Fun in the Winter Sun
Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort "Wild Waterdome"
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Dells region is famous for its indoor waterparks, but while the area offers aquatic adventures in the dead of winter, no one heads there in January with the hope of working on their suntan.
That is until the new "Wild Waterdome" opened at the Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort. With its unique UV-permeable roof system, the facility is only the second structure of its kind in the nation, and is one of the best atmospheric aquatic spaces designed to date.
"This is one of the most exciting projects I've worked on," said Ray Bolton of Architectural Design Consultants Inc. "The reaction has been fabulous.
We have other waterpark developers approaching us wanting to use these materials on other projects."
When Wilderness approached Architectural Design Consultants with a request to enclose their existing outdoor wave pool and kiddy pool areas for year-round use, they had several items on their wish list. They wanted a natural feeling, a day-lit environment for an inviting year-round wave pool experience. It was important that the indoor facility have plenty of deck space, as well as retractable walls to create an indoor/outdoor park for the summer season.
The resort insisted the slides and associated pools be designed so they could be enjoyed during all four seasons. It also requested private cabanas with individual climate-controlled environments available for rent in the park.
At the same time, it was critical that the indoor facility blend into the existing resort's visual environment by continuing the rustic resort theme. Any plans also had to provide an air-conditioned restaurant and bar space overlooking the indoor wave pool and adjacent outdoor waterpark.
Fortunately, Wisconsin-based Architectural Design Consultants was up to the challenge. The firm fulfilled the resort's wish list—and then some.
Architects worked with the Wilderness to maximize daylight by utilizing a transparent roof system and a retractable window wall. This allows full ultraviolet (UV) light transference, so all the tanning and health benefits of natural light can be enjoyed in the balmy 85-degree environment regardless of the outdoor temperature. For patrons, it's a delightful treat in the midst of an unforgiving Wisconsin winter.
"You can always see the sun shining," said Heidi Fendos, the park's spokesperson. "Even on overcast days, you still feel like you're outside."
Designing such a unique structure, however, was not without its obstacles. The facility had to be built in the midst of a vast complex of an existing hotel, outdoor waterpark and condominiums. Construction was completed in the winter months, when the outdoor decks were not in use, so as to eliminate any guest disruption.
The HVAC design required innovation as well. Summer operation utilized 100 percent untreated outside air, while seasonably dry outside air during winter operation is preheated and mixed with the warm, humid pool room return-air to provide a comfortable relative humidity level throughout.
In addition to addressing the unique structural challenges, the design ensured patrons would have plenty of amenities to keep themselves entertained. A rustic theme is carried throughout the facility, which also boasts the nation's largest indoor wave pool. Slides that are available to outdoor waterpark users in summer months, for example, interweave with the new enclosure to add vibrancy to the indoor experience.
The massive 70,000-square-foot park also boasts the Dueling Mammoths, a family rafting racing ride. The wild ride allows groups to race against each other through twisting and turning tunnels to see who is the fastest and compete for prizes.
The climate-controlled poolside cabanas are another popular amenity with guests. They offer a haven for toddlers needing a nap or parents who want to watch an important sporting event on the flat-screen televisions. Many families simply cherish the opportunity the cabanas give them to enjoy a picnic lunch together. Other amenities include showers, locker rooms and themed concessions.
All these things combine to give patrons an unforgettable aquatic experience.
"It's been a wonderful addition to the Wilderness," Fendos said. "Everyone who visits it really enjoys it."