- The 10 and 5 year olds coexist
I'm not usually a "joiner" when it comes to theme vacations or theme hotels. In fact typically I'm pretty down on the concept. So (much to my kid's chagrin) when Great Wolf Lodge opened its Grand Mound Washington location I was not exactly the 1st in line clamoring for a room.
Late to the party I was.
Upon telling my husband, our 10, 5 and almost 3 year olds that were setting out on a weekend at the mighty Great Wolf Lodge our 10 year old's response was "Mommy don't joke around are we really?" After about a year of innumerous requests, this 10 year old was a little too cautious to believe Mecca would soon be reached.
Before I explain just why you and your family should pack up ASAP for a jaunt down south let me start by saying that as a mother of 3, this was the easiest, most brainless packing job I've had to do. Literally all you need are a couple of bathing suits per person (to cut down on hand washing and the shocking alarm clock only a wet suit can provide at 9am; flip-flops for all, PJ's, and a few t-shirts. C'est tout!
OK PRICE. Let's talk turkey. The price to stay in this 56,000 square foot family metropolis appears high. I say appears because as you look at the cost per night the thing that you must bear in mind is that your entertainment is fully covered. Mentally I compare it to our many trips further South to Disneyland. When you go to a Disneyland type destination you need to budget for your airfare, your hotel, your food and your park admission which is steep. At Great Wolf your room rate gets you both your hotel and your admission into the water park. Granted there are many other things on-site you could spend additional money on however it's unnecessary and you do not feel as though you are skimping on your experience when you opt out of the arcade or Scoops Kid Spa. One almost necessary add-on is found in the Wizard Shop which is conveniently located next to the on-site Starbucks. (ah)
When you walk through the mammoth doors of the hotel you will immediately begin to see children and adults of all ages waving what appear to be magic wands all around. What these wand waving guests are doing is playing MagiQuest. MagiQuest is an interactive game that is played throughout the hotel once you assume a wizard like alter ego and seek crystals and other magical items during your quest. Points are accrued and that is about all that I know. My 10 and 5 year olds however could explain this adventure game to you in great detail so just ask next time you see them.
A few other points on the price factor. First off I suggest signing up for the Great Deals eNewsletter so you're always among those in the know when specials are available. I have found that specials are constant, you just need to look. The other tip I would offer up is that if you're willing to either take your kids out of school for a day or leave school early, it pays on many levels to check in before the weekend has officially begun. The water park is dreamy when not as full as a late Saturday afternoon and the prices for mid-week are awfully forgiving. I love that each room comes with a fridge and a microwave. This provided even further cost savings and allowed us to fuel the kids up on the stuff they’re used to. It was fantastic to be able to walk in and stock the fridge with my 5 year olds favorite soy yogurt, my 10 year olds fruit selection and to bring microwave popcorn for late night treats. I loved that as you get off the elevator after a day of water park adventure and walk the long hallway back to your room the smell of popcorn wafts from I would guess every room!
This is SO not the water park of your childhood. Wild Waves was what I had growing up in Bellevue and THAT we thought was cool. This is beyond measure. Although my husband and our 10 and 5 year olds were up for anything, the more death defying the better, I was quite happy with what we call the red and yellow water slides and River Canyon Run (a white water river rafting like experience). Our 2 year old son Charlie LOVED the incredibly engaging Tadpole Pond (which by the way is not at all what it sounds like in that there are SO many things to do in this area). The rest of us anxiously looked forward to the super soak provided by the 4-story Fort Mackenzie Treehouse. Imagine if you will 1,000 or so gallons that are DUMPED onto those below every few minutes.
One of the other activities that my kids enjoyed was the Clock Tower Show and nightly Story Time in the grand lobby. At 7:50 and again at 8:50 pm, throngs of PJ-clad kids under 9 begin ambling into the lobby looking for a spot before the story time begins. That alone is a picture.
There were many activities that I meant to get to, I just couldn't pull myself away from the slides! The onsite Aveda spa almost had me as a customer for a hot stone massage but again, I couldn't bring myself to leave the pools. And NEVER in my wildest imagination did I think these words would be coming from my mouth. "Couldn't leave the water slides to make a massage appointment?"
The entire family enjoyed every minute of our stay at Great Wolf and my late-thirty-something body has not laughed that hard with my kids E-V-E-R.