Wisconsin Dells, 8/2-8/9

Associated parks:
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Saturday, August 9, 2008 10:38 PM
Just the highlights:

* I got off Hades wondering what the hell just happened. The rest of the train had pretty much the same reaction. If you like your wood to give you that I-just-might-die feeling, then Hades is your ride. For comparison purposes, Thunderhead at Dollywood is perhaps more "fun", but never, ever makes you feel like you've taken your life in your hands. Hades does.

* To a lesser extent, so does the rest of the wood at Mt. Olympus, excepting Pegasus, which is small, but still fun without the I-might-die quality.

* The Poseiden wave pool at Mt. O is a hoot---9 ft. waves every 90 seconds. The yellow "family" raft ride is the real deal. We did a couple of the go-kart tracks, which still seem to draw the longest lines. Good times.

* Yes, Avalanche is all that and a bag of chips. The back gives fun floater air. Make the detour and visit Timber Falls---the black mini-golf course along the river is wonderfully shaded, and pretty. The flume ride will get you soaked if you are in the front half of the log.

* Noah's Ark: bad food, but better slides and better eye-candy than Mt. Olympus. Black Anaconda was great, but ride it right at open, or at close, or be prepared to cool your heels in a long wait. If you've done the Paramount spongebob motion-base seats, Noah's version is an interesting (if wet) twist. Noah's Adventure: fun, but out of place in a waterpark, and a bit tummy-twisting for all four of us---and not entirely in a good way.

* The beer flows freely in Wisconsin. You know how you sometimes have a hard time finding a drink in a park? You won't here---not by a longshot.

* If you've got a horse fan in your party, Canyon Creek Stables aren't half bad. $25 for an hour ride---unlike most tourist-trap stables, you'll get to do a fair bit of trotting, plus there are a few themed set-pieces and low-grade animatronics on the ride.

* If you go to the Dells without taking at least one of the river tours, you've missed out. There is some stunning scenery along the sandstone-lined riverbanks. We took the Original Ducks tour, which included an up-close and personal look of both the Lake Delton breach, and the washed out county road. Both very impressive.

* Kahunaville at Kalahari had suprisingly good food (I had the hibachi steak stir-fry). So did Marley's (jerk shrimp with rice beans and greens---yum!) The river views from the River Walk Pub were good, and the food was okay, but indoors was pretty smoky. Moosejaw was fun in a tourist-trap way, and the cheese and beer soup was a meal in itself. Buffalo Phil's had a decent blackened catfish. If you don't have a Culver's local to you, stop in for a burger. It's hard to find a vegetable in the Dells, especially on the kids menus. After a few days, deep-fried and cheese-covered gets to be drag.

* If you've got younger kids, Wizard Quest is a decent way to spend a rainy few hours.

* We used our timeshare points at Wyndham Wisconsin Dells/Tamarack. Nice place, and a well-furnished 2BR/2BA unit. This was our second Wyndham stay (last year was in Pigeon Forge) and both were great. Next time, I might splurge and spend the extra points for the new Wyndham resort in the Wilderness complex if it still includes water park passes.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008 1:13 AM
So did the places seem quite busy? I know that man-made lake drained this past off-season, so I was wondering how tourism has been doing. I don't even know if that ever got fixed.
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Sunday, August 10, 2008 7:02 AM
Hard to say, as I don't have a frame of reference for what things should look like, but folks who'd worked there for several seasons did say that things were slow. Whether that's due to the lake, the general economy, or a combination I can't say. The two major attractions we visited both had pretty decently-sized crowds, but we only once had to wait to be seated in a restaurant, and we ate out mostnights.

Right now, the lake bed is effectively a field. Word is that they plan to have it repaired sometime before next season.

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