I took my two children, ages 6 and 9, for an over night trip to Grizzly Jack's because it was close but could still feel like a vacation to them and it was within my budget.
The room was clean and decent, nothing fancy. I was confused at first because the heating/cooling unit wasn't responding when I tried to cool it down in the room but when I asked a front desk person about it they told me those units were no longer hooked up and there is a thermostat. (I just hadn't noticed it before) Those old ones should really be removed if they aren't in use anymore. Also there was one light I could never figure out how to turn on and had to plug in the other ones after I thought they, too, didn't work but was informed that housekeeping just unplugs them to clean. There was a rip in the seat of the couch that was in our room, which admittedly took away from the "resort vacation" feel of our trip initially.
The arcade is like a small Chuck E. Cheese but most of the games were two tokens instead of one. I gave my kids 10.00 each in tokens and they were happy spending those. There wasn't an attendant in the area the whole time we were in the arcade (about an hour) but we returned later to spend out tickets when someone was behind the counter- and I have to say he was very polite and patient with my two indecisive girls. Other than that, the place was clean and the games were in working order with the exception of two, the color game and the squirt gun game (which didn't have enough water pressure to make it to the target)
You have to enter through the locker rooms and must get you towels on the way in. I had grabbed a few off of a stack of folded in half towels on the desk but realized that they were damp and really scratchy feeling. There was no one at the desk when I went back and no other towels to choose from so we had to make do. Going through the locker rooms does not give you the best impression as to the cleanliness of the water park and hotel. The floor had a lot of standing water puddles which we had to walk through and in passing the showers I noticed a lot of grime, big clumps of hair, and water stains. We got out to the park area and the spa was shut down completely. The rest of the park was in working order and there were several lifeguards stationed which made me feel comfortable letting my kids play freely. Sadly after about 20 minutes they had to close down the area because someone "got sick" in the pool. On a positive note: The woman in the snack shop was really friendly and gave great service.
This was, sadly, a disappointment. There weren't many rides and a couple of them were not running (one being a smaller kids boat ride thing, and we didn't even see an alien ride that's listed in the rides section on the website). My 6 yr old had to play on bouncy houses because that's all that was available for younger kids (as well as one tiger ride). There are a lot of Arcade-style games for you to spend additional money on though! I was really unhappy with this whole area. There was probably more money put into the giant stone man in the entrance that moves and talks than half the rides.
We went to Jack's Place for Dinner since we were already in the building. The food was actually better than I expected. My kids got hot dogs and they were the all beef kind not the mystery meat kind so they were happy with their food. I got the meatball sandwich and a salad bar. The sandwich was excellent and the salad bar was fresh and well stocked. Our waitress was prompt and friendly. The only thing I didn't like about the restaurant is that is open with the rest of the park. I would have really like a nice quiet meal to enjoy with my kids without the noise and lights of the park behind us. That would have been an alright scenario had we been getting carnival food and sitting at a picnic table but I expect a little more when you're paying table service prices.
In the hotel The Grizzly Bean Cafe and The Honey Pot Sweet Shop were excellent. Prices for cappuccino are a little high considering it's the same kind you get at the gas station but I really can't complain about anything else. The breakfast buffet was excellent! Lots of choices and everything was fresh. If I remember correctly it was about 6.95 for myself and 4.95 for each of my kids- great prices.
I would say we had a really good time. Nothing major to complain about, the staff was kind and helpful but I think there's a lot of room for improvement, in all areas of this operation. Luckily, they are things I notice and my children don't (for now anyway) I don't think we will be back until I hear of some kind of renovation. I just don't think it was really worth the money as it was an average experience all the way around for me. (and I'm the one paying)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort offers skin-drenching fun all year long right in the beautiful setting of Starved Rock State Park. Located just 90 minutes from Chicago or the Quad Cities and an hour from Bloomington or Rockford, our 60 wooded acres offer all of nature's wonders, featuring 60,000 sq. ft. of Indoor Entertainment! This includes Grand Bear Falls Indoor Waterpark and Enchanted Forest Indoor Amusement Park, beautiful lodge accommodations, as well as our 1800 sq. ft. vacation villas and luxurious 2800 sq. ft. cabins. Enjoy a variety of dining options, including wraps, salads, hot sandwiches and made to order pizzas at Lumber Jacks Pizzeria and Sports Bar. During the summer months guests can enjoy a view of nature at our Bear Island Pavilion & Curtis Canyon Deck. Next to Bear Island enjoy our “Castle in the Woods” playground area and test your skills at our 18 hole Canyon Creek Miniature Golf Course, Laser Tag, Ropes Course and Zip Line (additional costs apply - open to the public). All lodge rooms include a microwave, mini-fridge, hair dryer and wi-fi internet access. Our Vacation Villas are a 2-story townhome with a fully-applianced kitchen (basic pots and pans and place settings are provided), 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Our Log Cabins offer 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a fully-applianced kitchen (basic pots and pans and place settings are provided), 3 fireplace, s and an oversized Great Room. Other resort amenities include the Cave Arcade with over 60 games, the Wave Cafe Snack Shop, the Honey Pot Sweet Shop & Grizzly Bean Gourmet Coffee Shop, the Moose Crossing Convenience Store and the Northwoods Niche Gift Shop. Our Grand Bear Conference Center includes over 8000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 6000 sq. ft. of Grand Ballroom space to accommodate your larger functions such as weddings, family reunions and corporate events. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grizzly Jack`s Grand Bear Hotel Utica
- Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort
- Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Hotel