Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort – website
Location: 2643 N. State Route 178, Utica, IL
Parking: There is a large attached lot at the main resort. There are additional lots for the villas and cabin and 2 spaces directly in front of each cabin. Parking is free.
Check in & check out: Check-in is at 4:00 pm, and checkout is at 11:00 am. Guests can arrive as early as 1:00 pm pre-register and start using the waterpark and amusement park. After checkout, guests can continue to use the waterpark and amusement parks for the remainder of the day.
Price: Price vary a lot depending on the type of accommodations, the number of people staying, and the dates. Mid-week accommodations start at approximately $99 a night, or $189 a night on weekends. Luxury cabins during the week can be as low as $389 for two adults. A weekend stay in a luxury cabin with the maximum number of people (18) on a weekend night are approximately $800 a night. There are certain dates when there is a minimum 2-night stay required.
There is an additional $9.95/night resort fee added to the price.
Accommodations: Full descriptions of all accommodations can be found on the Grizzly Jack’s website. All rooms in the lodge include free Wi-Fi access, cable tv, microwave, mini fridge, and hair dryer. Here are options for rooms in the lodge:
- King Suite – Sleeps up to 4 people with a king bed and sofa sleeper.
- Family Suite – Sleeps up to 6 people with two queen beds and a sofa sleeper. These suites come with or without a balcony.
- Kid Cabin – For larger families of up to 5 people; queen bed, sofa sleeper, twin bunk beds for the kids and two tvs.
- Whirlpool Suite – For romantic getaways or honeymoons. Two person whirlpool tub, fireplace, and four-post king size canopy bed.
- Deluxe Family Suite – Three rooms accommodating up to 8 people; two queen size beds and a sofa sleeper in three distinct sleeping areas, as well as three tvs and a fireplace. Master bedroom has a king size bed and a two-person whirlpool tub.
- Vacation Villa – 2-story, 1800 square foot villas that sleep up to 9 people. Each has a fireplace & television in the living room, a kitchen and dining area, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a patio and 2 balconies. The kitchen is complete with all major appliances, a coffee pot, toaster, dinnerware, utensils for 8, and basic cookware. A full size washer and dryer are also included. The Master Bedroom has a king size bed, sofa, fireplace, television, a private vanity and a whirlpool tub. The second bedroom has two queen size beds and a television.
- Luxury Cabin – The 3-Story Luxury Cabins are 2,800 square feet and sleep up to 18. They feature custom designed north woods furnishings, vaulted ceilings, fireplace, big screen television, and floor to ceiling windows. Complete kitchen with all major appliances, coffee pot, toaster, dinnerware, eating utensils for 16, basic cookware and a full size washer and dryer. The spacious Master Bedroom is located on the third floor and has its own private bathroom and whirlpool tub. A second bedroom (lower level) has two queen beds, a television, private bath and whirlpool hot tub. The third bedroom has 2 sets of twin/queen bunk beds, a dresser and television. One additional bathroom is located on the main level and another on the lower level.
Bathrooms: There are public bathrooms in the public areas of the lodge with changing tables.
Nursing area: There is no designated nursing area.
Stroller/Handicapped Accessibility: The Lodge is accessible and there are accessible villas. The cabins have several steps up to the door and are not accessible. There is an accessible lift chair available in the lazy river of the water park.
- Jack’s Place Restaurant and Sports Bar
- The Grizzly Bean Cafe and the Honey Pot Sweet Shop – Located across from the main desk in the lobby of the Lodge and sells sweets like fudge as well as coffee and food. On weekends there is a breakfast buffet.
- The Wave Snack Shop – Located in the water park snacks and food items, like hot dogs and chips.
Grand Bear Falls Indoor Water Park:
- Zero-depth entry wave pool
- Body slide – Riders must be 48″ or taller.
- Tube slide – Riders must be 48″ or taller.
- Lazy river
- Family slide
- Ranger Station play structure
- Tot pool
- Heated Jacuzzi tub – adults only
Day passes are not available for the waterpark; only overnight guests can use the waterpark.
