My family and I visited the Dells for the first time last week. We are from Missouri and are Verterans of The Lake of the Ozarks and Branson. We have two young boys (2 & 4) so we ended up staying at our hotel (The Raintree) and played in the small waterpark there most of the time. A few observations and comments I will throw out:
1 - People asked me if the Dells is like Lake Ozark or Branson and I answer neither. It has its own feel and charm.
2 - It seems to be thriving for the most part. With a wide variety of things to do. An interesting mix of 'old' establishments and the new.
3 - We ate well - Our dining took us from Arbys & Dennys to The Moose Jaw, Sarentos, and Houlihans. All of them were good with friendly people.
4 - There was a lot of people there - but nothing ever felt crowded. In Branson there are a lot a people there and it feels like it. Driving around was easy any time of day.
5 - The tourism is not really attached to 'The Dells'. I know there were boat tours on the lake but I was surprised that most attractions really had nothing to do with the lake. (At Lake Ozark a lot of things are connected to the lake).
6 - I found the international work force interesting. There was never any problem figuring out who was from Wisconsin and who was from Moscow. I think these workers see an interesting cross-section of America working in the Dells.
7 - Thank You Dells - we had a great time and plan to return when the boys get big enough to ride roller coasters and big waterslides.