Meet Dan

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Mom (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them and give you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  Today, meet Dan Anderson for our Grand Mound lodge.  Dan is a husband, father to a son, two Golden Retrievers and a bearded dragon named Spike. 

Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound Ask-A-MomMy family enjoys having fun together, which is why we love Great Wolf Lodge—there is something for everyone and we can experience it all as a family.

My 4-year-old son, Matthew, loves playing in the water and has been taking swim classes at our local pool. Although he is not yet ready to conquer the big thrill rides, Great Wolf offers plenty of fun appropriate for his age. The indoor waterpark is perfect for him and the giant tipping bucket dumping on his head is always a highlight. Of course, it is more fun when mom and dad play along, which is why the design at Great Wolf is so great for our family.

My wife, Amy, is partial to the Starbucks in the lobby—we truly can’t start our day without a good cup of coffee. Having our favorite coffee place in the lobby makes all the difference and makes you feel like home. While my wife and I have our coffee, Matthew always gets a cup of steamed milk which he also refers to as “coffee.”

I am a bit of a technology geek, which is why I get a kick out of Great Wolf Lodge’s innovative games like MagiQuest. It is neat how Great Wolf has used the technology to create a fun experience that can keep families entertained for days. I also like MagiQuest because it is something that my family can do together.

The overall value is a larger part of why my family loves Great Wolf Lodge. Family vacations are expensive and we try to make the most out of every trip. With a visit to Great Wolf, our admission costs are bundled into the price of the room. This is great for us because we don’t have to worry about paying separate fees for admission to the park, like we have to do with trips to Disneyland.

The rooms at the hotel are wonderfully themed, especially the Wolf Den Suite, which is another reason why we enjoy visiting Great Wolf Lodge. My son loves having his own space to play and sleep in. My wife and I love that we’re not all crammed into a small hotel room, and actually have space to spread out and enjoy being away from home.

The best part of Great Wolf is that it is nearby for a quick escape. Living in the Pacific Northwest can be tough when you go for several weeks without the sun. Having a warm, indoor waterpark within driving distance is a huge perk and makes those cold winter days more bearable.

My family loves having fun together and Great Wolf Lodge is one of our favorite places to visit. There is something for each of us, but the best part is that we can enjoy it all together.

 

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Meet Anne

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Mom (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them and give you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  Today, meet Anne Loucks for Great Wolf Lodge – Niagara Falls—lover of skiing, swimming, boxing, spinning and traveling with her family.

When the snow is blowing and the winds are howling, this Canadian family starts to think of traveling. Great Wolf Lodge is an escape that has been coined “Mini Canadian Disneyland” by  my family. No planes to catch and my family has everything they need under one roof. 

My son sings the Raffi song “I think I must be growing” in desperate attempts to see if he can go on the big slides yet.  At a mere 45 inches, he still has a little ways to go.  As my daughter follows everything her older brother does (the only female Spiderman for Halloween) she is excited to be tall enough to break out of the splash zone tree house area.

Promises of an adventure that includes: make your own sundaes, crafts that don’t mean colouring on the dining room table, arcade games, Story Time and of course waterslides have my children packing in record time.   

As a parent, I want planning a vacation to be simple and take less time than one load of laundry. Great Wolf Lodge reservation system is foolproof.  I can pick bedrooms that suit whatever my vacation demands.  Having two children born in the winter makes it challenging for birthdays. With a trip to Great Wolf Lodge I can book a Wolf Den and everyone comes away happy and feeling special. 

Niagara Falls is only 6 hour from Ottawa, with outlet malls, casinos, fall wine tours and a place my children can have fun on slides year-round, who could ask for more?

Having 2 waterparks in our town, means I am constantly checking lifeguard safety.  I am impressed with Great Wolf Lodge’s ability to hire competent, friendly and efficient lifeguards—something you don’t get to see enough of these days.  This puts parents’ minds at ease, knowing and trusting that safety is a top concern.   

To sum it up, Great Wolf Lodge is a journey to adventure that should happen as often as possible.  It is easy to promote a vacation hot spot when it is as fantastic as Great Wolf Lodge. With a fun theme, various activities for all ages (MagicQuest, hot tubs, parent free time) it leaves you with a burning desire to book again as soon as possible. 

