Groundbreaking held for Great Wolf Lodge at Foxwoods
Mashantucket ― By mid-2025, the Mashantucket Pequot-owned Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest facility of its kind in North America, figures to add another size-based superlative to its collection.
Try “biggest next-door attraction.”
Joined by Gov. Ned Lamont, Mashantucket tribal leaders, Foxwoods officials and local dignitaries, Great Wolf Resorts executives officially broke ground Wednesday for the $300 million indoor water park resort that’s about to rise adjacent to Foxwoods on 13 acres of Mashantucket-owned land off Foxwoods Boulevard.
Might Great Wolf Lodge at Mashantucket siphon off some of Foxwoods’ patrons? Won’t the water park resort’s 549 hotel rooms ― the smallest of which will sleep six ― divert some guests from Foxwood’s nearly 2,000 rooms?
“We’ll complement each other,” Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive officer, said. “Some of their guests are going to visit Foxwoods, and some of our guests are going to visit Great Wolf. I don’t see the inventory of rooms as a problem.”
“This is going to be something unique in the United States,” he said.
With Foxwoods having recently reconfigured 275,000 square feet of meeting space, the Foxwoods-Great Wolf complex promises to become a “home base” for many a corporate gathering, Guyot added.
Lamont thanked Chicago-based Great Wolf for showing “confidence in the state of Connecticut,” citing the 450 construction jobs tied to the project as well as the 500 permanent part- and full-time positions the water park resort will provide when it opens. The new jobs will range from senior management, engineering staff and IT professionals to lifeguards, guest service agents and housekeepers.
“And it’s going to be fun,” Lamont said, addressing a standing-room-only audience packed inside a heated tent erected on the construction site.
“Foxwoods and now Great Wolf ― this is becoming a destination,” the governor said. “This is where people want to be, not just overnight, not just for a show, but for a week and for a family.”
State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, and Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, were among the audience members.
John Murphy, Chicago-based Great Wolf’s CEO, said the water park developer’s resorts “offer a fun-filled getaway that is close, convenient and carefree, and with this new resort we will be able to provide our beloved signature experience to more families across the Northeast.”
Murphy summoned Mashantucket Chairman Rodney Butler to the podium and announced Great Wolf, in conjunction with its financial backers, Blackstone and Centerbridge Partners, was making a $25,000 donation to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in support of the museum’s efforts “to preserve the history and traditions of the Pequot people.”
Butler presented Murphy with a wampum necklace.
Great Wolf Lodge at Mashantucket will be Great Wolf’s 23rd North American resort and one of four under construction, the others being in Perryville, Md., near Baltimore; in Webster, Texas, outside Houston; and in Naples, Fla.
In addition, Great Wolf is expanding its resort in Scotrun, Pa., in the Pocono Mountains, adding 200 rooms to an existing hotel and expanding the water park by 40,000 square feet, according to Jason Lasecki, Great Wolf’s vice president of corporate communications.
When the resorts under construction are completed, 93% of the U.S. population will live within a five-hour drive of a Great Wolf resort, Lasecki said. Besides Mashantucket, the only one in New England is located in Fitchburg, Mass.
Butler recalled that his tribe first engaged with Great Wolf nearly two decades ago when the company was operating just four or five resorts. In 2007, the partners pursued plans to develop an indoor water park resort on tribe-owned, nonreservation land along Route 214 in Ledyard, securing town approval of a zone change for the project.
“Then 2008 happened,” Butler said, referring to the Great Recession.
The parties resumed talks in earnest in 2020 after Steve Jacobsen, Great Wolf’s vice president for domestic development, emailed Butler “on a cold, winter COVID day about a month into the pandemic.” Butler said.
Jacobsen said Great Wolf maintained its interest in Mashantucket because of the overall strength of the Northeast market, its proximity to population centers in Hartford, Providence and New York City and the presence of Foxwoods.
The main features of the resort will be a 91,000-square-foot indoor water park heated to 84 degrees, with a variety of body slides, tube slides, raft rides, activity pools and splash areas, and a 61,000-square-foot family entertainment center known as the Great Wolf Adventure Park, which will include MagiQuest, a live-action game.
Hotel-room options will include suites with multiple bedrooms for large families or multi-generational groups. Admission to the water park and family entertainment activities will be included in the price of a stay.
Great Wolf also released video of the ceremony, renderings and other details about the project which can be found here.
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