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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Original Wisconsin Duck Tour and Upper Dells Scenic Tour

August 2012 

Duck boats
I originally thought we would book the Wisconsin Duck Tour with a 20% coupon I had, and then decide if we wanted to take another tour later. We ended up booking the package Duck Tour and Upper Dells Scenic Tour. Booking the package was a better deal than purchasing the tickets separately, because the cost was then 50% off for the second set of tickets. If you are not interested in more than one tour, I received the 20% off coupon by subscribing to Wisconsin Dells Deals via email. I was not able to use the 20% discount with the package discount.
View from our seat-Duck boat

The Original Wisconsin Duck Tour departs from the location on Wisconsin Dells Parkway, which is about 2 miles north of the Hilton Garden Inn where we were staying. It is on the same side of the road, and there is a sidewalk, so we decided to walk there. When we bought our tickets, we were told that the Duck Tour departs every 10 - 15 minutes. We observed a tour departing when we arrived around 9:20 - 9:25 a.m. 

Because we were the first passengers for the next tour out, we were able to sit right up front where we had a better view; however, we did not depart 10 - 15 minutes later. It was 1/2 hour later before the boat was filled, and the tour did not leave until all of the seats were filled, which was just before 10 a.m.

View from Duck tour

The ride was informative and fun. We had a great view, although I thought we would have been better off if we had taken a seat in the back. The diesel fumes every time the boat went in the water were quite strong. My husband seemed to think that this would be around us no matter where we had been seated. We went in and out of the water a few times, sightseeing by land and water. We observed deer during one of our trips through the woods on land, and that is the only wildlife we saw.
Duck boat route--
Up the river, back out on land,
and down the hill back into the water

Other than the fact that we waited so long before departing, this was an enjoyable excursion. If you are only interested in the Duck Tour, and purchase tickets with a 20% discount, this is a great value. The tour was a little over an hour long.

Lower Dells-Duck tour

Upper Dells boat
The Upper Dells Scenic Tour departs from downtown, and there is a shuttle between the two locations. We did not go on the scenic tour first because that trip did not start until 10 a.m. If we had known that the Duck Tour was not going to leave until 10:00, we would have taken the shuttle downtown and gone on the scenic tour first. I imagine the Duck Tour fills up quicker later in the day, and therefore, rides probably do head out every 10 to 15 minutes in the afternoon. 

Upper Dells

We were told that the Scenic Tour leaves every 20 to 30 minutes, and again we waited until the boat was nearly full before departing. A boat had just departed, and it was 45 minutes later before the next boat was almost full. I think if we had reversed the order of our trips, we still would have waited up to 45 minutes for the Scenic Tour to depart, and then only 10 to 15 minutes for the Duck Tour.

If it is a hot day when you are going on the Scenic Tour, I definitely suggest a trip in the morning or late in the day, rather than in the middle of the afternoon like we did. The Scenic Tour boat travels in the sun with no cover (unless you sit inside the boat on the lower level where the view is not as good). It was very hot with almost no breeze on the top of the boat. Since the Duck Tour travels through the woods, and there is a cover/roof on the boat, you can be in at least partial shade on that tour.
Upper Dells 2nd stop

The seats on top of the boat for the Upper Dells Tour were webbed lawn chairs, which were connected to each other, and not to the floor. There were three chairs on each side, with a skinny aisle in the middle. Since most people travel in pairs, there were a few empty seats in the center. There was not much room between the chairs, and I was surprised that there was not a weight limit posted for roof seating because the web chairs were not high quality, nor were they very sturdy.

Since the chairs were not attached to the floor, and it was such close quarters, the rows of connected chairs were bumped by almost every passenger going to the front of the boat. The chair sections slid back and forth every time this happened. And, since the chairs were such low quality, I observed one oversized passenger pop a bolt out of a chair when he sat down, and then he sat sideways in the broken chair for the remainder of the trip. The size of the seats on top of the boat reminded me of folding chairs. The cushioned bench seats inside the boat looked comfortable, although we did not try them. 
Second stop--Upper Dells

This tour had a couple stops, which we enjoyed. There was a restroom and a concession stand at both stops. They told us that the second stop was a difficult and steep walk, but we did not think it was that bad. A few of the passengers on our boat had difficulty walking, and everyone was able to walk the route without any problems.
Upper Dells

This was supposed to be a 2-hour excursion, and our trip was about 15 minutes longer than that. The extra time was not too much of a problem, except that it was way too hot to be on top of the boat. It was 90+ degrees and mostly sunny the day of our tour. I was surprised that we did not travel faster on the return trip since we were a bit over on our time, and it was so hot out. We certainly would have appreciated a stronger breeze and less time in the heat!

We did not have any real complaints or compliments about either trip. Both excursions were "okay" and mildly enjoyable. With the discount, our cost was around $70 for two people for both trips. That was not counting tips or purchases, which were pushed on both tours.