Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Great Wolf Lodge - A Second Opinion

We arrived to Great Wolf Lodge on a Monday at about 1pm, as that was the time we knew we could start using the water park. There were various cars waiting under the awning, but it didn't seem disorganized to us, just a normal resort front door area. While waiting in the car I noticed the carts people were bringing out to the cars to load there luggage onto. I thought this was a pretty great idea. I suppose that in many hotels you might find a bellhop to do this for you, which you would then need to tip. I'm a cheapskate, and I hate to tip, so I'm all for the carts. Of course we didn't need a cart because our 2 backpacks were easily brought in by the Smith muscle-man while the Smith little-woman took charge of the Smith kiddos.

Check-in was a breeze. It took about 5 minutes and even though by the time we were ready to move the vehicle cars were parked 3 across and someone was behind us waiting to get out, the driver behind us waited patiently and never honked their horn or tried to get us to move out of the way. We were told that Monday is not a real busy day for them. But when we asked about restaurant seating, we were told that even on Monday we should come 30 minutes before we wanted to eat. We felt this reasonable. I suppose that during a more busy time waits could get up there, but as long as you know that ahead of time, you can plan for that. We ate at the buffet restaurant for ease and were seated immediately. The food was, well, it was buffet food. But I can't complain. We enjoyed the variety. The smiley face potato patties were a huge hit with the little Smith eater. The variety of fruit was great. It was nice that it wasn't just a big fruit salad, but you could choose what you wanted. Pizza, chinese, a cold buffet featuring various salads, a hot buffet featuring chicken parm, meatballs and pasta, chicken potpie, oysters, shrimp, and prime rib, and a dessert bar.Not everything was terrific, but some things were extra delicious.

We took no time getting to the water park that day.

We actually had a room assigned to us at check-in even though we were prepared to wait till 4. It was nice to have the room ready at 1, and it wasn't because they were all finished cleaning rooms because the staff were out cleaning our floor still and didn't finish until much later.

Maddie really enjoyed the water. At first she was hesitant about the slides.

She just needed some time to warm up. By the time Dad had come back from the tornado she was ready to try out the slides. The littlest slides weren't enough for her and so she pointed to another one and said she wanted the "red" slide. She went down all by herself, but at the end was a bit shaken. However after a hug she then declared "yellow" slide. Of course once at the top it was a different story and she now no longer wanted to ride the yellow slide. But she tried. The snake and beaver floats in the play pool were a lot of fun for her, and with the help of Dad, she enjoyed shooting some hoops too.

She remembers that there was an owl at the wave pool, but here favorite thing was probably going through the kid spray area.

The lifeguards in the toddler area were very friendly, however I did feel it was a bit understaffed. I felt there should have been 1 more, but I did notice they didn't just stand, but made rounds. This is probably sufficient. Though one particular lifeguard, a young lady, seemed to be pretty stressed out at her station and anytime a kid fell in the water she asked them more than once if they were OK. She also got sprayed with water and didn't like that...I figure if you're a lifeguard, water should be your thing. But that's OK, it was one out of plenty and none of the others seemed to be shy about getting sprayed with water.

Lines for the 2 large slides and the tornado were short. The longest wait we encountered was about 10 minutes. Maybe 15. That was for the tornado. A very awesome ride. But...if you go, make sure you try it out at night. Put the kids to bed, and each parent should have a go at it. It's pitch dark and soooo much fun! Ryan had 15 minutes to get from the room to the tornado for a ride before it closed and he was able to ride it twice. And we were literally as far from the water park as you could get. (OK, one other room was farther) On Tuesday morning there were no lines. Perfect for parents like us where one has to wait with two kiddos.

We had planned on utilizing the water park after we checked out on Tuesday. The plan was to go at 9, watch the clock tower show at 10, check out and then go back to the water park. However, our little Maddie was pretty wore out. She just had a 9 day vacation, had a head cold, and had played hard 3 times already in the water. We decided it was time to go home and look forward to the next time we come. We are stoked about the location of the Great Wolf Lodge. Winter blues, move aside.

We feel that a 1 night stay is about perfect. You don't need to pay more for another night since you can use the water park after check out. You can't use the ultra convenient wrist band for purchases, but there are showers and locker rooms. There is plenty more to do at the Lodge as well. But for us with baby and toddler, the water park is the draw. There is the cub club, which I think would be fun perhaps for a 2 night stay. But the projects cost about 5 dollars each, and we can color at home...we came for the water slides :)

There is also a really g8 place for tweens and teens to hang out. I saw guitar hero being played there. And parents took there kids to watch transformers at night. The arcade also draws in tweens and teens, but as Ryan walked around at night he saw families playing together. We love to see families doing things together...that's what Great Wolf Lodge is about.

There was consideration of taking Maddie for her first pedicure or manicure at the Scoops Spa for kids, but at 35 dollars for a manicure, it wasn't worth it for such a little tike. The adult spa had regular spa prices. No bargains, but a great place for a mom to go to get a little relaxation. It's open to 9, so it's still an option once the kids are in bed.

For little kids the clock tower show is a big draw. Our little kid really enjoyed it. There is story time in the evenings as well, but it's not till 8:15, and that's past our bedtime. Perhaps if we were to go when we hadn't just been gone for over a week we could do it, but our kiddo was T-I-R-E-D.

Next time we go I think we'll try and get some grandparents or an uncle to go with us. Our room was the family suite, 2 queens with a semi wall and a pull out sofa. Maddie used the sofa. And even though we put Annora on the queen next to us, we have something else she can use, and the grandparents could take the second queen. This is the most economical room. But there are some rooms that have a separate bedroom. This might seem like it could save you money, but I don't think it would. I think those rooms are about double, and no matter the occupancy of the room, you have to pay 30 dollars per person over 4. If kids are counted as "free", then it could work, but otherwise, you might as well have two rooms. OR, the grandparents can just pay 30 dollars and come for the day to the water park as a guest.

So, we had a blast. Well worth our hard earned dollar and we'll be putting more towards another night sometime. Keep an eye out for bargains. For those of you with toddlers, it's possible they run a special for families of preschoolers come September. Yeah!


Eric and Jamie said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time! Looks like we may need to make the trip soon! :)

Water Buffalo said...

It looks like a lot of fun!! I hope to visit sometime in the future!

Anonymous said...

wow ! I went there ! but i went to the one in the Poconoes! We went in the Winter time and it was so pretty! and they had a hudge party in the oby with santa for the kids ! And the Magi Quest was so cool for them also! They were playing a video game but getting excersise at the same time

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

it wuz fun when i went!!!!!!!!!!!!

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