An interview with the President & CEO of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau, Jill Diehl.
FVM: How big is tourism to the Wisconsin Dells and what is the economic impact?
Jill Diehl: The year 2022 was record-setting for tourism in the Wisconsin Dells area, reaching $1.37 billion in direct economic impact and nearly $2 billion in total economic impact.
FVM: Why is Wisconsin Dells the Waterpark Capital of the World?
Jill: There are more waterparks in Wisconsin Dells of every size per capita than anywhere else in the world! All told, there are more than 200 waterslides with 16+ million gallons of water at area waterparks. This includes extreme plunge slides, tube rides, racing speed slides, bowl drops, water roller coasters, surf machines, massive wave pools, lazy rivers and tot-friendly spray pads.
Here are some other fun facts. Wisconsin Dells is home to:
- The first indoor waterpark – Polynesian Hotel (1989)
- America’s Largest Outdoor Waterpark – Noah’s Ark Waterpark
- America’s Largest Indoor/Outdoor Combination Waterpark – Wilderness Resort
- Wisconsin’s Largest Indoor Waterpark – Kalahari Resorts and Conventions
- North America’s first rotating waterslide, Medusa’s Slidewheel – Mt. Olympus Water + Theme Park.
FVM: Besides the Waterparks, what are some of the other major attractions?
Jill: There are plenty of attractions in the Wisconsin Dells area to fit any trip need. Popular options include the variety of scenic tours offered. Visitors can take in our beautiful natural scenery aboard a boat, jet boat or an amphibious vehicle known as a DUCK. Visitors can also take to the skies with zip-line outfitters or keep their feet on the ground with over 50 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, train tours, or a round of golf. Wisconsin Dells is home to seven different golf course options ranging from the casual to championship level.
Other fun and engaging activities include amusement parks, escape rooms, museums, animal attractions, magic shows, live entertainment and more!
FVM: The Dells area has a wide variety of dining options. Could you tell us about them?
Jill: Wisconsin Dells offers over 100 dining options from casual to fine dining. We have a dining spot to accommodate all group sizes and styles.
The area’s supper clubs are some of the most popular year-round dining options. Wisconsin Dells is home to some of Wisconsin’s most iconic, including Ishnala Supper Club, celebrating its 70th season, and The Del-Bar, which turned 80 this year. Other favorites include Double Cut Steakhouse, House of Embers, Kaminski’s Chop House and Field’s at the Wilderness.
Family favorites continue to be ever popular throughout the years. Breakfast joints like Mr. Pancake and Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty are a must, and people flock to Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. for pizza, Monk’s Bar and Grill for burgers and High Rock Café for its seasonal menu.
For those who are 21+, the Wisconsin Dells area is home to seven wineries and four breweries. Each offers a distinct style and experience.
FVM: I noticed a lot of new hotels since the last time we were here.
Jill: Wisconsin Dells offers various lodging options to accommodate any size group and desired style. We offer waterpark resorts, hotels and motels, quiet B&Bs, pet-friendly options, beautiful campgrounds for both tents and RVs, and cabins to fit the entire extended family. As the needs continue to grow, so do our accommodations.
FVM: Will there be any new attractions opening soon?
Jill: 2023 saw the debut of new additions and attractions all over the Wisconsin Dells area. Here are some that recently opened.
The Land of Natura is the first of its kind in Wisconsin Dells. The five-acre naturally filtered lake hosts America’s largest floating waterpark with additional water activities available. Other activities include a treetop walkway, hiking and biking trails, and silent sport rentals. Additional attractions will open at Natura in different phases, so there is much to look forward to.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark remastered a fan-favorite ride into the Chameleon, a full-sensory waterslide experience with next-gen technology that entertains riders with vibrant lights and sounds.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! reimagined its space and recently debuted a new art exhibit where multiple mediums are on display. This immersive experience challenges all the senses.
Yeti Yard Next Level Adventures features a 640-foot-long elevated go-kart track and 18-hole putting green.
Brat House Grill opened the smallest bar in Wisconsin Dells, “The Guest House,” that holds just 30 people and provides classic pub food and drinks.
Bevy is a new artisan beer and winemaker offering a tasting room and tap wall menu featuring the famous Wisconsin Dells Port Huron Honey Blonde beer as part of its lineup.
Ishnala Supper Club added the new Tomahawk Bar and Deck, overlooking Mirror Lake, to its collection. This space provides the perfect setting to enjoy a classic Wisconsin old-fashioned and an appetizer.
For a complete list of What’s New, visit: https://www.wisdells.com/blog-stories/Whats-New-in-Wisconsin-Dells-in-2023
FVM: The Wo-Zha-Wa Days Festival, hosted by the City of Wisconsin Dells, is coming up in September. What other Festivals and Events does Wisconsin Dells host?
Jill: The Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau (WDVCB) hosts eight annual events, with three coming up this fall.
Fall Wine Walk
Saturday, October 7, from 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM | Info
Dells Craft Beer Walk
Friday, October 13, from 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM | Info
Sample from a huge selection of artisan brews at participating bars while you stroll throughout the downtown Wisconsin Dells area.
Dells on Tap
Saturday, October 14, from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Info
Head to downtown Wisconsin Dells to sample a full spectrum of beer from 60+ brewers and speak to the brewmasters themselves. Both general admission and VIP tickets are available. Additional activities provided.
FVM: Could you offer some tips on how to best plan a trip to Wisconsin Dells.
Jill: We encourage visitors looking for trip ideas and inspiration to visit our website wisdells.com. On our website, viewers can order a free vacation guide, use our trip planner tool to build the perfect itinerary, read monthly blogs, and view the calendar of events and the latest deals.
FVM: How are the Dells becoming more of a year-round destination?
Jill: With the great mix of activities and attractions available all year round, Wisconsin Dells is a destination for any season. The indoor waterparks have certainly boosted visitation during the colder months when people want to escape the elements, and we offer a variety of outdoor recreation options for people who want to embrace the elements as well. The WDVCB also hosts various events all year long that give visitors reasons to come back and create new memories.