Friday, January 4, 2013

Great Wolf Lodge

This might turn out to be the longest post I've written in my life.  I decided against breaking it into smaller parts (which I may regret...) but here goes.  The photos are courtesy of my two new lenses (what an awesome Christmas gift!!)  The Tokina Pro wide angle 11-16 F 2.8 and the Canon 50 F 1.8 also known as the "Nifty Fifty."  This Staycation was my first time to play with my new lenses so the photos aren't as great as they might have been had I known more what I was doing.  But I had a blast trying them out.  They are both lenses that allow a lot of light in the aperture which means they take shots with no flash in low light settings.

What can I say about the Great Wolf Lodge?  A lot!  So settle in, grab a warm drink or something, and prepare to find out what a family can get into at this amazing resort hotel.

On our first evening, the kids came in their pj's to story time in the lobby.  This was not as great as it could have been.  There is a 15 minute animatronic show which is hard to hear because the lobby is loud and the sound system is not.  It's a nice idea, though, and the kids did sing the little song they learned later in the trip.  So I guess they heard it well enough for it to get stuck in their heads.

Can you spot Ava and Nate in the middle?  Lucas was beyond exhaustion that night and ended up sitting by us on the side.

Why was Lucas so exhausted?  Because of the ginormous indoor water park, a place we utilized to the fullest during our stay!  They keep the air temperature at 84 degrees and the water is warm, too.  There are several play areas, a lazy river, a basketball/pool area, a wave pool, a hot tub (for the grown-ups), and several slides that vary in their ability to produce terror.  Though all the slides produced great and equal terror in Ava.

Probably our favorite area was the wave pool.  The kids loved it when they turned the waves on after intervals of calm.  Lucas would jump waves non-stop.  I don't know where he gets the energy.

The lazy river was fine, but not especially lazy.  One of the play areas was by/above parts of the river so kids were dumping buckets of water and spraying people in the river.  And there were curtains of pounding water to float through on the river too.  I hate those kinds of things...they just hurt.  I pretty much avoided this area.

We finally got Ava to do a slide by bribing her with a souvenir.  It worked.  She gathered her courage and did the gentlest slide available.  I love seeing her conquer her fears!

We spent so much of our time at the water park.  There were many other activities offered at the hotel, but the water park was the only one that had no additional fees.  We skipped the Girl's Spa, the Cub Club, and the biggest thing of all...Magiquest.  Magiquest is a money making machine for Great Wolf.  There were hundreds of kids running all over the hotel with their magic wands doing the "Quest."  For $40 or so it's 8 hours of entertainment that I've heard covers about 10 miles in all going from floor to floor finding clues and completing levels.  However, we didn't have the time or interest to devote to the Magiquest.

Instead, we hit the Arcade for a couple hours of water-free fun.  This was actually a blast!  Our kids love these kinds of arcade games and I'll admit I kind of do, too!  Cody's parents had come out to join us for lunch and check out the hotel.  After lunch they treated the kids to a loaded game card.

All in all, I would recommend Great Wolf to families looking for a vacation close to home.  The water park seemed warmer in the mornings to me.  I was chilly in the afternoons even with their efforts to keep the park at a comfortable temperature.  Feeling cold definitely lessened our enjoyment.  The park was also less crowded in the mornings.  We sprang for a special room that had a "Wolf Den" bunk bed area but it turned out instead of fighting over the bunk beds the kids fought over who got to sleep on the fold out couch near our bed.  I still can't really explain that.  If we go again, I would just get a normal room for less cost.  

This would be a fun place to meet other families for a group vacation, too.  The restaurants within the hotel are good and not too inflated in price.  But there are also lots of restaurants within a few miles of the hotel for those wanting options.  We utilized the Starbucks on the first floor for breakfast each morning.  The rooms have small refrigerators and microwaves for those who want to cut costs by bringing meals or snacks.

I'm so glad our family got to spend a couple of uninterrupted days together having fun.  It was a treat and there are lots of good memories!

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