Wisconsin Dells-area attractions join 'mega-park' marketing effort
By Judy Newman, The Wisconsin State Journal
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
22 October 2004
The Wisconsin State Journal (KRTBN)
Copyright (C) 2004 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News
Oct. 22--Three attractions along one of the Wisconsin Dells area's
main roads are combining to form what they're calling a mega park.
Mount Olympus Water & Theme Park will result from merging Treasure
Island Waterpark Resort, Family Land Waterpark and Big Chief's Mount
Olympus Theme Park.
With the planned addition of several rides, the combined theme park
will be worth $80 million and will cover 156 acres, spanning the
length of more than 15 football fields along Wisconsin Dells Parkway,
or Highway 12. The same stretch on the other side of the road houses
14 businesses, including five hotels, five attractions and a
Mount Olympus co-owners Jim Mattei and Nick Laskaris said they're
hoping to beat back regional competition from Six Flags, which is
building a 13-acre outdoor water park alongside its Great America
amu***t park in Gurnee, Ill.
But Laskaris also said popular Dells-area water park resorts, such as
the Great Wolf and the Kalahari, located just off Interstate 90/94,
siphon tourists as well. "It has been a little tough trying to get the
people out of these resorts," Laskaris said. "But by doing this, we
have a better chance."
Robert Kozinets, UW-Madison assistant professor of marketing, said the
Wisconsin Dells merger "sounds a lot like consolidation that's been
going on for the last 15 or 20 years in the media and entertainment
industry, where the trend is to go for bigger, better, one-stop
With high costs for overhead, attractions are following the Disney
theme park philosophy: "to get people there and keep them there,"
The spread of indoor and outdoor water rides, go-karts, roller
coasters, bumper boats and miniature golf will be the biggest
amu***t center of its type in Wisconsin, said Mattei, owner of
Family Land and Treasure Island.
"We'd like to remind the public where the phenomenon all started,"
Mattei said. "(Water parks) started in Wisconsin and they started in
"Wisconsin Dells is once again leading the way in the family tourism
industry," said Laskaris, owner of Big Chief's.
Laskaris and Mattei are buying the Playday Motel, which had separated
their properties. They are not disclosing the purchase price.
The motel will be torn down to make way for two new outdoor water
rides. A 10th go-kart track will be added and a sixth roller coaster
already is being built. Called Hades, the ride will drop 154 feet into
an underground tunnel and will travel at up to 65 miles an hour,
Romy Snyder, executive director of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and
Convention Bureau, praised Mattei and Laskaris for their
"entrepreneurial spirit" at a Madison news conference Thursday at the
state Department of Commerce. She said tourists spend $840 million a
year in the Dells area and that could soon jump to $1 billion.
For Wisconsin Dells regulars, the stretch along Highway 12 will look
nearly the same, except for new signs, faade additions and the new
amu***ts, convention bureau spokesman Steve Shattuck said. But
without the Playday Motel, it will be "one long stream of continuity,"
Treasure Island resort and Pleasant View motel, also on-site, provide
a total of nearly 400 rooms and suites. For overnight guests, theme
park admission will be part of the room rate. For other guests, an
all-day pass will cost $32 per person.
"The most powerful place that (theme parks) can exist is in people's
imaginations ... when they fantasize about family holidays. Once they
locate in that space, people keep coming back," Kozinets said.
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(c) 2004, The Wisconsin State Journal. Distributed by Knight
Ridder/Tribune Business News.