A new chain of resorts are growing in popularity as Disney's prices become borderline unaffordable. 

Between airfare, lodging, and meals, a vacation to Disney or Universal Studios park can cost a pretty penny - and that's before you even factor in the cost of an admission ticket.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, the trend of taking a big family vacation once a year has changed. Now, millennial parents are in favor of more frequent adventures rather than annual trips.

This trend is making nearby destinations - perfect for road trips - even more appealing, making theme-park and water-park chains that specialize in entertainment grow in popularity.

And leading the charge is Great Wolf Resorts, known for their Great Wolf Lodge indoor water parks. Over the past 10 years, the company has opened 20 locations in the U.S. and Canada, with two more set to open this year in Houston, Texas and Naples, Florida. Another location is due to open in 2025 as part of the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

DailyMail.com compared the price of a four night Disney resort hotel stay versus the Great Wolf Lodge resort stay. Disney cost $500 baseline for a family of four, while Great Wolf Lodge cost $135.

John Murphy, the company's CEO, said this puts 90% of the US population within a four-hour drive of a Great Wolf Lodge.

'Great Wolf has done a really good job of branding themselves as a true destination,' said Josh Martin, president and creative director of Martin Aquatic, a design and engineering firm based in Orlando, Fla., that develops water-based attractions.

'With their expansion, it feels like they're bringing the destination to you.'

What makes Great Wolf Lodge more appealing is their competitive pricing that makes it more affordable.

John Shaw, a 39-year-old consultant said he had never heard of Great Wolf Lodge until his wife found a Groupon deal for their LaGrange, Georgia location in September.

Now, they're hooked.

John said he appreciated the variety of activities offered under one roof, making it perfect for his three kids between the ages of 2 and 9. He also said having quick access to their hotel room to avoid their children's sleep-deprived tantrums before naptime.

Even with all their recent growth,  Murphy emphasizes their commitment to families with young kids.

Their signature features are perfect for little ones: thrilling waterslides, relaxing lazy rivers, and other splashy adventures, all watched over by a team of well-trained lifeguards.

Great Wolf Lodges also boast ropes courses, mini golf, bowling, and even Build-A-Bear Workshops for cuddly souvenirs.

Plus, with a variety of on-site dining options, families never have to leave the resort to get food.

Great Wolf Resort's wouldn't have been able to expand had it not been for their acquisition with Blackstone, which acquired a 65% stake in the company in 2019.

'We are big believers in the continued growth in and demand for experiential, year-round travel,' Rob Harper, head of Blackstone Real Estate Asset Management Americas, said in an email to WSJ.

Great Wolf Lodge is shaking things up by expanding into warmer climates like Texas and Florida, where indoor water parks might seem like a surprising fit. But even in sunny locations, these resorts offer a weatherproof escape, perfect for families looking for guaranteed fun.

Jacki Tibbitts from Merritt Island, Florida has struggled in the past to plan a family vacation with a granddaughter who uses a wheelchair and needs to avoid the heat.

Great Wolf Lodge in North Carolina emerged as the perfect solution, offering a controlled climate compared to a cruise or a crowded theme park. 

Their mornings were filled with poolside fun, while evenings were spent enjoying family-friendly arcade games.

Tibbitts is already planning to visit the Naples location after is opens.

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2024-06-12T19:39:28Z dg43tfdfdgfd