06
Mar
2013

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.

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.

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


 

26
Feb
2013

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.

 

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

 

 

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


 

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.

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!

Are you making something special for your Valentine? I remember as a kid making big cards out of construction paper and working really hard to make the perfect heart shape and adding frills with doilies. There’s just something about a homemade gift that makes your heart smile.

This past week, our Pastry Chef Amie Hanrahan and her team at the Grand Mound Lodge baked some Valentine-inspired sweets for their guests. If you are waiting until the last minute and still looking for the perfect gift, I invite you to bake these Great Wolf Lodge-inspired Sugar Cookies on a Stick.

After reading the recipe and drooling over the photos, I went home and made some this weekend, too. With a little creativity of your own, you might just be on your way to joining the culinary team at your nearest Lodge!

 

Sugar Cookies-On-A-Stick

(Makes about 4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter- softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 48ct Popsicle sticks

Your choice of edible decorations (Icing, sprinkles, chocolate chips, candies)

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Put dough into freezer for five minutes, to make inserting sticks easier. Pull dough from freezer. Insert a stick into the dough from the side. Make sure the dough on sticks has room to allow the cookies to spread without baking over other sticks.
  3. You can add sprinkles or chocolate chips to the raw dough, so they bake in, or wait until the cookies are baked and cool to add your decorations.
  4. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. After the cookies have cooled completely, you can apply frosting and attach edible decorations of your choice. Have Fun!!

 

12
Feb
2013

As you’ve read in past blog posts and seen in our lodges, we’ve been really busy lately. We’ve launched two new websites, added new attractions, hosted fun family events and even helped break a world record.  All while working to deliver the best experience to all of our guests.  Like I said, we’ve been busy. 

And it’s great to be recognized for all the hard work—from our guests and from the industry.  Back in December we found out that we are the winner of five HSMAI Adrian Awards

I was lucky enough to travel to New York City to accept the awards on the behalf of Great Wolf Resorts. 

The event took place at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square.  Among the attendees were other hotel greats like Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental. There were also a lot of travel folks there like our friends at Pocono Tourism and Visit Cabarrus

The evening started with networking over dinner—where our Gold entries were displayed for attendees to see—and ended with the big awards show to honor the Platinum winners and the Best of Shows.   

It was an honor to be in the room with so many great leaders in the hospitality industry.  And of course, winning five awards wasn’t bad either.

We took home Bronze in the TV Commercial category with our “Everybody In” campaign.  Two Silver awards included our GreatWolf.com redesign and our new GreatWolfKids.com.  And last, but not least, two Gold awards for our Gingerbread House campaign and our blog—Behind the Howl. (Yes, you are reading an award winning blog.) 

 

Thank you to HSMAI for recognizing us in these categories and thanks to our fans and guests.  All of this hard work is for you.

Andrew Pena Director of SalesWe are very excited to celebrate the most recent addition to our Sales & Catering Pack—Andrew Pena. As a new wolf, Pena is excited to bring his training and experience in Hospitality with him to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas

“As the new Director of Sales and Catering in Grapevine, I am thrilled to lead this sales organization. By implementing a structure focused on motivating a sales team, high results are achieved,” shared Pena, “I am excited to work alongside our team. Successful leaders take care of their employees. They don’t ask anyone to do something they wouldn’t also do. I will work alongside my team and together we’ll bring Great Wolf Lodge to a new level in corporate groups and events.”

With 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Pena is a leader in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in hotel sales and tourism, earning his CTA in 2012. Most recently, Pena served as an Area Sales Leader with Marriott International where he provided strategic sales direction for 14 hotels and over 300 local accounts. His passion for travel inspires him in his personal and professional life and will bring a new perspective to the Great Wolf Lodge.

Pena is an active member of MPI and plans to earn his CMP designation in 2013.  An avid cyclist, he participates in many charity rides in his spare time, earning donations for certain causes, such as MS.  He, his wife and two children are longtime residents of the Grapevine/Southlake area.

