Many of you may know the definition of a “Tourist Town” because you have vacationed in one, or maybe worked or lived in one yourself. One of the most popular tourist towns in Wisconsin, and the Midwest, is the Wisconsin Dells. Nicknamed “The Water Park Capital of the World”, this town is home to about a dozen water parks and hotel resorts. There are tourist towns all across the U.S, some being larger and more popular than others, for example Orlando, Las Vegas, and Keystone, South Dakota to name a few. Regardless of which tourist area you want to visit, there have to be workers to make your family vacations run smoothly.
I work in the Wisconsin Dells, and so do thousands of other teenagers, twenty somethings, adults, and even people who travel from other countries just to make money for the summer. I have been to every water park and attraction this town has in it's 20 mile radius, and although the town holds a special place in my heart, most days I can’t stand it.
By the end of the summer, us workers are worn out and need to get a few things off our chest, so myself, and a few of the finest servers, lifeguards, and attraction workers the Dells has to offer will be sharing some advice, requests, and suggestions for future tourist that come into town next summer.
Let’s start with the guards.
“I could go on for a while, but I have a few things I want to point out. First, please don’t bring carry-ins into the park. I get that our food is expensive but when you bring glass and it breaks that’s another injury waiting to happen. Also when you leave/spill your teddy grams, chips, and dirty diaper messes on the ground do you ever consider who has to pick it up? Yes, we do, and if every table is like that then our night becomes significantly longer. You may be on vacation, but that doesn’t make you incapable of picking up your mess. Secondly, newsflash: we make mistakes and most of the time it’s not our fault, we are just following our company’s policies. Don’t treat us like we are lower than you just because you are at a fancy resort. Lastly, if you are given a complimentary towel to use for your stay, don't just use it once and be done with it, and please don’t get in our way when we are moving heavy toll bins all the way to the laundry, because believe it or not, the laundry room is very, very, very, far away.” -Jenna, 18
“Get to the waterpark early. None of us want to hear you complain that you can’t find a close parking spot, a chair, or a table to put your stuff at.” -Jordan, 18
"Please take out your ear buds, stop sipping your alcohol, and keep an eye on your stuff. It's not my fault some of your belongings got stolen because you didn't purchase a locker." -Luke, 19
"Please stop treating us like animals, especially the J1’s. They come to the United States to work, learn English, and for the experience. Don’t treat them any different than the American workers." -Emma, 18
"Working in the water park capital of the world can be a nightmare! This was my second summer lifeguarding and although I love the people I work with and my tan, I’m glad it’s over. Being in charge of people's safety can be a stressful job! I mean, I'm the only thing between you and death by drowning. Constantly scanning pools while standing in (sometimes) freezing cold water, while also keeping an eye on patrons swimming can be over whelming, especially on a busy weekend. In order to become a certified lifeguard, we have to go through a 2 day safety course with the Red Cross, along with a day of training. Trust me when I say I am qualified to save you or your child’s life in an emergency, so I would prefer if you stop questioning that when I yell at you because you broke a rule. All we really ask is that you make safe decisions for you and your children. Letting them run free around the water park, especially if they are weak swimmers, is a reckless decision on your part. Please consider teaching them appropriate water park behavior before we have to yell." -Anna, 19
"Don’t be the entitled tourist. I had a dad call me an idiot because I was enforcing a state law by telling him his son was too young to be in the hot tub. Good to know I care more about his safety than you do. Also, don’t be the creepy one. I am not here for you to holler at and flirt with. I once had a group of men follow me around my rotations and shout inappropriate things at me. Later that night, they were waiting outside the park and I had to have another employee walk me to my car." -Olivia, 18
“Trust me when I say it means a lot when us life guards actually get a thank you. Two simple words that make us jump for joy! We appreciate you so much more when we know we are actually respected by some of our guests.” -Kate, 17
Next up, servers.
"If you come to a tourist town on vacation, you should have enough money to leave a good tip for your server. It's another story if your service was awful, but if you are simply being cheap, go to Taco Bell and be cheap there." -Matt, 21
"If you had a bad day at the water park, please leave all the bad at the water park. We don’t like to deal with mad, unhappy people who came in upset. Look at eating out as a way to get away from the bad day you had, and start fresh." -Sarah, 21
"Please don’t trash the table. That’s all I ask. Respect what isn't yours." -Sydney, 20
"I would advise you to come into the restaurant between busy periods. That way you don’t have to complain about the waiting and the craziness. You also get the best service during this time." Jess, 18
Finally, Attraction Workers!
"I work on the strip and as a worker and a driver, I just want to say don't run into the street. I repeat: DON'T RUN INTO THE STREET!!! Wait for the light to change. If you are the type of parent to use a leash on your kid, I would recommend to whip that sucker out" Jay, 21
"I'm a tour guide, and I can honestly say that working in the Dells is the absolute best and worst. But when I have older couples tell me they were here 50 years ago on their honeymoon, when everything was different, or when people say they remember the tour from when they were eight years old, I realize that I’m apart of a legacy that is over 150 years old and is much larger than myself. Knowing that 30 or 40 years from now my passengers will be saying that same thing to the next tour guide makes cleaning up the popcorn, nacho cheese, and ice cream completely worth it." Cara, 20
To the tourist reading this, thank you for letting us get these things off our chest. It’s been a long summer.
We genuinely do understand how important you are, and although we get annoyed, we DO appreciate you. Without you and your family vacation, we would not make the money we need for school, gas, our car payments, rent, etc...
Lastly, a special thank you goes out to all the kind hearted tourists that did their part and treated us, the facilities, and the area with respect. You guys are the real MVP’s and sometimes we focus more on the bad guys than all of you nice tourists out there. Just know you are never forgotten about in the long run.
So for all of you vacationers that are already planning your next trip to our tourist town, please remember all of these things, and try to treat us with the same respect you would want to receive.
The Dells is truly a great place to visit, and all we want is for you to enjoy your stay while we enjoy our work.
See ya soon!
Workers of A Tourist Town called The Wisconsin Dells