Wisconsin Dells sees lower than usual employment

Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 9:05 PM CDT
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WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (WMTV) - Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Water parks and attractions in the Wisconsin Dells are ready to make a splash, but many locations are doing it with a smaller staff.

“Our problem is labor,” Tom Diehl, Pres. of the Attractions Association and Tommy Bartlett Inc said. “We don’t have the young people that we used to have and then we put on top of that, the enhanced unemployment.”

Diehl said due to the pandemic, there’s also a shortage of J1 workers this summer in the Dells. Those are young employees from other countries who come to the United States on a work visa.

“Normally in the summertime, we’d have 3,200 J1 workers here,” Diehl said. “We’re going to be lucky to get 800 to 1,000, which means right now, there’s 25% of your J1 workforce that’s not going to be here.”

Employers at Noah’s Ark Water Park expect their staff will grow in size as the summer continues.”

General Manager Roland Reyes said Noah’s Ark is working to get back to a full staff of 500 waterpark employees. Reyes added that more J1 employees are expected to arrive every day.

Memorial Day weekend is a welcome sight to Wisconsin travel destinations like Wisconsin Dells.
Memorial Day weekend is a welcome sight to Wisconsin travel destinations like Wisconsin Dells.(WMTV)

“We’re very optimistic, so much so, that we’ve added eight operating days to our calendar season,” Reyes said.

The water park will now be open on eight Tuesdays from June 22 through August 10, when they were previously planning to close.

“We believe in the next few weeks we will be able to provide [our guests] with a full operation,” Reyes said.

As embassies start to approve more applications, Diehl is hopeful new works will come to start filling the gap.

“We’ve got to hope and pray that by the first part of July we might be at 50 or 60% of the J1s,” Diehl said.

Saturday was Noah’s Ark’s opening day for the summer. Right now, they’re closed every Wednesday this summer, but as mentioned above, they are open every other day of the week, including Tuesdays starting June 22. You can see their summer calendar by clicking here.

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