Next time you're visiting the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, be sure to ask Andrew about how possible savings for your next family reunion or corporate meeting. His team works with groups booking over 10 rooms at the resort and reserving space for private catered events at the lodge.Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine, TX

Great Wolf Resorts Bed TestingWorking in the corporate office, and not physically in a Great Wolf Lodge resort, I’m often asked, “What do you do all day if you’re not in the hotel?” Well—a recent answer would have been, “I relax in bed all day.”

The office next to mine currently has two comfy, queen size beds, fully made up with tons of pillows and crisp, white sheets. Go a little further down the hall, and you’ll find three more beds, just waiting for someone to take a nap. It’s like having a Majestic Bear Suite right here in the office! I promise, though, these beds are not the norm. They are just the latest chapter in our ongoing effort to continually improve the guest experience at our resorts. This week’s focus has been on hibernation hours—when everyone is sleeping.

2013 is going to be a big year for each of our resorts. From new attractions, to new entertainment and new dining experiences, I’m excited about everything we are adding to our lodges this year. We have a lot of great news to share!

Great Wolf Resorts CEO Kim SchaeferHere’s a sneak peek—we’re working to give you an even better night’s sleep! The beds set up in our offices are all samples—new mattresses, new linens, and new color schemes. Together with our CEO, Kim Schaefer (and her wolf pup to cuddle), the corporate team tried out the mattresses to help determine which would help give Great Wolf Lodge guests the perfect night’s sleep.

Everyone shared their thoughts, “Too hard.” “Too soft.” And, “This is so comfortable!” Some people bounced on them, a few tried to snuggle and others stretched out, fully relaxed. It was a fun, albeit slightly unusual day. And our procurement department also had a mini challenge for all of us. The bed experiment also featured a blind “taste test” of sorts—our current Great Wolf Lodge bed was one of the five!

Physically lying around on the office beds was just one part of the overall decision making that will take place in the coming weeks. But I’m really excited to share that just in time for summer, several resorts will have brand new bedding—linens, mattresses, box springs and pillows—throughout the entire property. And while I may not know which actual mattress will become “the” new bed, I’m glad my fellow Pack Members and I got a chance to try them out.

I wonder if I can squeeze in just one more nap…

Great Wolf Resorts Bed Testing

Lucky 13 WinnersA New Year always means new opportunities, new resolutions and new adventures. To put our best paw forward, we kicked off the year with our Lucky 13 sweepstakes. We were thrilled by the response! Over 2,000 families entered, telling us about their children who are turning 13 in this decidedly lucky year, 2013.

Howls of congratulations to the following parents whose kids will soon be teens. We look so forward to helping them ease into these exciting years with a stay at their favorite Great Wolf Lodge for $20.13:

  • April Duritza
  • Kelly Fender
  • Sidney Kirk
  • Danielle McKenzie
  • Wendy Player
  • Jerry White
  • Zaida Rodriguez
  • Mike Rollberg
  • Melissa Jenkins
  • Lisa Lanz
  • Debbie Jones
  • Bernadette Scharf
  • Anthony Brandt

Two of our winning families will be celebrating turning 13 in a big way this year: one has twins, and the other has triplets! They definitely have enough people to tackle the River Canyon Run or the Howlin’ Tornado together.

Turning 13 is a great milestone for any child and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate than at Great Wolf Lodge. If your family didn’t win—all is not lost! Check out our deals page, sign up for our epack and look at our birthday party packages. Oh—and hopefully we helped everyone cure their Triskaidekaphobia.

 

As guests of our lodges know, there are a ton of fun events that happen every day—like Story Time and DJ Dance Parties.

But I bet they don’t know just how fun our corporate office is—yes, you can have fun at a corporate office.   In a recent article on careerbliss.com, we were actually featured for our annual office Halloween party.

We even have a team of people who come up with new ways to have fun at our corporate office.  Their latest event—the Super Bowl Dip Contest.  Last Thursday, members of our corporate pack brought in all kinds of dips. We had salsas, guacamoles, spinach and pizza-flavored dips. And no Super Bowl party would be complete without a buffalo chicken dip. 

