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Perspective needed in Great Wolf opening

In Thursday’s edition of the LaGrange Daily News, we published a story updating the progress of Great Wolf Lodge. To be honest, I was impressed to hear the project was still on schedule to be complete this upcoming spring despite a summer full of rain showers.

If everything stays on track, we’re less than a year away from this resort opening right in our backyard. That’s exciting news, and I believe most people were happy to hear it.

However, some of the comments on social media were negative, which is disappointing. It’s true that only overnight guests can use the water park, one of the main attractions of the Great Wolf Lodge, but I think those complaining are missing some key points.

First, there will be a host of other amenities at the lodge that will be available for anyone to enjoy, not just overnight guests. Those amenities include putt-putt golf, a handful of restaurants and more. Second, most hotels cost around $100-$150 per night. Great Wolf is more expensive — a quick look at the website for Great Wolf locations in other areas shows the cheapest rates around $339 per night — but there’s also much more included. Full day access to any water park for a family of four is going to cost hundreds of dollars, so that cost is already factored into a night’s stay at a Great Wolf Lodge.

The biggest complaint is that local residents can’t buy access to the water park for a day of fun. Great Wolf only allows overnight guests to use those facilities, which makes sense, because it prevents long lines for those who have paid hundreds of dollars for a room. It’s the same business practice implemented by the entire hotel industry. You can’t buy access to just the pool or weight room at a Holiday Inn Express, so why would Great Wolf be any different?

Before moving to LaGrange, I spent decades in two of the poorest counties in Alabama. The closest water park to those locations is in Birmingham, and the one in Birmingham has seen its struggles over the years. There are no chain restaurants and there is no interstate going through either of those counties. There’s only a few grocery stores to pick from and only a handful of fast food restaurants.

That’s not to talk down to those areas, where I’ve spent a good deal of my life. It’s just to show perspective. I’m sure the people in those counties would be more than happy to have a new business open, especially one that is likely to attract tourists from all over the southeast.

In the end, it’s all about attitude, and how you look at it. It’s important to keep in mind that Great Wolf and other businesses could’ve picked any other city to open. Thank goodness they chose LaGrange. We should all be thankful they did.