Now about the Great Wolf Lodge:
First off, let me say that I cannot believe that we waited so long to go there! It is just such a fun place to spend a few days...and doing a waterpark in the winter has to be the best. Note to self: Take time off in the winter to go to Great Wolf.
Okay, so here is my rundown on the Great Wolf Lodge (The one I went to was in the Poconos, PA):
1. Very clean and well taken care of.
2. Convenience all the way. When we arrived and check in, we got our wrist bands to wear into the waterpark. Those handy-dandy little bands opened the door to our room, got us into the park, and made it so we could charge anything right to our room bill. No money or keys or swipecards to carry...PERFECT!
3. Speaking of convenience...Pizza Hot right in the lodge. Starbucks, a restaurant, a gift shop, a snack shop, and a kids club for other activities besides the waterpark. Those activities included arts and crafts, story time, and scavenger hunts.
4. Prices: Okay, I have to say that this could get to be a very expensive trip if you don't plan ahead. My friend had been there before, so she knew exactly what to take along. We took a cooler with us stuffed with hot dogs, drinks, chicken nuggets, etc. There is a refrigerator in the room as well as a microwave. This came in handy in the evening as the kids seemed to be starving all the time. The Snack Shop was nice, but $6.50 for a hot dog and fries could be a bit much. We did eat breakfast in the restaurant, and we did buy some snacks. We, however, took our cooler into the park and drank our own beverages. We also had a bag of goodies like cookies, fruit snacks, chips, etc. I highly recommend this.
5. Magi Quest...I don't know how any parent could get around this. For those of you unfamiliar with this, all around the entire lodge are pictures, boxes, displays, treasure chests, etc. that are activated by special wands.
You must buy these wands at the Magi Shop and have them activated. The wand costs $15 and the activation costs $10. Not too bad, huh? Except the cool "toppers" for the wands cost $15 and the charms to hang from the wands cost $8. Now, mind you, these extras are not necessary, but everyone has them. As a parent, you must decide if your child will or not. From the picture, you might be able to tell that I couldn't say no (it was a vacation, after all.) Anyway, Magi Quest is basically a game that has every child in the lodge running wild throughout trying to complete a quest and slay a dragon. Each display that they activate gives them a challenge to complete or directs them to another display. The kids love it, and it keeps the entire building hopping. In my opinion, it is a nice diversion from all of the swimming that the kids do while there. Our kids flip-flopped between the waterpark and the quest the entire trip.
6. The waterpark: Great fun! In the one that we went to, there were 2 slides that you went down without a tube, 4 that you could either use a single tube or double tube, and 1 where you rode in a canoe. The canoe one was similar to a roller coaster in that it conveyor belts to move you up hills...fun! There was a lazy river, lily pad hopping, 2 hot tubs, a baby pool area, a wave pool (a favorite of our kids'), tons of stairs to climb with water gadgets located everywhere, a waterfall to soaked by, and pools to swim in. They were supposed to open a family tube ride for 6-8 people, but it seems construction on that was at a halt. In a nutshell...lots to do and it is easy to see why you would stay overnight.
7. Speaking of overnight, you must stay at least one night. This is NOT a day trip to a waterpark and a ride home that night. The good thing about that is that is will keep the numbers of visitors to a maximum to some extent making a more pleasant visit.
8. I also recommend that you keep a look out for deals. This could be a costly trip, and the lodge often has deals to make things a bit cheaper. For example, our stay was a deal that was $99 a night for 2 adults and 1 child. We then paid $30 for each additional child. In the end, with 2 adults and 4 kids, we paid $206 which turned out to be about $35 a person. Not too bad. Otherwise, it could have cost as much as $300 per night depending on the time of year and day of the week. So, you might want to do some research before planning your trip.
9. Last, but not least, keep in mind that you may have a hard time getting good pictures. There is water everywhere! If you are lucky enough to have a waterproof camera...Great! If you don't, like me, it will be tough to have fun while toting your camera and trying to keep it safe. I did my best, but most of my pictures are candids taken while we sat at our table as opposed to action shots from around the park. Here a some that I did manage to get:
In the end, I give the Great Wolf Lodge 2 THUMBS UP! It was fun and worth every penny. You can check out their website for more info or feel free to ask me any questions. I'll be more than happy to answer any of them that I could!