After all the dips were tasted (tough job), we voted for the favorite.  And of course, our Corporate Director of Food & Beverage won. (Yes, I’m still a little bitter, but it’s hard to beat a trained chef).   It took a little begging, but I managed to get the recipe.  Now you can bring an award-winning dip from a Great Wolf Lodge Chef to your Super Bowl party.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot
  • Tortilla Chips

Directions:

  1. Soften Cream Cheese.
  2. Combine Chicken, Cream Cheese, Ranch and Hot Sauce in a large bowl and mix well, use an electric mixer if possible.
  3. Gently Heat in a Crock Pot or stove top on Low until it is warm, about 140 degrees.
  4. Serve with Chips.

I have four children.  The last, my son, was born at only 23 weeks and weighed just 1 pound. We knew that he’d have some special needs as he grew older, but that only made him more special to us. He is in a self-contained class in school and is well liked by all his classmates, as well as his teachers. He also loves to swim. He is on a swim team and he just loves the water. He loves the quietness that he experiences and how fast he can move in the water. In the water, he’s not so different.

As a family, we love Great Wolf Lodge. We try and go as often as possible, if we’re lucky we go once a year. My son doesn’t think as quickly as other kids—but he loves playing MagiQuest. Somehow he remembers. He remembers where to look to wave his wand. He can tell his sisters which floor in which direction when they can't find something. Last year, he was the first one to face the dragon. He failed. Another boy—complete stranger—helped him. The joy that was on his face was priceless. You know the famous commercial, you can buy just about anything, but utter joy—priceless.

It’s obvious that my son has difficulties, but instead of being made fun of him—this stranger made the fight against the dragon a special memory that my son and I will never, ever forget. This boy, maybe 10 or 11, gave my son hints, showed him what to do and helped him defeat the dragon. The sense of pride and accomplishment was felt by everyone that surrounded them. My son will most likely remember all those hints for the next time he faces that dragon. I wish I had thought to thank that young man, but he had walked away. My son’s sisters never were able to defeat the dragon, so my son left Great Wolf Lodge that weekend having done something that no one else was able to, and that never happens to him. I can’t wait to get back so he can teach his sisters how to defeat the dragon—what a great moment that will be, for all of us.


Name: Deb Sarhan
City: EHT
State: NJ
Email: Jerzydeb@hotmail.com
Lodge: Pocono Mountains, PA

 

Ryan Potter at Great Wolf Lodge

For the past four years, Great Wolf Resorts has proudly partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. As a former “Big” myself, the rewards of volunteering and providing financial assistance to a worthwhile cause are endless.

While spending time with my Little Sister, we would do many activities in the community. Many times the activities we took part in were donated by local businesses and were a good opportunity for us to meet other Matches.  It was a good time for both of us to just have some fun and allow us both to be kids. The donations, in-kind and financial, to our local chapter gave us ideas of things to do and also the resources to maintain and grow our relationship.

Working for Great Wolf Resorts gives me the perspective of the rewards the local business reaps, as well. It is more than just a financial contribution, but an investment in the community. Each Match created is another life in the community impacted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. And raising the funds is actually pretty fun around here!

Carter Oosterhouse at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse CityIn 2012, we raised over $276,600 between all 10 U.S. based Great Wolf Lodge resorts. We could not have done it without help from our guests and Pack Members across the country. They came together to help us raise awareness and funds for the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in their surrounding communities.

While all of our resorts came together to support their local Big Brothers Big Sisters, we are so proud of our top three resorts—Concord/Charlotte, NC; Grapevine, TX; and Traverse City, MI. Combined, these resorts raised over $190,000.

These donations were raised one dollar at a time through community day pass sales, dining in the life-size Gingerbread Houses during Snowland, online guest donations and Bowl For Kids’ Sake.   Through their work to provide positive relationships, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ family-centric approach aligns perfectly with our mission to create family traditions at the lodge.

