A Wisconsin company that operates indoor water parks and lodging attractions across the United States is bringing the concept to LaGrange, Ga., with anticipated visitation approaching 500,000 people a year.
This will be the company’s 15th lodge in North America, with the $150 million project creating more than 600 jobs, Madison, Wisc.-based Great Wolf Resorts said Thursday. The company plans to open the Great Wolf Lodge in the Troup County community less than an hour north of Columbus by 2018.
“We look forward to bringing the Great Wolf Lodge brand to Georgia,” said Rubén Rodríguez, chief executive officer of Great Wolf Resorts Inc. “As the leader in indoor water park resorts, we provide unique, year-round family getaways each and every day. Great Wolf Lodge Georgia will feature many of the amenities and activities our guests know and love, as well as several new experiences exclusive to this resort. As our company continues to expand, we could not think of a more perfect place than the location we found in LaGrange and we look forward to opening our doors to guests in just two short years.”
On Thursday, Great Wolf said the LaGrange complex will encompass nearly 500,000-square-feet of space, with a 93,000-square-foot indoor water park its centerpiece. There will be 456 themed suites for overnight stays. Rides and attractions will include Fort Mackenzie, a multi-level interactive water fort treehouse with a “massive” tipping water bucket; high thrill water slides; a slower-paced lazy river; a large wave pool and several “zero-depth” water pools and child water play areas.
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Other pieces of the LaGrange entertainment complex include:
▪ Great Wolf Adventure Park, a 40,000-square-foot center with a “Howlers Peak Ropes Course,” a “Howl in One” miniature golf course, and “Ten Paw Alley,” a mini bowling area.
▪ MagiQuest, a live-action interactive game with participants using magic wands
▪ Scooops Kid Spa, an area for ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures
▪ Several children’s activities — Yoga Tails, Forest Friends Show, and Wiley the Wolf and his character friends
▪ Story Time, which takes place by the fireplace in the hotel’s grand lobby just before it’s time to turn in for the evening
▪ Several food outlets, including Barnwood, a full-service restaurant; Hungry as a Wolf, which serves pizza and pasta; and Buckets Incredible Craveables
▪ 16,000 square feet of conference space with catering availability
The venue will be located off Interstate 85 at the Whitesville Road/Georgia 219 interchange, or Exit 13, and just south of the Hamilton Road and Lafayette Parkway exits in LaGrange. It also is just south of the point where Interstate 185 to Columbus intersects with I-85.
LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said Tuesday that he is “extremely pleased” by Great Wolf Resort’s decision to choose his city for the park and hotel. He declined to discuss details of the project, deferring to the company, which did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
“Great Wolf's financial investment in our city is very significant. This resort will create hundreds of jobs and attract nearly half a million visitors a year to LaGrange,” said Thornton, mentioning the large number of hospitality jobs the company will bring to the city.
“In conjunction with our other tourism attractions, such as West Point Lake, Hills & Dales and the Biblical History Center, we believe that Great Wolf Lodge will help make LaGrange a travel destination for the Southeast,” the mayor said.
Great Wolf Resorts already operates parks in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Mich.; Kansas City, Kan.; Williamsburg, Va.; Pocono Mountains, Pa.; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Mason, Ohio; Grapevine, Texas; Grand Mound, Wash.; Fitchburg, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Garden Grove, Calif.
The Southern California location opened in early March. That particular venue has 608 suites and a 105,000-square-foot water park with a six-story “Howlin’ Tornado” and “Wolf Rider Wipeout” attractions. The on-site eatery is called the “Loose Moose Buffet.” That facility also includes 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
The company’s website says the indoor water park is free to those staying in its lodging, with a limited number of additional wrist bands —required for entrance to the water park — available to outside visitors of hotel guests for $50 each and valid for one day.
Page Estes, president of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, said Great Wolf Lodge will draw multistate travelers to her community, which is not far from the Alabama state line and is about an hour from the Atlanta airport.
“That’s what makes it so appealing to us from a tourism perspective because we know that we’re going to be getting people who are going to come and stay for several days,” she said. “But they’re also going to check out our entire region while they’re here. So we think it’s going to be a boom, not only for Troup County, but especially for our friends in Pine Mountain and Meriwether County and Warm Springs, and even coming into Columbus because there’s so many things to do and see while they’re in the area.”
Estes said LaGrange is building on momentum it has generated over the past couple of years. That includes Jindal Films announcing a headquarters relocation to the city from New York and Badcock Furniture opening a distribution center. From an entertainment standpoint, Sweetland Amphitheatre, a 2,000-person-capacity venue, made its debut earlier this year. Great Wolf Lodge will be an excellent fit for the area, she said.
“We see it as a great way to grow additional retail near and around the development,” she said. “It’s certainly something we hope will attract visitors from far and wide. But most importantly, we’re going to promote the entire region because we know that’s how we all benefit.”