The Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
Consider a Visit to the Great Wolf Lodge
Traveling with the family? Looking for a place to go that will be fun for all ages? Have you considered the Great Wolf Water Park Resort, one of the best known indoor water parks?
Recently, the Great Wolf Lodge ("GWL") received accolades from USA Today and Reader's Digest as a great family resort, and top place to go to warm up!
With 12 locations across North America, chances are you won't have to drive too far for a wonderful, inclusive vacation, with fun for ages 1-101. The best thing about the indoor water park is that you don't have to worry about the weather. The Great Wolf Lodge is open year round, and is always around 84 degrees inside. From toddlers to teenagers, your children will love swimming and sliding at this park that some have compared to Disneyland!
Last Spring Break, I took my kids to the Great Wolf Lodge in Washington State, just over an hour south of Seattle. They are begging me to go back again soon.
Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Waterpark
Great Wolf Lodge Locations
There are currently 12 Great Wolf Lodges in North America (mostly concentrated in the mid-west and east):
- Grand Mound, Washington
- Concord, North Carolina
- Mason, Ohio
- Grapevine, Texas
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Sandusky, Ohio
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Traverse City, Michigan
- Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- Niagara Falls, Canada
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
- Sheboygan, Wisconsin
You'll find ample, free-parking outside the lodge, and (I love this) free wifi inside!
At the Grand Mound, Washington resort, the interior of the lodge includes a Starbucks, gift shop, Pizza Hut, sit-down restaurant, sweet shoppe, spa/workout facilities, children's spa, and arcade. In addition, there are several snack and beverage locations in the water park area. Kiosks are set up for children to get temporary tatoos, and there are other vendors selling flip-flops, swimsuits, stuffed animals and more!
Conference facilities are also included at the Great Wolf Lodge. It could be a great location at which to schedule your next company retreat.
Staying at the Great Wolf Lodge
You cannot play at the Great Wolf Lodge, unless you are spending the night there. In other words, you must lodge at the Great Wolf Lodge, at their prices. Depending on the number in your party, the dates on which you'll attend, the location of the park, and whether you want a really cool themed hotel room, prices range from about $250-700 per night.
Ask your travel agent, or call the lodge itself to find out if they are running any specials. Or, sign up online for the "Wolf Pack" and you'll get special offers emailed directly to you. Either way, you will definitely need to plan in advance before you stay at the Great Wolf Lodge.
While the hotel rooms are not cheap, the up side is that you can start swimming and playing at 1:00 p.m. (3 hours before check-in) and can continue staying until the park closes at 8:00 (9 hours after check-out). There is no additional cost for any of the waterpark activities, from the wave pool, to the numerous water slides. Swim to your heart's content!
Toddlers and their parents will be comfortable in a special area of the water park designed just for kids under age 5. Shallow water and fun water spraying animals or vehicles are involved. Throughout the entire park, you'll find water fountains and there is even a huge bucket that fills up with water, then dumps all over one area of the park (it's a hoot!)
Life vests are provided, and there are lifeguards throughout the water area of the Great Wolf Lodge. Of course, parents still must keep a close eye on their children.
As with any swimming pool environment, running on the decks can be slippery and dangerous. Horseplay, dunking, etc. will not be tolerated and you could be asked to leave the park. Also, there are height and weight restrictions for some of the water slides. Children may have to be accompanied with a parent or guardian if they are not tall enough to ride by themselves. Be sure to check the signs and ask any questions before you stand in line for the Howling Tornado!
You won't go hungry during your day of water play, because there are a number of snack and lunch locations right inside the water park part of the lodge. Parents and other guests over 21 can even enjoy a cocktail or beer! While you may be tempted to save costs by bringing in your own food, that is not permitted. However, we stocked up with groceries that ARE allowed in your hotel room. Feel free to use the mini refrigerator to keep your snacks cold, too.
Howling Tornado Waterpark Ride
More than Just Water Fun at the Great Wolf Lodge
Around the interior of the Great Wolf Lodge, you'll spot fun stuffed animal critters, from wolves to weasels. Your children can animate them to hear them sing, talk or laugh with a Magi-Quest wand (cost is about $10 for the wand, plus $15 to play the Magi-Quest game).
The clock tower in the lodge is a kids' delight, reminiscent of other theme parks like Disneyland. Several times a day, you can watch an animated show around the tower, or go on a "Wolf Walk." Kids of all ages love to learn about wolves' habitat. In the evening, children can meet at the clock tower for bedtime stories and free chocolate chip cookies.
My school aged kids really enjoyed playing the Magi-Quest game. Somewhat like Dungeons and Dragons meets a scavenger hunt, you use your wand to go on quests around the first four floors of the lodge. Fairies, crystals and wizards help you along the way. Fortunately, for other guests, the game is "turned off" at 10:00 p.m., and doesn't commence again until 9:00 a.m. We ran all over the place, up and down stairs so that my kids could earn their Magi-Quest certificate. Be forewarned - it took about 5 hours to complete, and is so addicting that it managed to draw my children out of the pools several times.
How does the Great Wolf Lodge Rate for Family Fun?
All in all, I give the Great Wolf Lodge a big thumbs up. For $400, our 4 kids (plus 2 adults) enjoyed hours and hours of water park fun. We didn't visit the spa or workout facilities, but we did take a trip to both Starbucks and Pizza Hut (add another $100 for food and drinks at the Lodge, plus another $50 or so in groceries). With the Magi-Quest game, we didn't feel the pressure from our children to buy souvenirs, either.
In short, we enjoyed the trip on a relatively shoestring resort budget. If you want to splurge, however, there is plenty to see, do, taste and drink at the Lodge.
We're confident our family will return again in the future, if not just to have a memorable trip for less the overall cost of other theme parks. As described at greatwolf.com:
Designed to capture the atmosphere of the Northwoods, our waterparks offer an amazing guest experience in a one-of-a-kind, rustically elegant setting. The perfect place for families to re-connect, and create lifelong memories
Our 4-hour drive home from the Lodge was a quiet one. The kids were asleep within 1/2 hour, and we could smile at the memories made during their Spring Break.
© 2009 Stephanie Hicks
More by this Author
People who live in Chicago - or perhaps vacationers visiting the Windy City - should consider a weekend trip north to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The Grand Geneva Resort offers year-round recreation and relaxation.
No visit to San Antonio, Texas is complete without a tour of the Alamo, site of the most important battle for the Republic of Texas. It was once a mission and is now a shrine. "Remember the Alamo"!
If you have been rejected by a family member or lover, then you know that it's difficult to get over the feelings of being unloved.