Master illusionist Rick Wilcox brings two new killer (figuratively speaking, of course) illusions to his eponymous theater, one a “first of its kind in the world” in which he cuts his wife into nine pieces using a Steampunk-inspired contraption specifically created for Wilcox. His other new illusion should have audience members raising their hands with suggestions, as Wilcox will make a member of the audience disappear. According to Wilcox, the process to perfect these high-level illusions, which are carefully timed and choreographed to original music, has taken upwards of three years.
The magical illusions theme extends to Circus World Museum in nearby Baraboo as well, where they have a new “Theatre of Illusion” with twice-daily shows packed with comedy, magic and grand illusions featuring Tristan Crist.
Timbavati Wildlife Park, with its stunning exterior of wildlife murals and towering waterfalls upon entering, offers up-close encounters and interaction with giraffe, zebra, kangaroo, ostrich, leopard, white tiger, impala, lion, camel, antelope, tortoises and more. The petting zoo with exotic baby animals is a popular stop at the park too. Baby-boomers visiting with grandkids will want to take a train ride while there – it’s the vintage train rescued from the old Fort Dells attraction, Old Engine #9.
Steady As You Go at Knuckleheads
The adage “don’t look down” doesn’t hold up when referring to the new ropes course at Knuckleheads Bowling & Indoor Amusement Park. In fact, you’ll want to look down, as this 21-element course is suspended over the center’s go-kart track. The ropes challenges range from easy to tight-rope-like, with both kids and adults fully harnessed from start to finish.
Still Lost on Lost Voyage
The Lost Voyage nighttime boat adventure on the Wisconsin River that includes an eerie hike back into Cold Water Canyon ushers in a new chapter in the ongoing mystery of what happened to the tour boat Badger that purportedly vanished years ago, with chapter two dubbed “Buried Secrets.” Lost Voyage runs nightly May 24 through Labor Day.
Favorite Brews and Brandy
Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. is now bottling its two most popular ales – Rustic Red and Honey Ale. You can pick up six-packs at the restaurant. There’s a new microbrewery in town too – the family-owned Port Huron Brewing Company. Go for a tasting in their Engine House Tap Room outfitted with a 24-foot-long handmade bar top, then purchase your favorites to enjoy at home.
Wollersheim Winery is releasing its first 100% Wisconsin brandy. This “all Wisconsin” spirit is made from estate-grown grapes, distilled in a copper pot and aged for two years in Wisconsin oak barrels right at the winery. Brandy old fashioned, anyone?
If you’re looking for some cheese to go with your beverage, check out the renovation and addition at Market Square Cheese where the grand opening featured a 600-pound wheel of cheese.
Have Fun with Your Food
Alamo Smokehouse opens mid-March in downtown Dells at the bridge. The décor at this one-and-only restaurant is a cross between Alamo-inspired and contemporary rustic Western, with the menu a mix of BBQ and Tex Mex. All the recipes here are original and they’re smoking all the meat on premise – talk about “aroma marketing.” Signature dishes include smoky roasted corn chowder and BBQ brisket pizza and, for dessert, a special treat made by a local chocolatier comprised of layers of chocolate and caramel topped with a sprinkling of smoked sea salt. The restaurant has seating for 400 and is open seven days a week.
The delivery of food by miniature toy trains proved so popular at Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille that they’ve added more trains and tracks.
Dynasty Chinese Restaurant & Lounge opened next door to the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory. Here you can choose from an extensive menu that includes a buffet, house specials and family dinner options, plus fortune cookies of course.
Every Day’s a Picnic
Yogi Bear™ Camp-Resort & Water Playground is bringing a 1950’s classic cartoon to life with a daily re-creation of Ranger Smith chasing Yogi Bear around the resort stealing campers ‘pic-a-nic’ baskets. Guests there will also have the opportunity to pan for “gold” at the new Old Faceful Mining Company.
Bunk Overnight in an Airstream or a Caboose
Ever imagine what it would be like to spend the night in one of those iconic Airstream travel trailers? Now you can give it a try at Bowman’s Oak Hill Bed & Breakfast, where they’ve completely restored a 1973 Argosy travel trailer, complete with large deck and draped outdoor cabana with side-by-side antique claw-foot soaking tubs.
Parkway Motel, located a few blocks off the main downtown avenue, is converting a retired Soo Line train caboose into a hotel room. It’s a fitting addition to the property which also includes the Rail Dog eatery which serves Chicago Vienna hot dogs out of a, you guessed it, converted caboose.
Stand Up Paddleboarding in the Dells
The hottest watersport on the coasts, stand up paddleboarding (SUP for short), comes to Wisconsin Dells courtesy of Dells Watersports: Full Service Marina & Boat Rentals with lessons and tours offered by the outfitter on both Mirror Lake and Lake Delton. They’ve also stocked up on kayaks made specifically for kids 110 pounds and under. If you want to SUP on the Wisconsin River, Holiday Shores Watersports is now offering board rentals too.
Get Pretty, Get Married
Spa Del Sol and Pink Nail Bar at Chula Vista Resort has bridal party written all over it. Enjoy food and a favorite cocktail while getting fingernails and toenails buffed and polished.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind place for the wedding ceremony, the photo opps are endless at the Dells Bells Wedding Chapel where they’ve added a steeple, bell tower (couples ring the bell on their way to their new life together) and Las Vegas sign replica.
If you don’t care to drive after the “I do’s” then reserve the 25-passenger party shuttle from Wisconsin Dells Kangaroo Taxi.
If you aren't getting married, but still want to pamper yourself, St. Clare Healthy Living Center offers medically based wellness therapies like aromatherapy, Reiki and craniosacral therapy plus non-invasive body contouring and medical hypnosis.
Turn at the Temple
The freestanding Lost Temple attraction looks like a Mayan temple, making it hard to miss. Inside, you’ll go in search of the Golden Skull, with surprises and illusions aplenty.
News from Down on the Farm
Country Bumpkin Farm Market has added a petting zoo and a new play village where kids can ride pedal tractors and play in a miniature house and church. Their Express Train Ride offers a 30-minute ride around their 30 acres. In the fall, pick your own pumpkins and try out the melon launching catapult.
Another agri-tourism attraction, this one new to the area, is DiMarti Family Farms, with corn maze, barnyard petting zoo, corn slingshots and pumpkin patch.
Finally, happy anniversary to the International Crane Foundation which turns 40 this year, Capone's Original Old Time Picture Studio also celebrating 40 years and the Mid-Continent Railway Museum which turns 50 this year. Sundara Inn & Spa celebrates its 10th
anniversary with the opening of its conversation-free Tranquility Garden patio adjacent to the heated outdoor infinity pool.
Fans of Wisconsin Dells will find everything they need to plan their trip, including listings of waterparks, attractions, restaurants, shops, campgrounds, hotels and resorts and more, by logging on to the official tourism web site for the area, www.wisdells.com. The toll-free number for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau is (800) 223-3557.