WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) - Our cool summer combined with the poor economy served as a one-two punch for some attractions in the Wisconsin Dells area.
Ross Merel, of Chicago, has vacationed with his family in the Dells for years. This year, however, is different. Ross is out-of-work and on a tight budget.
"Right now, I would be unable to afford staying at a hotel," says Merel.
So, he's pitching his tent at Yogi Bear's Camp Resort.
"It's very economical to go camping," Merel says.
That's a financial mind set that has become quite popular this summer in the Dells.
"Camping is seeing an upsurge," says Yogi Bear's Camp Resort owner Brent Gasser. "We're a vacation you can afford."
Gasser says a family of four can camp for one night for $19.
"We've been up about 10-percent, this year, in camper nights," he adds. "That's probably one of the largest increases we've seen in years."
Across town, the screams of excitement aren't quite as frequent at Noah's Ark.
"Because of the weather, most of our weekends were rained out or cold, and because of that our numbers are down slightly," says Noah's Ark owner Tim Ganz.
The water park's season is 108-days this year. Ganz says more than half of them have been targeted by Mother Nature.
"We're not complaining, a lot of people came to the area," he says. "They may not have came to us, but they supported the whole area and that's what it's all about."
Ganz says spending at the water park is actually up. He attributes that to families taking one major vacation as opposed to several smaller ones.
"We've seen a lot of that," Ganz says.
Back where Yogi is king, Ross Merel is ready to enjoy the great outdoors at what he calls a great price.
"For what we pay for one night of hotel, we get for a weekend of camping," he says.
In 2008, tourism spending in Wisconsin Dells was about $1.07 billion. The visitor and convention bureau expects that figure to be about the same this year.
The final day at Noah's Ark and several other outdoor attractions is this Monday, Labor Day.