Although we don’t live in an igloo, we do have a woodstove and shovel lots of snow. My children are asking (aka begging) for Great Wolf Lodge “pleeeaaasee”.

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Springtime Treats of Fruity Pizza and Blooming Cupcakes

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. The sky is bluer, the birds start chirping and tulips bloom in the front yard. 

To really get into spring, I reached out to our talented team of chefs and asked them to share their favorite treats for spring parties and family get-togethers. Their answers truly are delicious and something that someone with very little baking ability, like me, can do!

So—if you have not yet figured out what to bring to your next springtime celebration, here are two great ideas:  

Fruit Pizza

Executive Chef Lymont Stoutingberg from the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City told me about this treat. Who doesn’t love eating fresh fruit in the spring? And of course, pizza is a year-round staple!

During a recent segment on WDAF-KC TV, Chef Lymont shared his recipe for the treat:

  1. Start with one package sugar cookie dough.
  2. Prepare the following toppings:
  • 8 ounces soft cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 ounces condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 4 kiwi peeled, sliced
  • 2 large orange, sectioned
  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh blueberries
  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Flatten cookie dough onto a 6-inch pizza pan.
  3. Bake until firm to touch, about 11 to 15 minutes. Cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar.
  5. Spread the baked cookie with the cream cheese mixture and decorate with sliced fruit.
  6. Top the pizza with remaining berries and chocolate mixture.
  7. Slice and serve immediately.

Blooming Cupcake Bouquet

Cupcakes are definitely the “in” dessert right now. From TV's Cupcake Wars to cupcake bakeries popping up around town, what was once a dessert staple is now the treat to be reckoned with. Chefs Russ Meeks and Amie Hanrahan shared with me how they take a simple cupcake and create a signature centerpiece that is as beautiful as it is delicious.

While I leave the actual cupcake recipe up to you, here are the steps to create your beautiful bunch of floral-inspired treats!

  1. Prepare the following items:                    
  • 7 large cupcakes              
  • 4 cups butter cream icing                                            
  • 4 pastry bags                                                                     
  • 4 decorating tip (1M)                                                    
  • Food coloring – your choice for as many colors as you want to use                          
  • 14 toothpicks (2 per cupcake)                                                                   
  • 1 vase or flower pot
  • ½ of a floral or regular Styrofoam ball that fits in vase or flower pot
  • Green tissue paper or decorative leaves              
  1. Steps to create your bouquet:
  • Using two sheets of green tissue paper, fill vase/flower pot, and leave the corners sticking out. If using a glass or clear vase, take 1/3 piece of tissue paper, roll into a loose ball and place gently into bottom of the vase.                                                    
  • Place the 1/2 foam ball on the top of tissue paper.                                                          
  • Using toothpicks push 2 together around the half foam call and leave about 3/4 in. of the toothpick sticking up. The toothpicks will secure the cupcakes to the ball.                                                     
  1. Decorate the Cupcakes:
  • Using food coloring, create your desired icing colors.
  • Using the pastry bags and tips fill each bag with icing. Use one color per bag.
  • Begin piping icing on your cupcakes in a circular motion starting in the center, and work your way out using even pressure. Decorate until you have the desired color scheme and look.
  1. Create your display:
  • Arrange your cupcakes around the Styrofoam ball as you would a real flower bouquet.  (Be sure to push cupcakes far enough onto toothpicks so they are secure on the ball)
  • Using the tissue that is sticking out around the ball, and your decorative leaves, fill in any gaps to give your arrangement a finished look.                     
  1. Take photos, share your yummy treats on Pinterest, and don’t forget to tell everyone Great Wolf Lodge inspired you!                    

 

 

 

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Meet Jenna

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Mom (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them and give you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  Today, meet Jenna Jackson for our Mason lodge.  Jenna is a wife, blogger and stay-at-home mother of two boys and one spoiled dog named Harleigh. 

