Haha - small world - we are leaving for the Dells in about 2 hours, after I finish work!
I have been going there most of my life. That is my dad's hometown and my cousins were the original owners of Noah's Ark (sold it in the 90s I think) and then built/own Buffalo Phils Grille and Knuckleheads (a mini indoor theme park and huge arcade that that is attached to the restaraunt).
Do your research about hotels. Visit tripadvisor.com and see what others think.
The Wilderness, Great Wolf, Chula Vista, Kalahari, and Hotel Rome/Mt. Olympus are the 5 places that have the largest waterparks, (actually each have several - both indoor and outdoor ones, too!) - BUT (this is just my opinion and a different perspective) - if you don't want to spend a fortune on a hotel room the first few days of your vacation just to get waterpark wristbands, there ARE cheaper places to stay. The tourist-populated area is not very large so if you have to drive from your hotel to the waterpark it's going to be a quick commute.
For our trip we're going to stay at Amber's Hideaway the next few nights. It's owned by a local townie couple, has good reviews, and with our stay we get free wristbands to the Chula Vista waterparks for the trip! It's my first time staying at this place, so I will give a followup review with what I think. I've also stayed at the Dells Park Motel a few times. They often throw in free wristbands to the Wilderness water parks with your stay. Now, both of these hotels aren't anywhere near as fancy at the big ones, but if you will be out doing stuff the entire time and just sleeping there, it's suits your needs just fine.
Fun places for kids, in Wisc Dells and nearby:
-Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisc. http://circusworld.wisconsinhistory.org/
It's about 10 miles from the downtown Dells. It's just what the name says: a fully operational circus year-around and a really cool museum with a HUGE collection of vintage parade circus cars, posters, etc. Interesting for both kids and parents! Kids 5 and under are free!
-Obviously, any of the waterparks.
Noah's Ark is probably the biggest and most developed. http://www.noahsarkwaterpark.com/ pretty busy during the prime summer vacation months (as they all are!), but still tons of fun! There are several play areas for smaller children and some really crazy waterslides for older kids/parents.
-For the indoor waterparks, I think the Wilderness is the best of bunch. They have THREE inside ones, plus the inside park with the wave pool has this cool roof that allows you to actually get a tan inside year round!
-Knuckleheads http://www.dellsknuckleheads.com/ would be fun for all your kids - there is stuff for a variety of ages. Buffalo Phils Grille (attached) is tasty and your food is delivered by a little train - my little girls (5 1/2 and almost 3) think this is amazing, lol.
-For a greasy but tasty breakfast, try Denny's Dinner. It's not the chain Dennys - a local place. It is sort of like a 50s dinner but has crazy eclectic decorations all over the place. My girls love looking at all the stuff while they wait for their food.
-Another GREAT place for breakfast on Sundays, especially in the summer is the Thunder Valley Inn http://www.thundervalleyinn.com/. You get entertained with a folk music/sing along show during your meal and it's a super tasty homemade Scandinavian breakfast - their Swedish pancakes are SOOOOO good!!!!!! Thunder Valley is actually a bed and breakfast/farm and they have a small local farmer's market going on Sundays during the summer and the kids can also feed and pet the farm animals. I'd say this is one of my favorite places to visit!
-If you want to go out for Pizza, I like Pizza Villa. My cousins and aunt (they still live there) order from them probably every time we visit them. Really good local place! Located in the downtown area. http://www.wisconsindellspizzavilla.com/
-I agree with 4dogs2kids about the Wisconsin Ducks. The scenery is gorgeous on the Wisconsin River. The tickets a bit overpriced though, to be honest. But so are a lot of the Dells attractions.
-When you are looking for a great suite for your 7 year old, I recommend the Great Wolf Lodge. It feels like you are staying in a fancy log cabin and some of them have a mini cabin area with bunk beds for the kids. They all have a fireplace, too. There are also suites with a loft area - your 7 year old could stay in the loft and have a bed/sleeping area all to herself! Another reason why she probably love staying here is you could surprise her with a visit to the Kids Spa they have in the hotel, she can get a mani/pedi and/or facial and a coupon for free icecream too! There is a deal where mom and daughter can even go together.
Well there is much more to share but I have to finish some work stuff. If you have any questions or want to know more, hit me up on here or you can always email me at email@example.com. Whatever you decide to do or wherever you decide to stay, I hope your family has a blast!