Wisconsin Dells area to debut a host of new, expanded attractions in 2021
Already one of the country’s leading regional leisure destinations, the Wisconsin Dells area is positioned well to maintain that popularity in 2021, as plane travel continues to take a backseat to road trip vacations. Fittingly, the destination – which is celebrating its 15th year as “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®” – will offer visitors a host of new or significantly expanded attractions this year, running the gamut from gaming to golf to an internationally renowned wildlife preserve.
Downtown Gets a Facelift
Wisconsin Dells’ famous downtown area will get a facelift this year, with the popular Wizard Quest having moved to a location nearly three times its original size. The interactive gaming emporium will have more secret passages and hidden entrances for guests to explore, along with the addition of a restaurant, gift shop, toy store and ice cream parlor. Between the main quest games and side quests within those, there will be upwards of 32 quests for game-players to solve.
Moving into the building previously occupied by Wizard Quest is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. During the move, Ripley’s will turn over nearly 100% of its exhibits to make way for new ones. In addition, the Wisconsin Dells museum will be the first Ripley’s in the country to offer a personality test so visitors can determine their own personal “style” of weird.
The instantly popular Asgard Axe & Tap axe-throwing attraction has relocated to larger digs a block off Broadway in downtown Wisconsin Dells. There are ten spacious throwing lanes spread out over 8,000 square feet of space. For those seeking a nostalgic gaming experience, Asgard Underworld Arcade & Bar, a vintage arcade gaming venue, will open this spring in their lower-level space.
Downtown Wisconsin Dells will also see enhanced dining options this season. Los Corrales, a new authentic Mexican restaurant, will occupy a 7,000 square foot space just three blocks down Broadway Avenue from the Ripley’s museum. It will feature two stories and two bars with retractable doors that open to the sidewalk, offering a unique indoor/outdoor dining space.
Modern times call for modern means to say “I do,” and the Dells Bells Wedding Chapel rose to the challenge by offering a new drive-up wedding option. Couples can make a reservation for the day of their choice, pull up to the chapel and text them their parking stall number, and the officiant will come out to them, never needing to leave their vehicle.
At Prof. Porter’s Old Time Portraits, they’ve just introduced a new Sherlock Holmes theme, right down to the iconic coat, hat and pipe. A costume that mimics that of his sidekick Watson and fancy dresses favored by women of the Victorian era are also stocked. At Old Abe’s Old Time Portraits, their newest theme is “mermaids,” with a large selection of colorful costumes and headwear for infants through adults.
Aerial Adrenaline Options
Adrenaline seekers will find new options in the Dells area, as well. Chula Vista Resort added Soar Like an Eagle, a 10-story tall dual-racing zipline adventure where guests fly face-forward, superhero-style at speeds of up to 25 mph. This parallel zipline adventure is the longest racing zipline course in the USA. Also new to the Chula Vista Resort complex is a 15-story launch ride called The Ultimate Rush, planned to open Memorial Day weekend. It catapults two riders at a time into the sky before bouncing back to earth. These new amenities and recent resort renovations set the tone nicely as the Kaminski family celebrates 70 years of ownership in 2021.
If virtual soaring over Wisconsin Dells is more your speed, then head over to the Wilderness Resort for their Take Flight indoor attraction, with 2021 marking their first full year of taking visitors on this high-flying in-theater experience. The seats move and your feet dangle, giving the sensation of flight, as imagery of the beautiful Dells’ countryside, and other U.S. landmarks, plays on the massive 65-foot wide by 48-foot high screen.
A Big-Name Short Course
There will also be new attractions for golfers in the Wisconsin Dells area this year, as Trapper’s Turn debuts a unique 12-hole “short course” designed by former U.S. Open winner Andy North. Called 12North, it offers par-3 holes ranging from 50 to 120 yards, with variable tee boxes that allow it to stretch further for scratch players. This highly anticipated addition features large, undulating greens; dramatic elevation changes; and routing over and around craggy limestone ravines, which give it a distinctly Wisconsin Dells flavor.
In addition, Trapper’s Turn will open a fully lit one-acre putting course in mid-summer. The 12-hole putting course holes can even be changed from one day to the next. Wine aficionados will appreciate Trapper’s new 1,000-bottle wine cellar, a private gathering space in the clubhouse complete with sommelier and wine lockers for true connoisseurs.
Hard seltzers continue to take the libation category by storm, and Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Company is going all in with its own line of flavored alcoholic seltzers. The first is a Cranberry Cherry Seltzer, available on tap and in growlers to go. They also debuted a new barrel-aged beer program with a dedicated tap for flavors such as Gin Barrel IPA and Belgian Chardonnay.
If you’re in the mood for a private beer or wine tour of the Wisconsin Dells area, look up Dells Trolley Tours. They’ve also added private city history tours and even a haunted tour.
On the foodie front, visitors will appreciate the spruce-ups at two area restaurants. Mexicali Rose expanded their outdoor seating area, adding even more space to take in those incredible views of the Wisconsin River. This eatery is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, including its house specialty fajitas. At Stuff’s Restaurant, diners will like the all-new look inside almost as much as they like the old-time comfort food favorites that fill the menu there.
For lavender lovers, New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm is adding eight acres of wildflower fields plus waterfalls as a pretty accompaniment to their 14,000 lavender plants. After touring the farm, step inside the shop to create your own custom essential oil blend roll-on, then treat yourself to their newest confection, lavender macarons.
A new food truck joined the fleet at Grateful Shed. The Beat Box is serving up pizza, wings and salads to diners looking for some more traditional eats. The new offerings join the existing taco truck, grilled cheese truck and dessert truck.
Summer House Grill & Bar is adding a new feature for guests this summer. The Dock is a waterfront container bar on Lake Delton that will offer another option for boaters looking for quick service without compromising their time on the water.
Investing in Preservation
May 2021 will mark the much-anticipated reopening of the International Crane Foundation after a $10 million renovation and expansion. The Foundation is the only place in the world where one can see all 15 species of crane. Its transformation includes a new welcome center; new exhibits; wetland habitats; murals by local artists; and an expanded gift shop.
History buffs will be drawn to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Boasting its largest exhibit expansion in 40 years, it opens on May 8 for the 2021 season. Its new Laurence Dorcy Building features an expansive exhibit hall housing a 1905 steam locomotive, a 1925 gas-electric self-powered railcar and eight other rail cars from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
For more information, and to order the 2021 Wisconsin Dells Vacation Guide, go to www.wisdells.com.