Through our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, our resorts also provide complimentary passes to the waterparks for Bigs and Littles to use to spend a day together.  On specific nights throughout the year, each lodge provides a night for the pairs to experience the thrills of the indoor waterpark and continue to foster their mentoring relationship.

Thank you to everyone who helped us to achieve our fundraising goal this year. Your generosity helps us assist Big Brothers and Big Sisters positively impact the lives of children in communities across America. Next time you’re at Great Wolf Lodge, be sure to check out how you can partner with us in our continued support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

MagiQuest

While our resort guests tend to visit us most during the summer months and when school is out, here at Great Wolf Lodge, meeting and exceeding expectations is a year-round project! Our teams work hard to continually add attractions and experiences so each time you visit, you may have the opportunity to do something new! And in marketing it is our job to debut the many new offerings in fun, memorable ways.  

One way we promote new attractions is with “Sneak Peeks.” We invite select members of the media and influential parents in the resort’s surrounding community to be among the first to experience the resort’s newest activity. Most recently, we did just that with the Grand Reveal of MagiQuest at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio.

Here’s a little behind the scenes peak at how we magically pulled everything together:

Step One: Brainstorming

While many of our resort guests may have already reached Master Magi status at one of our Great Wolf Lodge resorts, families in Northern Ohio had not yet had the chance to activate their wands and set out on their first quest.  How could we make this experience different? We thought of different ways we could engage, excite and build energy behind the debut of MagiQuest at the resort.

Step Two: Mapping out the Plan

Once we compiled all the ideas, we went to work on how to make our dream event a reality. With the resort coming off the busy holiday season, we also needed to take much of the prep-work off the resort team and have it ready for them at the beginning of January.

Step Three: Outreach

To ensure media coverage and attendance from influential local families, we also needed to build out our list, draft email invitations and work the phones. With a series of invites and reminders, we were able to contact key family travel media in the region and talk with mommy bloggers, as well.

Step Four: The Big Day

On the day of the event, the resort team was able to follow the step-by-step plan for the day. With two waves of attendees, they did a great job manning the welcome table in the lobby, activating wands for the guests and providing a special cake with refreshments. On a busy Saturday afternoon, the team did a great job making sure every guest knew today was the day for the MagiQuest Grand Reveal.

In the end, it all comes back to the experience. Providing families with something they can bond over will naturally create an opportunity to spread the word about a new attraction. All of the work we put into bringing the event to life was worth it. Seeing families racing down the halls on their way to become Master Magi was the best part of the day.

Now, all 11 of our Great Wolf Lodge resorts have MagiQuest. Are you a Master Magi? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with the newbies in Sandusky?

I’m so excited to announce that the all new Great Wolf Kids Coloring & Activity Book is now at Great Wolf Lodge—full of mazes, matching, coloring, tracing, counting, finding, designing, drawing and unscrambling!  There are HOURS of activities stuffed into these 40 pages of fun.  Coloring & Activity Books are available now in Cub Club® at every Great Wolf Lodge—grab some for the kids during your next trip!

But while the adventure with this fun new book is about to begin for your kids, it is just winding down for us.  And I thought you might want to know…how does a good idea—like a fun activity book—get to Great Wolf Lodge?  Here’s the “behind the howl” story for you.

Step One:  Research it.  The Kids Experience Pack goes to work finding the most fun, engaging activities that will be enjoyable for kids of most ages.  We dig though section after section of in-store kids’ books, scrolled the top-selling sections of online distributors and combed our own files of the best activities for crayons and pencils.  When reviewing the list, we got rid of anything too hard or too boring and kept working on anything that really made our crayons happy.

Step Two:  Brand it.  My favorite.  It’s one thing to provide you with a white sheet of paper covered with black-lined mazes.  Start here.  End there.  No problem. It’s another to put a story behind WHO is starting, WHERE are they going and WHY are they wanting to get there?  So what used to be a block-shaped maze, is now the shape of an ice-cream cone that Violet navigates to get to her favorite sweet treat: a strawberry ice cream cone!  We wanted to give you a birthday cupcake to design—but who baked it?  Sprinkles the Bear, of course. And a crossword is no fun if you can’t figure out the answers—so factoids are strategically placed all throughout the book to keep your kids learning and help them along the way.