Three Reasons Why My Family Loves Great Wolf Lodge

1. AWESOME STAFF - This past summer my husband and I, our two boys, ages 4 and 7, and my 78 year old grandmother all took a road trip and traveled to Wisconsin Dells, WI for our summer vacation.   This was our very first experience at a Great Wolf Lodge. Our first impression of the lodge started at the front desk with the very accommodating staff.  We informed them that my grandmother was with us and has a hard time walking long distances and they asked us which floor we preferred.  Although the room wasn't ready yet, they went ahead and gave us our room keys and waterpark wristbands, took my cell phone number and told us that they would call as soon as it was ready and to go ahead and start enjoying the park. Within the hour they called with our room number and we were all set.  Our room was conveniently located right around the corner from the entrance to the indoor waterpark, which was great for grandma. We appreciated the staff's kindness and it made our stay so much better knowing she was comfortable and could enjoy the amenities that the park had offered without walking a mile.

2. AWESOME ACTIVITIES - Who knew you could go to a Great Wolf Lodge and never have to leave.  Honestly there was so much to do for our whole family.  The indoor waterpark was huge and offered both indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family. The fun didn't stop in the water, though.  Our boys loved hanging out in the arcade and couldn't wait for Story Time when the Clock Tower came alive.  We also loved that the facility offered a spa, numerous planned activities throughout the day and a fitness center.

3. AWESOME RESORT AMENITIES - We loved the dining options at Great Wolf Lodge, again you never have to leave the facility.  The Great Wolf Lodge in the Dells offered The Loose Moose Bar and Grill, Camp Critter Buffet, Wolf's Den Snack Bar, Bear Paw Sweets & Eats and our favorite—pizza!  

Great Wolf Lodge is officially a favorite of the Jackson Family.

 

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Meet Kira

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Mom (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them and give you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  Meet Kira Riley for our Williamsburg lodge—wife, mother of two, freelance writer, blogger and owner of Love Media.

My family loves Great Wolf Lodge because it’s a 5-star resort experience, extremely close to home at a very affordable price.  When paying for a family vacation, you want to feel as if you are getting the most value for your money. At Great Wolf lodge, I feel like we receive that and so much more.

We love to travel as a family and enjoy exotic vacations and fun getaways. We often cruise to the Bahamas, Bermuda or have a getaway to Massanutten or Atlantic City. After visiting Atlantis in Nassau and various cruise vacations, I became hard to impress when it came to traveling after an experience of that magnitude. I remember after our first trip to Great Wolf Lodge in May 2011 I was so blown away I called and raved to family and friends that they had to join us on our next trip.

From the moment you drive up to the property, you are transported to a magical place. The exquisite carvings of the wood and the majestic wolves make you feel like you are in another place altogether—not just 20 minutes from home. The feeling of excitement from the time we check in until the time we check out never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many times we visit, it feels like the very first time.  Now, when my kids hear the words “We are going to Great Wolf Lodge,” they know they are in for an amazing mix of family and fun. 

Each one of us has our favorite thing to do while we are there, but they all bring us together and allow us to enjoy quality time with one another. The sprawling property has so much to offer that every time we visit we come away with a different experience.  Since our first stay, we have enjoyed 3 wonderful vacations at the resort in addition to countless day trips just to enjoy the arcade and The Loose Moose Bar & Grill. We enjoy the atmosphere so much; it is hard to stay away.

I don’t think we could possibly love Great Wolf Lodge any more than we already do—until the next time we visit, of course!

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National (Wolfie) Waffle Day

Wolfie Waffle

Today is National Waffle Day, so we are dedicating our blog post to the most important meal of the day.

For many of us with small kids, the usual morning routine involves a bit of a…rush.  You are lucky to even sit down as a family and enjoy a bowl of cereal. Isn’t it great to wake up at Great Wolf Lodge and realize that you don’t really need to be anywhere—until about 9 a.m. when the waterpark opens.  That’s practically mid-afternoon for parents of preschoolers!   The perfect time to hangout together as a family, right inside the lodge where we celebrate National Waffle Day everyday. 

While waffles are available for breakfast at most of our lodges, our Traverse City, Pocono Mountains and Grapevine lodges offer a special treat—Wolfie Waffles!  Wolfie Waffles are a favorite of Oliver Raccoon, and your kids are sure to get a kick out of them too.  Each breakfast buffet hosts assorted toppings and sides for these delicious breakfast treats—from maple syrup to dollops of whip cream.  This breakfast is just plain yummy!  A side of fruit, bowl of yogurt and your favorite breakfast drink create the paw-fect pre-waterpark fuel for the family.