Enchanted Forest Indoor Amusement Park:
- Adult rides – Tilt-A-Whirl, Vertical Plunge, Growler, Grizzly
- Children’s rides – Pouncing Tigers, Aliens, various inflatable slides and bounce houses
- Arcade – arcade games and ticket redemption counter
- Ropes Course – walk on ropes and through obstacles while attached to a safety line
Day passes are available for the indoor amusement park (for those not staying overnight at the resort) for $12.99.
- Family Craft Time – Color your own t-shirt or pillowcase for a fee at the HoneyPot Sweet Spot
- Character Breakfast – Available most holidays and weekends. Breakfast buffet prices are $6.95/adult, $4.95/child 3-11, children 2 & under free. Have you picture taken with Grand Bear.
- Family Story Time – Grizzly Jack and Grand Bear tell a story in the lobby of the lodge every night at 7:30 pm.
- Family Movie Time – Showing at 8:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Grand Duck Derby – Takes place on weekends and holidays in the waterpark.
- Miniature Golf – 18 hole course. Additional cost.
- Grizzly Bear picture – Have your picture taken with a baby bear. Additional cost.
Specials & packages: Specials and packages can be found on the Grand Deals page. Currently you can stay for two weekend nights in the family suites for only $252. This offer expires on June 2, 2012 and there are dates that this offer is not valid.
Parties & events: Grizzly Jack’s has party packages for the amusement park (waterpark admission is not included).
- Moose Crossing – convenience store across from the front desk
- The Northwoods Niche Gift Shop – clothing, souvenirs, and gifts
- Fitness Center
- Shuttle service – available to transport guests around the resort, including between the lodge, amusement park, villas, and cabins.
We arrived at Grizzly Jack’s at about 1:00 pm on a Saturday. Guests can register at 1:00 and use the waterpark and amusement park, but rooms are guaranteed to be ready until 4:00. We received our wristbands, a map of the resort, some information about activities, and were told that our cabin was ready so we could go directly there.
We were parked in the main parking lot (for the lodge), and drove over to the cabin. There are two parking spaces designated for each cabin; additional parking is available in the lodge lot and a tram to shuttle guests between the cabins, villas, lodge, and amusement park.
Our cabin was huge and gorgeous. The main floor had a large kitchen, dining area, living room (with a tv and fireplace), and a bathroom with a shower. There was also a door that opened onto a deck in the back of the cabin.
The lower level had a small laundry room, a bathroom, and two large bedrooms – one with 2 sets of bunk beds with twin beds on top and full size beds on the bottom and a tv, and another with 2 queen size beds, a large tv, a bathroom with shower, a large hot tub, and a fireplace.
The upstairs is the master bedroom – a king size bed, a large tv, attached bathroom, fireplace, and a large hot tub.
After exploring the cabin for a while, the kids were anxious to get to the water park. We changed into swimsuits and headed outside to the tram. Because our cabin was in the back and on a narrow road, the tram didn’t come to our door like it does for most of the villas and cabins, but we just needed to walk a couple of cabins down to the end of the block to catch the tram. The tram looks like a train and the kids loved it.
We took the tram to the lodge where the water park is located downstairs. Towels were available at the entrance to the locker rooms you go through to reach the water park. While at the water park, John and I took turns testing out the two waterslides (a body slide and a tube slide) and the wave pool. The hot tub was closed during our first visit to the water park. The kids spent a little time on the Ranger Station play structure, but water periodically cascades down the play structure and they were a little afraid of that. They spent most of their time in the shallow end of the pool, the kiddie pool with the kiddie slide, and on the family slide.
We also tried the lazy river with the kids, but it was a bit difficult getting inner tubes for the lazy river. The only empty ones were already floating in the lazy river so you had to wade into the lazy river to grab them. There were also a lot of people walking and swimming in the lazy river without tubes; there were signs saying tubes had to be used, but the lifeguards didn’t seem to be enforcing that rule. We enjoyed the water park a lot, but I did notice that the lifeguards didn’t seem to enforce the posted rules (like no outside flotation devices). There weren’t any real safety concerns – they seemed to be diligent about watching the swimmers – but as an example there were kids going down the family slide backwards and the lifeguard whistled a warning to them to stop a few times, then verbally warned them, and when they didn’t stop he just kept watching them.
