Great Wolf Lodge
When I posed the idea of going to Great Wolf Lodge for our daughter’s 9th birthday, my husband said “what’s THAT?!” I wasn’t sure myself, so we googled it together. Turns out, it’s a hotel for kids! No, you don’t get to drop them off for a couple of days, YOU actually have to stay there too…
I’d heard great things about it over the years, but I’d not paid much attention – first, I didn’t have kids, and then when I did, mine were too young to enjoy such an adventure. At 5 and 9, it seemed the perfect age to give it a go!
My husband gave it a shrug and a nod, so I asked my daughter what she preferred:
- a birthday party with her friends, with cake and presents and an outing (movie, Extreme Air Park, whatever)
- a weekend in Vegas with just her and I, or
- two nights at Great Wolf Lodge
After showing her the Great Wolf Lodge website, it didn’t take much consideration on her part – she instantly said she wanted to go to the Lodge! With a huge water park, an ice cream shop, bedtime stories and magic wands, there really was no question!
Once she had made her decision, I went back online and checked out the prices. I probably should have done that first, before even mentioning it to her. The prices were waaaaay out of our budget! It was $500 for 2 nights. Um… URK! I was hoping she would forget about it and decide to have a party with her friends closer to home.
The day after our Halloween party, what should appear in my in-box but my weekly Living Social deals. And what do you think was front and center?! Yup – a Living Social deal for Great Wolf Lodge! EEEEK! The deal was for 1 night for $250 OR 2 nights for $350, which included $25 resort credit per night. The 1 night deal was for 7 people staying in a Kids Cabin suite, and the 2 night deal was for 6 people staying in a Family suite. We figured since we’re driving 4 hours to get there, we may as well stay 2 nights. There are only 4 people in our family, so we invited daughter’s close friend and her Mom to join us. We upgraded to the Kids Suite so the kids had their own separate area with their own tv – it was worth the extra $35 per night!
There is NO WAY that I can describe to you the incredibleness of this place. For the entire two days, we three adults just wandered around in our pj’s because we didn’t once leave the hotel, and nobody cared AT ALL how we looked! We got dressed only when we ate at a restaurant in the hotel, which was 3 times – 2 dinners and a breakfast. There was no need to leave – everything we need was there. And our kids were free to run around and make noise and be free – it was ALL for them!
Everyone who works there is there to cater to the kids. No one batted an eye if your kids were jumping around, squealing, dancing, crying. No one judged, no one tut-tutted. The kids were treated like special guests as soon as they walked in the door, and I didn’t see a single one taking it for granted. The kids were well-behaved and full of confidence, positivity, and pure joy. With so much to see and do, there really was no time to be misbehaving!
Here’s the kicker: if it’s your birthday, you get a special wristband with which you can visit the ice cream parlour as often as you want. Not just for your birthDAY though – for your entire stay!! And if you eat at the restaurant, they will bring you a cupcake at the end of your meal and loudly sing you a clapping happy birthday song Great Wolf Lodge style (with an AROUUUUUUU! at the end).
The hotel was Christmas-theme decorated, with an actual HUGE gingerbread house in the lobby made by the chef. You could pay an extra $10 and actually have your dinner inside the house, it was THAT big. So we did. And it was totally worth it! The lobby is humongous and we spent a LOT of time just lounging and sipping coffees by the massive fireplace, watching the animated show (3 times per day), and watching the kids do their crafts and playing cards at the activity table.
There are 3 levels of Magic scavenger-type hunts that the kids can do, where they run all over the hotel and wave their wands at crystals and pictures and treasure chests. The Magic Quest game is best for the younger kids, so we decided to splurge on it – we could spend $30 on a spa visit or $30 on something that kept the kids running around for 6 hours. No contest. We spent the $32 USD for a wand (2 kids = $64), and after a few frustrating trials, our kids were hooked. They ran around that place hour after hour, completing quest after quest, solving riddle after riddle, and unknowingly doing their reading-comprehension homework! (Daughter’s 4th grade teacher would be SO proud!!)
One of the nicest things about the hotel was that you didn’t have to carry your wallet – the adults each got a wristband which was not only your room key, but also your credit card. The cashiers could merely swipe your wrist band and the charge would go to your room. So while we wandered around in our pjs, we didn’t even need to carry a purse! We adults felt SO freeeeeeeeee!!!
We briefly visited the water park (2 hours of wave pool, hot tub, water slides), but it pooped us all out so completely that we never ended up going back to it. We didn’t drop anything at the arcade, tempting as it was. We didn’t do the glow-in-the-dark golf, maybe next time. No spa, no Forest Adventure. But hey, we had to leave something for NEXT time!
My husband aptly noted that “it’s Vegas for kids!” which I thought was a perfect description of the resort. It was magical – twinkling, blinging, animated, lively, and just frigging special! We are already planning our next trip there!