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Facility Profile - September 2005

Playboy Turns Family Guy

Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark at Grand Geneva
Lake Geneva, Wis.

By Margaret Ahrweiler


It used to be a Playboy, but the Grand Geneva has turned into a real family guy. With the addition of Timber Ridge Lodge and its indoor waterpark, Moose Mountain Falls, a resort that began its life as the Playboy Club added a new spark by creating a separate segment catering to a family audience year-round with a wide range of programs and opportunities.

The 1,300-acre property, 50 miles north of Chicago in Lake Geneva, Wis., opened in 1968 as the Playboy Club, complete with fluffy-tailed Bunnies and Rat Pack glitterati. Now the bunnies are more likely to be found on the slippers of kids cavorting at the resort, thanks to Timber Ridge, specifically developed to attract a family market.

Just 10 miles north of the Illinois state line, the Lake Geneva area had long positioned itself as an quick getaway for Chicago-area travelers but was traditionally perceived as more adult-oriented than the Wisconsin Dells, the indoor waterpark capital of the world, 90 minutes to the northwest, says Allen Anderson, director of marketing for the Grand Geneva. With the addition of Timber Ridge, the Grand Geneva Resort could offer Chicago-area families an easy getaway with a variety of on-site leisure options.

The waterpark, Moose Mountain Falls, tops that list. With 30,000 square feet indoors and an additional 20,000 outdoors, Anderson calls it a "boutique" waterpark, compared to some of the behemoths in the Dells. The Grand Geneva did not want to compete directly with the Dells but offer a more manageable size, he explains. It was designed by Ramaker & Associates, Inc. in Sauk City, Wis., to provide an all-ages environment where parents can maintain visual contact with their charges—at least until they vanish down the water slides.

The two 35-foot-tall slides, created by Ottawa, Ontario-based ProSlide Technology Inc., provide the main focus, along with the biggest thrills, in the facility. An inner-tube slide accommodates the two-seater variety to make sure smaller children get an adult along for the ride, while the body slide plunges patrons into complete darkness. Seasoned adult Recreation Management professional testers found them exhilarating to the point of (almost) scariness—including the temporary temperature drop in winter months where the tubes travel outside the building.

On a milder note, a lazy river winds through the complex, past a water basketball court, smaller slides designed for younger children, and a stepping-stone event that challenges kids of all sizes to stay on their feet as they cross the water. The lazy river provides a whole-family experience, while serving as both a unifying factor and transition from more intense play areas like the slides and basketball to the zero-depth areas for toddlers. The facility also offers three whirlpools. The indoor/outdoor variety provides added entertainment for older children in colder months, encouraging a tough-guy game of chicken to see who can jump out of the pool into occasionally sub-zero weather for the longest.

Moose Mountain can host up to 700 guests during winter months and up to 1,200 in the summer with its additional capacity outdoors. In keeping with the name, the designers worked with a North Woods theme than invariably gets a tropical feel from the water features. During peak periods, local artisans offer intricate hair braids and temporary tattoos, adding to the festive environment and resort ambience.