After some time in the water park we headed to the locker rooms to get dressed. The women’s locker room had several bathroom stalls, showers, sinks, lockers, and a bench. There were several people in there when I went in with Dexter and they were using the bench so there really wasn’t a dry place to set our bag and clothes; I found a hook to hang the bag on and got myself changed and then moved to the bathroom stall and changed Dexter’s clothes on the changing table.
We headed to the nearby town and had dinner at a cute little cafe and ice cream shop. When we returned we headed to the Enchanted Forest, the amusement park. The boys were thrilled to test out all the inflatables and go on the kiddie rides.
John and I took turns sneaking away to try out some of the bigger rides. Before leaving, we ordered at pizza at Grizzly Jack’s Place (located inside the Enchanted Forest) to have delivered to our cabin. We got back to the cabin and put on pajamas and the pizza arrived. It was good, reasonably priced, and arrived very quickly.
After a busy day we were all exhausted and slept very well. We got up early to head to the lodge for the Grand Duck Derby at the water park. We arrived just a couple minutes before it was scheduled to start so we didn’t get tickets for the prizes, but we thought the boys would enjoy watching the race anyway. I thought it was a race around the lazy river, but the ducks were just thrown down the water slide and an employee grabbed the first few that came out at the bottom to award prizes. The prizes were some tokens for the arcade. Overall, not very exciting to watch and I wish we had just slept a little later.
We had the breakfast buffet in the lodge at the Grizzly Bean Cafe. The prices were pretty good ($6.95 for adults, $4.95 for kids over 3, not including beverages) and the food was good. The dining area near the Grizzly Bean was full when we had our breakfast, but they had one of the banquet rooms open for us down the hall. It was a bit of a hike, but the room was large and quiet (it was just ourselves and one other family) and it was actually nice. We were able to let the boys relax a little (i.e. we didn’t go nuts when they tried to climb under the table) and since there was plenty of room we didn’t feel crowded or rushed.
After breakfast we went back to our cabin to pack our things and prepare for checkout and the water park. We dropped off our keys at the lodge and spent the next couple hours in the water park before packing the kids up in the car for the ride home.
We really enjoyed our trip to Grizzly Jack’s. I only wished we had longer to stay because there was a lot we wanted to do that there just wasn’t time for – Family Craft Time, Family Movie Time, Family Story Time, and spend some time at Starved Rock. I also would have liked to try out the hot tub in our room in the cabin, but I was so exhausted after the water park and amusement park that I just couldn’t stay awake long enough. I hope to visit again in the future and spend a little more time next time.
Things I didn’t like:
- There was a gap in the railing of the second floor master bedroom in the cabin. I was careful to watch the boys because I think it was large enough for one of them to get stuck or possibly even fall through.
- The changing area was pretty small and only had a single bench.
- The lifeguards weren’t consistent with enforcing the posted rules of the water park.
Things I did like:
- The water park and amusement park are both included with your stay.
- The tram was fun and very convenient. We never had to wait very long for it.
- The luxury cabin was AMAZING. The fully stocked kitchen (all the appliances, accessories, and dishes you’d need), fireplaces, and hot tubs were fabulous, and the cabin is just beautiful.
- If you’re staying in one of the cabins with young children I would suggest bringing something that could block the gap in the railing. For one night I was not very concerned because it was easy enough to watch the boys, but if I were staying for a longer period of time or with more children it would be a major concern for me.
- Skip the Grand Duck Derby, unless you’re around anyway or really want to win some tokens. It’s early in the morning, over in a flash, and the prizes weren’t very thrilling.
- Plan a stay with friends or family if possible. The cabin was amazing and would be great for a large group (it sleeps up to 18) and the price is pretty reasonable if you can split it with another family or two. The full kitchen, with almost everything you need, is great for making your own meals so you can save a little money. There’s plenty to do so give yourselves a longer stay if you can.
- If you are staying in a villa or cabin, check out the helpful list of items you may want to bring on the Grizzly Jack’s site before you go.
- Have some cash with you. The lockers outside the water park take cash only.
We received a complimentary stay at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort. All opinions expressed are my own.