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Jet boats. The name is a tip-off. In other words, if you don’t like high speeds, sprays of water and spin-outs, best to stay on shore. But if you’re in for a ride that nearly defies gravity, then hop aboard.
On a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon in the Dells, we headed to the Lower Dells boat docks of Jet Boat Adventures. The first clue that this was going to be a very wet thrill ride came from the ticket-taker, who strongly suggested I take my purse back to the car so it wouldn’t get soaked. I heeded his advice, also collecting cell phones from my teenage son and his friend.
My husband, an engineer with a Master’s degree mind you, thought the best place to sit to avoid getting too wet would be the first row, right behind the windshield. Oh, was he wrong.
The boat, equipped with a 1,200 horsepower engine and piloted by a very pleasant driver, was slowly backed out of the dock. So far, so good. We started with an up-close view of the Kilbourn Dam, the first hydroelectric dam built on the Wisconsin River and the one that separates the Upper Dells from the Lower Dells. Again, very pleasant.
Then the driver started driving in circles and kicking up some waves before making a power stop that sent a surf-worthy wave right over the top of the hull and into, you guessed it, the front row. I had just enough time to wring out my hair before we set a course for open waters.
It wasn’t long before the driver launched us into the first of too-many-to-count 360-degree spin-outs. The sensation is that of spinning just above the surface of the water and believe me, it never gets old. More power stops, more spin-outs, more sliding along the surface of the water (sometimes as shallow as one foot) more drenchings, more screaming, more fun in the Dells.
At 40 mph, the 50 minutes flew by, pun intended.
Would I go back? Absolutely! Would I wear something more appropriate than the new sundress I had just purchased in Downtown Dells? Absolutely to that too. This was as much fun as I’ve had on the water since, well, the invention of the water park I guess!
WildThing Jet Boats is another option and it’s located on the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River.
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Wisconsin Dells Indoor & Outdoor Water Parks
Some families just seem to have the adrenaline gene. You know the type. They’re happiest when every second is filled with adventure, intrigue, exploration and fun. And that just covers plans for the morning. If you’re one of those, Wisconsin Dells applauds your energy and zest for life. In fact, you’ll feel right at home in this, “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®”, given many of the attractions here sprung up with family fun in mind. Plan for at least a few days to get to everything on your list, knowing there will be plenty of time to sleep later.
Let’s commence with a lodging choice. Of course there are great water park resorts. The area has small, medium, large and gargantuan-sized water park resorts, so it’s your choice. If you like the option of indoor and outdoor water parks, then consider one of the five largest - the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, the Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center, Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Parks, Chula Vista Resort or Great Wolf Lodge. The number of rides, slides, tube funnels and watercoasters your family can play on is staggering. The surf machine at Kalahari is enough to keep tweens and teens occupied for hours at a time as they try to catch a wave indoors. At the Wilderness Resort, the place is so sprawling they have shuttles to take you from one water park to the next on the property. Their new zip line gives you a lay of the land from the air as you glide above the tree tops. Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Parks' outdoor water park includes a surf pool with nine-foot waves and a sandy beach and six side-by-side racing slides. Their indoor water park includes towering tube slides and endless river. Chula Vista Resort has an outdoor water park overlooking the Wisconsin River, a second outdoor water park on the other side of the property, and an indoor water park that you access via an underground tunnel. Very cool. Great Wolf Lodge has built its stock in trade with the younger kids and has themed their place to the hilt.
America's Largest Outdoor Water Park
If you plan to visit Wisconsin Dells during the warm weather months, you could stay at your favorite hotel or motel, and then head out first thing in the morning to spend the day at Noah’s Ark Waterpark, the country’s largest outdoor water park. Noah’s Ark has the extremes, with the family friendly Tadpole Bay at one end of the spectrum and the new Scorpion’s Tail loop-de-loop extreme tube slide for bigger kids and adults at the other end. Bring comfortable aqua shoes as you and your family will be covering 70 acres in your quest to try all 80 rides, slides and activities at Noah’s.
Indoor Wisconsin Dells Amusement Parks
When you’ve logged sufficient hours at the water parks, dry off the kids and head to the indoor amusement parks. Kalahari Indoor Theme Park has a six-story high Ferris wheel, multi-level go-kart track, laser tag, 24 lanes of bowling, a ton of arcade games, a ropes course, climbing wall and mini-golf. Let’s all pause to catch our breath. Knuckleheads Bowling & Indoor Amusement Park also has two dozen lanes of bowling, a 4D theatre ride, bumper cars and go-karts, plus you can grab dinner next door at Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille, where their three secret-recipe BBQ sauces, made and bottled on premise, making family dining there triple the fun.
Outdoor Dells Amusement Parks
There are outdoor amusement parks that are must-stops for families who crave fun and exhilaration. Timber Falls Adventure Park has a roller coaster called the Hellcat that features 70-degree banks and 10-story drops and is a favorite among roller coaster fan clubs. You’ll get some air on the coaster, and even more air on their end-over-end ride called the Skyscraper. It pulls 4 Gs at 60 mph 160 feet off the ground.
Mini-Golf In Wisconsin Dells
Time to move on to mini-golf. Actually, you can stay put at Timber Falls and golf 72 holes, all in the shade of tall pines along the Wisconsin River. There’s also Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf.
Dells Go-Kart Tracks
Large outdoor go-kart tracks are a favorite for families who like a little competition with their fun. ADare Go Carts is everything you’d expect from a good track - hairpin turns, fast straightaways and racing through waterfalls (this is Wisconsin Dells, after all.)
Jet Boats On The Wisconsin River
Right about now you may be looking to cool off a little. Take a jet boat ride on the Wisconsin River and you’ll cool off a lot, as in get soaked while the wind is whipping through your hair. These rides are a blast, from the first 360-degree turn to the last, all under the power of a 1,200 hp engine. There are two companies offering this option - Jet Boat Adventures and WildThing Jet Boats.
Dells Live Entertainment
End the day with some family entertainment that plays with your senses - Dells 4D Special FX Theater is a good choice, as is the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater - and then a great burger at Monk’s Bar & Grill, either the original restaurant downtown or the expanded version at the Wilderness Resort.
There, that should be enough family fun and adventure for one Wisconsin Dells getaway.
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