I live near the Dells. It is a town that runs into the town of Lake Delton. The Dells ads tout it as the waterpark capital of the world.
Since the days of prohibition, the Dells was always the vacation spot for the big cities, like Chicago. Families traveled there to stay in rustic cabins and motels and shop or enjoy the Wisconsin River. Gangsters visited also. Unless some like Al Capone went farther north to Hayward.
When I was a kid, Lake Delton barely existed except as a small town near the Dells. Most of the tourist stuff was Broadway, the main drag in the Dells. Fort Dells was big and had a native area, reproduction of a western style fort, train, stagecoach and more. Over the years it went down hill til torn down.
Motels were added more and more. Many tried to emulate Vegas. Downtown had shops that offered tourist type goods, like native blankets, made in Japan and electric.
Others were real stores like hardware, grocery and a bank.
Time passed and Florida developers moved in, building resorts. Soon Tommy Bartlett water show was surrounded by all inclusive resorts. Which have bought up 2/3rds of the areas motels and shops and expanded.
The Dells movers and shakers always had disdain for tourists. Rip them off, new suckers will show up next week. Even though there was repeat visitors.
Now there are abut 5 huge resorts complexes that rule. Due to the way employees were treated and lousy wages, poor work conditions and horrid shifts, locals told the employers to go jump. So they went to J1s. In the beginning, a church sponsored them. Now a company. The idea is for college kids from foriegn countries to immerse themselves in English and America. What is reality is they come to party, cluster with their own and if you shop, barely can communicate in English. In the summer, you think the Dells is a foriegn country.
The employers use the kids. They have built dorms for them. Since J1s are not allowed with covid, the area has tried to get locals.
A neighbor and my boarder both work up there. Both hate going near the tourists who are acting like there is no pandemic.
Neighbor told me the resort he works for uses the J1s. They have to pay room and board. Two to a room. No cooking with microwave. So kids spend cash in fast food places. If one locks themselves out of their room, the dorm charges them $25 to unlock. Most go home owing money to credit cards.
He sees that maintenance does not use proper chemicals in pools. Kids swim and have open mouths and eyes in water that toddlers pee in. People walk barefoot on cement others spit on.
Mothers drag little babies into this mess.
He said the resort he is a carpenter for re-did the lobby part to the tune of 21 million. And built a new resort in another state for 91 million. But told employees they lost so much due to covid, no raises this year. As an owner flies out of his private hanger on his Lear jet.
I doubt that these resorts are much different than other tourist traps. He said people run their cards up without thought til the bill comes. A soda is $6 with ice. A small baked potato is $9.Want a meal, try $40 and up. Times are tough, yet people have to play. And pay.