What's new in the Dells for 2011
The start of summer vacation season is just a few weeks away and once again, the businesses of Wisconsin Dells are gearing up for a big year.
A recent TripAdvisor.com contest ranked the Dells as the second-best family vacation destination in the United States, behind only Anaheim, Calif. The winners were determined by the number of reviews from those traveling with family.
Whether it's the thrill of waterslides, a quiet weekend in the woods or a few rounds of golf, the Dells offers something for everyone, regardless of age.
Here's a look at what's new in the Dells for 2011.
Goin' retro with Tommy Bartlett
Today, the numerous Dells-area water parks get most of the attention but without Tommy Bartlett, the Dells wouldn't be the Dells we know and love today.
For 60 years, visitors of all ages have been wowed by the Tommy Bartlett Show and this year, the show turns back the clock.
The nation's longest-running outdoor show is getting back to its roots this season, in large part by audience demand. During the 2008 season, when flood waters drained Lake Delton, the show moved completely on land.
The shows became more thematic and incorporated a lot of story-telling and, while well-received, customers wanted to see the fast-paced act full of dazzling ski acts they'd grown accustomed to over the years.
"They really took that to heart," says Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau Marketing and Communications Director Melanie Platt-Gibson. "They created this brand-new show which is really the quintessential 'Tommy Bartlett Show experience'."
You'll see all the classics: long-distance jumping, helicopter spins, swivel lines and more. Plus, you'll see a variety of retro costumes, some dating all the way back to the 1950s.
"Everything you've come to know and love over the years is back in the lineup this year," Platt-Gibson says.
For tickets and more information, visit tommybartlett.com.
Get lost in mystery
Taking cues from "The Blair Witch Project" and "LOST," the popular Dells Boat Tour has added a new adventure called "The Lost Voyage."
The nighttime cruise is one part sightseeing and one part murder mystery theater, incorporating the legend of a tour boat, the Badger, that was lost without a trace decades ago. As the story goes, a group of teenagers discovered the boat in a marshy area near Cold Water Canyon.
Passengers on the 1.5-hour excursion are given a series of questions which, when answered correctly, provide another clue to solving the mystery. Once the questions have been answered, the passenger gets a code to enter online. Solve the mystery, win a prize.
Lost Voyage begins Memorial Day weekend and will run nightly through Labor Day beginning at 8:30 p.m. though departure times will vary depending on sunset times. Advance reservations are encouraged. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students 11 or younger.
For more information or to purchase tickets, check out dellslostvoyage.com.
Who's got the garlic?
It doesn't have the appeal of Noah's Ark, but Ripley's Believe it or Not is a longtime Dells tradition – and a guilty pleasure among repeat visitors.
"We hear all the time from people who say they can't come to the Dells without stopping at Ripley's," Platt-Gibson says.
Visitors this year will experience a first-of-its-kind exhibit for the Ripley's brand focusing on vampires. The exhibit is derived from the popularity of "Twilight" and "The Vampire Diaries"and features and interactive coffin with vampire trivia and secret passage ways that lead you to other parts of the 800-square foot exhibit.
Of course, if vampires aren't your thing and you couldn't care less about Jacob or Edward (ask your teenage daughter), you can still see favorites like Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man, Bug Eye Man and Parrot Man.
If you're a regular visitor to the Dells and like to stick with tradition, you'll be happy to know that the classics haven't gone anywhere.
- The largest fleet of World War II-era land-to-water craft – better known to us as "the Ducks" – still shuttle visitors through the scenic portions of the Dells, down the Wisconsin River and across Lake Delton.
- The Dells has 325 holes of mini golf, more than anywhere else in the state, including Pirate's Cove and Timber Falls.
- Not far from the Dells, Circus World Museum is home to the world's largest collection of antique circus wagons.
Save a few bucks
You can find additional deals by visiting one of the two Wisconsin Dells Visitor's and Convention Bureau locations (31 Meadowview Lane in Lake Delton or 701 Superior Street Downtown) and pick up a coupon value book. You can get a Dells Deal Card by calling 1-800-22-DELLS or visiting wisdells.com and ordering the Dells Vacation Planner.
Don't forget to have your old timey family portraits taken at Vintage Photos!
William?? Try Jacob. And from Vampire Diaries: Stefan or Damon.
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