Looking for activities to entertain a group of younger kids or teenagers? Well look no further. Wisconsin Dells is home to a variety of attractions and activities that are sure to entertain kids of all ages.
The area has long been a favorite recreation spot for student groups, with the main draws being the loads of attractions and the river that carved a path right through the community. But in recent years, the Dells, as it’s referred to by loyalists, has made the leap from regional find to national monument. The reason? Its growing reputation as “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®”
Let’s get right to the must-do and that’s ride and slide your way through a favorite waterpark or two. Outdoors, it would be impossible to choose between Noah’s Ark Waterpark and Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Parks, so make time for both. At Noah’s Ark, their looping waterslide called Scorpion’s Tail is the largest in the world. At Mt. O (that’s what the locals call it), crash through the nine-foot waves of their Poseidon’s Rage surf pool.
There are a handful of indoor waterparks too, all housed at resorts that are nearly destinations unto themselves: Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center, Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, Chula Vista Resort and Great Wolf Lodge. Water roller coasters, wild funnel rides, racing slides, even a surf machine at the Kalahari rank high on the adrenaline-inducing chart.
Amusement parks come in the outdoor and indoor varieties as well. Let’s start with outdoors. Timber Falls Adventure Park has two attractions that are noteworthy – their 70-degree banked and crazy-fast Hellcat roller coaster and their end-over-end Skyscraper ride that pulls four Gs at 60 mph 160 feet off the ground. At Mt. Olympus, all their roller coasters are a scream, but top prize goes to Hades, a wooden coaster made diabolically fun with a 65-degree drop, the world’s longest underground tunnel and speeds up to 70 mph.
Moving to indoor amusement parks, the Kalahari Indoor Theme Park is a featured spot. Check out their elevated go-kart track, rock climbing wall, ropes course and laser tag. Wild Fun Zone downtown has also become a popular option for weatherproof fun with their large arcade, bumper cars, laser tag and black light mini golf. And if adventure is the ticket for your little ones, there’s Knuckleheads Bowling & Indoor Amusement Park.
Speaking of those of you traveling with little ones, Wisconsin Deer Park is worth a stop. At the deer park, which opened 60 years ago, kids can feed the freely roaming deer, some still with their doe spots, others with huge antlers. From the historic to the new: Timbavati Wildlife Park recently opened the doors to their brand new zoo where you can view rare and impressive wildlife from across the globe. While you’re there, be sure to hop aboard the Safari Train where you can get a close-up look at the animals and even feed the giraffes. Another attraction that should be on every nature-lovers’ schedule is the International Crane Foundation, a restored nature sanctuary and the only place in the world where you can see all 15 species of those majestic birds. New this year is their live “chick cam” offering a rare glimpse at the endangered Whooping Crane chicks, a sight once only granted to trained staff wearing crane costumes. While we’re on the animal theme, we’d be remised not to mention Lost Canyon Tours which offers its own version of the “magnificent mile” – a ride through the narrow gorges of the canyon in a quaint horse-drawn wagon.
Or, be sure and check out the circus at Circus World in nearby Baraboo. The grounds here were the original winter home of the Ringling Bros. Today, visitors can still take in 10 different shows performed daily during the warm weather months and gaze upon the world’s largest collection of restored parade wagons.
Other activities that are sure to keep your group entertained include mini-golfing, go-karting, bowling and horseback riding. The Dells also offers two full-size quest-style games that blend elements of the most popular video games with wizard movies – they’re called MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge and Wizard Quest located downtown. If anyone in the group likes magic, they should take a seat at the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater or Jeremy Allen’s Grand Illusions show. For hands-on exploration, it’s none other than a Wisconsin Dells staple, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory – Interactive Science Center which covers 150 hands-on exhibits including the Original Russian Space Station MIR and NASA’s Mercury Space Capsule.
One evening has to be set aside to see the Tommy Bartlett Show which has been entertaining guests rain or shine for over 60 years. After the show, visit downtown for some homemade fudge or a candy-loaded caramel apple or giant sucker at one of the many confection shops.
While in town be sure to check out the work of the landscape photographer, inventor & promoter who “made Wisconsin Dells famous” at H.H. Bennett Studio. Tour Bennett’s 1875 photography studio and experience the 3-D effect of Bennett’s stereo photographs. Learn how Bennett brought visitors to Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells) and see how tourism grew in the community. If the photos get you wishing to see the beautiful bluffs in person, a tour of the Wisconsin River is a must. You can head out on a Duck, an amphibious WWII vehicle that gives you a little land travel with your water tour. Choose from the Original Wisconsin Ducks® or Dells Army Duck Tours. Or you can relax aboard a double-decker boat for a scenic tour down the river to take in the peaceful, natural beauty that has brought visitors to Wisconsin Dells for over 150 years. Some offer you shore landings to explore the gorges and see a trained dog make the famous Stand Rock jump from one bluff outcropping to another. Other aqua tour options include jet boats and paddle wheeler tours.
After experiencing all Wisconsin Dells has to offer, we’re sure your group will have worked up an appetite. Many locations accommodate larger groups and are kid-friendly. For breakfast, stop by Paul Bunyan’s Northwoods Cook Shanty. Pizza Pub is known for its buffet, Monk’s Bar & Grill for its famous burgers, Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille for its great southwestern flair and Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. for its delicious pizza.
Planning is a breeze when you use the community’s official website, wisdells.com. Here you can check out local events, great local deals and promotions, area information and even plan your entire vacation. For personal planning help and additional information you can also call (800) 223-3557. Wisconsin Dells, “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®”
Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau