Great Wolf Lodge

by Play 3 Comments

The WMAG ladies were recently treated to a night’s stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. Great Wolf Lodge is a chain of family-friendly resorts across the country. The biggest attraction at Great Wolf is the indoor waterpark, which lets you splash-it-up 365 days a year. From lazy rivers and tube rides to kiddy pools to crazy water slides, there’s something for the entire family.

The themed suites are another perk that sets this hotel apart from others. Kids enjoy “roughing it” in the Wolf Den, KidsKamp, or Kids Cabin Suite, complete with bunk-beds, a personal TV, and Nintendo console.

Cara’s Take

In one word: awesome. My family loved Great Wolf Lodge. It was such a special treat for us. As soon as we checked into our Kids Cabin Suite, my kids were ecstatic about the bunk beds. The room was very spacious and although wasn’t exactly my decorating taste, it definitely fit under the “lodgey” theme.

Right away we hit the waterpark. A nice surprise was that Great Wolf provides towels and life-jackets for the kids! The indoor waterpark was pretty big. And there where plenty of great areas for my 5-year old and 3-year old. In the summer months, Great Wolf opens its outdoor pool. The outdoor pool was plenty big, and had lots of shallow areas for my kids to splash around safely.

There were other things for the kids to do including kid’s crafts, an arcade, the Great Clock Tower show, and an interactive game called MagiQuest. And for the adults, a spa and fitness center.

I’d love to take my family back to Great Wolf Lodge, or visit one of their other locations across the country. But, I’d look for a discount. One-night’s stay does include at least a two-day admission to the waterpark. But at $300/per night on average during the weekend, I still think that’s a lot to spend.

One thing that would help cut costs is by bringing your own food. Each room is set up with a mini-fridge and microwave oven. But, you’d have to go back to your room to eat–no outside food is allowed into the waterpark.

Sara’s Take

We had a wonderful time! Great Wolf Lodge isn’t the kind of place I would have sought out for a visit before we had children–just not my style. But it’s amazing how kids can change your perspective. My four-year-old daughter LOVED the place and, therefore, so did I.

The first thing she loved was the kid-sized “cabin” in our room, complete with bunk beds and her own TV with video game console. She doesn’t know how to play video games yet, and we didn’t really use the TV since we were out doing water fun most of the time, but you could tell she thought it was awesome to have her own “toys.” This was her first time to stay in a hotel, and the kid-friendly set-up not only put her at ease, it got her really excited. I wish more hotels did stuff like that.

When we first entered the water park, I was a bit overwhelmed. So much going on in one place! Plus it felt weird to be doing watery stuff indoors in the middle of summer–again, not really my cup of tea. But then my daughter started playing, and I got into the fun, too. She loved the wave pool and the kid-sized slides, plus we spent quite a bit of time in the outdoor pool, which was much more my pace and allowed us to catch a few rays. My husband took her on the lazy river and tried to coax her down a few bigger slides (no go!). But mostly, we just had fun splashing around. By dinner time, we were waterlogged and famished! We ate at the Camp Critter Bar and Grille – pretty good food at about the prices you’d expect to pay at a Fridays or Applebees. Then we retired for the night. In the morning, we did the breakfast buffet, and then it was time to head home.

Since our visit, my daughter has been asking to go back to the “Wolf Park” pool. I’d gladly take her again. It seems like the perfect activity for a winter’s day, when the kids all have cabin fever. But Great Wolf Lodge doesn’t offer day passes. According to our contact, this is to keep lines down, maintain safety, etc. With your overnight stay, you get admission to the waterpark for your day of stay and all day on your day of checkout. That’s a pretty good deal if you’re traveling and can’t just head home to bed. But I don’t see us plunking down upwards of $225 to stay overnight when we’re just a few miles from home.

I do, however, have relatives who travel to a Great Wolf Lodge a couple of times a year. It’s sort of a mini family vacation for them, and they love it. If that’s your situation, then I’d totally recommend it–especially if you want to meet family and friends “halfway” somewhere and have lots of kids to entertain.

Tela’s Take

At first I thought it was a little odd to go to a indoor water park during the summer, but Son and I had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge. It was actually raining/storming on the Saturday we went–so it was perfect.
Although, I have to say, I think it’s better suited for children who are a little older. O wasn’t quite two when we went, and at first it was a little overwhelming for him. The first night O wouldn’t even let go of me, but on the second day he was an old pro. He was sliding down the kiddie slides and splashing around with great fervor. In fact, he sort of even gathered his own little fan base on Sunday morning–people were stopping to watch “the baby” go down the slide.
The room was nice. Very spacious–and wireless Internet! Bonus! We had the Family Fireplace Suite, and O got a big kick out of turning on the fireplace (with my help, of course.) He was a little young for the provided video game console, but I imagine it would be great for the older set. Another bonus? We got to check out the King Island’s fireworks display that evening, since King’s Island is practically next door.
What WASN’T so cool? The people above us who literally sounded like they were about to crash down on us from about 11 pm to 2 am. I called the front desk a few times to complain (something I’ve never actually done before, but they were that loud). After each time I called, the noisemakers would quite down for a few minutes, but then start back up again. Needless to say, I was exhausted the next morning. I guess that sort of distruption is to be expected at a family place like this? I don’t know exactly, but mang, it was annoying.
Would I go again? Maybe. It’s pretty pricey, but you do get use of the waterpark for two days. However, the logistic are a little odd. You can start using the waterpark at 1 p.m. the first day of your stay, but can’t check into your room until 4 p.m. And the next day you have your pass until close, but have to check out of your room by 11 a.m. That means using the locker rooms to change, etc., which might not be a big deal for families with older children, but for a single mom with a toddler? It can be harrowing.

Overall, we had a really good time. Since I’m not a Cincinnati native and not familiar with that part of town, it even felt like a mini-vacation. And for larger families who are actually taking a vacation, and don’t live just a few miles down the road, I’d definitely recommend it.

Susan’s Take
Our little trio spent a Saturday night and Sunday morning at Great Wolf Lodge, with mixed reviews among us.

Like the other WMAG ladies, I am all for places that thrill my little girl. And Cassie definitely enjoyed her time at Great Wolf. Though she was too young to participate in many of the activities (she’s 2), she dove into the little-kid part of the water park with great zeal.

It was also nice to have servers in the restaurants who understand kids can be loud and messy, and don’t seem to mind. They offer kid-friendly meals and even cups–a nice bonus. She had fun at the little evening storytime, featuring a costumed bear (whom she hugged multiple times–it was like her “Mr. Bear” lovey come to life!)

We didn’t partake of all the resort’s offerings (crafts and even a spa!), but I did manage to hit the fitness/workout room while we were there. It was actually very nice, well-equipped and totally empty. I guess everyone else at 10 p.m. was playing video games in the arcade or watching movies in their rooms.

Jay wasn’t terribly thrilled with the place, mainly because it was noisy (though I kind of expected this to be the case) and quite crowded. It’s just not his scene, and despite Cassie’s joy, he couldn’t get into it.

I liked Great Wolf Lodge for our daughter, but I wouldn’t go there without a kid to please. Worth the splurge if you’re visiting somewhere or just want a getaway in your own town. I’m with Cara about bringing your own food (and how ’bout booze?) as a way to cut down on the cost.

Cara

Cara Reeves is a co-founder emerita of Working Moms Against Guilt. While she doesn't contribute to WMAG currently, she'll always be our girl. She now works as a freelance copywriter with 10 years of advertising experience. Cara specializes in developing creative concepts and writing killer copy for the web, social media campaigns, print, video, broadcast, as well as articles too. Visit her website for more information: www.CaraReeves.com

3 Comments

  1. My sister and I took our kids there last winter and the thing that struck me (in addition to the things already mentioned) was just how kid friendly the entire staff was. Everyone – including the gentleman vaccuuming floors, the young people overseeing the game room, the lifeguards – seemed to go out of their way to make our kids feel welcome. It really left an impression.

  2. We went about a year ago, and will definately go again. I was impressed at how attentive the life guards were. At one point my 3 yr old missed her step at the bottom of a little slide, and before I could even take a step towards her, a life guard was scooping her up. My kids LOVED it and can’t wait to go back. It is PRICEY – but we bought all our own food and had many meals in our room.

  3. We met friends this winter there. It wasn’t halfway and driving there was horrible due to weather. And they were all sick. But hey, besides that and how expensive it was we had a great time. I challenged my 3 yr old to stand with me under the big bucket and she did, I was proud of her for that. Most of our time was in the tot pool, a few adult-only rides down the slides, and I have to say the breakfast buffet in the hotel was really good. I thought the wand adventure thingy though was kind of a racket… glad our kids weren’t old enough to notice!!

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