“Advance bookings are up 31% so far this year compared to last year,” said Dana Gabriel, who co-owns the park with her mother, Susan Davis. “We have reservations all the way out to November,” she said in a joint announcement from the park and from franchisor Leisure Systems Inc.
The mother-daughter team has been busy making improvements to their park, which features 70 RV and tent sites and four rental units.
The latest improvements include a new athletic field in front of the park that includes a gaga pit and a human foosball court.
“We’re trying to hit the ‘tween’ market a little better,” Gabriel said, adding, “human foosball is also a great team-building activity for corporate events.”
Numerous themed weekends are also planned. They include a Wild West Weekend July 31 – Aug. 2 with barrel races, roping and cow pie eating contests.
Gabriel and Davis’ Halloween-themed weekends have also proven to be so popular that they are planning to have six of them this year. Some of the weekends are no-scare weekends designed for young children, while the other weekends have thrills that appeal to teenagers and adults.
Halloween-themed activities include campsite decorating and costume contests and a 20-room haunted house that’s set up inside an old barn. The haunted house has scary animatronics and about 20 actors who do their best to frighten park guests.
While many campgrounds are located near interstate highways and serve as overnight stops for travelers, the Jellystone Park in Swansea is a destination in itself because of the wealth of onsite activities and amenities, which include a swimming pool and four fishing lakes stocked with bass, brim and sunfish. The park is bordered by the North Edisto River.
“Our park is also an easy drive to 13 different museums, including the EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, which is the largest children’s museum in the South,” Gabriel said. “The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia also has more than 2,000 animals in exhibits, aquariums and botanical gardens. We’re only one-and-a-half hours away from Charleston, and there are a lot of Civil War sites nearby.”
Gabriel said most of her guests live close by.
“The vast majority of our business is families who live within 100 miles of our park,” Gabriel said. “We do a lot with people from Charleston, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, and the Atlanta area. We also draw a surprising number of people from Scandinavia and The Netherlands.”
Looking to the future, Gabriel said she and Davis hope to secure financing to build a small waterpark, a second pool, and enclose their existing pool.
Davis and Gabriel have owned the campground for nine years. It was originally called River Bottom Farms. They have operated the park the past five years as a Jellystone Park. For more information, visit www.swanseajellystone.com.