‘We’re ready to adapt’: Wisconsin Dells plans for season full of unknowns

Pirate's Cove

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – Most years, this is the time Wisconsin Dells businesses would be getting ready for the busy season. This year, they’re instead preparing for how they might reopen during a time full of unknowns.

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf usually opens to mini-golfers in mid-March, weather-permitting, according to manager Dominic Flath.

“It’s very strange not to see people out here,” Flath said. “Planning has been extremely difficult.”

With so much still up in the air, he said predicting an opening day is impossible.

Preparing this season looks different at restaurants, too. While Pizza Pub’s dining areas are closed, the restaurant has its employees using masks and is offering customers curbside pickup and contact-less delivery

Merije Ajvazi, director of operations at Pizza Pub, said the business has also donated hundreds of pizzas to the international students here to work for the season.

“We would like to get back to normal, but we’re conscious of the fact that there will be a new normal,” Ajvazi said. “We’re ready to adapt.”

“I think summer is definitely going to look different this year,” said Romy Snyder, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Dells Visitors & Convention Bureau. “Certainly, we’re cautiously optimistic. It’s early May now.”

Snyder said different businesses will have to make different types of changes.

“We understand it will be a slow process. There will be additional rules and restrictions,” Snyder said. “It’s always trying to anticipate what those changes will be and how each individual business adjusts what they do to welcome visitors back safely.”

For Pizza Pub, Ajvazi said that means staff continuing to wear masks, as well as potentially limiting capacity to spread out guests and switching to paperless menus once they fully reopen.

While there is concern less tourists will visit this season, “we want to make sure our guests feel safe to come visit us,” Ajvazi said.

At Pirate’s Cove, the new normal includes hand sanitizer stations, screens on ticket windows and disinfecting putters and golf balls after each use. Flath said the activity of mini-golfing extends itself well to social distancing with the right procedures.

“We just look forward to seeing people out here again, allowing people to make memories again,” Flath said.

Monday kicks off National Tourism Week.

“This year will have more of a meaning given that all hospitality businesses nationwide are facing the same predicament,” Snyder said. “So we’ll use this time to lift each other up and make sure people understand how important tourism is to every local economy.”