Nothing makes Wisconsin Dells fans happier than waterpark resort news, so let’s start there as we bring you the full rundown of all that new for 2017.
Mt. Olympus Pool Looks and Feels like the Tropics
The Great Pool of Delphi at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park opened to rave reviews from swimmers and sun worshipers. This $4 million expansion includes a 27,000 square foot swimming area, four islands, several beach entrances, cabanas, kids splash pad, geyser, and a massive 50-foot waterfall. All of which make it the largest swimming pool in the Dells.
Kalahari Resort Goes Big with New Outdoor Slide
What would happen if you crossed the Behemoth Bowl and Tornado Wave at Kalahari Resort Waterparks? You’d get The Smoke that Thunders, the new hybrid bowl-and-funnel waterslide in the resort’s outdoor waterpark. At 400 feet long with a 55-foot drop, this four-person waterslide stands to be a big thrill. Riders will barrel through twisting tunnels before whooshing into a huge bowl high on a wall for maximum thrills. There’s even a zero gravity moment as the tube is swept across the wall before sliding through a narrow exit. Interesting side note, the name of the ride is taken from a nickname used by Zimbabweans to describe an area of Victoria Falls where billowing clouds of mist rise up.
The Kalahari Resort also has dry-land news, with the addition of a major virtual reality game, The Arena, where your body is the controller. When you move, the game moves with you for a feeling of full immersion. Six people can play this game at once, spreading out over 2,200 square feet.
Indoor Play Park at Wilderness Resort Geared to Little Kiddos
Kids 12 and under are in for a real treat at the Wilderness Resort with the opening of their new Timberland Play Park. At four stories tall and with 2,500 square feet, this cube-like play structure has enough slides, swings, tunnels, bridges, climbs and crawls – 39 in all - to satisfy the energy and imagination of young visitors to the resort. Parents of toddlers will appreciate the separate gated area for those four years of age and younger.
Also appealing to families with younger children, ages five to 10 to be exact, is the third and newest room escape from D.O.A Room Escapes at the Wilderness on the Lake. This one has a circus theme, a nod to the Ringling Brothers Circus founded in nearby Baraboo back in 1884, and entertains up to six people at a time. Players solve riddles and puzzles on the way to escaping.
Lego-Lovers Will Be on The Edge of Their Seats
The 4D Dive-In Theater at Noah’s Ark Waterpark has a new feature film for 2017 – “The Lego Movie 4D: A New Adventure,” starring Risky Business, the devious brother of President Business. Lego fans will absolutely love this Brick World animated tale turned sensory fest, with water spritzes and wind blasts timed to what’s happening on the screen.
Downtown Attracts More Fun
There’s new fun at every turn at Wild Fun Zone, including a laser maze, huge arcade, and a free interactive digital floor game. There’s also space upstairs now for birthday parties and group gatherings. Their building downtown is easy to spot - it’s the one with the giant gorilla atop it. In other attraction news, a new interactive “bizarre art gallery” is opening at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. Over at Wizard Quest, they’re adding five new quests to choose from, including one that tells the back story of the characters Delzar and Havoc.
Gaming Just Got Better
Ho-Chunk Gaming, Wisconsin Dells committed $40 million to property renovations including a new hotel main entrance, lobby, and restaurant services. They’re also expanding the non-smoking casino area and renovating the bingo area. All of which should make gaming-goers very happy.
Largest Expansion Ever at Cascade Mountain
Cascade Mountain Ski, Snowboard & Snow Tube has plowed $9 million into two new lifts, eight new trails with special appeal for intermediate-level skiers and snowboarders, additional snowmaking equipment, and an expanded main lodge. One of those new lifts allows greater access to skiing terrain at the top of the hill to make for some extra frosty fun.
Scenic River Walk Offers Stories of the Dells
The Scenic River Walk, with entrance right downtown, has been expanded and features 10 new museum-quality historic markers along the way that chronicle the story of the Dells, from ancient roots and Native American history to the famed photography of H.H. Bennett and the advent of modern tourism.
Ag Tourism Sized for Little Ones
What little kid isn’t fascinated by those big John Deere combines. At Country Bumpkin Farm Market & Lil’ Bumpkin Play Village, a full-size, 12-foot tall John Deere combine has been “retired” as a piece of playground equipment, completely retrofitted so it’s kid-safe. Children can climb into the cab and pretend to drive before sliding down one of two slides. Little visitors will love stopping at the petting farm too to see the baby animals.
This is the Year for Golf
With the U.S. Open coming to the state this year, the talk of golf in Wisconsin is at fever pitch. Wisconsin Dells offers some news of its own on the golf front, starting at Fairfield Hills Golf Course & Driving Range, where they’ve added three holes to become a 12-hole course. The three new holes are long par 4s and offer a challenge for experienced golfers. The trend of 12-hole courses is taking off, giving golfers a new option that doesn’t take long hours to play. Golfers can hit a bucket of balls on the practice range, then golf any multiple of three holes.
Trappers Turn Golf Club has completed a full renovation of greenside bunkers on all 27 holes. Bunkers have been reshaped to their original size and a new type of high-quality sand has replaced the old. This championship course was created by two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North and renowned golf course designer Roger Packard.
For those who like to get out on the river in “quiet craft” like kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards, the new Quiet Craft Launch on the Upper Dells is your happy spot. You can see the launch from the end of the Scenic River Walk at the Illinois Avenue Bridge. Tip: Ply the waters in the early morning when the scene is total tranquility.
New Lodging Choices
Hampton Inn & Suites opens this summer with 100 rooms, one-third of which are large studio suites. Families with little ones will appreciate the indoor zero-depth entry pool with kids play area. Free hot breakfast and free Wi-Fi also come standard.
Woodside Dells Hotel & Suites represents a complete renovation of an existing 50-room hotel, fully remodeled from top to bottom. With four different room styles to choose from, indoor and outdoor pools, plus complimentary continental breakfast, this is an especially nice choice for traveling youth sports teams playing at one of the area sports complexes.
Wine with a View
As if the experience at Baraboo Bluff Winery wasn’t scenic enough already, the owners have put the finishing touches on a new and larger building with tasting bars and outdoor patio, affording the most amazing views of their hillside vineyard with the Baraboo bluffs providing a spectacular backdrop.
Pizzas and Shakes, Yes Please!
Take charge of your pizza at Dells Pizza Lab, where you decide exactly what sauce and toppings you’d like before the pizza is baked in a massive stone-hearth oven. Surprisingly, this custom-creation approach takes five minutes or less. Salads can be customized too.
It didn’t take long for word to spread about the incredible shakes at family-owned B-LUX Grill & Bar. The flavors range from the traditional standards to more adventurous concoctions like the namesake donut shake made with Nutella, a glazed donut, chocolate sauce and sprinkles. There are even hard shakes for the grown-ups. First you’ll want to try something from their extensive menu of signature burgers and big plates. When the weather’s nice, take advantage of the outdoor seating and live evening entertainment. Or stop in to watch the big game – there are 14 HDTVs in the restaurant and bar.
A Little Nerd in All of Us
It’s the philosophy of the owners of the new Ye Ole Nerd Shop that we all have a little nerd in us, whether you’re a Star Wars enthusiast, a Harry Potter devotee, or Japanese anime aficionado. Thus the name of this new store. Here shoppers will find fandom-related items, like bobblehead figurines, games, and plush toys.
Take a Selfie with Tubie
Our spokestube, Tubie, gets major exposure in the Dells this year thanks to selfie-inducing statues in his likeness. The first one was installed at the Wilderness Resort in their Wild Water Dome. Look for more Tubie statues to pop up at other waterparks around town. When you take that selfie – and trust us, you won’t be able to resist - be sure to share using #LovetheDells.