What breakfast treats do your kids enjoy on vacation?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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The Great Wolf Kids Bracket Challenge

Get ready to fill out a different kind of bracket this March! Starting today, we're letting our Facebook fans vote for their favorite Great Wolf Kids Character.  You can help determine who will reign as champion of Great Wolf's inaugural Character Bracket Challenge! Will it be Rachel Raccoon or Wiley the Wolf? Oliver or Brinley Bear? You decide. Head over to the Great Wolf Lodge Facebook page to vote your favorite character through their bracket—all the way to the championship round. The winner will receive a featured spot in our Facebook cover photo. 

Each of our loveable Great Wolf Kids characters has their own special talents and abilities—your family can decide which one they relate to the most.  Are your kids adventurous like Wiley the Wolf or sweet and playful like Brinley Bear? Would they rather build a fort with the Beaver Brothers or bake a delicious cake with Sprinkles the Bear? Let them decide and then help their favorite character win each mascot showdown, all the way through the final matchup.

Keep an eye on the Great Wolf Lodge Facebook page and make sure to vote for your kids' favorite characters from now through the end of the month. Whichever character wins each of his or her matchups will be crowned as the champion of the 2013 Great Wolf Character Bracket Challenge. Let the games begin! 

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Meet Chris

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Mom (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them and give you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  Today, meet Chris Wilkinson—husband, father of two and award-winning Broadcast Photojournalist. 

This is a true story—you just can't make this stuff up.  On a recent trip to Dallas we decided to try the “other" resort across the street from the Great Wolf Lodge.  As we got close our boys knew where they were.  They sat up in their seats.  They put the iPad down.  (You know something is good when the iPad goes down.) They were getting excited and then Dad starts to turn left.  "NO!" screamed Quinn at the top of his little 5 year old lungs.  "This way! This way!" his tiny finger pointing to the right. 

It's not that we had a bad time at the massive resort across the street; we just didn't have a REALLY good time like we do when we go to the Great Wolf Lodge.  The massive resort was TOO massive.  The pool area was fun but TOO far away.  They CHARGE both a resort fee AND for parking. 

Never again. 

We love the FREE parking.  We love the friendly staff.  We love the hidden items we discover with each visit.  We love helping new families understand the quest starts down the hall and then goes up the stairs.  We love the fun rooms.  But most of all we LOVE watching our boys bounce around, slide, swim, climb and sleep peacefully in their bunk beds surrounded by critters. 

On our next trip to Dallas we drove down the same highway.  Took the same exit.  The boys started to notice where we were.  There was tension.  "Where are we going?" asked the older brother Calvin.  "It's a surprise" I answered.  They both sunk into their seats.  Defeated.  I turned on my blinker.  Celebration erupted.  "YEAH!", declared Quinn, "We're going right Calvin!  We're going right!" 

The rest of the weekend was filled with fun, magic, splashing, snacks, games, prizes and two boys who fell asleep with wands clutched in their sweet little hands.  We learned a valuable lesson that weekend—always turn right at the light!

 

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Meet Anitra

We recently announced our 2013 Ask-A-Moms (and dads)—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  Over the coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to each of them, giving you a look at why they love Great Wolf Lodge.  First up, Anitra Elmore for our Charlotte/Concord lodge.  Anitra is a wife, blogger and stay-at-home mother of two living in Cary, North Carolina. 

We are not your typical family. When it comes to having fun, we each like very different things and have very strong opinions. Since none of us are afraid to speak our minds, it makes for some challenging times when we’re deciding what to do together.  And when we decide to get away, it’s not always easy to make the right choice.

Except, of course, when our destination is Great Wolf Lodge.

Where else can we go, within driving distance, where we find something to please each of us? Mom can enjoy the spa while dad and the kids play in the water. Mom and the kids can run wild playing MagiQuest, while dad relaxes in the lobby or works in the cozy suite. We all enjoy mini-golf, bowling and the arcade, so that keeps us busy together for a while.  When the kids need some quiet time, the Cub Club comes valiantly to the rescue.

We discover something new each time we visit. It’s amazing how much they’ve tucked away in the nooks, crannies and hallways of the lodge. While there are things we haven’t tried, like the kids spa, we definitely have our favorites—Story Time and the water slides are a must. And, if we decide not to eat at one of the restaurants on property, we’re surrounded by so many of our favorites right there in the area.

