9 Towns Relying On Your Summer Road Trip
Waterparks keep tourist money flowing through the Dells. Sprawling complexes such as Noah's Ark, Mount Olympus, Kalihari and Los Rios water parks at Chula Vista are the big draws, but even hotels from the Great Wolf Lodge down to the Holiday Inn Express have indoor and outdoor waterslides. This is Vegas for the under-13 crowd, with ziplines, mini golf and go-karts running all day and magic and stunt shows drawing the crowds at night. Don't know who Rick Wilcox, Jeremy Allen and Tommy Bartlett are? The two magicians and the late showman/stuntman are to the Dells what impressionist Danny Gans and animal trainers Siegfried and Roy were to the Vegas Strip.
The families that dive into the Dells each year spend like high rollers, too. The Dells were a big reason Wisconsin visitor spending increased from $8.5 billion in 2009 to $9.9 billion last year.
As evidenced by Orlando and the Wisconsin Dells, if a big-draw amusement park's rides can shake loose some family spending, smaller attractions will spring up to catch the loose change.
In Sandusky, the big shark in the the water is Cedar Fair Entertainment's(FUN) Cedar Point on Lake Erie. The park boasts 15 roller coasters, second in the U.S. only to Six Flags Magic Mountain(SIX) in California, and two of the top five tallest and fastest roller coasters in the country in its Top Thrill Dragster and Millennium Force. It's a giant complex including the Soak City and Castaway Bay water parks, games, hotels and beach resorts that leaves plenty on the table for smaller operations such as the Grey Wolf and Kalihari that line the highway leading to Cedar Point. Even a local Quality Inn has an indoor water park.
Boat trips to the barge parties and swim-up bars of the Lake Erie islands just north of the city and other attractions such as the Merry Go Round Museum make Sandusky a boon for summer tourists. Overall, Cedar Point and Sandusky helped nudge Ohio tourist spending by 6% last year to more than $40 billion.