A few weeks ago, Oregon Dad and I were taken in awe as we saw an advertisement on TV for The Great Wolf Lodge at Grand Mound, Washington. It looked like such a blast and was only a couple hours away. We rushed to visit the website and booked our 2 night/3 day visit for Spring Break.
It was fabulously fun. K2 on our first day there proclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”. Everyone is in agreement that this fun, family resort was tops in our book.
What you find: a large resort with 8 floors of rooms with family friendly themes such as “Kids Camp”, “Kids Cabin” and “Wolf Den”. We booked our family of 7 into the Kids Cabin Suite (it was one of the few that allowed 7 people). Upon arrival, we gazed around us in awe at the large structure, giant wolves and… brightly colored water slides. This resort houses a 60,000 square foot INDOOR water park (even better considering it snowed during our visit).
Our room was nice and quite family friendly. When entering the Suite, we found a small closet to the right and bathroom to the left. Just past the closet was the sink/vanity area and across from that was the “cabin”. The cabin looks like a log cabin with two little cut out windows and a door, on the inside there is a set of bunk beds and a daybed, a 15 inch flat screen TV and a small table. The kids went beserk and started climbing all over the bunk and hanging out the windows. It was a hit.
The main room was separated from the cabin by a full wall, we had a comfy queen size bed, a hide a bed couch, table w/ two chairs, a gas fireplace and a counter with a larger TV, microwave and small refrigerator.
Our suite wasn’t small, but it wasn’t large. There is a lot of “stuff” crammed into the space, but it was layed out quite well and functioned nicely for our family of seven.
What was missing? A hang up area for all those wet swimsuits. Seriously, its an indoor water park and we are in and out of our suits several times a day. Having a nice place to hang them up to dry would be awesome. Even better, a mini dryer in the room for those suits. The bathroom was small, having limited space for a tub and toilet. A little more space would be nice since our big family needed separate changing areas for boys and girls.
The water park consisted of a large wave pool (the kids favorite), another pool for shooting hoops and walking on lilly pads, a giant water “fort”, a young kids pool, several large water slides and THE HOWLIN TORNADO.
I braved the Tornado once… Oregon Dad twice and TeenGirl… well she couldn’t get enough and hit 11 times over our 3 day visit. This giant water “slide” is not for the faint of heart, or the small in stature. Kiddos that didn’t meet the 48 inch height requirement where sent sloshing back down the stairs (and there were A LOT of stairs). Of the little kids, K1 is the only one who wanted to do the Tornado and he braved it twice.
Fort MacKenzie was a hoot, although our KENZIE took a sliding fall when heading into the fort within the first few minutes of our visit. She slid across the floor, scratching up her elbow, bootie and back all in one swoop. She was upset for most of the day and didn’t want to do a whole lot. (Normally, she is our brave one who wants to do everything). The floor is rough (in an attempt to prevent falls) and takes a real toll on feet and any other, unlucky body part that comes in contact with it. Water Shoes are recommended. The fort is tall, topped with a bucket containing 1,000 galloons of water that topples over and drenches everyone in its path every few minutes. For the younger and brave crew, there are two water slides that come off Fort MacKenzie (big enough to entertain Mum and Dad). These slides do not land in a pool, rather just several inches of water at the base so this is a great play area for less experienced swimmers. (No life jackets required).
Most of my time was spent in the little kids play area with the younger two. Little Critter is absolutely fearless and went like a mad-baby. The toddler area (Bear Track Landing) is large, going from 6 inches to 1 foot 6 inches in depth. The water felt warmer than in the other areas of the park. It contains four “jet skis” which little ones can climb on and hose each other down with the water spray. Everytime I stood by my Little Critter on these things… the boys on the other side always thought it was great fun to spray the Mom instead of the other kids. The view is obscured by a large play structure in the middle of the kiddie area… it is (much) smaller version of Fort MacKenzie. On the other side, a banana boat, turnstiles that spray water and a kiddie sized water slide. I would have loved to be able to sit in one spot and keep my eyes on the kiddos, but because of the layout I spent the entire time traipsing after them from side to side.
The bigger kids kept Oregon Dad occuppied in the wave pool. I don’t know what it is about a pool of splasing waves, perhaps its the inner surfer in all of us… but K1 and K2 wanted to spend the majority of their time in the wave pool. It is a standard wave pool, going from nothing to 5 foot at its deepest point. The waves are on for 15 minutes or so and then take a break before starting up again. Kids and adults alike float along on single or double clear inner tubes. I REALLY like that the tubes are clear as in my mind, that makes it easier to see the kid stuck under the water. (Paranoid Mommy).
We only ventured to the other pool on one occassion, the two big kids bobbed around shooting hoops. There is also a string of floating lilly pads that one can attempt to cross while holding onto a rope ladder above and a couple floating animals to climb upon.
There were plenty of lifeguards about… always several in sight to answer questions. They are very noticeable in their bright red shorts and white tee’s.
Everyone we encountered during the stay was very friendly. Walking the halls we encountered the cleaning crew and everyone said hi and asked the kids if they were having fun. The restaurant staff was very helpful in going over ingredients and menus for our special diets. The lifeguards were helpful in bandaging up K3’s scrapes (because a band-aide always makes it better). The cleaning crew was in and out of our room with rapid speed, leaving plenty of clean towels (this is VASTLY important).
Some really cool things about The Great Wolf Lodge… we all were given plastic wristbands upon arrival. We had to keep them on during our whole stay as without them we wouldn’t be able to get in the waterpark. Mom and Dad’s bands had the capability to open our room door (NO KEYS to carry around!) and could be pre-loaded with money to pay for things (we had the option of giving the kids these bands as well, when they are older we will and give them spending money on the bands for things like the GR8 Space, snacks and arcade). The free Wolf Walk in the morning and Story Time in the evenings. Cub Club (which isn’t cheap!) provides fun crafts so the kiddos can take home a special souvenir.
We will definitely be going back… even at nearly $400 a night, this was well worth it. We have checked out rates through the rest of the year and discovered that they are lowest during the summer. I guess that makes sense as the need for an indoor water park isn’t as high during our warm months.
Some things I would love to see… a young kids daycare center. Being able to check Little Critter in for a couple hours would have freed me up to spend more time with the big kids and Hubby instead of constantly looking out for a wild toddler who gets cranky with long days of play. I would love to see a play place that would allow us to check in the under 5 year old set… even if it had a 2 or 3 hour a day limit! I would also love to see an indoor playground. Sometimes the water is too much (at least for Mommy) and I would have loved to let the younger ones roam in a dry play area while the bigger kids continued to splash and swim. A real adult bar/evening hang out. A lot of families, like ours had children old enough to stay in the room once everyone was down for the night. We would love if there was a bar for us to go relax in after a day full of kid busy! Oregon Dad did make it to the Elements Spa for a relaxing massage on day two. I was in dire need of a spa pedicure, but we didn’t think ahead and the spa was booked!
Now the question lies in when we will visit again… and if we will take the whole crew or only the bigger kids. I am also pondering allowing TeenGirl to invite a girlfriend or two for her birthday. We would probably just do 1 night/2 days… but it would be lots of fun for her. She had a blast this time even though she didn’t have anyone her age to play with.
Oh… and did I mention… there was NO GOOD COFFEE to be found. I was in withdrawal for our entire stay. The cafe boasted basic coffee/mochas… but their syrups where limited to three flavors and their espresso supply was limited to what a machine pre-made for them…. Thanks but NO Thanks (makes it a bit difficult to get a Venti, DeCaf, NonFat, Caramel, Hazelnut, Mocha with Whip). A Starbucks will be coming soon… which is good, although I would much prefer to see a smaller, cozy coffee shop.
Of course, I cannot fail to mention that tax was only 3%. Evidently… The Great Wolf Lodge is Tribal Owned (about time they branched out from family destroying casinos to a family friendly entity!).
I better add the restaurant prices here… as I see peeps are finding me while searching for that information!
The buffet is decent… a bit pricey. Dinner runs $17.95 per adult and about $10 per kid age 4-10. Breakfast was $13.95 per adult and $6.95 per kid. I wasn’t overly impressed with the buffet… but hey, its a buffet and pretty standard in that regard.
The bar and grill… Critter Camp or something like that is average priced. Kids meals ran between $4.95 and $6.95 (drinks were extra .99 to 2.00ish). Adult meals start around $9 and went up to the $20 range. The food was tasty and all the staff was wonderful about helping us with the menu and special diet needs.
There is also a Pizza Hut express… with mini pizzas around $5 or $6 and medium pizzas for $15. An order of breadsticks will run you $5.
For breakfast your choices are the buffet or the deli/sweet shop. The sweet shop has limited coffee choices (devastation), but has a wide variety of pastries and muffins. They also have tasty treats throughout the day and ice cream.
The snack bar in the water park isn’t bad for lunch and snacks… burgers, nachos, pretzels, etc… for a few dollars. There is also a bar in the water park for parents looking for something a bit stronger. Prices were average.
I recommend packing some snack foods and possibly sandwhich fixings and breakfast with you if you want to save… there is a small fridge and microwave in the rooms.