There’s absolutely no room for anyone to get bored when we visit. The concept is absolute genius and each time I’m there, I am overwhelmed at how well thought out everything is.  We were hooked from the first time we heard that “Goin' to the Lodge” and we remain hooked because Great Wolf Lodge delivers what they promise.  It’s the ideal place for families to make memories, and I am proud to say that we have indeed made a few.

As a blogger, I spend a considerable amount of my time making recommendations to other moms. When I find a product, service or destination that helps us enrich our family life, I’m pleased to shout it from the rooftops and across all of my social media channels.  Great Wolf Lodge is definitely one of these places.

 

Ask Anitra a question about our Concord lodge online at askamom.greatwolf.com

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Drumroll Please

Last fall we launched a nationwide search inviting moms and dads to join our 2013 Ask-A-Mom panel—our resident parent experts who provide their tips and tricks for a great trip to the lodge.  After reading every submission and watching every video (there were a lot) we’ve finally made our selection. 

Here they are folks, our new Ask-A-Moms (and Dads)!

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts introducing you to each of our panelists.  In the meantime, head over to askamom.greatwolf.com to ask them a question.

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Slides, Slides and More Slides

Did you just book your first trip to the lodge?  Curious about all of the slides that we have?  Or are you just missing your favorite and want to reminisce?

You can visit our website or YouTube channel and watch over 40 videos of your favorite slides.  Shot from a first-person angle, you can see what it’s like to ride the Niagara Rapids Run or slide down River Canyon Run.

Now that you’ve watched them all, which is your favorite?  Leave a comment and let us know.  Good luck choosing just one.

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My Magical Great Wolf Birthday

When my hubby approached me weeks before my upcoming 50th birthday, he gave me an open book on how I would like to celebrate it. My heart kept going back to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. There is something truly magical about that resort that I just cannot shake. I love the coziness.

I had told hubby the perfect birthday would be to go to the Great Wolf Lodge, grab some Starbucks, some Bubble Gum fudge (my favorite) and relax in the lobby. The kids thought it would be fun to go bowling at the Ten Paw Alley and I could not have agreed more. I was not sure until days before that I was actually going to Great Wolf Lodge. Hubby is quite a secret keeper.

My birthday arrived and we were off to Great Wolf Lodge!

As soon as I entered the lobby, I knew I made the right choice. We headed right to the Starbucks! Yes!  I was amazed to see the gingerbread house still up in the lobby. I was under the impression it would be taken down after Christmas, only to find out it would be up until the end of January. Each and every Great Wolf Lodge has built their own unique gingerbread house.

I had no idea of what the rest of the day would bring!  We headed off for some bowling at Ten Paw Alley, Northern Lights Arcade and MagiQuest!

I was having such a wonderful that I could not imagine the day could get any better. Then I got a huge surprise: My family announced that we were going to have my birthday dinner inside the gingerbread house! I was thrilled, I had wanted to dine inside the gingerbread house during our last stay, but there was no availability. What a surprise! It brought me to tears.

Dinner time arrived. It felt incredible to be inside the gingerbread house. I was delighted to be surrounded by gingerbread walls decked out with fruit slices, peppermints, kisses, licorice, rock candy and gumdrops of many colors. The doorway was lined with gingerbread men! There was a fireplace inside, including graham crackers. I loved the huge lollipops in planters and the monster-sized red gummy bear! This was something very special and I wanted to make it last forever. I just sat there and took it all in.

At dessert time servers entered the gingerbread house singing and clapping, carrying a festive plate overfilled with goodies and adorned with lit candles of all colors. I was really taken back.

It was a birthday I will never forget, at my favorite place in the whole world—Great Wolf Lodge.

It was pure magic—birthday magic! It's a birthday memory with my family that will last forever.

Diane Sullivan
Pocono Mountains, PA

 

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The Social Parent

As a family entertainment brand, we are always interested in articles about families—moms, dads, kids, grandparents.  As a social media manager for a family entertainment brand, I’m especially interested in articles about how all these family members use social media. 

There have been a bunch of new articles released containing information about parents on social media. More specifically—why they are on Facebook.

One recent article by Mashable says that one in two parents join Facebook to keep tabs on their kids.  They even included a fancy little infographic with all the specifics.  We are seeing more and more kids on our Facebook page letting us know how much they love us.  And of course, we see parents doing the same. 

