Great Wolf Lodge buys 50 acres next door to Walt Disney World

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

An affiliate of Great Wolf Resorts, a Wisconsin-based water park resort chain, has purchased about 50 acres near Walt Disney World for $23 million. Back in November, the preliminary plans called for an 800-unit hotel, on 50 acres just across Interstate 4 from Disney Springs. Zoning on the property allows up to 1,400 hotel and timeshare units.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

About time! I expect Kalahari to join the market within a few years if GWL shows early success (and I have no doubt they will).

Original BlueStreak64

It will be interesting to see if this new GWL can command their standard $300-$400 room/per night that all of their other lodges typically charge. The one difference in the Orlando market is the saturation of inexpensive room inventory, many in "resort" like settings.

The Nick Hotel is a loosely close comparison and over the years, I know that property has struggled filling rooms and often offers room discounts in the $100-$200 a night range. I've even seen rooms there offered in the slow season for less than $100 a night.

Ultimately, I think this new lodge will succeed, I'm just wondering if it will under their traditional $300+ a night pricing model.

Jeff's avatar

I think they can charge high. The promise of a water park with your room is a pretty good incentive.

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Tekwardo's avatar

Indoor waterpark. That Disney doesn't have. I see no reason they won't be full year round. If high end Disnry properties can charge more without the waterpark, they can surely get what they're asking for.

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slithernoggin's avatar

If a company announced it was building its first waterpark resort down in Orlando, I might question the potential.

But Great Wolf? With its built-in base of customers? Who like to travel and stay at waterpark resorts? I think this is a win for the company.

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I hear everyone, but think about it. Why do the overwhelming majority of people pilgrimage to central Florida? It's to go to Disney or Universal, or both. Not for some weekend getaway where almost all of the other GWL are located.

I have no doubt that this lodge will succeed at some level. I just wonder if they will be able to maintain their $300+ a night price point model they currently have or be forced to deeply discount to fill rooms.

I just did a quick search, and Nick Hotel is giving their rooms away for $99 a night through March. And even during the spring break weeks, they are still less than $200 a night.

The new GWL property is going to be awesome, no doubt. But if they charge in their typical $300+ a night price point, I can't help but wonder if vacationers will bite, considering that most of their days will be spent at WDW or Universal.

Is the appeal of the GWL waterpark that great for a couple of hours (if that) each day after visiting the "real" theme parks? For that price point, I just wonder how many people will just decide to stay on WDW property, thats all.

slithernoggin's avatar

Great Wolf strikes me as a pretty smart company. I'd bet they're not going to approach an Orlando property as a destination resort but rather as the best place to stay while enjoying a WDW vacation, given their choice to locate so close to the Mouse.

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Jeff's avatar

There isn't anything like it here. I think it's a slam dunk that stands out from all of the sameness. Heck, I would even think about a night out there (because it's been cold and rainy the last two weeks).

(Disclosure: My wife previously served on a "moms panel" for GWL, for which she received a complimentary stay.)

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I expect this could be a big hit with the non-local AP holders who typically drive in for a 2-3 day trip, as well as people within a day's drive like Tampa who may stay a night or two here just for the water park instead of driving home after a day in the park.

Original BlueStreak64

janfrederick's avatar

They are about to open the Anaheim location and I'm seriously thinking about booking a stay. No pets unfortunately.

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ApolloAndy's avatar

For my family, this strikes as something we'd totally book the first time and then realize that we spent a total of 20 minutes in the hotel water park each day. It seems like such a huge win to have a water park <racetrack announcer voice> in the hotel </voice> but the last time we went to Disney, the vast majority of the time we spent at the hotel was sleeping or eating. I think we did the hotel pool one afternoon, but that definitely isn't worth $100/night. Especially if the Disney water parks are already on our ticket.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
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bjames's avatar

Tekwardo said:

Indoor waterpark. That Disney doesn't have.

Good point. Why does Disney not already have this?

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Jeff's avatar

Probably because they sell tickets to the outdoor water parks, whether they be single-day or add-ons. Either way, the Disney water parks are pretty expensive. They're great parks, but as a local I've never been able to justify the cost or pass upgrade.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

They sell a standalone AP to the water parks for $110 + tax. I think there is also a Florida Resident "after 2" pass that is quite a bit less, but don't know the details.

We did a summer trip one year with just a water park + Disney Quest AP. Hit the water parks for mornings/late afternoons, DQ once or twice, and got to sample several resort restaurants we never made time for when we had theme park tickets. In many ways, it was our best Orlando vacation ever.

Last edited by Brian Noble,

It's funny, but the WDW waterparks are a bit of the step child of the main theme parks; they are really fun experiences, especially if you are visiting for several days and want to break up the trip with something different.

We still have several days of waterpark entitlements left from old 10-day park hoppers (no expiration), so we try to hit up a waterpark at least one day when we are down. We don't even ride a ton of slides; it's just fun and relaxing to sit and relax and even have an adult drink, which you can purchase at both WDW waterparks.

I have heard that they are mobbed during the summer and often close for capacity. However, we always visit during the off season and if we can grab a decent weather day, we always try to hit up a waterpark one afternoon. And even during an 80F day in December, the waterparks are pretty much empty. Two years ago on New Years Day, it was a gorgeous 75F sunny day and we nursed our hangovers lounging and chilling at a virtually empty Blizzard Beach.

But I do agree with others; that is the walk up, and even package prices for WDW waterpark admission are a bit steep. I wonder why WDW doesn't "value add" in the waterparks into certain admissions, especially in the off-season when there are plenty of lounge chairs available.

sirloindude's avatar

I'm not much of a waterpark person by any stretch, but I absolutely LOVE the Disney waterparks. A lot of it stems from the fact that they're so much more immersive than any other waterparks that I've been to which, while probably in possession of even more activities than the Disney ones, are little more than giant multi-colored collections of steel and tubes. I love how the Disney ones built up the environments to the point where the slides blend in so well, even if they aren't the ones outright dug into the sides of man-made hills and such. Granted, the lazy rivers alone are worth the visit. I like to go during the quieter times of the year and just float around them for hours.

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ApolloAndy's avatar

Hanging n' Banging said:

relax and even have an adult drink

But what about the children!?!?

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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