Tommy Bartlett Show at Wisconsin Dells to close permanently due to pandemic

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Photo: Tommy Bartlett Show

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (WTVO) — After nearly 70 years in business, the Tommy Bartlett Show says it suffered a catastrophic loss in business due to the coronavirus pandemic and will permanently close.

The owners made the decision to close the long-running water ski show for the 2020 season in May, and hoped to reopen next Summer.

On Wednesday, President and Co-Owner Tom Diehl said that was now impossible.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the Tommy Bartlett Show will not be able to make a comeback in 2021 as we had hoped,” Diehl said in a statement. “After 69 years, we are permanently shuttering the business. From May through September 6, we experienced a complete loss of revenue when we had to cancel our 2020 summer season on Lake Delton due to the pandemic. Each fall, we begin to plan for the next season, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the future of the pandemic and travel, we cannot undergo additional financial risk and investment to begin planning for summer 2021. While we are grateful that we have had almost seven decades of entertaining visitors in Wisconsin Dells, we have no choice but to close the Show.”

The Show began in 1952, first as a touring water-ski exposition that traveled to World’s Fairs, on U.S.O. tours and to other cultural exchange programs. It became a permanent fixture on the shores of Lake Delton in 1953 and evolved into a mix of waterskiing and high-speed boating, thrilling stage acts and comedy.

The Tommy Bartlett Show is one of Wisconsin’s most beloved classic attractions entertaining over 30 million visitors and performing more than 18,700 shows throughout its history. It was one of the longest-running live, outdoor entertainment shows of its kind in the world.

The company’s year-round attraction, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, will remain open.

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