DELLS BUCKET LIST #9 - Going behind-the-scenes of RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!

Holding someone’s head in the palm of my hand, especially one detached from their body and shrunken down to the size of a coconut, is something I know I’ll never forget.

This admittedly freaky occurrence took place recently during my behind-the-scenes tour of downtown’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! “Odditorium,” where getting to hold a few of their authentic shrunken heads was one of the many highlights.

DELLS BUCKET LIST #8 - Going behind-the-scenes of WIZARD QUEST

They’re aren’t too many afternoons when one can say they experienced what it’s like to be inside the middle of a tornado, swam through a tunnel of plastic balls, and ate popcorn that tastes like beer, but all these out of the ordinary occurrences took place during my latest Dells Bucket List adventure - when I visited the 4D Special F/X Theater, Wizard Quest, and Oodlesmack Gourmet Popcorn.

Interview with Concept Attractions, Inc. President Kevin Ricks and General Manager Jim Gehrke

Spending a couple hours recently interviewing the minds behind Concept Attractions, Inc. was an entertaining, as well as highly educational experience that truly was inspiring. Kevin, along with his wife Corena Ricks, are owners of the successful downtown Wisconsin Dells businesses: Wizard Quest, Ripley's Believe It or Not, Dells 4D Theater, The Point, along with the recently opened Oodlesmack Popcorn shop, all of which are helped managed by Jim and Kelly Jo Gehrke. I’d like to thank both Kevin and Jim for taking time to share their behind-the-scenes stories and knowledge.




The famous phrase “I-Think-I-Can-I-Think-I-Can” was one that went through my head many nights as a child while drifting off to sleep after my mother read me the classic tale The Little Engine That Could. While I most likely haven’t thought of that saying in over of thirty years, it was the first thing that popped into my head the morning I recently went behind-the-scenes of the Riverside and Great Northern Railway for my latest Dells Bucket List adventure.

Interview with Riverside & Great Northern Railway members Bernie Hotzel and Steve Bradley

Getting to spend a morning going behind-the-scenes of such a unique place like the Riverside and Great Northern Railway is something I'll always remember. This learning experience was greatly enhanced by the preservation society member Bernie Hotzel and Steve Bradley, who kindly took the time to answer some of my many questions.


I can honestly say I never dreamed I’d be caught wearing a pair of cowboy chaps or even boots for that matter, but recently I was somehow convinced to be dressed in both of these Old West standbys in spite of knowing a camera was pointed in my direction.

Interview with Capone's The Old Time Picture Studio owner & son - Peggy Anderson and Jason Oksanan

Visitors to the Dells have been getting Old Time pictures taken of themselves at various studios around town for nearly four decades, but the oldest of the bunch is Capone’s The Original Old Time Picture Studio. It’s a place where you can fulfill your fantasy to dress up as a cowboy, gangster, or to wear Civil War and Victorian era costumes and not feel too silly while doing so. Owner Peggy Anderson and her son Jason Oksanan recently took the time to tell me a little about their unique business, and why they feel their studio is the best.


Getting stared down by two white tigers from just a few feet away is not something I recommend for the faint-hearted, but after spending a recent evening backstage going behind-the-scenes of Jeremy Allen’s Grand Illusions show, the sensation that I could become tiger dinner is something I won’t ever forget.

Interview with Jeremy Allen's Grand Illusions - Jeremy Allen

Magician Jeremy Allen is in his third year of performing an evening of mystifying illusions, adventure and comedy at the Wisconsin Dells Chula Vista Resort. Set in the lush rainforests of a distant land, he sets out to provide his audience with fun, excitement and the discovery of the impossible with his storytelling, humor & awe-inspiring illusions.

Jeremy recently took the time to sit down and tell a little about his life, his thoughts on magic, and what he's looking forward to in the future. 



DELL BUCKET LIST #4 – Making pancakes at MR. PANCAKE

I’ve tried to make pancakes probably a dozen times in my life, but each and every time the results have been less then desirable. If not burnt, they’ve ended up misshapen and sad looking, nothing like you would find at a restaurant. They especially never looked like the ones you’ll find at the Wisconsin Dells mainstay Mr. Pancake - where recently I got the opportunity to learn firsthand the secret for their delicious pancakes, waffles and crepes.

Interview with Mr. Pancake manager - Elizabeth Knoop

Getting to go behind-the-scenes of my favorite pancake place was made possible by the generosity of Elizabeth Knoop, who graciously took the time to answer some of my questions.



“Just drive into the lake.” - It’s not every day you hear these words while operating a moving vehicle, but that’s exactly what I was told during my latest Dells Bucket List adventure, when given the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream of getting behind-the-wheel of one of the Original Wisconsin Dells Ducks.

Interview with an Original Wisconsin Dells Ducks manager - Matt Oeftger

Matt Oeftger has worked for the Original Wisconsin Dells Ducks for the last seventeen years. He started off working as a teenage driver of the Ducks for a summer job, and now works as one of the company’s assistant managers. Matt’s joy for working at one of the Dell’s most-loved attractions was obvious as he took the time to answer some of my many questions, as well granting me one of my childhood wishes of driving one of the Original Wisconsin Dells world-famous Ducks for myself.




Not being much of an outdoorsman, it’s not too often I can say that I caught my own meal, but after spending a recent afternoon at one of Wisconsin Dells older attractions, I can now cross this off my list.

B&H Trout Fishing and Bait Shop was established in 1950, and is open year round every day from 6am until dark. Located on Highway 13, just seven miles north from downtown, the bait shop has everything you need for a great day of hunting or fishing. With a huge selection of tackle and live bait, B&H is a place where you can also get your fishing or hunting licenses, local maps, and even fishing tips if needed.

Interview with B&H Trout Farm owner - Kristina

Getting to spend an afternoon going behind-the-scenes of one of my childhood hangouts is something I won't forget anytime soon. This was made possible by the kindness of owner Kristina who took the time to answer some of my questions.

Dells Bucket List #1 - making SWISS MAID FUDGE

I've had bacon for breakfast many times during my lifetime, but a recent weekend marks the first that it was covered in chocolate. This surprisingly tasty concoction is just one of the many delicious handmade candy confections that can be found at Wisconsin Dells Swiss Maid Fudge, where I got to cross off something that has been on my Bucket List since I was a child. Getting the opportunity to make some of their world famous fudge – and taste all the delicious samples that went along with it.

Interview with Swiss Maid Fudge owner - Jane Heller

As I mentioned before, getting to make fudge at the Swiss Maid Fudge kitchen was a childhood dream of mine. Getting to cross this off my bucket list was made possible by the generosity of Jane Heller - who graciously took the time to answer some of my questions. 

Jane Heller & Daughter Carley