Okay, this admission is a bit embarrassing — we have never taken wee man on a solo vacation before. We are extremely fortunate in that my family has a beach house we use, and often we’ve been down there when my parents and/or brother’s family were also visiting — zone coverage and a “meh, let’s go home” get out of jail free card at our leisure. Thus, our recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge was our first foray into an actual vacation away from a home we knew, our first time in a hotel with wee man and one of the few times we have been away without reinforcements.
But away we went.
We arrived at Great Wolf Lodge Poconos around 1 pm. I had read online that even if your room isn’t ready upon check-in, you can still use the water park starting at that time — just keep your luggage in the car and enjoy all the fun! We packed a separate bag with our swimsuits (just in case), and dressed wee man in his swim clothes. Luckily, our room — the Wolf Den Suite — was ready to go, so we dropped off our bags, did a quick change and headed straight for the pool. (Tip: Leave your towels in your room and at home — there plenty in the water park for use. Same with life jackets for little ones who can’t swim perfectly yet (like wee man). ALSO, you have wristbands that act as a credit card and door key, so you will rarely need to bring your wallet with you.)
The Water Park
The water park at Great Wolf Lodge is fantastic. First, it’s WARM in there, and the water is not that cold in comparison. For the senses, it was a rather pleasant experience. Wee man is tall for his age — 44″ without shoes — so he was able to go on all the slides except The Double Barrel Drop, Hydro Plunge and River Canyon Run. Next year! He especially loved some of the tallest slides and the wave pool.
Our stay at Great Wolf Lodge began on Thursday and ended on Saturday, and we rented a cabana for the full day Friday. The cabana was great — fresh fruit and cookies, waiter service, television (not needed, but nice while eating), lots of beverages included and a nice way to spend down time. I really don’t think you need a cabana, as you could leave your belongings in the room, put them in a locker or place them at a table with little worry of disturbance, but we never get away and it was a nice treat. In fact, I wish we would have rented one on Saturday — the day we left — so we didn’t have to jam everything into a locker! (Tip: you can use the water park for the entire day of your departure — just toss your luggage in the car and change before you head home!)
I can’t believe I’m saying this about a water park. THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! We ordered burgers, pasta, healthy sandwiches, dessert, etc. and it was all very good. The only thing we pre-paid for was the breakfast buffet, as it was the only meal we knew wee man might actually eat (the struggle to get this child to eat is REAL). Even that was fantastic. Can’t say enough about the food there. You can even order a full pizza and take it back to your room and just relax with your family. And I mentioned dessert, right?!
There is a space in the room with a refrigerator, so we brought lots of bottled water, apple juice and snacks (read: what he considers meals) for wee man. We also brought some wine since we figured we would need it! Some people brought entire coolers filled with food and drinks. There are also a number of fast casual restaurants and diners just minutes away (driving) from the resort, which is probably a lot more affordable if you’re on a tight budget. On Friday night, we went to visit my 90 year old grandfather for dinner, who lives about 30 minutes away from the resort.
Other Resort Activities
We took advantage of a few other activities they have at the resort — bowling, mini golf, 4D movie rides and so many arcade games. We bowled once, played mini golf three times and saw all three 4D movie ride offerings (he was a little scared of the dinosaur film…whoops).
The bowling was blacklight, with bumpers, shorter lanes and modified bowling balls — since it was empty when we played, we were able to play multiple times. I can credit Great Wolf Lodge with my son’s new obsession with mini golf. He loved it so much, I’m actually thinking about getting him some golf lessons (yes, I know he’s four). We also spent hours in the arcade — the size of which was quite manageable and the offerings more interactive than a straight up screen. We walked away with some decent prizes after all our tickets, which wee man didn’t care about so I just picked them for him.
There were a number of free events, as well. Morning yoga, nature walks, nighttime shows and a bedtime story. There was also a MagiQuest adventure you can go on, but wee man was still a bit too young for this.
I wanted to put this section in to talk about how wonderful the staff and fellow guests were at Great Wolf Lodge Poconos. I don’t think we met a single staff member who didn’t make you feel like this was the best day of their lives. Guests were in such an incredible mood from all the fun and/or sympathized with you when your child was having “a moment” in a public space. Maybe it was just on the days that we went, but dang…this was full on Disney vibes.
I saved this one for last because honestly everything was WONDERFUL on our trip, except for the room itself. We were on the first floor (I loathe patios) and the room was so terribly outdated. The bathroom was so small you had to squeeze yourself into it before you closed the door, the televisions and offerings were antiquated, the decor was dated…and did I mention how small the bathroom was? And we had a suite! Maybe I’m being overly particular here, but it was my least favorite part of the trip. Thankfully, we were not in the room all that much, and maybe that is the point, but the rooms are pretty expensive (granted, water park admission is included) and the offering was mediocre at best.
We loved it. Wee man loved it. If I’m being honest, there were some breakdowns — like the no sleep we got on the first night because we told him he had to sleep on the bottom bunk and he kept waking up crying about it. The water park is great. The people are great. The food is (still surprisingly!) great. The experience was, overall, great. If you’re on the fence like I was about Great Wolf Lodge, don’t hesitate. Take advantage of one of their many specials to save on cost (I think we received 40% off by booking 60 days in advance) and go have fun with your kids. You’ll love it, and so will they.
Until next time, play on.