Great Wolf Resorts

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Great Wolf Resorts
Industry Hospitality
Predecessor Great Bear Lodge (Sandusky, OH), Black Wolf Lodge (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
Founded Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, United States (May 1997 (1997-05))
Founder Jack and Andrew Waterman
Headquarters Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Number of locations
14 (Four under construction and one under consideration)
Area served
United States and Canada
Key people
Spencer Hoage (CEO)
Services Family Waterpark Resorts
Parent Centerbridge Partners

Great Wolf Resorts is a chain of indoor water parks. The company owns and operates its family resorts under the Great Wolf Lodge brand.[1] The company is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to a water park, each resort features specialty restaurants, arcades, spas, fitness rooms, and children’s activity areas including Yoga and bowling.[2]


Black Wolf Lodge was founded in 1997 by brothers Jack and Andrew "Turk" Waterman, the original owners of Noah's Ark water park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.[3] Black Wolf Lodge was purchased by The Great Lakes Company in 1999. Later that year, founder and chairman Bruce Neviaser changed the name to Great Wolf Lodge and the company headquarters were established in Madison, Wisconsin.[2] 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 twelve additional locations and has one in development.[4][5]

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.[6]

Apollo acquisition[edit]

On March 13, 2012, Apollo Global Management announced an agreement to acquire the company for $703 million.[7] 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.[8] KSL then raised its cash offer to $7 a share on April 8, 2012, beginning a rare public bidding war.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12]

Centerbridge acquisition[edit]

On March 24, 2015, Centerbridge Partners reached an agreement with Apollo to acquire the Great Wolf chain for $1.35 billion.[13] The acquisition was finalized on May 12, 2015.[14]


Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, located next to Kings Island amusement park
Interior of a Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington

Great Wolf Lodge locations:[2]

City 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[15] 2014
Garden Grove, California 2016
Colorado Springs, Colorado 2016

Previous locations:

Locations under construction:

Locations under consideration:

Other brands[edit]

Great Wolf Lodge also manages the following brands:[23]

  • MagiQuest & ShadowQuest - Scavenger hunt which electronically captures achievements of its participants with a tracked score
  • Cub Club - Craft and activity center with nature-themed programming
  • Scooops - Spa for kids with treatments themed to ice cream desserts
  • Northern Lights Arcade - Family-friendly arcade
  • The Great Wolf Kids Store - Store that sells Great Wolf Lodge merchandise
  • Creation Station - Guests can create stuffed animals and outfit them with clothes and accessories
  • Howl At The Moon - Indoor mini-golf that black light special effects
  • Howly Wood XD Theater - Movie-based motion thrill ride
  • Ten Paw Alley - Bowling alley that features half-length lanes and low-weight bowling balls
  • 4D World - Interactive game in which players aim at targets to acquire points and compete for the highest score
  • Elements Spa Salon - Salon services that include massage therapy, body treatments, nail therapy, and makeup
  • Clubhouse Crew - A family adventure game that uses interactive screens placed at various locations around the lodge

In popular culture[edit]

Great Wolf's 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.[24][25]


  1. ^ "Corporate Profile". Great Wolf Resorts. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "History". Great Wolf Resorts. 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "For generations, Andrew Watermans run Dells hotels". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge Invests in Family Fun in 2012" (PDF). Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. May 1, 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Ahmed, Azam (March 13, 2012). "Apollo to Acquire Water Park Operator for $703 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ De La Merced, Michael (April 8, 2012). "Private Equity Firms Duel Over Water Park Operator". New York Times' Dealbook. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Harden, Mark (April 23, 2012). "KSL Capital cries uncle in Great Wolf bidding war". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ TheStreet Wire (April 11, 2012). "Great Wolf Stock Hits New 52-Week High (WOLF)". The Street. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Schuyler, David (May 12, 2015). "New owner pledges to grow Great Wolf Lodge chain". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 
  15. ^ Luna, Taryn (May 22, 2014). "Great Wolf Lodge to open in Fitchburg". The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts Announces Sale of Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, WI". Reuters. March 24, 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Great Wolf Resorts buys 50 acres near Disney World". Orlando Sentinel. January 26, 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  18. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge Georgia set to howl in 2018!". Great June 30, 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  19. ^ "Water Park of America to close by end of January, reopen in November". Star Tribune. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  20. ^ McIntyre, Mary (February 8, 2017). "Great Wolf Lodge to take over, redevelop Key Lime Cove in Gurnee". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 8, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Great Wolf Lodge resort starts talk". Squamish Chief. December 2, 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  22. ^ {{cite web |url=
  23. ^ "Proprietary Brands". Great Wolf Resorts. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  24. ^ "'Undercover Boss' returns to area". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  25. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]