Tommy Bartlett Show cancels summer 2020 season: 'A very difficult decision'

WISCONSIN DELLS -- The Tommy Bartlett Show will not be opening for the 2020 summer season due to Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order and uncertainty of when businesses can resume operations.

The water ski, sky, and stage show was slated to begin its 69th summer run in Wisconsin Dells on Friday, May 22 of Memorial Day weekend. With most businesses ordered shutdown statewide through May 26 and the uncertainty of large gatherings being allowed, the decision was made to not open the show this summer.

Tom Diehl, president and co-owner of the Tommy Bartlett Show issued the following statement:

"This is a very difficult decision for us to make, but having a little more than a 100-day window in which to host our Shows, leaves us with limited options to proceed."

Diehl says canceling the summer Tommy Bartlett Show is catastrophic to a small, family-owned business where all of the yearly revenue is generated in a three-month period between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The residual effect of shuttering the show also includes loss of a major live entertainment option for visitors and cancellation of a multitude of vendor contracts for outside agencies and suppliers who support the show.

The company has notified its seasonal staff of 115 that they can no longer provide jobs for them this summer. Employees include stage performers and water-skiers, as well as seasonal ticket agents, concession workers, sound and lighting personnel, stagehands and grounds crew.

“I am saddened that we will not be having a Tommy Bartlett Show this summer,” said Jill Diehl, who is executive vice president and general manager of Tommy Bartlett Inc.

The Diehls add that while the Show will be dark this summer, they are optimistic in looking to summer 2021.

"While we know there are no guarantees, we are going into this with the forethought that this will not be the end. We will push forward with a plan to reopen the Show in 2021,”" said Jill Diehl.

As the health crisis eases, the company expects that its other attraction, Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, will reopen. The interactive science center had already put in place safe distancing measures and extra cleaning protocols before the complete shutdown. The company is focused on keeping its small staff of year-round employees working through this time helping run the Exploratory and keeping up basic operations.