This growing trend of parents on Facebook got me wondering, why do parents “like” Great Wolf Lodge on Facebook?  Sure, there are tons of articles out there about why people like brands, but I want to know straight from you, the fans. 

So here you go, let us know why you “like” us on Facebook. Do you want to see fun photos from the lodges?  Do you like to watch Great Wolf Lodge videos?  Or do you just love sharing your own photos for the Facebook world to see?

Or do you prefer the world of Twitter?  Why do you follow @GreatWolfLodge?  Is it everything you hoped it would be?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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Save for Your Next Family Getaway

We excited to share another great blog by special guest author Suzanne Rowan Kelleher from MiniTime.com, the family trip-planning site that makes traveling with kids easier. As a go-to travel expert, Suzanne has appeared on national TV and radio programs including CNN, ABC News Now and NBC News. She is married with three kids.

Early in the New Year is the perfect time to start thinking about your next family vacation. Admittedly, the least fun part of trip-planning is figuring out how you’re going to pay for it. But coming up with some strategies and sticking to them is the best way to make sure 2013 includes some fun time away with the kids, whether you’re heading to Kansas City or Niagara Falls.

Saving is a valuable life lesson, so don’t hesitate to involve your children. “The most important thing kids need to learn about managing money is how to make choices, which comes up all the time in planning a family vacation,” says Janet Bodnar, who writes the Money Smart Kids column at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Here are a few 5 strategies for financing your next family getaway:

Make it a team effort.  Start brainstorming with your kids about simple ways to save here and there to meet your goal. Hold a garage sale. Collect your loose change in a vacation jar. Cut back on how often your family orders in and dines out. As you track your progress, point out those valuable lessons. “Small amounts really do add up over time. Having patience really can pay off,” says Bodnar.

Turn on auto pilot. “The very best way to save money is to take it off the top before you even see it,” says Bodnar, who suggests setting up an automatic transfer into a savings account earmarked for your vacation. A $150-a-month contribution adds up to $1,800 in a year!

Figure in your paycheck.  Do your employee benefits include paid vacation days? If so, you don’t need to save up 100 percent of your vacation’s price tag, says Bodnar, since you can finance part of your spend with your paycheck. “Whatever you would have spent at home for food and recreation during the same period can be put toward your vacation budget,” she explains. So if your family of four typically spends $250 on groceries and $80 on recreation and entertainment in a week, that’s $330 you won’t have to save for your weeklong getaway.

Devise a pay-off plan. If you’re only able to sock away half of what your vacation will cost, Bodnar says it’s vital to pay off the remainder within six months of returning home. “It’s so important not to get in over your head,” she says. “For most people, six months is a manageable amount of time.”

How is your family saving for your next vacation? Share your favorite travel tips and stories with the MiniTime community. Tell us how you saved up for your vacation to your favorite Great Wolf Lodge:

Charlotte/Concord, NC
Cincinnati/Mason, OH
Grand Mound, WA
Grapevine, TX
Kansas City, KS
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Pocono Mountains, PA
Sandusky, OH
Traverse City, MI
Williamsburg, VA
Wisconsin Dells, WI

For more tips on how to save for your next Great Wolf Lodge vacation, visit www.greatwolf.com/value.

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Good For the Soul

All Emily wanted for her 11th birthday was a special trip to Great Wolf Lodge for some mother/daughter time.

She gave up getting presents and a party and asked everyone to contribute to her wish. Knowing that she is at that precarious preteen age where things are changing and emotions are raging, as well as being the middle child with a brother, sister and 3 stepsiblings, we all agreed this would be a good time for Emily to get some one on one attention and have some fun. What I didn't plan on was how this trip would be good for Emily's SOUL.

During our two day stay I watched my daughter blossom from a sullen tween anxious about going back to school into an open book of emotions about her feelings and thoughts on life. She was so grateful for our time together she was in tears many times because she was so happy. We had so many good talks about friends, family and school.  My favourite moment was when Emily wanted to read her baby book, which is a tradition we do on birthdays.  In the book, she found a letter that I had written her when she was turning one and had stayed in an envelope in her baby book for 10 years. In the letter I told my baby girl how special and loved she is and when my grown up baby girl read those words she felt so loved and treasured and through her tears said "Thank you Mom".