Step 3:  Design it.  Our Creative Services Pack is just nuts about new Kids projects.  After receiving the fun content, they went to work putting together all the wonderful artwork.  Some of the characters are sporting their pajamas for the first time on coloring pages, while other pages give you tips and hints to learn to draw the characters on your own!  Every page is full of color, with just the right amount of room for you to add your own artistry.  The vivid backgrounds and fun activities really give kids a lot to howl about!

Step 4:  Test it.  After all of our pack members went through the book, we were ready to put it to the test—bring in the kids.  Were the 3 and 4-year olds thrilled to see their favorite characters on the pages? YES.  Did the 8 and 9-year-olds have a blast competing against mom in a game of Dots?  YES!  Did the tweens and teens agree that the book held an “adorable factor” that couldn’t be better? YES!  

After a few days at the printer, the new Coloring & Activity Books have arrived at Great Wolf Lodge.  All I can think is, man, if I was a crayon I’d be all OVER this book! 

So next time you’re packing that suitcase full of swimsuits and goggles—don’t forget to grab a box of crayons!  

Last summer, guests at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine had a chance to try some new attractions. For the thrill-seekers there is Howly Wood XD Theater, while the agile could take a turn at Lazer Frenzy to race against the clock. Both replaced a tween themed activity space at the resort and have allowed the whole family to join in the fun.Howly Wood XD Theater at Great Wolf Lodge

Howlywood XD Theater takes the rider on three different adventures. For the true thrill, families can take a ride on a roller coaster through space. With the wind rushing through your hair and hydraulic-powered seats, this is not your average movie theater. Families will feel like they are actually flying through space.

The Grapevine Lodge also added an interactive, time-challenge game called Lazer Frenzy. Families can challenge each other or race against the clock to slink through the laser beams to the other side before time runs out. You won't want to fail this mission.

Lazer Frenzy at Great Wolf LodgeBoth of these interactive games were part of the 2012 facelift to family entertainment at all of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts. From new attractions like Howl in One Glow Golf in the Pocono Mountains and Oliver's Time Challenge in Williamsburg to updates like the Northern Lights Arcade renovation—we are committed to providing the best in family entertainment.

This year, we will be making even more updates and additions to a lodge near you.  Stay tuned for more information about all of the new family entertainment in store for 2013.

Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water ParkMy son had decided before his birthday that all he wanted was money so he could save for a trip to a water park. He continued to save his money over the next year in hopes that he would be able to afford a trip to the water park, every penny he got went into his secret stash for his.

We decided to book our first water park experience as a family at the Great Wolf Lodge. To say he was excited to be going to a water park was an understatement. To see the absolute amazement in his eyes when he walked into THE Great Wolf Lodge, was beyond words. When he was thinking of a water park, I am pretty sure that the Great Wolf Lodge was not on his radar. He was speechless but smiling from ear to ear as we walked in. As we made our way to our Wolf Den room, the smile continued. I’m pretty sure he thought he had just checked in to waterpark heaven and he hadn’t even made it to the waterpark yet. 

We got settled into our room and prepared to get our swimming attire on and make our way to the waterpark area. I wouldn’t have thought his smile could get any larger until we walked into the water park area. As most children started walking quickly to the different water areas and activities, I watched my son literally step back and soak it all in—left to right and right to left—as his eyes filled up with joy. I looked over and saw my husband who seemed to be in the same “oh my”  zone.

We had such a great experience as a family. The restaurants, Story Time with our pajamas on and another fun filled day at the water park. It truly is fun for all and the time we had on that first visit will forever be a special memory.


Name: Lisa Reynolds
City: Troy
State: Ohio
Email: lisasawchek@yahoo.com
Lodge: Cincinnati/Mason, OH