Wisconsin Dells was originally a tourist destination due to its unique natural beauty and geological formations. The area’s captivating landscape, shaped by the Wisconsin River, carved deep gorges and canyons through the sandstone, creating stunning rock formations and scenic beauty. The striking natural beauty of these rock formations and the tranquil river flowing through them drew early explorers and settlers to the area. It continues to draw visitors, and what better way to appreciate these amazing rock formations than the Wisconsin Dells Duck tours?
The Duck tours feature amphibious vehicles that drive on land and boat on the water. They drive from the road right into the river and keep on chugging. There are two companies that run Duck tours, The Original Wisconsin Duck and the Dells Army Ducks. Which tour is better? Overall they are very similar though the Army tours are slightly more expensive. I think the deciding factor is if you are going to buy any associated tours with one company or the other. Let’s compare the essential details for each company.
Commonalities between the Wisconsin Dells Duck Tours
There are two companies offering duck tours in Wisconsin Dells. The Original Wisconsin Dells Tours and the Army Dells Tours. Both Wisconsin Dells Duck tours are great for all ages. The loading docks for each tour is about 1/2 mile from each other and very close to downtown. You load in from the dock on the Ducks. They have school bus-type bench seating without seatbelts. The ducks are open-air vehicles, so you get an up-close view of the water.
We’ve been on both tours and found them both to be a lot of fun and very similar. Both tours have 4.5-star reviews on Google though the Original Wisconsin Duck tours have about twice the number of reviews.
Both tours run from Mid-March to Mid-November. All the tours are approximately an hour long. They start with a safety briefing shortly after boarding.
Both tours have a small snack/food stand near the loading dock. Both places will also take a family photo that you can buy at the end of the tour.
The Original Wisconsin Ducks drive through beautiful narrow and winding roads before the first big splash down. The Dells Army Ducks skip the scenic drive and crash into the water twice within the first few minutes of the tour.
While both tours allow 3-year-olds and under to ride free, the Dells Army Duck tours are slightly more expensive. The Dells Army Duck tours are less than $1 more for each adult ticket but almost $4 more for kids between 4 years and 12 years.
Differences in the Details
|Original Wisconsin Ducks||Dells Army Ducks|
|Price||$36.30 for 12 years and over. |
$18.15 for 4-11 years.
3 and under are free and sit on the lap of an adult
|$36.99 for 12 and over.|
$21.99 for 4-11 years.
3 and under are free and sit on the lap of an adult
|Location||1890 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy||1550 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy|
|Operating Times||At least 10 am to 4 pm, but during the peak season from June to Labor Day, they run from 8 am to 7 pm||At least 10 am to 4 pm, but between Memorial and Labor Day they run 9 am to 6 pm|
|How often do the tours run?||Boats leave when they are full, and you don’t have to commit to a date or time when buying tickets.||You can pick your time when you buy the tickets, but you don’t have to. Tours leave every 15-60 minutes.|
|Buy Online||Check online, sometimes they have promo codes||There is a $3 fee to buy online vs. buying on the phone or in person|
|Associated Discounts||For each adult ticket you buy, you can get 50% off an adult ticket at Jet Boat Tours or Dells Boat Tours, which ends up being 25% off each ticket.||You can buy combo tickets with any of the associated attractions for a discount of 25-28% off the total price.|
|Map||Check out their map||The course varies depending on the weather but generally enters the water just behind the ticket area and spends some time in Lake Delton and the Wisconsin River.|
|Other Associated Attractions||Dells Boat Tours, Jet Boat Tours||Bigfoot Zipline, Bigfoot Ropes Course, Wild Thing Jet boat tour|
The Tour Guides
Both tours have a well-rehearsed comedic speech that focuses on puny and family-friendly jokes. Both tours provide some basic history about the area and the Dells. Be prepared at the end of the tour; they will hit you up to buy cheap gadgets (duck whistles or postcards) or request driver tips at the end of the tour.
Tips and Tricks for the Wisconsin Dells Duck Tours
It’s best to dress for the weather. These are open-air vehicles; you will be outside for over an hour. The tours still run in light rain, and sometimes this can be a good activity if you are willing to get a bit wet and want to avoid crowds on a drizzly day.
Don’t store purses or other items on the floor of the ducks. The vehicles make a big and fun splash when they enter the water. The passengers mostly stay dry but often a small wave of water flows across the floor.
No strollers are allowed, but you can leave them on the loading docks and keep your kid on your lap. Three years and under are free if they plan to sit on your lap. I did not pay extra for my active, almost 4-year-old to have his own seat. With him on my lap, he could see better, and I could keep a better handle on him, preventing him from leaning too far over the edge.
Overall the tours are very similar in price, location, and eligible riders. I think the deciding difference between the two is whether you want to buy additional tours with the associated attractions.
Both Duck tours have an associated Jet Boat tour. The youngest rides have to be at least 4 years old, and for the Wild Thing Jet Boat with the Dells Army Ducks, riders must also be at least 43 inches tall.
The Original Wisconsin Dells is connected to several other boat tours, including a sunset cruise, boat tours of the upper and lower areas, and a ghost boat tour (must be 4 and over). These boat tours would be great for couples or families looking for more views of the river and the dells.
The Dells Army Ducks is connected with Bigfoot Zipline course and Bigfoot Ropes Course. For the zipline, you must be at least 43 inches with a max weight of 275 lbs. For the ropes course, you must be at least 48 inches with a max weight of 274 lbs. The ropes course and zipline will surely please if your kids are older and more adventurous.
Wisconsin Dells has a host of options for restaurants. My favorite outdoor patios are River’s Edge Pub and Grub (great food), Ishnala Supper Club (amazing views and rustic vibe), and The Riverwalk Pub (located right downtown). If you are looking for more recommendations, check out my list of favorites.
Outdoor Attractions Nearby
Check out the two nearby state parks if you love the great outdoors and want more options. Rocky Arbor State Park is the small one and has a beautiful one-mile hike and a small playground. Mirror Lake State Park is a large park with tons of options. Several beautiful short hikes are a mile or less, or if you are itching for more, combine a few hikes, and there will be enough to keep you busy for hours. There is also a small beach and a place to launch kayaks.
You can also drive a little further to check out Wisconsin’s most popular state park, Devil’s Lake. There is a large beach, a challenging rocky climb, and options for real rock climbing.
The Lost Canyon Horse Tours is another fun way to see the Dells. It is a horse-drawn wagon ride to get an up-close look at th beautiful scenary.
If you like animals, check out Timbavati Zoo or the Wisconsin Deer Park.
Did I miss any important tips and tricks? Why do you love the Wisconsin Ducks?