Tommy Bartlett Show to close permanently due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Tommy Bartlett Show in Wisconsin Dells will close permanently due to the catastrophic loss of business income from the pandemic fallout, a news release said on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Owners of the water-ski, sky, and stage show -- known as the "best show on H2O" -- made the difficult decision in May to shutter the attraction for its 2020 summer run due to restrictions on large gatherings because of COVID-19.

Tommy Bartlett Show, Wisconsin Dells

Tommy Bartlett Show, Wisconsin Dells

The show would normally run two shows daily from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. They had hoped as the year progressed, there would be a clearer picture of the possibility of re-opening next summer for the Show’s historic 70th season.  

When the Show was shuttered for this summer, 115 seasonal employees lost their summer jobs. The permanent closure will not affect, at this time, the small staff of seven year-round employees of Tommy Bartlett, Inc., many of whom have been with the operation for decades.


Tommy Bartlett Show, Wisconsin Dells

The residual effect of shuttering the Tommy Bartlett Show also includes loss of a major live entertainment option for Wisconsin Dells visitors.  

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

Statement from Tom Diehl, president and co-owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show:

"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. 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."