DELLS BUCKET LIST #23 - Going behind-the-scenes of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort

Recently, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of a place I’ve driven by numerous times, but never actually ventured into. While this was partly due to being someone that only goes camping once in a blue moon, the fact that it’s named after a cartoon character made me think it was strictly for families with small children. As it turns out, there’s a lot more things to do at this campground then stuff just for kids.

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort has been a Wisconsin Dells mainstay for over forty years. Located off of Interstate 90/94 on sixty acres, there are 250 campsites, fifty rental units, and room for group camping for over 1000 people.

Owner Brent Gasser, who gave me a personal guided tour of this cartoon Jellystone Park™ come to life, is a third generation Dells resident. In 1971, Brent’s parents were contacted by a franchise company looking to purchase the vacant land to build Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™, which was a brand new franchise concept by Columbia Screen Gems, now known as Warner Brothers. Instead of selling the land, his parents decided to build the property into their own resort, becoming a franchisee by paying a licensing fee. It became the third of now eighty Jellystone Parks™ in the United States and Canada.

While on a tour of the vast property by means of a golf cart, Brent told me: “My mother was a great visionary, in which she understood what mothers were looking for, and more specifically, what she wanted for families. My dad was the construction engineer, so they created all this. At the time there were zero plans for building a Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™, because there only had been two built. So they looked at the one in Sturgeon Bay, they looked at the one in Orlando, and then figured it all out themselves.”

Before becoming a forest campground resort, the property was farmland farmed long ago by his grandfather. I learned that Brent’s parents had a landscape architect transplant 3000 trees to the property to make a forest. He told me: “When we built the park, there weren’t any trees. Everyone said you are crazy building a campground on the interstate with no trees.” Looking around at the park forty years later, you would never know that the heavily wooded area was once bare.

Riding around the sixty acres on asphalt pathways, I got to see the various camping and lodging options that the park offers – everything from standard sites to set up your own tent, to eight person chalets that offer many of the comforts of home. Unique to the park is also the theme sites, where characterization of Yogi Bear™, Boo Boo™, Cindy Bear™, and Ranger Smith™ can be found.

The resort has plenty of amenities for both young and old alike. There’s a mini-golf course that can be played day or night, horseshoe pits, shuffleboard courts, a basketball court, and sand volleyball. There are also two arcades, an outdoor movie theater, hayrides, as well as the opportunity to explore beautiful Mirror Lake with paddleboats, canoes, and rowboats. Brent mentioned that since they are located in The Waterpark Capital of the World, in 2005 it was a no-brainer to add a water playground, which has twenty-five water features, a structure with four water slides, an activity pool with a spiral slide twenty-five feet high, and also a hot tub.

Besides all these ways to keep entertained, one of the things that I found really interesting was that they have twenty weeks of special themed events. For instance, the day of my visit was the start of their Hawaiian Paradise week. Besides the property being decorated with Hawaiian decor, there was going to be a Saturday night pool party with Hawaiian dancers, fire and knife juggling, singing, and music. Other weekly events include birthday celebrations for each character, as well as Christmas, Halloween, Mardi Grai, and Caribbean themed events, among others. 

When my tour concluded, I expressed my pleasant surprise in learning that they offered a lot more then just things for the little ones. He stated that this was often the case, but over the past forty years they’ve transitioned to being a family resort, and not just a campground. “What we do most is create lifetime memories, because they actually camp right next to each other outdoors. It’s very common that we have multiple family reunions that come back year after year – so it’s a great family experience. And now, it’s always interesting to see the grandparents with their grandchildren and to hear the stories of the grandparents coming here as children!”

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort is open May through September and offers many unique Yogi Bear™ themed activities such as character wake-ups, birthday parties, as well as autograph and photo sessions. For more information visit

YOGI BEAR and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Hanna-Barbera.         (s13)        

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