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Yogi Bear campground upgrades, expands

| Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 7:05 p.m.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier he newest water park, built last year at the upper end of the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park resort, includes a pool, two additional slides known as Hurricane Mountain and a Caribbean-themed spray park known as Pirate Lagoon. Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier

The new restaurant offers three-meals a day, including a breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. on weekends that is open to the public.

Campers at Yogi Bear Jellystone Park camp resort in Mill Run are experiencing the newly constructed 6,500-square-foot space in the most recently developed area at the top end of the resort that houses a store, a restaurant and a deck that overlooks the pool, spray zone and waterslide area.

Each year owner Randy Work tries to commit to adding something new or updating the facilities in some way that will benefit the campers.

"We want to strive to develop and run the best camping facility possible and to do that, we need to continue to expand and offer the unusual camping experience," he said.

The camping resort had meager beginnings, opening in 1974 as Mill Run Campground with just 40 camping sites.

Today there are more than 200 campsites, 43 cabins, a snowless snowtubing track, ceramics, massage area, night-time movies, scavenger hunts, themed weekends and two water parks.

The lower water park includes a swimming pool, two 400-foot slides and a small spray zone. The newest water park, built just last year at the upper end of the resort includes a pool, two additional slides known as Hurricane Mountain and a Caribbean-themed spray park known as Pirate Lagoon.

In recent years, Work and his family were able to purchase additional property in order to expand the park and develop the upper end.

Operations Manager Tracy Czambel said that with the purchase of the additional property, they decided to create a new entrance in that area. The former entrance was beginning to be too small and crowded with the growth of the park as well as the continually expanding size of campers, she said. "We just had too short of a driveway and needed to redo the entrance."

With the new entrance, Work decided to construct a new pool and water park in that area, quickly making it the new center of the campground for activities.

Because of that, a store and restaurant were needed. The old store was located at the former entrance and a little out of the way.

Construction on the new store and restaurant began in August last year and was completed in March.

While the former restaurant had the typical hamburger, hot dog, pizza and other quick-pick foods, Czambel said the new restaurant offers three meals a day, including a breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. on weekends, that is open to the public.

"We wanted to offer a variety of foods on the menu as well as a lot more dinner specials, like barbecue chicken and ribs," she said. "We'll always have hoagies and pizza and those other quick hits, but we wanted to be able to offer more."

Work said they are planning to renovate the former store at the lower end of the resort to offer a larger Laundromat, a small fitness area and a rental facility for business meetings, receptions or showers.

With all of the expansion, the resort has become a five-star campground. Within the Yogi Bear franchise, it has garnered such awards as camp resort of the year, operator of the year, customer service award, recreation award and, consistently, the Pinnacle Award.

"We are now a destination," Work said. "People come here to enjoy what we have to offer because we offer an experience that most RV parks don't.

"Our cabins have cable, television, heating and air conditioning and Wi-Fi, and some have fireplaces, refrigerators, stoves and screened-in front porches," he added. "There isn't much lacking as far as what our customers want."

While Work did not name any specific future upgrades or expansions, he did say they are continuously looking at different and unusual ways to expand.

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