In 1954, Wisconsin Dells, a popular tourist destination in south-central Wisconsin, witnessed a significant event that would forever change its appeal to visitors. That year, the first water ski show in Wisconsin Dells was staged by Tommy Bartlett, a radio and television personality who saw potential in the area's waterways and picturesque landscape. Tommy Bartlett was a prominent radio and television announcer known for hosting the show "Welcome Travelers." In 1952, he launched his traveling water ski show called the "Tommy Bartlett Water Ski & Jumping Boat Thrill Show." The show featured skilled water skiers performing breathtaking stunts, jumps, and human pyramids on water skis.
Retro clips filmed in Wisconsin Dells?
1954 in Wisconsin Dells, USA In 1954, Bartlett decided to establish a permanent location for his show in Wisconsin Dells, which was already a popular tourist destination due to its scenic beauty, unique rock formations, and the Wisconsin River. The first water ski show in Wisconsin Dells took place on a section of Lake Delton, an artificial freshwater lake created in 1927. The Tommy Bartlett Show was an instant hit and attracted thousands of visitors, significantly boosting tourism in the area. The show's success inspired Bartlett to invest further in the Wisconsin Dells region. In 1959, he built the Robot World & Exploratory, an interactive science museum that showcased various technological marvels, including robots and space exploration exhibits. Tommy Bartlett's water ski show and his investment in Wisconsin Dells helped transform the area into a family-friendly vacation spot that now boasts numerous waterparks, amusement parks, and other attractions. The show continued to be a major draw for tourists until it was permanently closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, its legacy lives on as the show that put Wisconsin Dells on the map as the "Waterpark Capital of the World."
In summary, the establishment of the first water ski show in Wisconsin Dells by Tommy Bartlett in 1954 was a turning point for the region. The show's success and Bartlett's further investments laid the foundation for the area's growth as a prominent tourist destination, contributing to its reputation as a hub for family entertainment and water-based fun.