Taking time out of our lives to go on this special trip was an incredible bonding experience for Emily and me, during a time in her life when she needs to feel this the most.


Name: Serina Purdy
City: Burlington
State: Ontario
Email: serinaemily@gmail.com
Lodge: Niagara Falls, ON


 

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The Wristband Bet

I know I’ve said this before, but I just love hearing stories from our guests about the experiences they have at our lodges.  One particular story, emailed to our Niagara Falls lodge by David Vernon, caught my eye.  It’s a simple story really—the tale of a father, a daughter and a friendly bet.

My family and I have visited Great Wolf Lodge for the past few years and always have a great time.  Last year was the best because we discovered your latest addition—MagiQuest.

After last February's visit, my daughter was looking at her wristband and asked how long I thought it would stay on her arm.  I told her that it would probably wear out and fall off within a few months.  Being a typical 11 year old, she said that she thought it would last a long time, "like, at least a year".  

This is where it got interesting—she wanted to bet me that she could wear it for one year and that it would not fall apart.  If she won, I’d take her to Great Wolf Lodge again.  Foolishly, I made the bet.

Just this past month we hit the one year mark, and what do you know, she still has that wristband on her arm.

It’s a little bit worn, but the darn thing is still there.  I never would have thought that it would last that long.  Of course I assumed that it was made of strong material and designed to last for a typical visit, but had no idea it would hold up for an entire year.  It is a true testament to the strength and durability of those things.  So much durability that it just cost me $500. 

We are getting ready to come again to Great Wolf Lodge and wondered if anyone is interested to see it.  She might sell it for say......$500

I wonder if there is a record for wearing one.

 

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Advice for the Long and Whining Road

Suzanne Rowan KelleherWith spring break coming soon, we’re excited to have a special guest author, Suzanne Rowan Kelleher. Suzanne is a family travel expert at MiniTime.com, the family travel-planning site that makes traveling with kids easier. As a go-to travel expert, Suzanne has appeared on national TV and radio programs including CNN, ABC News Now and NBC News. She is married with three kids.

The family road trip is still the most practical and affordable way for families to get time away together, and the MiniTime community knows a thing or two about making car trips easier. Whether you’re heading to Washington State, Williamsburg or the Wisconsin Dells, here are a few tried-and-tested tips from families who’ve hit the road together:

1.       An inexpensive metal cookie sheet makes the best lap table for a child during car trips. It can be a food tray or a writing desk (the raised edges keep crayons from rolling off). It’s an instant play table for magnetic toys. My daughter likes to play with a magnet puzzle shaped like the United States. When we see a license plate from one state, she adds it to her magnetic map. – Brooke from Carlisle, PA

2.      Before our last road trip, I collected a small jar full of quarters with US states on the back. During our journey, when one of my kids spotted a state's license plate, I'd give her a quarter with that state on it. When we got to our destination, the kids got to keep the coins to buy souvenirs. This incentivized version of the license plate game kept them much more eager to play! – Holly from Janesville, WI

3.      Buy a package of pipe cleaners in assorted colors from any craft store. My kids love to create with pipe cleaners—making necklaces, swords, bracelets, towers—anything their little minds can think up. – Rich from LaHabra, CA

4.      When kids are young, it's a good idea to do a little prep work and choose fun places to stop every two hours along your route, such as interesting picnic spots, historical monuments and, whenever possible, a playground. I always have a Frisbee, a ball and a jump rope in the car, too. It's amazing how much better they behave after just 15 or 20 minutes of playtime. – Lenora from Burlington, VT

5.      For long trips in the car we play "Family Trivia.” My husband and I ask the kids trivia questions about family members. This is a great way to share family history. When our kids were little, we started out with simple questions and as they got older we made the questions harder. It is now a game they love to play and share their knowledge of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents. – Chris from Oregon, WI

The MiniTime community invites you to share your favorite travel stories. Write a review of your favorite Great Wolf Lodge:

Charlotte/Concord, NC

Cincinnati/Mason, OH

Grand Mound, WA

Grapevine, TX

Kansas City, KS

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Pocono Mountains, PA

Sandusky, OH

Traverse City, MI

Williamsburg, VA

Wisconsin Dells, WI

 

 

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The Perfect Vacation

My family and I have such a wonderful time at Great Wolf Lodge every time we go. Our children love the lodge so much that my oldest daughter, Halie, picked Great Wolf as her school project.

