Load up the Troops for a Unique Experience Aboard Wisconsin Ducks

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Nostalgic land-and-water tours are a "must-do" activity for families visiting Wisconsin Dells. The classic tours traverse exclusive wilderness trails during spring, summer and fall in this popular Midwest vacation destination.

OWD Splashdown

Original Wisconsin Ducks splash down into the scenic Wisconsin River for up-close views of the bluffs. The tour features an exclusive wilderness trail system.

New visitors are amazed by the natural beauty of our private Duck trails.

Traveling the scenic trails of Wisconsin Dells, a cruise down the river and a splashdown into Lake Delton – all aboard one vehicle. The Original Wisconsin Ducks marks its 73rd season this year, providing land-and-water tours in Wisconsin Dells. The Ducks are a great family experience aboard authentic World War II amphibious vehicles – a unique tour that continues to be an essential part of any Wisconsin Dells vacation.

“The Ducks are very nostalgic for vacationers who come to Wisconsin Dells,” said Dan Gavinski, general manager of Original Wisconsin Ducks. “People throughout the Midwest reminisce about taking a tour with us when they were kids, and now they are back with their children or grandchildren, loading up the troops for a Duck tour.”

From mid-March to mid-November, the Ducks travel an exclusive trail system just off the bustling parkway of hotels, attractions and waterparks that draws visitors to this family-friendly destination located a little more than three hours from either Chicago or Minneapolis. Yes, there is a quiet side to the Dells and no, this is not a city tour.

Original Wisconsin Ducks owns and maintains these 200 acres known as the Lower Dells Scenic Park. The area has been preserved in its natural state, with Duck trails following paths that were originally cut by stagecoach runs and rivermen who worked this land in the mid- 1800s. Original Wisconsin Ducks wind through the pristine woods, taking passengers into fern-filled dells, squeezing between rocky gorges and to the tops of bluffs that line the Wisconsin River.

“New visitors are amazed by the natural beauty of our private Duck trails,” said Gavinski. “We take pride in continuing to preserve this land so that generations to come can enjoy it.”

The amphibious nature of the Duck vehicles themselves are also a big draw and why people say – “You gotta do the Ducks!” Each Original Wisconsin Ducks tour makes two splashdowns during the one-hour, 8½-mile excursion. The first takes passengers into the Wisconsin River, where they can see the towering sandstone cliffs that line the riverbank. These beautiful rock formations are what first drew sightseers to the region, long before the manmade attractions of today. After a short cruise downriver, passengers experience an amphibian landing, where the Duck drives back up on shore. The second splashdown takes sightseers into Lake Delton.

It’s this unique capability that earned Ducks their reputation as workhorse vehicles during WWII. They were developed to reach areas that other military craft could not. Ducks carried thousands of troops and tons of supplies to the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific; shuttling from the large battleships right to the beachfront and up and onto the land. More than 2,000 Ducks were used in the historic D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 at Normandy, France, which is touted as the greatest amphibious operation in history. Military leaders applauded the handy vehicle, a far cry from early doubts about the vessel which almost kept it from production. In all, General Motors manufactured 21,200 Ducks for the war effort from 1942 to 1945.

Today, Original Wisconsin Ducks holds the distinction of being the industry’s longest running amphibious Ducks tour in the country, having opened in 1946 and boasting a fleet of 92 of the authentic WWII vehicles.

The operation works hard to maintain the legacy of these distinct amphibious vehicles. Custom-made parts and hands-on craftsmanship of a highly-skilled maintenance team, keep the Ducks in ship-shape. While the Ducks are from the WWII era, the vehicles have undergone a variety of modern mechanical and safety upgrades to ensure the performance and viability of the fleet. When finished, the Ducks are essentially like new again. Original Wisconsin Ducks has a first-rate crew of mechanical professionals and expert metal workers who have more than 210 combined years of experience working on the vehicles.

“With the collective years of experience that our crew has, they have become specialists in maintaining our novel fleet,” said Gavinski. “We take pride in preserving these historically significant vehicles and so that generations of visitors can enjoy this part of America’s heritage.”

With 92 vehicles, Original Wisconsin Ducks is the largest WWII amphibious tour Duck operation in the United States and is the longest running tour. There are about a dozen Duck tours nationwide, with only about 300 operational Ducks combined. Original Wisconsin Ducks’ 2018 season runs mid-March through mid-November, weather permitting. Tours run every few minutes during the peak summer season. For more information about Original Wisconsin Ducks, please call (608) 254-8751 or visit http://www.wisconsinducktours.com.

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Andrea Novotny
Novotny Communications
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