So, you all thought Mickey Mouse was the first famous cartoon character to give birth to a park/entertainment complex in Orlando, Florida. Well, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera knew better. And so does long-time animator Mark Kausler.
Some time in 1969—before Disney World—the sod was turned on construction of a Jellystone Park resort, complete with likenesses of your favourite Jellystone cartoon characters (all three of them). The resort apparently carried on until 1996. The Orlando Sentinel of July 10 reported the property was too valuable for a campground so it had been sold, 25 employees were being let go and 100 families who lived on the grounds were being told to pack their pic-a-nic baskets and go.
It seems parts of the park had been going to seed for some time. Mark paid a visit, as he relates in this note he sent along with his What-I-Did-on-My-Vacation photo album.
Back in 1989, my wife and I spent about 8 months at Disney World working on a Roger Rabbit short, "Roller Coaster Rabbit". Every once in awhile we would make field trips around the state and one day ran into Jellystone on Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. Evidently built in 1974 [sic] by the postcards herewith enclosed, the park was in semi-ruins by the time we visited. I love the shot of the ruined Yogi teeter-totter, and beat-up miniature golf course. That postcard shows some really moth-eaten Yogi and Cindy costumes! Anyway, I thought you might get a kick out of some of these old postcards and snapshots. That's me attempting to grab Yogi's picnic basket, a day I shall never forget!
JELLYSTONE PARK POSTCARD
KIDS HAPPY BEARS NOT CGI.
NO RESIDUALS TO WARREN FOSTER FOR PUN
“I’LL BEAT THE KELLOGG’S OUT OF YOU!”
TEETER TOTTER HAS SEEN BETTER DAYS
BOO BOO POINTS AT PAINT CAN
DO PIXIE AND DIXIE LIVE HERE?
MARK KAUSLER, PIC-A-NIC BASKET THIEF
CUE HOYT CURTIN’S RUNNING MUSIC
CATCH A STOUT TROUT LIKE YOGI
RANGER SMITH DIRECTS TRAFFIC
CINDY BEAR IS A GOLF HAZARD
By the way, there are still plenty of Jellystone Parks around. You can read about how they started at the company’s web site.Sure, the owner may have met John Wayne. But he never got vacation pictures from a guy who animated Tony the Tiger.
Yowp note: Tim Hollis has sent me a note about the post:
Great photo feature on the Jellystone in Orlando! One of these days I'm going to get around to a book on cartoon-related roadside businesses and attractions. Meanwhile, in a related topic, you might not be aware that Florida also had the only known location in the Jellystone company's attempt to start a chain of Yogi Bear Family Motor Inns.
See the attached, which appears in my upcoming book from the University Press of Florida, WISH YOU WERE HERE: CLASSIC FLORIDA MOTEL & RESTAURANT ADVERTISING. Publication date is October 2011. Below is the caption that accompanies this illustration in the book:
The chain of Jellystone Park campgrounds was a familiar sight along the highways in the 1970s, but in 1975 the company decided to expand into the motel business with Yogi Bear’s Family Motor Inns. The only location known for sure to have opened, though, was at Bunnell, across the street from a failing attraction known as Marco Polo Park. Notice that the architect got clever and depicted Yogi running across the lawn with a stolen “pic-a-nic basket,” with Ranger Smith in pursuit. Another motel was planned for Danville, Virginia, but it soon became obvious that the whole idea was a big boo-boo.
It also seems that over the years there has been some confusion about the fiberglass figures from the campgrounds as they relate to a set that appeared at each of the locations in the short-lived Yogi Bear's Honey Fried Chicken restaurant chain (a subsidiary of Hardee's in the late 1960s/early 1970s). You might have seen this before, but this thread gives the sad story of the place in North Carolina where many of the statues ended up in an eyesore of a dump: