Great Wolf Resorts

Great Wolf Resorts (formerly known as Great Wolf Lodge) is a chain of indoor water parks. The company owns and operates its family resorts under the Great Wolf Lodge brand.[2] In addition to a water park, each resort features restaurants, arcades, spas and children's activities.[3] Great Wolf Resorts is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.[4][5] The Resorts' mascots are Wiley the Wolf, Violet the Wolf, and Oliver Raccoon with additional characters like Rachel Raccoon, Brinley Bear, and Sammy the Squirrel.

Great Wolf Resorts
PredecessorGreat Bear Lodge (Sandusky, OH), Black Wolf Lodge (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
FoundedWisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, United States (May 1997 (1997-05))
FounderJack and Andrew Waterman
United States
Number of locations
19 (one under construction and eight under consideration)
Area served
United States and Canada
Key people
Murray Hennessy (CEO)
ServicesFamily Waterpark Resorts
Number of employees
ParentApollo Global Management, Centerbridge Partners and Blackstone Group


Great Wolf Lodge began as a small indoor water park resort called Black Wolf Lodge which was founded in 1997 by brothers Jack and Andrew "Turk" Waterman, the original owners of Noah's Ark water park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.[6] Black Wolf Lodge was purchased by The Great Lakes Companies Inc in 1999. In 2000, founders Marc Vaccaro and Bruce Neviaser changed the name to Great Wolf Lodge and the company headquarters were established in Madison, Wisconsin.[3][7] In 2001, the company built a second location in Sandusky, Ohio, and named it Great Bear Lodge. When a third location opened in 2003, the decision was made to place all future parks under the Great Wolf Lodge banner. The name of the Ohio location was changed to Great Wolf Lodge in 2004. The chain has since added sixteen additional locations and has one under construction.[8][9]

On May 1, 2012, Great Wolf announced they were adding a new amenity or attraction to each of their resorts in time for the summer season. In addition, they spent over $4 million renovating the company's first two locations – Wisconsin Dells and Sandusky.[10]

In April 2017, Great Wolf relocated their corporate headquarters to Chicago, Illinois.[11]

Apollo acquisition

On March 13, 2012, Apollo Global Management announced an agreement to acquire the company for $703 million.[12] Following the announcement, an investor group filed a complaint in Delaware Chancery Court stating that the deal, in which Apollo would pay $5 a share, undervalued the company. On April 12, 2012, KSL Capital Partners made an unsolicited offer of $6.25 a share, and Apollo followed suit raising its bid to $6.75 a share.[13] KSL then raised its cash offer to $7 a share on April 8, 2012, beginning a rare public bidding war.[14] After Apollo upped its offer again to $7.85 a share on April 20, 2012, KSL Capital Partners later announced it would not be making additional offers.[15] The company's shares traded as low as $2.18 in October 2011, but they climbed above $5 following the announcement in March 2012 and reached a 52-week high of $7.50 during trading in April 2012.[16][17]

Centerbridge acquisition

On March 24, 2015, Centerbridge Partners reached an agreement with Apollo to acquire the Great Wolf chain for $1.35 billion.[18] The acquisition was finalized on May 12, 2015.[19]

Blackstone and Centerbridge Joint Venture

In September 2019, Blackstone Group made a deal to purchase 65% controlling interest in Great Wolf Resorts from Centerbridge Partners. The two firms agreed to form a $2.9 billion joint-venture to own the company.[20]


Great Wolf Lodge location in Mason, Ohio, next to Kings Island
Interior of the waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington

Great Wolf Lodge locations:[21]

Location Year Opened
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 1997
Sandusky, Ohio 2001
Traverse City, Michigan 2003
Kansas City, Kansas 2003
Williamsburg, Virginia 2005
Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania 2005
Niagara Falls, Ontario 2006
Mason, Ohio 2006
Grapevine, Texas 2007
Grand Mound, Washington 2008
Concord, North Carolina 2009
Fitchburg, Massachusetts 2014
Garden Grove, California 2016
Colorado Springs, Colorado 2016
Bloomington, Minnesota 2017
LaGrange, Georgia 2018
Gurnee, Illinois 2018
Salt River, Arizona 2019
Manteca, California 2021

Previous locations:

Locations under construction:

  • Perryville, Maryland – Announced in December 2018,[23] ground was broken on July 20, 2021, and the resort is expected to open sometime in 2023.[24]

Locations under consideration:

Other brands

Great Wolf Lodge also owns MagiQuest.[32]

