Family Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

Ahhh, yes.  We caved.  As you may have noticed, I skipped out on This Weeks Eats because we were oh so busy livin' it up at the Great Wolf Lodge!  My kiddos birthdays are within a week of each other and this seems to be the beginning of a pretty nice little tradition.  My husband and I are not huge fans of crowds and nonstop activity, what were we getting ourselves into!?  In some ways our fears were fully realized, and quashed in others...

In the weeks leading up to birthday time, I kept my eye out for a Groupon type deal.  In the end, I subscribed to Great Wolf Lodge's newsletter and got a first time customer deal of 15% off and $30 resort credit.  We also decided to go on a Sunday for a cheaper rate, and went with the Kid Kamp room which has a sectioned off space for the kids with a bunk bed.

Also, each kid gets the wolf ears upon check-in.  Awesome.
The water park is open to guests at 1pm on the day of arrival, through 9pm on the day you check out.  We decided to have an early lunch and hit the road to arrive just after 1pm and enjoy the park until around 5 or 6pm, so that we'd have time to get ready for dinner.  Once we got settled and changed, we arrived at the water park hoping to put our towels and cover ups on a chair or something while we swam.  Apparently everyone has this idea and despite there being hundreds of chairs around the pools, we couldn't find a single one to spare.  I figured that going on a Sunday (and MOTHER'S DAY at that) would be pretty quiet. HA!  Attendance at the water park was probably at normal levels.  I can't imagine what it's like at peak times!  It's ten bucks to rent a locker and that's just ridiculous when your room is a few minute walk away.  So we huffed it back to the room and ditched our flip flops, shorts, cover ups, etc.  If you're not a fan of just waltzing around in only your swimsuit through hotel corridors, Great Wolf Lodge is not for you.  And I have no pictures to show for our water park adventures, either.  Ah well.

Once unburdened, we hit up all the rides they had to offer over, and over, and over, and over again.  My husband and I took turns with each kid, since my 4 year old was restricted to the smaller slides and my 7 year old was free to do whatever.  It worked out nicely, alternating running up and down stairs to experience super fun slides, to chillaxing in the kiddie pool and just watching my girl play.  Pro tip: the big slides (Howlin' Tornado and River Canyon Run) are cool but over really fast.  The slides where you carry your own inner tube up the stairs (Alberta Falls) are WAY more fun, have shorter lines and seem to last longer.  I would have gone on these all afternoon, but my son had an obsession with the wave pool so we spent a ton of time in there, chasing the biggest waves.

Getting the kids to vacate the premises was, predictably, very difficult.  But going 'out' for dinner and the superawesomeohmygod bunk beds were helpful carrots to dangle.  Lots of people advise you to get a pizza delivered to your room to save money on the exorbitant costs of the restaurants on site.  However, we figured that since we're really only planning on visiting once a year, we'd rather walk around, explore and go out for a family meal.  Camp Kritter Bar and Grill was a pleasant surprise with some fine dining options that tasted really rather good.  My husband decided to try their NY strip, and it was delicious!  And I think that's saying something, with all the steak joints we've eaten at from Chicago to Seattle.  It's not Gibson's or anything, but it was darn tasty.  I got hazelnut crusted halibut, also very yummy.  The kids options were typical, and the kids got their typical cheese themed dinner out: mac and cheese for the girl child and quesadilla for the boy child.  Also, there are plenty of opportunities for those 21 and over to drink up.  There's a bar by the pools, and TGIFriday's style cocktail menus at every restaurant.  And you can apparently carry that shiz all around the resort with you.  There were plenty of parents tottering around with their glass of red during story hour.  To each their own... 

Sufficiently stuffed, we timed things so that we were able to catch the nightly story hour in the main lobby.  This was basically a vaguely creepy Chuck-e-Cheese kind of deal where animatronic creatures 'come to life' and sing a song and then the lodge mascot 'Wiley' the wolf comes out and reads a story with one of the resort staff, then they lead a little song and dance.  It was cute and a perfect way to send the kids off to bed.  

After four hours of constant swimming without any breaks, and hitting the hay at least two hours past their bedtime, you'd think your kids would be a little tired.  HA!  We finally turned off their Kindles in their 'cabin' around 10:30.  Yes, we let them have their tablets in bed as a vacation indulgence and it usually helps them wind down.  Despite the fact that there's a tv in the kids room, there aren't many appropriate options, even on Disney/Nick, at 10pm.  Great Wolf Lodge should really think about a channel with kid friendly movies or shows on a loop - kinda like at Children's Hospital!  Anyway, I think they finally drifted off around 11:30 after several trips to the bathroom and visiting each other's bunk.  Of course my girl is a TERRIBLE sleeper and woke like a newborn crying because of 'weird sounds' ever two or three hours.  The idea of going back into the water park vortex the following morning was just too much for me and my husband to bear after such a sleepless night, and aching bones from our exertions the day before.  Luckily, a friend of mine lent me her son's 'magic wand' for the MagiQuest fun around the park.  Basically, you can buy a plastic wand to make things light up, talk, move etc. around the resort, even in 'secret stairwells.'

  There are also games available at an extra charge (of course!) wherein you can earn points, get clues to finish a quest, etc.  But we just used the wand to make 'magic happen.'  This was the perfect thing to keep us busy before checkout and it might just have been the highlight of the trip.  The place was teeming with packs of kids all decked out (some with wizard capes and wand holsters.  Holsters!) and taking their game very seriously.  It was pretty cool and I think that if we go next year we'll definitely pony up for our own wand and a quest.  We also spent a little time in the arcade, which is always a good time.  

A claw game for Starbucks reusable cups and gift cards!
All in all, we were pleased with our experience and will definitely be back.  


  1. My kids love it there although we have only been once when they were younger;) My husband and I don't love the crowds. I don't think there really is a "slow" time for Great Wolf. Glad you all had fun!

    1. haha, I supposed it's always a zoo there! Yeah, I'm thinking your boys are too mature for the Lodge ;)