Wisconsin Dells: The WaterPark Capitol of the World

As we travel we are constantly looking for creative ways to beat the heat this summer. Being in water seems to be the best way to stay cool, and we were asking fellow travelers for ideas. A friend recommended we check out the numerous water parks in Wisconsin Dells, WI. We immediately altered our travel plans and made our way to the middle of Wisconsin in search of refreshing temperatures and entertainment.

When we pulled into town, we quickly realized why this was called the “Waterpark Capital of the World”. It was like Vegas, if you swapped out the casinos for waterparks, and the bachelor party-goers for middle-America families.

Driving down the Dells Parkway, it’s apparent that most of it was constructed in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Some parks have expanded in the 2000’s, but the heyday was probably 20 years ago. That being said, there’s still plenty of activities to keep families entertained for days, if not weeks.

Mt. Olympus

Our first stop was the Grecian-themed, Mt. Olympus, one of the larger parks, with indoor and outdoor water slides and a fair amount of go-cart tracks. A great feature of this park is their “Stay and Play Free” program, where you can get complimentary admission tickets to the waterpark if you stay in one of their lodging accommodations. This program also included us using their RV park, so we booked a night at their no frills campground and spent two days (your passes include the day you check out as well) exploring Mt. Olympus.

The outdoor park was pretty extensive, and sprawled out over several acres. There were a decent amount of large waterslides, a lazy river, and a wave pool. There was plenty of seating options, snack shops for those who like to lounge by the pool.  Our family’s favorite attraction was the wave pool, where they practiced body surfing the massive wave that rolls out every few minutes.

On day two our mission was to ride every adult-sized go-kart track. (There are plenty of go-karts designed for kids under 48’ as well) Go-karts are a bigger deal out here than where we are from, and it was fun to ride their elaborate tracks. The most visible one takes you on ascending loops through the front of a Trojan horse, and winds down his back legs. The karts were fast, the tracks were fun, and we had a good time as a family trying to pass each other and “win” each course we rode.

We packed a lot into 2 days, and could’ve easily stayed longer, but we were eager to experience what other parks had to offer.

Noah’s Ark

Touted as the biggest park in the region, we came here last. The weather was not cooperating, and it was overcast and drizzling off and on. Our travel schedule wouldn’t allow us to stay and wait it out, so I was prepared to skip it. Dino however, is a diehard waterpark lover, and he convinced the kids to go anyways as the park was virtually empty and they could get on the rides quickly.

Instead of it taking an entire day to experience all of the adult slides, they were able to do it in 3-4 hours, and had a blast. Some of their favorite slides were Black Anaconda and Viper. The Scorpion Tale is America’s first nearly vertical waterslide loop, and was quite a thrill.  The Dark Voyage is a family raft that goes down the curvy slide in complete darkness. If you are more adventurous and like extreme rides, this is the park for you.


            If you’re looking for a family-friendly, water-filled vacation spot in the mid-West, take a look at the Wisconsin Dells. Look past the cheesy themes and dated décor, and consider the memories you can make riding waterslides and go-karts with your kids all day. If they’re under 8 yrs. old, chances are this will be as entertaining for them as a roller-coaster theme park. Plus, you can work on your tan, or catch up on your summer reading by the pool, does it get any better than that?

In addition to waterparks, Wisconsin Dells is known for the actual Dells- the gorgeous cliffs surrounding the Wisconsin river. There’s plenty to do on that water as well; DUCK rides, water cruises, and jet boat tours are just some of attractions in the area.

For those who might be looking for a holiday or winter getaway, many of the waterparks have indoor waterslides as well so they can remain open in the cold weather. I’m not sure that this wimpy California girl could brave the walk from the waterpark to my hotel room with wet hair, but those who are acclimated to cold climates would probably enjoy a dip in a warm Jacuzzi during the dead of winter.

For more information on the Wisconsin Dells, go to www.wisdells.com and see what the Water Capital of the World has in store for you.

Have you been to the Dells? What was your experience like? What were your favorite attractions? I’d love to hear your story and advice for the next time we go. Leave your wisdom in the comments area below, I read every post!



Disclaimer: WisDells tourism board gave us admission tickets to Noah’s Ark waterpark, but the opinions are strictly my own.


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