Great Wolf resort planned for Pittsburgh Mills

Posted | Contributed by eightdotthree

Great Wolf Resorts confirmed this morning a much-anticipated deal that would bring an indoor waterpark resort adjacent to the 1.1 million-square-foot Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer. The resort will be developed by Zamias Services Inc. and Great Wolf will receive license fees for use of the brand name and management fees to operate the resort.

Read more from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I'll believe this one when it actually happens. The mall itself has struggled and nothing like having this located off of RT. 28.

kpjb's avatar

Seems like a good location to me. Only about 2 miles from the turnpike, and 28 was recently widened to 6 lanes.


Since 28 has and always will have construction on it I forgot that was actually done, and at least it is above the Turnpike not having to deal with the "let's explode an area where the rocks fall on the road" only to have them fall 50 feet from where they explode. Would a place like this be successful in Pittsburgh? I remember the out there rumors that Kennywood was looking into the indoor water park business but I think that was before the sale.

Great location. The mall was built about 10 years too late, but you can't change history. The hotel, which is planned to be 300-600 rooms, I would build the lesser amount, and sell day passes, as a safeguard.

If that mall ever picks up steam, its foot traffic could benefit by leaving kids at the waterpark while the parental units shop. This may actually work.

eightdotthree's avatar

They should definitely build small and sell day passes. Pittsburgh Mills is no Mall of America and is not a mall worth traveling too without something like this existing. The relationship can and will need to be symbiotic for it to work IMO.

Yep. People will go there to 'kick the tires' to check the place out. If you bang them for admission that is too high, or deny day passes all together, you will lose repeat business. Pittsburgher's are content with Sandcastle, Idlewild, and the county's wave pools, and are slow to change. And, the food has to be good. Its what expected at a park in the region.

Do any of the existing Great Wolf resorts have day passes, or are they only available for overnight guests? I know the H2O park at Split Rock in the Poconos makes a big deal over the fact that they allow day visits where the nearby Great Wolf doesn't.

They will have to adapt to whatever helps them hit their numbers. With 2 more parks in early planning stages in the region, they will not be the only game in town for very long.

kpjb's avatar

I'm not sure what they do at the other parks, but I'd be interested in hearing what they do at locations other than the Poconos.

The Poconos, Niagara Falls and Williamsburg locations could have a different policy than, say, Charlotte or Kansas City as the former are in destination locations and the latter may cater more to a local crowd.

It'd make sense to me to limit entry exclusively to hotel guests in a resort location because it keeps people from booking the Super8 across the street and coming to the park. Somewhere like Pittsburgh, though, where you may get more locals rather than cheap vacationers, that policy may need to be revised.

I'd be interested in seeing the policies of the non-resort locations.


I would be very surprised if they don't offer some form of day pass for non-hotel guests. I mean, first and foremost, who comes to Pittsburgh and wants to stay all the way out at the Mills?


Carrie M.'s avatar

The Mills isn't that far out from Pittsburgh and I'm pretty sure the hotels there do ok. Where people used to stay in Harmarville when doing business in the area, many now stay at the Mills.

I also have the understanding that the mall is not doing well only because of the specialty stores that went into it. The restaurants around the mall all make a killing.

I'd say there's potential there if they approach it right.

"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

That is a problem of all the "specialty" centers that have been built in the last thirty years. The one that I used to work at, once the gem of specialty retail in the area, is hurting badly, with long time shop owners filing for bankruptcy or moving out in the middle of the night. Of course, with the mangement company constantly jacking up the rents and refusing to back down in spite of the evidence that the ship is sinking doesn't help. At one time there was a massive list of possible retailers wanting to lease space, with times being what they are, that pool of potential lessees has all but dried up. It was such head in the sand mentality that led to the business I managed being auctioned off into oblivion because they refused to negotiate on the lease of the building.

Will the addition of Great Wolf to this center pull them out? Who knows. I was born and raised in the "burgh and I agree with Agent J. The locals will come out and give the place the once over, but if they don't do their research about the area they want to do business in, they are in for a rough ride.

kpjb's avatar

That's exactly what's wrong with the Mills. They put an upscale/specialty mall in the middle of a bread-and-butter town. The area has always been under-retailed and they just went off the mark with the target demographic. The surrounding Best Buy, Target, Sam's, OfficeMax, etc. are doing fine, as well as the Macy's, Penny's, Sears in the mall as far as I can tell. You can't open a store that sells nothing but $5000 recliners in an area where the average house costs about 80 grand.


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