The indoor water park phenomenon started in Wisconsin Dells in 1994 and spread throughout the Midwest, including Illinois (and eventually across the US and beyond, soon thereafter). It only makes sense. Why should we be restricted to riding water slides and enjoying wave pools during summer's short window? And if it is overcast or rainy? No problem! The weatherproof parks are always a balmy 78 degrees or so and are protected from the elements.
There are a few indoor water park resorts with attached hotels as well as standalone parks around the state, which follow. The parks are listed in alphabetical order.
Great Wolf, which started in Wisconsin Dells, operates the largest chain of indoor water park resorts. It bought the former Key Lime Cove Water Paradise Resort and converted it into a Great Wolf Lodge. in 2018. Great Wolf renovated and expanded the indoor water park as well as other parts of the resort.
At 80,000 square feet, the indoor water park is a little larger than average, although not as big as some of the mammoth parks in the Dells and elsewhere. The water park is is open exclusively for the use of registered hotel guests and admission is included in the room rates.
Among the attractions are two family raft rides, a bowl slide, a lazy river, a wave pool, an activity pool, body slides, tube slides, an interactive water play complex, and activities for young children. During the warmer months, guests can frolic in an outdoor activity pool. In addition to the water park attractions, Great Wolf offers mini golf, bowling, a mining activity, a ropes course, a large arcade with redemption games, the Magic Quest interactive adventure, and a climbing wall. The resort also has activities such as character greetings, story time, and pajama parties.
Great Wolf Lodge features over 400 rooms and suites. The resort offers a spa, a fitness center, and a number of restaurants
Grizzly Jack's comparatively small indoor water park is open to registered hotel guests (and included with room rates) as well as to the general public. Attractions include water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, an interactive water play center with a huge tipping water bucket, and activities for young children. The resort also includes a small indoor amusement park with a rock wall, a zip line, and other things to do.
Operated by the Bollingbrook Park District, the small park offers both outdoor water park attractions (in the summer) and an indoor park that is open all year long. The indoor attractions include two water slides, a slide for young children, small tipping buckets, a lap pool, a zero-depth entry pool, and a hot tub. It also offers party rooms.
The 31,000-square-foot park is relatively small. Unlike many indoor water parks, it is not connected to a hotel. Pirate’s Cay is, however, part of Orange Lake Country Club. Members of the club pay a reduced fee to enter, but tickets are available for the general public. Attractions include four water slides, a lazy river, and a pirate-themed water play center with a tipping bucket. The park also offers an arcade and a party room for birthdays and other events. Dining options include a Subway and a bar that serves drinks as well as snacks.
Like Pelican Harbor, The Water Works is a small, municipal park operated by the Schaumburg Park District. Activities include three water slides, a rapid water channel, a whirlpool, a sprayground, a diving pool, a lap pool, and a zero-entry pool.