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.

These three unique downtown destinations are owned by Kevin and Corena Ricks, who’ve strived to create fun, exciting, and informative attractions for both young and old in the Dells ever since they acquired Wax World of the Stars over twenty years ago.

Kevin, who started creating attractions at the age of twelve when he begun building haunted houses, first came to the Dells from Idaho during the summer of 1987. His father-in-law Norm Rollingson, the original owner of Wax World, brought him on as his marketing manager when he finished school: “I got a taste of the Dells, and that’s where I first said - I like this atmosphere!”  Eventually buying it from Norm, the Ricks had to brainstorm to find something exciting to replace Wax World after it had run its course. They did so by coming up with a one-of-a-kind creation – Wizard Quest.

Wizard Quest is a live action, interactive game played in a thirteen thousand square foot fantasy themed labyrinth. A magical world of mystical sounds, lights, dragons and fairies, the quest is to solve riddles and answer questions found throughout the realms of secret passages and concealed entrances, while trying to locate and release four imprisoned wizards.

While this may sound like something just for kids, I can attest that adults too will have a blast playing. If you allow yourself to immerse in this fantasy world of fun; climbing through tunnels, going through mirror mazes, sliding down slides, and finding trapdoors while searching for clues before time elapses, truly is an exhilarating experience.

When I first arrived, I promised myself I’d do everything at a leisurely pace. Having played earlier this year when my niece and nephew were in town, I already knew where one of the wizards was hidden. Not having to be slowed down by chasing kids around, I figured conquering it this time on my own would be child’s play. Little did I know this wouldn’t be the case…

Trying to find the other three surprisingly well hidden wizards, I found myself moving faster and faster as I saw that time was expiring. While I ended up finding them all with only minutes to spare, I have to admit, I worked up a pretty good sweat to do so. I now could see how general manager Jim Gehrke lost eighty pounds while working here over the last five years. He warned me: “There’s a lot of puffing and panting climbing around in there!”

If you plan on trying to conquer this ever-changing fantasy game yourself, I suggest wearing a good pair of running shoes, comfortable clothing, and to keep in mind that not everything you encounter is what it may seem. If you find yourself having difficulties figuring everything out, you can always ask one of the “Realm Rangers” for a clue - just look for the employees with the impressive beards. 

With all the running around I did at Wizard Quest, I definitely worked up an appetite. Luckily my next stop was right next door at the Ricks’ latest retail store - Oodlesmack Gourmet Popcorn. If you’re looking for a unique gift item, or just have a case of the munchies, Oodlesmack currently has more than forty different varieties of delicious gourmet popcorn to purchase. You can ask to sample any of their unique flavors, from a sweet white chocolate to the savory buffalo wing. The beer flavored one was surprisingly tasty.

After sampling the selection of popcorn, it was only natural to next make my way to the 4D Special F/X Theater. This is where I experienced being inside a twister while watching a highly immersive version of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. Sitting in seats that shake, with wind and lightning effects surrounding me, made watching one of my favorite movies even more enjoyable - even with the unexpected spray of a water to my face when the Wicked Witch of the West gets a bucket full thrown on her by Dorothy.

Wizard Quest, Oodlesmack, and the 4D Theater are open Friday through Monday during the off-season, and seven days a week starting in March. You can order popcorn online by visiting, and if you’d like to hear some behind-the-scenes stories from Kevin and Jim, please visit my website for a fascinating in-depth interview. 

For more information please visit:

- Chris Dearman

*** I'd like to thank everyone at Wizard Quest and Concept Attractions, Inc. - especially Kevin Ricks, Jim Gehrke, Kelly Jo Gehrke, Jessie Mistele and all the Realm Rangers. I'd also like to give a big shout-out to Jason Okansen for taking some photos - even while humbling around with a broken leg!