Top Thrills in the Wisconsin Dells
The boundary-pushing one-upmanship of water-park-centric Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, stirs up a circus of superlatives. Biggest! Scariest! Longest! Fastest!
It's a wonderland of engineering innovation-a bull's-eye for travelers seeking big thrills and bragging rights. And if you're more like me-only willing to try a few-it's still fun to gawk at, laugh at and photograph the brave (or crazy) souls willing to test their stomach-flipping tolerance. Here's a look at the Dells' top thrills and what makes them stand out.
1) Mt. Olympus Park It's not skydiving, but the 85-foot plunge down Demon's Drop water slide can feel like a freaky free fall minus the parachute. A must for coaster fans: Hades 360, a wooden coaster that roars up to 70 mph, disappears underground and includes a 360-degree roll. mtolympuspark.com
2) Noah's Ark America's largest water park, with 50 slides across 70 acres, tempts daredevils with rides such as the Scorpion's Tail, a body slide that whips riders almost upside down with a huge loop, and Black Anaconda, a 30-mph, 1/4-mile-long water coaster. noahsarkwaterpark.com
3) Timber Falls Adventure Park The wood-and-steel Hellcat roller coaster drops riders 10 stories and races into 70-degree banked turns. The Sky Scraper Thrill Ride, which looks like a construction crane turned into a windmill, spins riders up to 4 Gs at 60 mph for its share of screams. timberfallspark.com
4) Ziplining Riders harness up and whir through the air anywhere from 10 to 100 feet off the ground between platforms and over four water crossings with BigFoot Zip Line Tours. bigfootzip.com
5) Parasailing Experience views of Lake Delton and the sandstone formations on the Wisconsin River from 400 feet in the air with Holiday Shores Watersports Center. holidayshorewatersports.com
6) Kalahari Resort Grab a mat, someone to race against and zip head-first down outdoor water park Kalahari Resort's two-lane Extreme Rush through 420 feet of rolls and dips. kalahariresorts.com
7) Wilderness Resort Guests who brave the outdoor water park's almost-vertical Lunar Loop or the five-story freefall on the Cosmic Dropslide listen for a countdown of 3…2…1 before a trap door opens and launches them. wildernessresort.com
8) Chula Vista Resort The outdoor Cyclone slide is almost 48 feet tall, but it's the whips around 268 feet of twists and turns that inspire the name. Competitive sibs will also love the four-lane Halley's Comet Racers. chulavistaresort.com
If your legs ache from climbing stairs and your arms are weary from toting tubes and rafts, sneak in a sanity break at the bigger resorts, which usually have adult-only spas, tucked-away pools that are less crowded or on-site spas with massages to ease knotted muscles. Here are two top spots for recharging:
9) Chula Vista wave pool Don't expect 9-foot waves here. This one is not only mellow but also along the pine-dotted banks of the Wisconsin River for a welcome dose of scenic beauty. And there's a handy margarita bar. chulavistaresort.com
10) Sundara Spa Banish adrenaline overload with an indulgent treatment at Sundara Inn and Spa. Follow your treatment with a walk through the Tranquility Garden, along the meditation trail or grab a nap in a hammock beneath the trees. sundaraspa.com
Noah's Ark photo courtesy of Dells CVB; BigFoot Zip Line Tours photo courtesy of Dells CVB; Kalahari Resort photo courtesy of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions; Wilderness Resort photo courtesy of Joseph Leute.