Iconic Tommy Bartlett Show Celebrates 60 Years of High-Energy Waterskiing in Wisconsin Dells

Share Article

Celebrate 60 years of fast-paced water-ski action with the Tommy Bartlett Show this summer. Jumps and flips; barefooting, wakeboarding and daredevil thrill acts are all part of the family favorite show in Wisconsin Dells.

TB Show Triple Helicopter

Triple Helicopter Trick Tommy Bartlett Show

the young talent of today brings audiences cheering into the new millennium with new-fangled ski apparatus and tricks

For six decades, vacationers have gathered on the shores of Lake Delton near Wisconsin Dells to gaze at the spectacular and daring water-ski maneuvers that are the cornerstone of the renowned Tommy Bartlett Show. This summer, the Show celebrates 60 years of performances on its exclusive lakeside water stage, marking the milestone with breathtaking entertainment and drawing back scores of former Tommy Bartlett employees for a special Alumni Reunion Weekend at the end of June. The Show kicks off its summer season Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re very proud to be 60 years old and still going strong, taking audiences on a nostalgic ride through six decades of top-notch waterskiing on Lake Delton and beyond,” said Tom Diehl, general manager of Tommy Bartlett, Inc., who has been leading the organization for 45 of its 60 years.

The Show’s roots date back to 1952, when popular Chicago radio and television host - the late Tommy Bartlett - created a travelling water-ski and boat show, after seeing a Cypress Gardens water-ski show perform in Chicago three years prior. The “Tommy Bartlett Water Ski & Jumping Boat Thrill Show” went on the road and its first stop was on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wis. Next up was Wisconsin Dells, where a crew of 12 water-skiers and boat drivers dazzled an audience of 1,500 spectators with a performance on the Wisconsin River.

The local Chamber of Commerce was impressed. Bartlett saw great potential in the bustling family travel destination and accepted the Chamber’s invitation to make Wisconsin Dells the Show’s permanent site. The following summer, in 1953, the Show set up on Lake Delton and performed four times daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, what has become the Show’s traditional summer run.

Flash forward to today and the Tommy Bartlett Show stands as one of the most iconic entertainment destinations in the Midwest. It is one of the last professional water-ski shows of its kind in the country and is held in high esteem by many in the water-ski industry. Consequently, the Show draws some of the best talent in the sport today, many of whom travel the world performing and competing at other times of the year, only to find their way back in the Bartlett lineup each summer.

“Anyone in the ski show world would be thrilled to say they are a Tommy Bartlett Show skier,” said Jeremy Armstrong, who is the Tommy Bartlett ski show director. “We have award winning skiers. We’ve got the goods and audiences are sure to appreciate it.”

Skiers take to the water twice a day, showing visitors why they are “Livin’ the Dream,” with their signature fast-paced trick skiing, barefooting, jumps, flips, pyramids and high-powered boat maneuvers. The Show makes a nod to the past highlighting the early ski stunts and nostalgic costuming of the 1950s. And with time warp speed, the young talent of today brings audiences cheering into the new millennium with new-fangled ski apparatus and tricks that pack a whole lot of “wow” into this iconic show that’s become a traditional family affair throughout the generations.

Not to be outdone by the signature waterskiing, other elements of the 90-minute live Tommy Bartlett Show are staged on land and high above the crowd. A menagerie of world-class thrill performers, comedians and acrobats fill the second half of the Show.     

In celebration of the milestone year, current and former staff will gather in Wisconsin Dells for a special Tommy Bartlett 60-Year Employee Reunion June 29 to July 1, 2012. Several hundred alumni skiers and stage acts, as well as behind-the-scenes production, food, ticket and administrative staff are all expected for a weekend of reminiscing and fun.

“The Tommy Bartlett crew is really like a very large extended family and it’s important that we gather once in a while to look back on the good times and look ahead to keeping the Show going into the future,” said Diehl.

The Tommy Bartlett Show is the one of Wisconsin Dells’ quintessential attractions. Generations of families have enjoyed a visit to the Show each summer during their Wisconsin Dells vacation. The Tommy Bartlett Show runs daily, rain or shine, at 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. General admission tickets are $21 for adults, $16.80 for seniors and $11 for children ages 6 to 11. Children five and younger are free if they sit on an adult’s lap. Reserved seating is also available. For more information, please call (608) 254-2525 or visit tommybartlett.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andrea Novotny
Novotny Communications
(608) 575-7739
Email >
Visit website