I nervously eye the long, clear tube. Ten stories high, it plunges steeply down, tilts to a 45-degree angle while making an enormous loop-de-loop, then drops into a narrow chute, where it deposits its contents — humans. Dubbed the Scorpion’s Tail, it’s one of the newer rides at Noah’s Ark, an outdoor waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Will I have the guts to try this ride? I’ve done all of the signature rides in the past. Like the Point of No Return, another 10-story wonder, where you lay down in a waterslide, cross your hands over your chest — as if you’re lying in a coffin — and make a nearly-vertical plunge to the bottom. And the Stingray, a rather innocuous-looking ride for two that nearly stops your heart when it appears as if you’ll fly off the slide and into the park below.
But the Scorpion’s Tail is different. This bad-boy truly appears menacing. There are the various escape hatches cut into the tube, for one. Apparently if you’re a bit super-sized, you can get stuck in the tube, while those who are too slight may not have enough oomph to be pushed through the loop’s arc, sliding back down to the loop’s bottom, then stopping — stuck in the ride. Talk about claustrophobia! And then there’s the start of the ride itself. You must walk into a telephone booth type of enclosure, listen to a countdown, then wait for the floor to drop out beneath you, depositing you straight into the tube.
Despite my reservations, I find myself sealed in the phone booth enclosure, listening to the countdown: 3, 2, 1 …
In Your Bucket Because…
- It’s America’s largest waterpark.
- It’s in popular Wisconsin Dells, waterpark capital of the world.
- Good for adventurers, water buffs and families.
Great Summer Fun
Noah’s Ark, opened in 1979, is America’s largest outdoor waterpark. When the park added the Scorpion’s Tail in 2010, there were only a handful of other similar rides in the world, and the one at Noah’s Ark was tallest. In summer 2012, the park will debut another new ride, Quadzilla. Billed as a four-lane water dragway, visitors will race down the slides — head-first.
But there’s a lot more to the park than hair-raising rides. The park features 51 water slides ranging from sedate to menacing. Some are solo deals, while others are for two or more riders. There are also two spacious wave pools, two Endless Rivers and four children’s water play areas. When you get a bit waterlogged, you don’t have to leave; there are also bumper boats, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a 4-D movie theater and an indoor haunted attraction.
The park offers the usual assortment of food and drink (pretzels, pizza, ice cream, candy, soda), plus five gift/clothing shops. Don’t worry if you forgot something; the shops collectively boast the largest selection of swim and surfwear in the Midwest.
Now back to the Scorpion’s Tail. Yes, I went down. And didn’t get stuck in the tube. But because I was plummeting more than 50 feet per second, I emerged from the ride with an atomic wedgie. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Plan to spend most of the day there; about six hours should be plenty.
- To avoid lines, go in June, on a cooler day or when rain is forecast. Lines also start to dwindle around 4 p.m., and are traditionally shorter on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Go to the most popular rides when the park first opens, and/or later in the day.
- To save some money, pack a lunch.
- Don’t ever pay full price! Some Dells motels offer free Noah’s Ark tickets with a night’s stay, and there are coupons everywhere (in Dells stores, online, as part of coupon books, etc.).
- Towels aren’t provided.
- Want more info on the Dells area? I’ve written an app guidebook: Wisconsin Dells.
Copyright 2012, Melanie Radzicki McManus. All rights reserved.