This summer, a gas station down the street is giving away free tickets to Mt. Olympus water park at Wisconsin Dells with every 10-gallon purchase of gas. I’m a part-time teacher/freelance writer, so of course I’m always broke. Deals like these are usually the only way I can take my kids on such extravagant outings, so of course I bit the hook on this one. Approximately 3 weeks and 40 gallons of gas after finding out about this special, I was ready to take my kids to Wisconsin Dells!
Saturday morning, we packed the car up bright and early and made the drive to the Dells. We live close enough to go for just a day trip, so luckily there was no need to book a hotel. It was almost 11:00 already by the time we got to Wisconsin Dells, so we had a quick lunch at Taco Bell before entering Mt. Olympus. I knew their food would be outrageously priced, so I had no intention of feeding anyone while inside the park.
After lunch, we made our way up the hill to Mt. Olympus where we were surprised to learn that the park charges $10 per car to park. If I had paid full price for my tickets ($39.99 at the gate, or $29.99 if you reserve online in advance,) I would have been extremely upset to find out that I had to pay an additional $10 just to park my car. I don’t remember ever having to pay to park at Noah’s Ark across the street. I still wasn’t happy to pay the $10, but I reminded myself that my tickets were free and let it go.
Once inside the park, we were disappointed to learn that we had to walk about a mile through the theme park section before we could even get to the water park. And then the water park left a lot to be desired. The lines for the water slides were so long, we ended up only riding three the whole time we were there. My 13-year-old son and significant other loved Poseidon’s Rage, the 9-foot surf pool, while the Tidal Wave was more mine and my 6-year-old’s speed.
The Endless River and even faster River Troy were a huge disappointment. I’m used to lazy rivers that circle the entire theme park and offer some kind of view rather than circling in such a small area where the only thing to look at is the other river riders. This looked so boring, we didn’t even bother.
After we left the water park, we visited a free park located at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf and used their pavilion for our picnic dinner. Even though we didn’t golf while we were there, I want to give them a shout-out simply because I think it’s awesome that they offer a free playground and pavilion for visitors to the Dells. Every other business in town seems to search for ways to milk tourists of their money, so I found it refreshing that this one would offer a playground, picnic facilities, and even restrooms free for public use.
Our next stop was downtown Wisconsin Dells where parking has somehow managed to become an even bigger pain in the behind than my last visit some 4 or 5 years ago. Although we quickly found a parking spot, we then had to stand in line forever at the pay booth. Then, the booth wouldn’t accept our dollar bills, so we ended up digging through our pockets and purses for change. After plugging every coin we had into the machine, we were still a nickel short. Luckily the guy in line behind us offered to run across the street to his car and grab a nickel for us. All this so we could walk around downtown for half an hour to purchase a couple of souvenirs and have an ice cream cone.
Wisconsin Dells is a fun trip that I would recommend to anyone within driving distance. It’s a great alternative if you’re looking for a Disney-type experience but can’t afford the real Disney thing. But be forewarned, it is still expensive.
I would recommend Mt. Olympus only if you have plans to stay in the resort so you have access to the water park and theme park for free. Depending on the number of people in your party, it can be much cheaper to stay and play free than to purchase just the park tickets. Plus, you’ll have your hotel room right there so you can go back to your room to eat and drink rather than being forced to purchase the overpriced food and drink at the park ($2.50 just for a bottle of water!) But if you’re looking for the best water park experience, I still say Noah’s Ark is the water park to beat.
Overall, we had a good day. However, I would have been sorely disappointed at the end of the day if I had paid full price for our water park tickets. Mt. Olympus is simply a poor value for the money. As it was, my biggest disappointment this trip was the fact that Wisconsin Dells fudge is now $15 a pound. So, this was a fudge-free trip for me. I spent a total of $50 for the day, including Taco Bell, ice cream cones, a t-shirt for one son, and a stuffed animal for the other, so all-in-all, it was a good deal. But I could never afford it without the free water park tickets.
How do you save money when you visit the Dells? Share your tips below.
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