On my summer quest to visit family friendly places that take less than 4 hours by car to get to, my family recently had the opportunity to visit the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos thanks to our friends at MomSpace. We had such a great time. It took us about two hours to get there. Super easy directions! My children are ages 3 and 5.5 and absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a water park! Call me crazy, but I actually "mommed' both kids on my own for an entire day at the water park until my reinforcements (husband and sister) could meet us there when they were done with work.
Upon checking in we were greeted by the valet and whisked over to customer service to check in. In the center of the lobby is the Great Clock Tower that features animated forest creatures that tell stories and sing songs. One of the shows was going on while we were checking in so my kids were very well entertained. Check in may have been one of the easiest to date! The animated shows run several times a day and every night at 8:00PM children are invited to wear their pajamas for a bed time story.
We stayed in a Loft Fireplace Suite. This was a great room for my family of three adults and two children. On the main floor there were two comfy queen beds, a living room with a full-size sleeper sofa, gas fireplace and two TVs. Upstairs, was a third queen bed, half-bath, and a third TV. Our suite also included a private balcony, mini fridge, microwave, hair dryer, and most importantly a coffee maker! We really liked this room set up because when the kids fell asleep we didn't have to go to bed, afraid of waking them up. We were able to watch TV, work on our laptops (oh, the Great Wolf offers FREE wi-fi) and read in the living room area- just like we do at home while the kids are asleep in their rooms.
Chesco Mom Tips for Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge
No Soggy Wallet Here: The Great Wolf Lodge has a "wrist wallet" system. The "Wrist Wallet" is your pass to the water park, your room key and it also can be used to charge things to your room. I find the wristband to be one of the coolest things about staying at the Lodge. No room key to lose and no need to carry a wallet to the water park. I locked my purse in the in room safe and didn't need it our whole stay.
Don't miss a Photo Op: Purchase a cheapy water proof camera before you leave for your stay at The Great Wolf Lodge. I missed so many adorable photo ops of my kiddos because I only took my pricey and bulky everyday camera with me. If I would have had a waterproof camera I would have given a paparazzi a run for their money with all the pics that I would have snapped. To see photos of inside the waterpark - Google or visit the GWL page on You Tube.
Squeeze Me Please: I am not a big fan of walking around in a wet bathing suit and if you aren't either - make sure to stop by the the women's locker room to change back into dry clothes. For your wet suits - There is a free spin dryer that you can put your wet bathing suits in that actually squeezes out all the water before you head back to your room or to one of the restaurants to grab a bite to eat.
Dining Tips: The breakfast buffet at Loose Moose Cottage is AWESOME! They have everything you can imagine! I am a sucker for a breakfast buffet. We didn't eat dinner at The Loose Moose, but I did sneak a peek at the buffet.... lots of options and there was a dessert bar.
If you are not a buffet family, there is a Pizza Hut on the pool level. There is also a snack bar and super yummy fudge.
If you want to venture outside of GWL there are plenty of restaurants within driving distance for you to choose from. We ate at Red Robin. It took about 10 minutes to get there. We had out laptops with us and Google'd directions. There is also a list of nearby restaurants in the 'Lodge Life" book and a book of menus at the concierge's desk (to the right at the check-in desk), for nearby restaurants. Some places even deliver to the GWL. We didn't order take out, but I saw lots of families with take out bags and pizza boxes throughout our stay.
Non-Water Park Activities
Race Zone: design and build your own remote control vehicle by choosing the color of the vehicle, the color of the wheel and three different body styles. You even get to create your own drivers license! Then test your design by racing it on our indoor race track. Along with your remote control vehicle the Race Zone Package includes event tickets consisting of 3-4 races - $59.99 plus tax
Northern Lights Arcade: jam-packed with what must be over a hundred games.
Scoops Kids Salon for girls ages 4-12
gr8_space: features computers with teen-conscious internet access, docking stations for ipods and mp3 players, as well as multiple gaming stations for those who strive to win one of our contests on systems such as Nintendo Wii, XBox360 & Playstation 3. Play games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band and sing some karaoke.
Cub Club: Cub Club is the kids activity center at Great Wolf Lodge. Cub Club offers edutainment crafts and programs that teach kids about nature and the creatures of the Northwoods. It’s a Great Wolf tradition where kids can make it, watch it, hear it, play it, read it, try it and often take it home as a souvenir.
This is not a drop off activity center. It is a parent participation activity center staffed with crafty Great Wolf Employees. My family had lots of fun at Cub Club. My daughter decorated a pillowcase (small fee) and my son drew, colored and stamped his little heart out and made posters(free). There are puzzles, board games and books at Cub Club that offer a nice break from the water park activities.
MagiQuest: MagiQuest is an interactive live-action, role playing game where players embark on quests and adventures in an enchanted fantasy world using real magic wands to solve the mysteries of the game. You decide…With wand in hand, you will enter the enchanted kingdom. What will you do first, Magi? Befriend a Pixie, learn from an ancient wizard, battle a goblin or outwit a dragon? Your journey's direction is in your hands, literally… Your wand is how you play and control your game. It knows your character and remembers your achievements. Each visit to the MagiQuest kingdom will allow you to progress further and master the skills needed to solve the mysteries of the game. Once your adventure concludes, your wand will come home with you.
My kids were a little young for this activity, but we saw dozens and dozens of bigger kids running the halls with their wands trying to solve the quest. They were all smiles and having a great time! (During our stay the MagiQuest prices were -Wand - $15.99 and up and the game - $12.99 - These prices are subject to change. Check the Great Wolf website activity page for more information)
Keeping in mind that I have younger children (ages 3 & 5)...we spent a good portion of our stay in the kiddie pool area. There were four slides that my kids could go down by themselves and there was a huge climbing/activity structure, Fort Mackenzie, that we all climbed together. Fort Mackenzie is a four-story interactive tree house water fort offering 12 levels of super-soaking fun. We had fun making our way over suspension bridges and cargo nets to spray stations and soaker buckets. (Watch out below!) The grand daddy of soaker buckets is the 1,000-gallon tipper that sits atop Fort Mackenzie. Every few minutes, the warning bell clangs, and the bucket begins to tip its contents over the roof and onto the people below....of which my daughter loved!
The indoor water park is a comfortable 84 degrees year round.
No need to bring towels from home or your hotel room. They are given to you when you enter the water park. You are not allowed to take them back to your room though. So make sure you bring a cover up to put over your suit to walk through the hotel. You don't have to though.. I saw lots of people that didn't have a cover up on in the lobby of the lodge. I personally just like to be covered up.
My husband and daughter LOVED riding the big slides together and cruising the lazy river. She is tiny for her age and just made the height requirement of 42 inches so she was a little limited on riding the big kid/adult slides, but she is very much looking forward to our next visit and hoping she meets the height requirement so she can go on more water rides - especially the Double Barrel Drop. This hair-raising new attraction is the first of its kind in North America, and the first indoor waterslide of its kind in the world. From the exhilaration of the high speed drop into a huge funnel, to lighting and special effects that will make you HOWL, everything about this six-story adventure literally screams fun. Then add a 450º turn where you twist into a dark vortex tunnel before dropping into a second funnel and you’ve got the Double Barrel Drop. (Please note that riders must be at least 48” minimum in height)
We had a great experience at Great Wolf Lodge and are planning to visit again in the fall. The park is VERY clean and well managed. We felt safe in the water park - life guards we everywhere. Great Wolf Lodge website offers different vacation packages.. make sure you check it out if you are planning a trip any time soon.