Top-Notch Waterskiing Revs up 60 Years of Thrills for Wisconsin Dells Show

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Tommy Bartlett Show earns its place in history as one of the longest running live water-ski shows. Still a family favorite in the popular Wisconsin Dells vacation destination.

Air Chair Ski

"Air Chair" Hydrofoil at the Tommy Bartlett Show Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

the Tommy Bartlett Show has always been about top-notch waterskiing

The water-ski action goes full-throttle on Lake Delton in Wisconsin Dells this summer as the Tommy Bartlett Water-ski Team takes audiences on a nostalgic ride through six decades of high-energy, show-stopping action on the water. The Tommy Bartlett Show kicks off its 60th summer season Memorial Day Weekend, a tribute to the staying power of this iconic attraction long popular with generations of vacationing families in the Midwest.

“Summer 2011 brings together some of the most talented water-skiers in the sport today. We are celebrating the roots of Tommy Bartlett waterskiing and where the sport has catapulted us today, as we commemorate 60 years of great family entertainment,” said Tom Diehl, general manager of Tommy Bartlett, Inc., who has been leading the organization for 45 of its 60 years.

This summer, the Tommy Bartlett skiers are “Livin’ the Dream” as they take to Lake Delton to showcase signature fast-paced trick skiing, barefooting, jumps, flips, pyramids and high-powered boat maneuvers. The Show takes a look back on the days-gone-by with the early ski stunts and nostalgic costuming of the 1950s when the Tommy Bartlett Show debuted. With a nod to the past, 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.

“At the heart of it, Tommy Bartlett Show has always been about top-notch waterskiing,” said Jeremy Armstrong, who is the Tommy Bartlett ski show director. “More than half of our skiers have performed in shows throughout the world. They hold titles in distance jumping, trick skiing, swivel ballet and barefooting – they deliver the goods.”

The show draws its water-ski performers from throughout Wisconsin which has scores of amateur ski clubs due to its abundance of inland lakes. As well, there are a growing number of water-skiers who hail from central Florida, another hotbed of water-ski talent.    

The Show is packing in more water-ski tricks this year and showcasing the high-energy, popular water sports like wakeboarding and jet-ski action. The Tommy Bartlett Show also features the latest power boats bringing the skiers in at high-speed and skillfully maneuvering the water stage area on Lake Delton. A new human-powered contraption, called the Aqua Skipper, also makes its debut. The Aqua Skipper is a hydrofoil that glides across the water using a hand pump, reminiscent of the old railroad handcars, but with the flare of a modern-day water toy.

“This summer’s extravaganza honors the history of the Tommy Bartlett Show, while at the same time looks at what’s hot or unique in water sports today,” added Diehl.

Another sight to behold is a longtime crowd favorite – the flight of the lighted hang-glider kite. Our daring pilot takes off from the Tommy Bartlett water stage, catapulted by speedboat to a height of 700 feet above the water. Audiences watch in amazement as the towline is released and the lighted kite gently glides through the night sky, the pilot guiding it down to the very spot from where he launched.

The 90-minute live Show comes ashore for its second half and features a menagerie of world-class thrill performers, comedians and acrobats on the Tommy Bartlett stage. Each evening Show is capped off with a grand finale featuring a laser-light show and Entrancing Water fountains, all set to a patriotic soundtrack. It’s a fitting end to a show that is synonymous with all-American fun on the lake.

“You just don’t find many shows like ours around anymore,” said Diehl. “We are proud to keep pushing forward to showcase the sport of waterskiing and provide great live family entertainment.”

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 $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $10 for children ages 6 to 11. Children age five and younger are free if they sit on an adult’s lap. Reserved seating is available at an additional cost. For more information, please call (608) 254-2525 or visit


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Andrea Novotny
Novotny Communications
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