In popular culture

Great Wolf's previous CEO Kim Schaefer was featured in the U.S. version of TV's Undercover Boss, which included visits to several lodges where she worked alongside a lifeguard supervisor, front desk clerk, and restaurant waitstaff as well as participated in the children's program.[33][34] In recent years, Ryan Kaji of Ryan ToysReview has made several trips to Great Wolf Lodge with his family. They've made several videos about their experiences there.[35]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Corporate Profile | Great Wolf Corporate". 2011-10-16. Archived from the original on 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  3. ^ a b "History". Great Wolf Resorts. 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  4. ^ Fran Spielman (April 26, 2017). "Emanuel leads cheer for latest corporate HQ to move to Chicago". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  5. ^ Shropshire, Corilyn (April 26, 2017). "Water park company that bought Key Lime Cove moves HQ to Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  6. ^ "For generations, Andrew Watermans run Dells hotels". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  7. ^ Daykin, Tom (February 14, 2006). "Marc Vaccaro, Co-founder of Great Wolf Resorts Inc., Resigns". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Announces License and Management Agreement for New Great Wolf Lodge in Pittsburgh, PA". Great Wolf Resorts. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Announces License and Management Agreement for New Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove, CA". Great Wolf Resorts. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge Invests in Family Fun in 2012" (PDF). Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Opens New Chicago Headquarters". NBC Chicago. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  12. ^ Ahmed, Azam (March 13, 2012). "Apollo to Acquire Water Park Operator for $703 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  13. ^ State Journal Staff (April 6, 2012). "Deal to buy Great Wolf approved by board after Apollo increases offer". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  14. ^ De La Merced, Michael (April 8, 2012). "Private Equity Firms Duel Over Water Park Operator". New York Times' Dealbook. Archived from the original on April 10, 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  15. ^ Harden, Mark (April 23, 2012). "KSL Capital cries uncle in Great Wolf bidding war". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  16. ^ Lachapelle, Tara (March 23, 2012). "Leon Black's Bid Gets No Respect as Great Wolf Surges: Real M&A". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  17. ^ TheStreet Wire (April 11, 2012). "Great Wolf Stock Hits New 52-Week High (WOLF)". The Street. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  18. ^ Stone, Mike; Oran, Olivia; Roumeliotis, Greg (March 24, 2015). "Exclusive: Centerbridge in $1.35 billion deal for Great Wolf Resorts: sources". Reuters. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  19. ^ Schuyler, David (May 12, 2015). "New owner pledges to grow Great Wolf Lodge chain". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  20. ^ Clark, Patrick (October 2, 2019). "Blackstone to Buy 65% of Park Operator Great Wolf Resorts". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  21. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge Locations". Great Wolf Resorts. Archived from the original on June 10, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2021.
  22. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Announces Sale of Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, WI". Reuters. March 24, 2011. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge plans $200 million resort in Cecil County, employing as many as 600 people". December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Inc. Breaks Ground On Indoor Water Park In Perryville". WJZ-TV. July 22, 2021. Archived from the original on July 26, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2021.
  25. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge resort starts talk". Squamish Chief. December 2, 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Indoor water park could be coming to El Paso". El Paso 411. 29 March 2017. Archived from the original on 29 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Little Egg Harbor Developer Courted Great Wolf Lodge Resorts". The SandPaper. 2019-01-16.
  28. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge Might come to Orange County New York". 2019-01-06.
  29. ^ Huriash, Lisa J. (January 9, 2019). "Great Wolf Lodge resort with indoor water park may come to South Florida". South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  30. ^
  31. ^ Fernandez, Phil (October 20, 2020). "Breaking Ground newsletter: Will the Great Wolf rise in Southwest Florida?". Naples Daily News. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  32. ^ "Proprietary Brands - Great Wolf Corporate". Great Wolf Corporate. Archived from the original on October 18, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-25. MagiQuest: Some of the most popular attractions at any Great Wolf Lodge are the exciting, interactive adventure games that transform the hotel into an enchanted realm of wonder. Participants purchase magic wands, wand toppers, costumes and other themed merchandise in the MagiQuest Marketplace and engage in journeys, quests and ever more engaging levels of play.
  33. ^ "'Undercover Boss' returns to area". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 2010-10-03. Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  34. ^ Huff, Richard (4 October 2010). "Great Wolf Resorts CEO Kim Schaefer works all over the company on 'Undercover Boss'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  35. ^ One of the videos Ryan and his family made on their experiences at Great Wolf Lodge Retrieved 17 October 2019

External links