KeyLime Cove waterpark resort's final days in Gurnee

KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort is about to end its nine-year run in Gurnee.

Great Wolf Lodge is buying the property near Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway and, under a revenue-sharing agreement with the village, plans to invest at least $65 million in new construction and renovation at the facility.

Erin Ruppenthal, a KeyLime Cove spokeswoman, said the resort has stopped taking reservations extending past Sunday at the request of Great Wolf.

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said the village has learned KeyLime Cove will close after the last guests check out Wednesday, April 19. Madison, Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Resorts Inc. is expected to begin work as soon as possible in an effort to debut in time for spring break next year, she said.

Kovarik said she and other village officials are thankful KeyLime Cove opened in Gurnee in 2008, adding that she doubts Great Wolf — North America's largest operator of indoor water park resorts — would have selected Gurnee if KeyLime Cove did not already exist there.

“KeyLime has been a wonderful, wonderful addition to the village and a great community partner on so many things in town,” Kovarik said Wednesday. “And they've done (well), but Great Wolf is the gold standard for indoor water parks and resorts, and I think they're just going to pick it up quite a few notches.”

Great Wolf spokesman Jason Lasecki declined to specifically address the planned takeover of KeyLime Cove.

“Great Wolf Lodge is always seeking opportunities to expand our category-leading family resorts into new and existing markets,” the company said in a statement issued by Lasecki. “The potential to partner with the village of Gurnee is of great interest to us and we hope to continue working with the village as we evaluate the opportunity to bring a Great Wolf Lodge family resort to the area.”

KeyLime Cove would be converted from a tropical-themed resort into Great Wolf's signature Northwoods look, under plans that include a roughly 20,000-square-foot expansion of the indoor water park. Great Wolf executives said there also would be an outdoor water park, more shopping and other amenities. The company is not expected to add to the 414 hotel rooms built for KeyLime Cove.

Maureen Riedy, president of the Visit Lake County tourism office, said KeyLime Cove elevated the region's profile when it opened nine years ago, adding to a strong roster of attractions such as Six Flags Great America.

“With the planned renovation and expansion of the water park, we expect Great Wolf to attract even more visitors to Gurnee and Lake County,” Riedy said.

Gurnee has $18 million left of $22 million that was designated for KeyLime Cove in a revenue-sharing agreement that was to expire in 2028. In February, the village board extended the deal to 2029 for Great Wolf to account for the one year it won't be open due to the construction.

Including the pending KeyLime Cove purchase, Great Wolf would spend at least $100 million to come to Gurnee, according to village documents.

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  KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort is about to end its nine-year run in Gurnee. The last guests will check out Wednesday, April 19, officials say. Great Wolf Lodge is expected to replace KeyLime Cove after a renovation and expansion of the property. Bob Susnjara/
KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee is scheduled to close Wednesday, April 19, for a planned takeover by Great Wolf Lodge. Daily Herald File Photo
Great Wolf Lodge is expected to replace KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort near Grand Avenue and the Tri-State Tollway in Gurnee. This is Great Wolf's Southern California resort. Courtesy of Great Wolf Resorts Inc.
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