Georgia

Great Wolf Lodge sets opening date for indoor water park attraction

Once it opens, the signature indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge Georgia in LaGrange, Ga., will encompass nearly 100,000 square feet of space, with plenty of water rides and amenities. --
Once it opens, the signature indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge Georgia in LaGrange, Ga., will encompass nearly 100,000 square feet of space, with plenty of water rides and amenities. -- tadams@ledger-enquirer.com

There’s still plenty of work to accomplish, but Great Wolf Lodge Georgia, under construction in LaGrange, Ga., just north of Columbus, said Thursday it is now accepting reservations for its opening starting May 31.

“In many ways, Great Wolf Lodge of Georgia is our most ambitious step in designing the next-generation Great Wolf. It is designed to not only bring great joy to kids, but also joy to the parents, to the adult members of the family,” Rubén Rodriguez, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Great Wolf Resorts Inc., said during a hard-hat tour with media.

The major attraction, being built at a cost of $170 million just off Interstate 85’s Exit 13 in LaGrange, will feature a nearly 100,000-square-foot indoor water park and a 40,000-square-foot Great Wolf Adventure Park with multiple activities and eateries.

There also will be a hotel with 457 rooms and suites for those staying at the property, which is a requirement to use the water park. Many of the other amenities are available to the general public. There’s also a 20,000-square-foot conference center that includes a ballroom and will be available for events from corporate meetings to weddings and receptions.

The company said its grand opening celebration for the Georgia attraction will include a special discount offer of up to 30 percent off standard overnight stays for those booking by Jan. 31 and staying through December 2018. Standard room rates start at $199.99 plus tax per night, which includes two days of access at the indoor water park.

Those wishing to make reservations should visit online at www.greatwolf.com, or by calling 1-888-960-9653 and using the promotion code, “GRAND.”

The tour on Thursday showed a Great Wolf Lodge Georgia complex that is now under a roof, but certainly a few months away from becoming the finished showpiece that the estimated 400,000 people who are expected to visit the water park each year will see.

But through signage and detailed information presented by company officials, it is apparent that the property is aiming for the wow factor. One of the more excited people was Cody Butcher, director of aquatics for Great Wolf Resorts, who explained that the water park will be kept at a comfortable 84 degrees year-round, with 500 million gallons of chlorinated water circulating through the attraction 24 hours a day.

There’s Fort Mackenzie, a multi-level interactive water fort treehouse with a large tipping bucket, a lazy river and wave pool, and several zero-depth wade pools to along with the thrill rides with their splashing and slides.

“Most of our slides actually start inside and go outside the building, wrap around a couple of times, and then come back in,” Butcher said before pointing to a 10-foot diameter section of a family raft ride.

“There are the signature rides,” he said. “We have a drop slide, called Wolf Tail. You cross your arms and cross your legs, then we push the button and the floor drops out from underneath you. Seven seconds later, you’ve traveled 300 linear feet of glass. So it’s a pretty good ride down from the top to the bottom.”

In the corner of the indoor park will be what the company calls an adult oasis, with a hot tub, lounge chairs, a bar and indoor-outdoor access to and from an outdoor pool and cabana area.

Adjacent to the water park is the Adventure Park, which Bryson Heezen, Great Wolf Resorts’ director of development, called “the heart of the next generation of Great Wolf Lodge” because of its layout and food and entertainment offerings. Activities include a three-story ropes course and rock wall, miniature golf, family bowling and an arcade.

“This is a great experience for families,” he said. “So you’ll be coming from the hotel (through the massive lobby) and you open into this great space that will have the trees and theming of kind of being out in the woods. We don’t have anything like this at any of our existing properties.”

A food hall next to Adventure Park includes individual outlets that serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner, from burgers and gourmet salads to custom-made tacos. Adults can wash everything down with beer and margaritas if they wish.

Another next-generation food establishment for Great Wolf Resorts moving forward is a restaurant called Barnwood, 125-seat farm-to-table eatery that also will serve guests on a small veranda and will include a private dining room for those needing one.

“The cool feature about this one is the bar, which actually straddles the inside and outside of the building. That’s the first time we’ve done that,” said Chris Hammond, the company’s director of food and beverage. “The menu here will be very local, kind of ‘all things Georgia,’ fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits. We’ll grow a little bit here ourself, but we’ll look to source from the community as much as possible. There will be 60 wines.”

Rodriguez said Great Wolf Resorts is now experiencing a very high period of growth, with a lodge opening in November just outside Minneapolis and another next summer outside of Chicago. In between those two will be the location in LaGrange, Ga., meaning when the construction dust settles, the company will operate 17 venues.

“Our lodges are designed to really be a creative community of pack members and families celebrating life altogether. We’re very excited to be extending that purpose to Georgia with this wonderful resort,” the CEO said.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, who attended Thursdays tour, called Great Wolf’s coming to the city of 31,000 in Troup County a very big deal. Aside from sales and hotel-motel tax revenue, several hundred employees will be needed by the company to serve the guests staying, playing and dining at the attraction.

“We have had a great track record over the years of bringing industrial development to our community, with lots and lots of industrial employers around,” he said. “And we have a lot of good tourism amenities, but nothing of the magnitude and the size of Great Wolf. So we are delighted.”

The draw for the complex will, naturally, be residents from across Georgia and Alabama. But it is likely to attract water park enthusiasts from other parts of the Southeast and elsewhere, with some possibly stopping for a visit to and from their Florida vacations.

The official address of Great Wolf Lodge Georgia is Great Wolf Lodge Georgia will be located at 150 Tom Hall Parkway. That’s in honor of the late city manager who passed away last year. He was part of the group of officials working to bring the resort operator to the city.

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