the popular destinations of Knoxville and Gatlinburg (about a 30-minute drive to each). Sevierville is on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, known for its outdoor activities and as the birthplace of Dolly Parton. The popular Dollywood theme park is just over 20-minutes away, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about a 30-minute drive from the resort.
Wide variety of large, family-oriented rooms with mountain-themed decor
There are over a dozen room types in two different buildings: the Stone Hill Lodge, attached to the Salamander Springs Outdoor Waterpark, and the River Lodge, connected to the indoor Wild WaterDome park. Stone Hill rooms have a more traditional style, with dark wood furniture, and are closest to the convention center. River Lodge rooms have full mountain-themed decor, with log furniture and a woodland color palate. Bathrooms are outfitted in stone tiles and have combination shower-tubs as well as a separate vanity and sink area. Most rooms have a wet bar or kitchenette, and all have microwaves, mini-fridges, and coffeemaker. Many rooms are geared towards families, with Murphy, bunk, and pull-out sofa beds. Some guests complain of tired furnishings.
Water parks, adventure center, multiple restaurants, and snack bars
The two seasonal, outdoor water parks have pools, 150-foot waterslides, four-story play structures with interactive water features, inner-tube slides, wave pool, and a vertical-drop water ride. The 66,000-square-foot indoor water park is open year-round under a glass roof and has the most ambitious features, including a 450-foot-long enclosed looping waterslide, five-story-high rafting ride, huge wave pool, and surf rider. The massive adventure center (accessed with a fee) includes a large arcade, mini-golf course, bowling alley, multi-level laser tag arena, three-story ropes course, and climbing wall. There are also pottery-painting activities for fees depending on the items used (which guests keep as souvenirs).
Each building and water park has an attached snack bar and/or restaurant and bar serving American standards like pizza, pasta, nachos, and ice cream and chips, often for hefty prices. If the water parks aren't enough to burn off the excess calories from the food here, there's also a fitness center with treadmills, circuit machines, and free weights.
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