It is no wonder that the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada opens its brochure with “We have included every luxury – and invented some of our own.” Named after the Italian town which...
Great Wolf Lodge Makes for a Great Family Escape
It was all set. As the last-weekend-before-school-officially-started commenced, we were heading off to Great Wolf Lodge. They graciously invited me, along with my family to check out what they had to offer. The setting was Concord, NC which is very close to Charlotte. My expectations (solely from the name) was that were heading off to a lodge in the wilderness. That is not at all what happened.
We drove about four or five hours from Atlanta although it is hard to tell with bathroom breaks and food breaks. The directions from our GPS actually sent us one exit too far North. We righted ourselves by using the directions from the Great Wolf website (highly recommended). I was expecting to get further and further into the wooded areas as we looked for the Lodge.
Instead, we found Great Wolf Lodge right smack dab in the middle of a heavily trafficked commercial area. It was a little surreal. We pulled up to the lodge and found ample parking. The lodge was amazing! Although it was in the middle of a commercial area, once you walked in, the lodge was all wilderness. The outside commercial area was quickly forgotten.
We entered and experienced the feel of an upscale lodge. From log cabin feel of the registration area to the wolf and bear heads mounted on the walls, we were instantly transported to a lodge in the wilderness thus matching my expectations after all. There was storytelling by the fire taking place and my children were quickly enthralled.
Check-in was a breeze. We schlepped our own bags to the room (no bell service). We were somewhere in the middle of one wing of the hotel when we realized that our key did not work. We trekked it back to the front desk with our luggage and without the help of the overused elevator.
The front desk person remedied the situation and we were off to our room. The key didn't work. Again. We dropped our bags and kids in the hall to rest at this point. They sent someone to find us and present us with keys to the correct room only a few doors down. They were only minutes behind us so we didn't wait for long.
We entered our room and realized what had happened. They had given us the wrong room at first. This was our room. My kids were excited that waiting in the room were three stuffed wolf's for each child plus some other goodies. There were chocolate covered strawberries, bottled water, chocolate milk (how totally thoughtful and so greatly appreciated) and a note personally welcoming us. We were blown away!
The room itself had a woodsy, lodge feel. We had the KidKamp™ Suite which included a little campaway/lodge area for the kids. It was sectioned off from the room and even had a television. There was definitely a lodge theme throughout. The bathroom was a decent size and the room included a refrigerator (that was empty, thank you Great Wolf Lodge for not overfilling with a mini bar) plus a coffee maker. Truth be told, although we loved the room, we didn't spend that much time in it.
We dined that evening in The Loose Moose Cottage™ . The food was typical bar food and American cuisine. It was exactly what we expected and reasonably priced. The did have a wonderful sweet shop, called Bear Paw Sweets & Eats™ right next to the water park which had ice cream, fudge, cookies and more. The kids begged for this place on a daily basis. So we went. Yeah, it was all their fault. Mmmmmm…
We were given vouchers for each child to get a wand from the MagiQuest Wand Shop. The wand game where you solve magical challenges around the lodge was an ongoing experience that unlocked magical powers. My kids loved it and we carried the wands everywhere. It was very Harry Potter-esque.
The water park? Well the water park had something for everyone. A zero entry pool for the little ones. Several fast water slides for the daring. A river raft experience for the adventurous. A place where everyone could stand and get soaked with a large, overturning bucket of water. This was also connected to another water slide and play area. And finally, a pool with a volleyball net and this huge floating snake thing (similar to a raft) that kids could swim to and hang out on.
Did I mention that the entire thing is indoors? No sunscreen and they keep the temperature at 82 degrees F year round. It was comfortable and relaxing. There were tables to sit at and beach chairs all around. They even had cabanas that you could rent complete with a television and a guy to bring you fruity little frozen drinks. Ok I lied about the guy but wouldn't that be nice? They do serve beer which made my husband love the place even more.
I am embarrassed to say that we forgot about the outside activities. I mean I had read the website and knew that they were there, but we didn't even make it outside after hitting the water park every day. The thought of swimming without slathering sunscreen on everyone was just to attractive. I will definitely make it on the next visit and report back.
We did pass the arcade each day as we left the water park so we decided to check it out on our last night for “a few minutes.” Instead, we spent one evening at the arcade playing all sorts of games. My husband is now the proud owner of a $20 lava lamp that probably cost us a $100 to win. We had a great time!
We were sad to check out. Partly because it was a long haul back to the registration desk but mostly because this was a really fun place. We never ran out of activities or grew bored. I knew that it would be fun but I didn't expect that I would be sad about going home too. This is now on our family ‘Must Visit Every Year' list. And not that many places make it there.
Check out the other two posts in the Great Wolf Lodge three-part Series:
Making the Most of Your Trip to Great Wolf Lodge