Every January in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., the resort community better known as "The Waterpark Capital of the World!ģ", there is a little tradition the local visitor bureau likes to call the official release of whatís new for the coming year. Given everything thatís debuting in the Dells for 2012, frankly it might have been easier to chronicle whatís not new. But, in the spirit of keeping the tradition alive, here is a rundown of new Wisconsin Dells attractions, restaurants, shops and outdoor adventures for the new year.
Outdoor Recreation and Adventures
Vertical Illusions, known for its inspiring Wisconsin River kayak and rock climbing adventures, is now offering an Eco Zip Line Canopy Tour. Youíll zip off the top of Chimney Rock, a 500-foot bluff affording 120-mile views, and then travel along 15 tree-to-tree zip lines without ever touching the ground. For winter visitors, Vertical Illusions offers a 40-foot frozen waterfall climb.
If you like zip lining, thereís a good chance youíll also like the new adventure ropes course located inside the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort. Itís called the Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course and itís perched 30 feet above the mega arcade in the Wild West region of the property. Wearing a full-body safety harness, youíll climb your way around 42 challenges with varying degrees of difficulty.
Big Chiefís Go Karts is new, with enough uphills and downhills to make you dizzy. A hairpin turn is thrown in for good measure.
Lost Voyage, a nighttime adventure on the Wisconsin River that takes participants on a mystifying scavenger hunt of sorts in search of a mythical (or is it?) tour boat that vanished years ago, has new chapters planned for this ongoing conspiracy mystery. Look for clues online, in the ticket center lobby and as you enter Cold Water Canyon on foot and interact with characters you meet along the way.
For baby boomers and older, the first thing that probably comes to mind when they hear "P.T. 109" is the movie by the same name that dramatized President John F. Kennedyís WWII experiences during which he captained a PT boat. Now, itís also part of the moniker for a Wisconsin River tour of the Upper Dells glacial park. The P.T. 109 Boat Patrol sightseeing excursion is narrated, drawing on both history and legend of the river, and showcases the sandstone rock formations.
This is just about ESPN-worthy news. JustAgame Fieldhouse has completed a huge addition to its facility, adding two regulation high school courts that can be reconfigured to a regulation college court with seating for 2,000. No sooner were the floorboards in place than the announcement came that JustAgame had been selected by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association as the site for the 2012 All Star Games, bringing 200 of the best Wisconsin high school players to the Dells.
Anniversaries and Reunions
The Tommy Bartlett Show is marking the 60th anniversary of its iconic water ski show with reunion performances the weekend of June 30-July 1, inviting skiers back to celebrate with the current cast of "Liviní the Dream." Retro ski acts are making a comeback too, featuring the ski tricks that made the show famous the world over. Other special events and appearances to mark the occasion will be sprinkled throughout the summer.
Both Swiss Maid Fudge and Wisconsin Dairyland Fudge are marking their 50th anniversaries with sweet specialties that will only be available for the anniversary year.
Wollersheim Winery is celebrating its 40th anniversary of being in business, although the landís use as a vineyard dates back to the 1840s, with tours, events, displays and wine releases. Already a national historic site, Wollersheim was also recently bestowed with an historical marker from the countyís historical society.
A Little Food, A Little Wine
Sprecherís Restaurant & Pub of Wisconsin Dells brings to town its casual style dining, micro-brews and gourmet sodas made by its own Sprecher Brewery. The cream soda is a must, as is the root beer.
Fawn Creek Winery has introduced two new wines. The Kilbourn Red is a cranberry-flavored Shiraz; one dollar from the sale of every bottle is donated to the Kilbourn Volunteer Fire Department of Wisconsin Dells. Cabin Fever is a backberry-flavored Merlot and is billed as a seasonal wine to help cure the doldrums of Wisconsin winters.
Insider Shopping Finds
For the bling-conscious, Diamonds in the Dells, located downtown on Oak Street, is your newest shopping spot. Here youíll find a tempting mix of new jewelry and estate pieces.
Also downtown is a new shopping experience in womenís apparel Ė itís a boutique called Alpha Beta Karma. This store has the feeling of a Parisian flea market meets So Ho boutique, thanks to the ownersí frequent buying trips to bring in fashion, jewelry, footwear and accessories from both east and west coast designers.
Finally, Ho-Chunk Gaming Ė Wisconsin Dells has added a new recreational vehicle park to its complex. Itís called Hocak Houisa Chií Nuk Luxury RV Park, which translates to "Ho-Chunk Parking Village." This three-season addition has 49 spaces with amenities like Wi-Fi, water, sewer, electric, fire pits and picnic tables, along with a comfort station with showers and a guest laundry facility.
If youíre still looking for other Wisconsin Dells attractions, then you are not only ambitious but clearly a diehard fan, so have at it by logging on to the official web site, www.wisdells.com. There youíll find complete listings of waterparks, attractions, restaurants, retail, lodging and service choices.