Herproject read: I've dedicated my project to Great Wolf Lodge because I love going there. Also the employees work so hard to meet your every need. Another reason is you can go anytime of the year because it's indoors. There are cool rides like the Hydro Plunge and the Double Barrel Drop. It also has an ice cream shop, bowling, kids spa and arcade. Every time my family goes, we have such a wonderful time, great memories and we can't wait to go back. That is why I dedicated my project to Great Wolf Lodge.

My wife and I wanted to say thank you to all of the management and staff for being so helpful and making us feel right at home. We definately recommend Great Wolf Lodge to everyone, you will have the time of your life.


David & Linda Kutner
Pocono Mountains, PA


 

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The Princess and the Pack

Miss Kansas Teen USA All of our resort teams are committed to their communities, and they do many “unsung” things, not because they have to, but because it’s what’s right. From donations of waterpark passes, to providing raffle prizes and more, these gestures are a part of doing business. But sometimes, the chance to do something remarkable happens. And that is when I think our resorts shine like no other. Such an example comes from the team in Kansas City.  

Toward the end of 2012, the resort was contacted by the Kansas-based organization Elves of Christmas Present, which works to do good things for children with cancer. Great Wolf Lodge was asked to help create a princess birthday party for a six year old girl. Her real birthday was not until May, but little Elvia was so sick, her party was scheduled for December, because she was not going to recover from her illness. This would be a last birthday party.

This news did not stop our Pack Members, but rather inspired them. In less than one week, they planned a birthday party worthy of a royal family. While you may not normally associate Great Wolf Lodge with all things “princess”—with the help of Violet the Wolf, a truly dedicated team and some luck—for just one day, the resort became a castle. 

Violet opened Scooops Kid Spa just for Elvia and her mom so they could enjoy manicures and pedicures together. Once their spa time was complete, Violet had another surprise for Elvia, presenting her with a princess dress and shoes to wear to her special event.

While Elvia enjoyed the spa, a private party room was decorated just for her, complete with a meal for her family, and an extra special surprise. 10 “real” princesses came to surprise Elvia during her party. It just so happened that the night before, Miss Kansas Teen USA took part in an event there at the resort. When asked if she would sign a photo that could be given to Elvia, she said that was not enough—and she made a special visit to the party with several of her pageant friends as a surprise. 

So, this special little girl, complete with sparkling finger nails and toes, and a beautiful white dress arrived at her own party and was greeted in ways that brought tears to everyone’s eyes. She was bestowed with “Princess Powers”—her own tiara, sash and scepter and throne—by real-life princesses who shared the true beauty of their hearts. 

Of course, the fun didn’t end there. After the luncheon party Princess Elvia and her family played in the waterpark. But those are just little extras. The story of how a Wolf Pack helped a Princess is all that really matters.

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Howl! Hooray! It's Valentine's Day!

I just love, love, love Valentine's time!  That is, I love Valentine's Day, Valentine's Week...Valentine's MONTH!  And I've got lots of reasons to focus on the the pretty pinks and lovey-dovey reds...uhh, like freezing weather, cabin fever and a cloudy forecast to name a few.  Those little hearts and candies just seem to send warmth and cheerfulness right my way.  Ahhhhh....Valentine's Day...

Every year I do the best I can to create my own valentines.  With two boys at home, that makes for about 46 valentines that we need for school (don't forget the teachers!).  And why not make them for my Wolf Pack?  Plus another 50 or so...that's almost 100 smile-inducing valentines.  Add a couple bags of candy—BOOM!—mid-winter happiness.  

Now, before you start congratulating my ambition, let me define "creating my own".  Ideally this always looks like me crafting amazingly cute valentines out of recycled cereal boxes, displayed with my best handwriting and covered in glitter glue.  But other years, I'm just glad to have the time to tear the perforations provided in the over-the-counter valentines from the store.  It's the thought that counts, right?

Another super-duper simple tool I love is the Great Wolf Kids valentines.  You can download them online and print as many as you want.  Cut them out, add some names, send nice thoughts and gift them away.  Featuring some of our favorite Great Wolf characters, like Brinley Bear, Rachel Raccoon and Wiley and Violet the Wolf—they are beyond adorable!

From our Pack to yours—Happy Valentine's Day!

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