Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wilderness at the Smokies

As I mentioned before, we spent this past weekend at the Wilderness at the Smokies. It a fabulous resort and we take any opportunity we can to spend time there.

The girls were out of school for parent-teacher conferences on Friday, so we checked in on Thursday afternoon. Since we were missing our Fun Friday Dunkin Donuts trip, Caroline wanted to do it on Thursday morning. Steve was off, so I thought it would be a great idea to include Daddy in our little tradition! 

Silly face selfies!

Steve and I took both girls to their respective schools, then hit up the gym for our rare workouts together. After the gym, we showered and packed up the car and decided to get Caroline out of school a little early. Ella Kate's preschool gets out at 1:30, so we signed Caroline out at 1 and let her surprise Ella Kate (and her old preschool teachers!) at pick up time. 

Then we were off! 

Caroline had some leftover donuts for her road trip snack! 

Check in time!

This is the closest Ella Kate would get to the bear...

My nephew Tanner takes a college class in Sevierville on Thursdays, so as soon as we finished check in, he came and hung out with us in between classes. Now that he's in college, it's so rare to spend time with him, so this was a real treat!

I went down to the Mountain Marketplace and ordered some sandwiches for lunch. And tried my hardest to resist all these treats...

The girls were chomping at the bit to hit up the water park, so we went there after Tanner left to go to his next class. I wish I had stopped on the way in to town to get some groceries to bring with us, but in our hurry, I didn't. That meant we couldn't spend as much time in the water park as any of us would've liked, but it was enough to slide on all the slides and play in the wave pool for a while.

Paco, our hotel mascot. He was on loan from Parrot Mountain

We spent the end of our first night at the grocery store and eating our dinner back in the room. We ordered take out from one of our very favorite Sevierville restaurants, Smoky Mountain Brewery. As much as we love it there, we were so exhausted that it was fabulous just to eat it in the comfort of our hotel room.

The next morning involved a quick breakfast and we headed to the water park. 

Lunch was pretzels and Icees by the pool! I had luckily brought some snacks with us to tide Steve and I over until dinner, but we both enjoyed a few bites of pretzel in all its buttery gloriousness. 

They have this super cool attraction called Surf Riders that my girls just love. Truthfully, I really want to do it, too. I wish they let you stand up like I see people do on those Royal Caribbean commercials, but you have to stay on your belly at Wilderness. 

Ella Kate was a natural! Even performing a few little tricks out there:


Showing off her surf muscles...

Then it was time to dry off and try out the Wilderness Adventure Forest

The Wilderness Adventure Forest is a large arcade, with some pretty fantastic extras to go along with it. In addition to the arcade, the Forest offers a ropes course, bowling, laser tag, mini golf, rock climbing, a laser obstacle course, a spring ride, and an indoor playhouse. Everything here has a fee attached (except the playhouse), but a play pass can be purchased to cover the cost for the day or for your entire stay. We didn't do that this time (we just put some money on a card and let the girls play arcade games until the card ran out), but we plan to do all the activities we can next time we're there. Caroline did remember the ropes course from last time, however, so we did pay a la carte to let her try that all on her own. 

The girls racked up the tickets! 

Ella Kate looks petrified, but trust me, she loved this thing! Until she realized it didn't give her any tickets...

Since we were already dried off, we decided to call it a day and head out to dinner at Mellow Mushroom. We love the pizzas here! 

When we came home, we all got in our jammies and watched some TV. Then this happened. I DID NOT want to let her go! 

Saturday was Steve's mom's birthday, so we went to Knoxville for lunch with her. When we got back to our hotel, our key didn't work. 


Daddy to the rescue!

We got dressed in a hurry and headed back to the Wild Water Dome. 

Big thanks to Steve for not telling me my hair was crazy...

The first day we were there we got to hang out with my nephew, then on Saturday, my niece Tatum (far right) and her best friend Briana were able to come up and stay with us. The little girls LOVED having the big girls with them!

Again, hair fail. It's a water park. What can you do?

The big girls wanted to try out the Surf Rider. The lifeguards offered them a shirt to wear. I have a feeling it was for modesty's sake, but the girls thought it was cool to wear the lifeguard shirt. 

Apparently it's easier for the younger kids...

We had the best time! We live fairly close to the Wilderness, so we go as often as we can, but I still think it's worth the effort to get there. We have the best time there, and it's a great family resort!

Here are some tips and trips to make your stay there the best it can be:

*Bring your own food. My only real complaint about the Wilderness is that their food is rather sub par (or maybe I'm just used to Disney's outstanding food options) and I just prefer to have my own tastier and healthier food. And I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for food that isn't worth it. That being said, the sub sandwiches we got in the Marketplace were very Subway-ish and tasty. I could've eaten those every day. In fact, Steve and I decided that next time we plan to stay at the resort almost completely. I'm sure we'll have to go to Smoky Mountain Brewery at least once, though. If only they delivered...

*Bring your own beach towels. They offer some, so if you forget it's no big deal, but I prefer my own. The ones they give you are small and scratchy, so I like my large, plush ones. I think the ones they offer would be good to wrap your hair in or to squeeze water out of your bathing suits and such things, but I wouldn't want to wrap up in them. 

* If you decide to do the Wilderness Adventure Forest, buy the "All Stay" Adventure Pass. Definitely worth it!

*Keep in mind that you have to wear full shoes if you want to do the ropes course. Toes and heels must be covered. Caroline wore a pair of Keens, and they were perfect to go from water park to arcade. Ella Kate wore strappy Chaco-style shoes, and they wouldn't let her do it. She made me promise to bring her full shoes next time! Lesson learned! We didn't do the bowling alley, but they may require full shoes and/or socks, so keep that in mind. 

* If you can swing it, spend as much time there on weekdays. Weekend days are much more crowded than weekdays. 

* I really wish I had a camera that could go in the water. If you have one, bring it with you! Every time we all went down the slides together, I wished I had a camera to capture the moment. 

If you have any questions about the resort, leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer them! 

It's hump day, y'all!! Almost time for the weekend, baby!

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