McWhinney Lands $170M Loan for Orange County Water Park

The company relied on Berkadia to secure the financing for Great Wolf Lodge, a 603-key, 105,000-square-foot indoor entertainment resort in Garden Grove, Calif.
Great Wolf Lodge. Image courtesy of McWhinney

McWhinney, owner of the 603-key Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove, Calif., has secured a $170 million loan for the 105,000-square-foot, indoor water park resort. McWhinney relied on Berkadia to arrange the financing.

Wells Fargo came through with the funds for Great Wolf, acting through its CMBS platform to provide a 10-year fixed rate, full-term, interest-only loan. The transaction marks the first 10-year fixed-rate loan ever completed for a water park resort.

“This was a complex deal given the uniqueness of this asset, the capital structure desired and our goal to go long term with a focus on rate and proceeds,” Josh Kane, senior vice president of finance with McWhinney, said in a prepared statement.

McWhinney first introduced Great Wolf Lodge to Southern California in 2016, having invested $250 million on the development of the resort destination. Sited on 12 acres roughly two miles from Disneyland, the nine-story property features 14 slides and four pools, as well as a 30,000-square-foot conference venue and 18,000 square feet of retail and dining options.

The Berkadia team that orchestrated the financing on McWhinney’s behalf included Andrew Coleman and Mauricio Rodriguez, both of whom are part of the real estate services firm’s Hotels & Hospitality Group.

Financing amusement

The theme park market is faring well, and the forecast is for the positive trend to continue. According to a forecast report by Orion Research, “the North American and the European amusement parks markets are anticipated to witness substantial growth due to increasing per capita disposable income.”

Lenders in the private and public arenas are backing amusement park projects across the U.S. Smaller transactions over the last 12 months include Rockland Trust’s origination of $14 million in financing for Edaville Land Holdings LLC’s expansion of the historic Edaville Family Theme Park in South Carver, Mass. On the public side, North Avenue Capital closed USDA Rural Development Business & Industry loans totaling $15 million on behalf of developers of Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park, which will be built within the 630-acre The Grand Texas entertainment destination just outside Houston in New Caney, Texas.