We just got back from Wisconsin Dells. It was our pre-spring break vacation as I am working during that week. We were gone for 3 days and 2 nights with our friends and their kids and had a great time! I have to share our experience as we saved a ton of money. As you know, I tend to do things differently – the road less traveled and all that. I think if you travel this road with me, you will agree that the road less traveled is a better choice.

We stayed at the Wilderness Territory. Although we have been to many of the waterparks in the Dells, we have never stayed there before. You really get your monies worth! There are 4 indoor waterparks (plus 4 outdoor) at Wilderness Territory that include a 70,000 sq. ft. wave pool, three different 4-person rides, multiple tube rides, body slides, a lazy river and several zero-depth baby/toddler areas. They also have a giant (dry) climbing thing (think McDonald’s playland times 10) that our kids (ages 14-7) enjoyed. All of that came in the price of the room.They had TONS of other things to do there for an additional cost, like 3-D mini golf, arcades, laser tag and more, but we really didn’t have time to get to those things.

We stayed in a 3 bedroom condo on the lake that sleeps 14. We had 10 people with us so there was lots of room. It had a full kitchen, 2 baths, 5 beds and 2 sleeper sofas, a 4 person hot tub in a lanai, 2 fireplaces, 5 TVs, a washer/dryer and plenty of sitting areas. The upstairs had a loft that the 4 girls took over. I think the place was over 2000 sq. feet. We had a great view of Lake Delton. The room cost us $850.00 for the 2 nights. Costly? Not really. If you split it between the 2 families – it was $425.00 or $212.50 a night. The regular room rate – 2 queen beds in a normal sized hotel room (400 sq. ft.) was $275.00 per night.

We brought and cooked all our own food. Between the 2 families, we brought up $400.00 worth of food and drink. Sound like a lot? Not really if you compare it to buying everything there. For example, we brought and consumed 2 cases of water – 48 bottles. For 10 people, that is less than 5 bottles each over 3 days. The water cost $3.00 each at the Waterpark ($144.00 for 48) or $8.00 for all 48 bottles that we brought with us. We also fed 10 people 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners, including alcohol and other drinks for  the kids and snacks. Based on the menus in the restaurants/waterparks, we calculated that it would cost us $1400.00.That is $140.00 per person for 2 1/2 days of food, drinks and snacks. By bringing our own food, we spent $40.00 per person for 2 1/2 days of food, drinks and snacks. By the way, we stopped at McDonalds on the way to the waterpark. It was $40.00 for our family of 5 and it wasn’t very healthy.

The food we brought was much healthier (9 different fruits, 7 different veggies, homemade pizzas with fresh veggies and homemade marinara sauce and meatballs – no Ragu for this mom!) in addition to less expensive. We know what was in the food our kids were eating and controlled the amount of junk they ate. Have you seen the options at the waterpark restaurants? Nachos, pizza, giant pretzels, softdrinks! Don’t get me wrong. I am not a crazy mom that forbids “fun foods”. I just believe in everything in moderation and just because you are on vacation, doesn’t mean you have to eat like you are going to the chair.

Think my calculations are off? Check it out next time you go to the waterpark.