Saturday, March 17, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge Review

I have looked into going to Great Wolf Lodge several times over the last few years, but have never gone through with it because it always seemed so expensive. I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity. I thought the kids would love it and Pete would hopefully tolerate it. This year the planets aligned and I seized the day.

I think it was one weekend in late January they ran a 30% off sale but you had to go before the end of March. As luck would have it, my kids just so happened to be off school this past Friday so not only did we get to save 30% on the room, we got to go on a weekday which is quite a bit cheaper and way less crowded. In fact, I can't imagine going on a weekend. I am not a fan of crowds and I think my review would be completely different.

Thursday, I rushed home after work, threw a change of clothes in a bag and I think in a record breaking 20 minutes all of us were packed and loaded, heading for Mason, Ohio. Traffic wasn't too terrible and we were in our room by 6:40.

We had a family suite. It was nice. 2 queen beds, a little bar area with a mini-fridge and a microwave. They delivered a pack-n-play for Ella and there was a 3/4 wall that separated a little sitting area with a pull out sofa, coffee table and dining table and chairs. Not fancy but comfortable and clean.

You can see on Ella's hand, she found the pen and notepad while I was unpacking. She got bored with the notepad and inked her hands and feet. I guess I am grateful she spared the furniture.

We put on our suits, ran out to grab a bite (a handful of restaurants a block away, way cheaper than the ones in Great Wolf and probably better food) and went straight to the water park when we got back. We all got wrist bands (except Ella) and they doubled as room keys. Pete and I activated ours with our credit card info so we could purchase things in the lodge if we wanted to while keeping our wallets locked away.

I had seen lots of pictures of the inside of the water park, but to actually walk in, it was really impressive. There is a massive water feature/playground that is several stories tall and truly a child's dream. There was an area for toddlers, a hot tub area, a wave pool, several water slides, a lazy river, a 4 ft pool for swimming and water sports and a few other water activity areas.

We grabbed a table to put our stuff on. We brought our own towels but they did have plenty there for your use in the park. I guess you are supposed to dry off before you go back to your room? Then, Alex went one way, Anna another, I followed Ella around and Pete took turns hanging with the older two.

I have heard a lot of people say Great Wolf is better for older kids and others question whether they should take their families. Well, I think it completely depends on your kids. If your child doesn't like to get splashed or isn't really comfortable around water, this is not the place to go. Ella is a few months shy of 2 years and is a water baby. To say she loves it is an understatement. I think she loved it more than my older two, who had a blast.

This is also not the sort of place you can sit and just watch your little one. Even in the toddler area the water went up to Ella's waist so if she fell (which she did often) I had to be an arm's length away to pull her to her feet. She loved walking through the water, playing in the waves of the wave pool and stomping on the various water springs throughout the park. We went up and down the staircases of the fort and pushed buttons, pulled strings and turned dials to shoot water all over the place.


I did feel it was a safe enough area to let Alex and Anna go off on their own. It wasn't too big and I tended to be in 1 of 3 places with Ella so they could find me or Pete pretty easily and they checked in often. I do wish I could have taken a friend for each of them. They had a great time, but I know it would have been even better with a buddy.

The park was open until 10:00 pm so we had several hours Thursday night. There was a terrible storm and I wasn't sure we would even be able to enter, but they kept it open. They closed the big slides and any of the little water features that run on electricity, but honestly there was so much to do and water flying everywhere that you didn't really miss it. They turned everything back on by 8:30 so the kids got to try out the slides and tire themselves out before bed.

The hotel has a lot to do too but we didn't partake in anything but the water park. I can't imagine staying there more than one night, but I guess if you do, you will appreciate/need the variety.

There is an arcade which looked very GameWorks-ish on a smaller scale and a mystery/scavenger hunt throughout the hotel where you buy a magic wand in the gift shop that opens and activates clues in the halls. We had a bit of a stroll to get to our room and I'd say we passed at least a dozen items on our journey. In the lobby they do story time in front of the great tree and they have a playroom for toddlers called the Little Cub Den. (I can honestly say, I never even saw this room and am not entirely sure what it is).

Of course I didn't tell Anna, but they have a child's spa called Scooop's. I would have loved to have treated Anna to a day of pampering, but I would have had to take out a small loan or paid payments to cover it. Add that one to our lottery list.

If you go, I highly recommend taking a little cooler and packing some snacks. I did take some drinks and a few things but being in a rush, I didn't get to do as much as I would have liked. We ate breakfast at their restaurant because it was pouring down rain and we didn't want to leave. We also ate a late lunch at the snack shop in the water park. As you can imagine both meals were way over-priced for what you got, nothing to brag about as far a quality or flavor and void of much if any nutritional value. 

One downside to staying only one night is that check-out is at 11:00. It would have been nice to have had a room to go back to and take a break or let Ella nap but we made due and Ella slept on the ride home. The park opened at 10:00 so we took our stuff to the car and kept only our towels and a change of clothes. By 3:00 we were all ready to say good bye to Great Wolf.

Our kids loved it. When I told Anna I was doing a blog on it, she wanted me to tell you all that everything was great. I would definitely do it again if the planets once again align. I don't think I would ever attempt this on a weekend or holiday. It would make for a great girls' night out with the kids. Pete is not an amusement park fan. I think he is glad we went but would be perfectly content to leave it at that.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Glad you had a good time!

Your experience echoes ours. Unfortunately, our kids aren't water park lovers. They love to swim, but they had getting splashed. I'm hoping maybe a summer at Soak City will change that.

Fortunately, GWL runs that 30% off special a lot if you watch for it. So you shouldn't have to wait too long for the planets to align again. And of course, you'll have a great water park in Mason this summer as part of your Kings Island passes.

What I enjoyed most about GWL was the atmosphere. It was a blatant rip off of Disney's Wilderness Lodge on a smaller scale. But you do get a sense of what makes the Disney resorts so appealing. Plus it's a short drive away and relatively affordable.

We didn't eat at the Lodge. Mason has too many cheaper alternatives a short drive away. But it's nice they have something there if you can't or don't want to run to you car.