- Travel and Places
Review of Great Wolf Lodge - Pennsylvania Indoor Water Park
What is Great Wolf Lodge Really Like?
I stretched out my arm, wrist up to the cashier. She scanned the bar code on the green band that has been secured in place for the past two days and charged my account.
Listless, I no longer felt pain in the transactions. During our stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania I gave up trying to add up how much I spent. My arms were weak from excessive time holding up my four-year old in the wave pool. My legs were like jelly from traipsing up and down the stairwells and hallways of the resort playing MagiQuest with my older girls. My mind was fuzzy from too many trips to the chocolate fountain at the buffet.
My kids still had plenty of energy. Jacked up on ice cream and Cokes they were always ready to move on to the next water slide, agility course, or activity. My body screamed for a long soak in the hot tub, which is not quite as relaxing as expected when you are joined by your own (and other people’s) kids.
New arrivals can be spotted in the crowd instantly. Parents are bright and shiny, excited for their trip, pointing out all the great things to see and do, camera in hand, laughing and smiling along with their kids.
That lasts for precisely twelve hours, when parents transform into zombie like participants, trailing behind their kids, smiling as much as they can with a depleted energy reserve and bank account. They’re resigned to the fact that retirement will need to be pushed out five more years to cover the costs of the trip. And they understand that they will not catch up on sleep until they return home.
It’s a love hate relationship for parents. Here’s why:
- Guest Rooms: My 4 year-old asked on the first night, “Can this be our new house?” Kid friendly rooms with bunk beds tucked into pseudo caves and tents, loft bedrooms and patios make your stay comfortable. Your kids will never want to leave. During a holiday week or weekend, you can expect to pay between $400 and $800 per night (in the Pennsylvania location, prices vary at Great Wolf Lodge resorts across the country). The water park is included in the cost of the room. Travel mid-week during a non-holiday week and you could spend as little as $250 per night.
- Food: We loved the kid friendly food like giant PB &J sandwiches, burgers, fries, hot dogs and chicken fingers. There’s a Pizza Hut Express on site and a candy and ice cream shop. Starbucks will keep you caffeinated. You’ll need it. Over the course of a few days, I grew tired of the selection. There are healthy options, but they are seldom chosen. I began to hate the chocolate fountain with the enormous selection of items to slather– from Rice Krispie Treats and cookies to pretzels and fruit. If you are trying to avoid sweets (I was on a restricted diet), this is not the place for you.
- Indoor Water Park: It’s the main attraction at Great Wolf Lodge and it will keep the kids entertained for several days. They may never get tired of it, but you probably will! There are areas specifically designed for toddlers and preschoolers, waterslides for the whole family to enjoy together and a few slides for the thrill seekers. You won’t be disappointed. The down side? Many parents didn’t supervise their kids to my satisfaction. I may be a little overprotective, but many kids roamed free without a parent in sight. Plenty of life guards are on hand, but I couldn’t help getting a bit nervous. And a kid pooped in the wave pool. That just ruined it for me.
- MagiQuest: My kids loved this as much as the waterpark. This interactive game will consume your kids for days as they search the floors of the resort to find clues, save pixies and fight dragons and wave their wand at everything in sight. It will cost a minimum of $35 per child, but could easily climb to $60 or $70 for premium wands, dragon or princess wand toppers, decorative pieces and magical runes added on. We played long after checkout to complete the game and receive the Master Magi certificates and buttons. It was absolutely worth the cost.
- Cub Club: For a mere $7 your child can paint their own pottery. This is the best deal in the place and various crafts are available. There is also a book nook and games for the kids to play for free when they need a little down time.
- Story Time and Show: Held in the lobby each evening, this is a treat for younger children. Weekend nights can draw a crowd, making it difficult to see and hear the animatronics show, but the kids will like it anyway.
- The Arcade: Fairly standard, it could use a little updating with a wider range of games.
- Scoops Spa for Girls: We skipped this, so I can’t give you an accurate review, but the spa offers ice cream manicures, pedicures and facials and promises to pamper your little princess. At $79 for a mani-pedi, the spa visit needs to wait until your girls are done with the water park, so it won’t get washed away.
“Mom, when can we come back here?” My kids started asking this question before we checked out, followed by “We will come back, right?” Maybe. Okay, yes. They had a blast. We'll do this again.
I’m young (enough). I don’t need a retirement fund yet.