Tashica and Al-Wayne Morgan, shown here in the Poconos, visit Great Wolf lodges in Pennsylvania and Virginia yearly with their children. Photo courtesy of Morgan family.

On the banks of the Susquehanna River, the town of Perryville is home to a veteran’s hospital and a casino, and attracts history buffs learning more about the town’s role in the American Revolution and Civil War. For the most part, though, when you think of this Cecil County community, you don’t think of resort-style family fun.

Until now.

Perryville’s reputation as a sleepy pass-through could change in August when Chicago-based resort developer Great Wolf Lodge opens its 20th – and largest – resort. The $250 million project is expected to attract more than a half million visitors a year to the 48-acre site. Most will come from the Mid-Atlantic region and travel less than two hours. It’s more than a three-hour drive from Baltimore to the chain’s closest resorts in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“This will be our biggest lodge with our best offerings,” said Nadine Miracle, general manager of Great Wolf Lodge Maryland. “It is convenient, close and carefree and the perfect staycation,” Miracle said. And while a main attraction is the water park geared to children ages 2 to 12, “there is something for everyone,” she added.

Tashica “Talko” Morgan, her husband, Al-Wayne, and their children have made the three-hour trek from their home in Odenton to either Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va. or the Poconos at least once a year for the past decade. As a family of six now, Morgan said she is looking forward to making new memories in Perryville and because it is less than an hour from her home, she said she expects more frequent and spontaneous visits.

“Oh, my gosh, it couldn’t be any sweeter,” Morgan said. “After two hours on the road, you begin to question whether it’s even worth it. With Wolf Lodge this close, this will be a regular activity.”

A rendering of the interior water park of the nation’s largest Great Wolf Lodge in Perryville, scheduled to open in August. Image courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

When the Morgan family visits Perryville, they will find 128,000 square feet of indoor water park, 57,000 square feet of family entertainment known as the Great Wolf Adventure Park, bowling, an arcade and high ropes course.

Dining options will include pizza and burgers as well as upscale meals. The resort will have 7,500 square feet of conference space.

As the largest resort in the chain, Great Wolf Lodge Maryland will offer 700 family-friendly themed suites starting at $199 for a basic stay which sleeps four to six, includes two queen beds, and a living area with a full-size sofa sleeper.

The Lodge’s Wolf Den Suite which also sleeps four to six, will cost $299 a night and includes a queen bed, an in-suite cave-themed sleeping area and living area with a full-size sofa sleeper. A Kid Cabin Suite, which sleeps six or seven costs $269 and offers a log cabin-themed sleeping area with three twin beds, a queen bed and a full sofa sleeper.

The most expensive option is the Grizzly Suite, at $399 a night. Visitors will get a king bed in a master bedroom, two queen beds in a second bedroom and a full-size sofa sleeper in the main area. That option can sleep a family of six to eight.

Miracle said an overnight stay includes two days of indoor water park fun – with access starting after 1 p.m. on check-in day and the ability to stay until the park closes on the day of check-out.

Events and activities include Yoga Tails, a morning exercise program, and Story Time, where children gather around the fireplace for a bedtime story.

This week, Drew Frank, his wife and two children are making the trip from their Pasadena home to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. The mid-week trip is a birthday gift to their daughter, Sofia, who is turning eight. This is the family’s first trip to a Great Wolf Lodge resort.

“The kids are big fans of waterslides. We are looking forward to this trip and to the new park close to home. When it opens, we will definitely go.”

Economic Impact

Plans for Great Wolf Maryland have been underway since 2018. In 2019 and updated in 2021, the town of Perryville hired Sage Policy Group, Inc., to conduct an economic and fiscal impact study of the $250 million project.

According to the study, the construction phase of the resort was expected to produce more than 2,600 jobs in Cecil County and an additional 74 jobs in the state. Those jobs are associated with more than $132 million in labor income and more than $350 million in economic activity. Once complete, the resort is expected to support about 770 full- and part-time jobs at the resort itself and nearly 1,100 jobs in total once visitor spending and other economic factors are considered. Permanent jobs would result in over $33 million in annual labor income. The resort’s operations would directly and indirectly result in more than $100 million in annual economic impact.

Local and state officials provided tax credits, grants and fee reductions for the project. The resort qualified for additional incentives through the Maryland Department of Commerce’s enterprise zone program.

“We are very excited to welcome Great Wolf Lodge’s largest water park and hotel project to Maryland,” said the state’s Commerce Assistant Secretary Tom Riford. “Not only will this be a huge draw for visitors from all along the East Coast and beyond, but it will also be a significant economic generator with hundreds of new jobs and tremendous positive impact for Cecil County and the region”

Miracle said the progress on the construction and the excitement from people looking forward to visiting it is exceeding her expectations. “I have heard that Great Wolf is putting Cecil County on the map,” she said.

Cathi Miklus, who lives in Middletown, Del., said she is looking forward to making the 45-minute trip to Great Wolf Maryland as part of a “grandkid adventure.”

“I think Cecil County can use the boost in its economy, and quite honestly, its reputation,” Miklus said. “I can’t wait for it to open. I honestly wish I had experience in hospitality because I’d love to work there.”

Great Wolf Maryland is currently hiring for a variety of “pack member” positions, expecting to employ as many as 850. The resort also is accepting reservations with a 25% discount on room rates and a $25 dining credit for stays at the resort between Aug. 1, 2023 and Dec. 14, 2023. Beyond the promotion date, Wolf Lodge Maryland officials said that flash sales are offered for reduced room rates throughout the year.

With six months left before opening, Miracle said she is juggling between preparing the resort for opening, helping to hire employees, and participating in school and community events, all she said are crucial to building good community relations and a strong job pipeline.

“We have high hopes and are eager to bring the Lodge to Maryland,” she said, “but the true test of our success and the best compliment we could receive is when people come back time and time again.”

An overview of the site of the Great Wolf Lodge in Perryville, which will open in August with 700 rooms on 48 acres. Image courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.
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Walinda West

Walinda West is an experienced communications professional who has served a variety of clients at the local, state and national level and is a longtime writer for Baltimore Fishbowl.

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1 Comment

  1. It looks amazing i sure my grandchildrened would love it but whith the high cost of everything i know we could not afford it on a retirement. But it sure dose look beauitful

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