Big new water park resort planned near Disney World


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Great Wolf Resorts, a Wisconsin-based water park resort chain, is planning a huge new resort near Walt Disney World, its first resort in Florida.

Plans call 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.

The company told Orange County officials that it is in negotiations to acquire the property.

“Great Wolf Resorts is always interested in expanding and bringing our unique indoor water park resorts to new markets. We are currently reviewing several viable options across the country and the Orlando area remains an option,” said Susan Storey, communications director at Great Wolf.

Great Wolf Resorts has 14 locations, mostly in colder climates where indoor water parks are big business, but the company may be planning an indoor-outdoor park in Florida.

The resorts have a rustic log cabin look, reminiscent of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, and attractions like five-story water slides, wave pools and multi-level treehouses. It’s newest location is under construction in Colorado Springs.

Other attractions in the Great Wolf chain feature multiple restaurants, conference space, ropes and climbing, miniature golf, kids spas, and mini bowling.

Great Wolf is represented locally by Patrick Christiansen, attorney with Akerman Senterfitt.

The property is currently owned by New York-based Garrison Investment Group, in two parcels, bought from UBS Bank for $8.75 million in 2010, and marketed by CBRE.

The property is adjacent to the 1,037-unit Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas and just north of the Marriott Sabal Palms resort and golf course.

Rooms at Great Wolf Lodges aren’t cheap; a check of room rates at the North Carolina location near Charlotte showed $200 to $439 per night.

According to discussions with Orange County officials, Great Wolf may restrict water park visitors to only those who buy a hotel room, to satisfy possible transportation restrictions on the property.

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