That Place Rings A Dell
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Review by Ross Anthony

In July, my mother wanted to round the family up for a weekend together. She decided on the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin just five minutes from the Dells attractions. And so at the tail end of July 2004 I flew up for the event. The place had changed a great deal since visiting it as a child. In fact, it reminded me of a mini less-crowded Las Vegas (minus the gambling).

Wilderness Resort:
We were four couples, three singles and a four-year-old. The condo we rented had a master bedroom, and three bedrooms. There were two rollout cots and three sofa/beds. I was one of the singles that slept in the very large common area. The place was beautiful, a tall ceiling in the front area with lots of windows and a very efficient cooling system. But it was acoustically challenging. At night we heard every tap and click. And my brother killed two wasps that had gotten in somehow. He was impressed with their unique colorings and how hard they were to squish. Overall, we were very happy with the facility. A three minute walk (or shuttle) up to the main lobby and we were slipping down waterslides, in tubes, on our butts, in the dark or not. A hoop and board mounted just next to one of many pools facilitated a wonderful game of basketball, despite the swallowed water. I loved never having to worry about towels, clean ones were provided at the water park and when we finished with them, their staff picked them up wherever we left them. Also, a food/snack shop provided a bite or sips with merely the mention of our room number and name.

My sister, I and the four-year-old loved the jungle gym/ sponge-ball shooting gallery. This was great fun for young and old, but slightly more challenging for the old. For an extra 15 bucks, you can knock a golf ball around their little 9-hole course. I sat that one out, but my family seemed to have fun. But, FOUR! here's some fair warning. The course is surrounded by the condos; hence the road up to the lobby circles the golf course. So .... If you're walking on that road, keep a sharp eye out for golf balls -- there's nothing between you and the amateur golfer.

Check in is 4, check out is 11. We came in on Friday afternoon and left on Sunday morning. We had a great time, but truly... that was plenty of time to enjoy the park. I think even one day might have done it. Oh and I should mention that the service staffers were quite open. While there were rules posted, the only time anyone bothered us was to tell us that we should have socks on while in the jungle gym (no shoes of course). It was nice to be left to enjoy ourselves. That said, I didn't appreciate the folks who were smoking alongside the pool. (Lastly, not sure why exactly, but half of our group experienced upset stomachs -- I suspect the tap water, but that's just a guess.) 1-800-867-9453


I have fond memories of my folks taking me to Ponderosa as a kid. Steaks and shrimp. But this one in the Dells was pretty bad. At least my steak was -- chewy leather and tasteless. The shrimp was okay though.

Country Kitchen:
Service was excellent. Food good and plentiful. I had the chickenfried steak. Lovely salad -- and the honeymustard dressing rocks. 608-254-2593


Old Abe's Portraits:
My sister thought it would be a great idea to round up the troops and take a group photo to thank mom for putting together the event. She wanted to find a place that had a real live '30s style gangster car, but we couldn't find it and settled on Old Abes. We still chose the gangster theme. Hamming it up in the dressing room, the staff gave me some hassle for snapping a few photos of my nephew dressing up. I can understand them being concerned that we'll just use they're clothes and not pay ... but we were paying and her attitude spoiled our fun (momentarily -- we bounce back well). Aside from that incident, the staff was pretty darned helpful, and the photographer extremely professional and accommodating. We were very happy with the end product. Of 4 shots we chose an 8.5x11 in color and a very nice 11x14 on canvas in sepia. Together they were around 75-80 bucks. Very reasonable - we tipped well. Mom loved the photos. (Btw, the place with the car was just two doors down.) 608-254-5663


Mt. Olympus Theme park:
This is a cute ride park with a focus on go-carts. In fact, they have 5 completely separate tracks most of them involve winding wooden roadway that make the carts skip up and down. We all thought something was wrong with our vehicles. Actually, it was a lot of fun. The cars aren't fast, but they aren't slow either. The 3-5 minute ride was well worth the 7 bucks. Actually, you could pay 29 bucks and have free run of the park for the whole day. The other rides are mostly for little kids -- but I wanted to ride them too! Although, I remained rather satisfied with the one go-cart ride -- I still wouldn't mind going back to that park with my girlfriend and spending the day. 608-254-2490

Imagine a huge propeller -- like 20 floors tall. At each end, a double seat that spins. My nephew and niece got on this thing and spun their lungs out. They liked it a lot, but weren't as scared as they thought they would be. It was 15 bucks a head (I think).

Top Secret:
Yikes, What a let down. From the outside this thing looks great! Absolutely great. Sporting the most attractive roadside view of all the attractions, we expected big things. Basically -- it's the White House upside down. As if it was tossed on it's head. They even have a couple of real cars halfway crushed underneath it. We paid our 12 bucks a head expecting one of those equilibrium challenging shows where the water runs upward and the short guy in your group appears to be taller than the tall guy. But we were quite deflated by the cheesy insides. The first two rooms are upside down and that's a little cool and slightly disorienting, but the rest is pure cheese, bad horror house stuff. The rubber spider on a string... the air jet pop, lots of dumb rubber aliens. Save your money don't do it. And if you run Top Secret -- I urge you to redo the insides! Gut it out and make it into that equilibrium thing -- live up to your awesome outsides.

Timber Falls Mini-Golf:
7 bucks a head - 18 holes. I don't remember the name, but this place could be scene along the river on the main drag entering the downtown area. No fun spinning windmills, only greens. But the view is very sweet (trees, river etc.) -- and we had a pretty good time. I missed the windmills though.

Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:50:02 PDT