Why is Wisconsin Dells the Water Park Capital of the World?
The long list of storied water parks and thrilling water-based play options in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, can overwhelm even the most seasoned water park aficionados. In summer 2022, another historic attraction will join their ranks: Medusa’s Slidewheel at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park.
Before Medusa’s Slidewheel brings extreme Gs and zero-gravity sensations to thrill-seekers of all ages, we’re taking a step back to admire the place it’ll call home—because if you want to appreciate what installing North America’s first rotating water slide means for Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, you have to understand the history of the water park capital of the world.
In this post, we’ll explain how a city in southern Wisconsin has engrained itself in water park lore.
Why is Wisconsin Dells the water park capital of the world?
Truth be told, the “water park capital of the world” moniker is relatively new. The Wisconsin Dells water park craze really took off in 1989, when the Polynesian Water Park Resort unveiled the first indoor water park concept. Since then, the region has welcomed a long list of water park superlatives.
Like other notable capitals, the water park capital of the world is full of monuments. Today, Wisconsin Dells is home to more indoor and outdoor water parks per capita than anywhere else.  But it’s not just the concentration of parks that appeals to tourists. It’s the vibrancy of the water park community. Parks in the Dells frequently embrace the next big thing, be it a record-breaking slide, a gigantic wave pool, or the region’s newest first: the first rotating water slide in the Western Hemisphere.
A brief history of Wisconsin Dells
Ask a Wisconsin local: For a good portion of the year, you’re more likely to find ice than water in the Badger State. So how did Wisconsin Dells become a water park destination?
Located on Ho-Chunk and Menominee lands, what is now Wisconsin Dells was incorporated in the 1850s as Kilbourn City, Wisconsin.  The area has been a tourist destination ever since. However, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, visitors didn’t flock to the region’s water parks. Instead, the Wisconsin River was the region’s biggest draw. Tourists booked rowboat tours along its banks and took in the beautiful sandstone rock formations. 
Today’s visitors still enjoy the area’s natural beauty, but its water parks headline most Wisconsin Dells vacations. According to the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau, the region hosts upwards of 4 million visitors each year. 
Writing a new chapter in the history of Wisconsin Dells
In summer 2022, the water park capital of the world will welcome another history-making attraction: Medusa’s Slidewheel at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park. Before the first rotating water slide in the Americas thrills guests, Ramaker and WhiteWater are collaborating on a series of articles that catalog the significance of the slide and the place it calls home: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Read more articles from the series here: