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

 

I love theming. While I am not very artistic, I do have great admiration for places that understand theming and create immersive environments. My husband and I love to visit theme parks, water parks and resorts, not just for the attractions and rides themselves but also for the overall look, feel and even smell that is created to help “transport” you to another place.   

At Great Wolf Lodge, we create an immersive environment for your family. The inspiration for the look and feel of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts comes from the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Our resorts have a quiet, comfortable, rustic feel. From the color on the wall, to the wood fixtures and "log cabin-like" furniture, to the warm and inviting fireplace, the focal point of each lobby, we surround you in our forest home. As you look up at the antler chandeliers, and around at the soft earthy colors and cozy furniture—have you ever looked down? You should. We theme for your feet, too.

I love that our carpets reflect our lodge theme. Depending on which resort you visit, you may be greeted by bears, moose and “patchwork” pattern or a lighter patterned floor with leaves, soft greens and fall colors. If you haven’t really noticed the carpet—I guarantee your kids have. While visiting the Great Wolf Lodge Mason, I watched one little girl play her version of hopscotch by only touching the “animal squares.”  She skipped over the patterns and prints and moved her feet by hopping from the bear to the deer to the moose and so on. It took her family awhile to get to their room—but everyone had fun along the way!

In 2012, our resorts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and Sandusky, Ohio were fully renovated and that meant adding brand new carpet throughout the entire resort. The colors pop brighter than ever and little feet enjoy the plush feel as they scamper down the hallways from the family suite to the water park.

Breaking with the outdoor theme a bit, the Northern Lights arcades also got a full facelift (that will continue into 2013) and once again, feet were not forgotten. I love the new swirly design, stars and bright colors that enhance the overall look and feel of the arcade. And don’t worryWiley the Wolf left his “paw of approval” on this new floor, too. The carpet is filled with our signature Great Wolf Lodge paw print.

Next time you visit a Great Wolf Lodge resort, be sure to glance down at your feet during your stay. They just may be pretty enough for a picture!

Like any parent on vacation, I enjoy the purchase of a good souvenir or spending money on an exciting experience that I can enjoy in the company of my family.  But often, it's the playtime that we enjoy in between the scheduled events that makes our family time so memorable.  Here's a list of seven ways we enjoy our time at Great Wolf Lodge, adding a few extra doses of smiles inbetween the laughter for no extra cost.

Carpet at Great Wolf LodgeWalk on the Moose:  For anyone shorter than Mom’s elbows, this game is a classic.  The carpet at Great Wolf Lodge is covered with a custom pattern that can include bears, moose, deer and a variety of other patterns. Make the walk to and from your guest room fun by seeing who can “only walk on the moose”.  Of course, each family member can claim their own pattern.  Littler legs may get more “points” by only stepping on shapes that include triangle patterns, or maybe just the squares with leaves on them.

Wave the Wand:  When kids are too young (or too tired) for a full-on game of MagiQuest, a walk through the lodge with your favorite wand is still an adventure.  Find chattering wall art, swinging chipmunks or trees that light up in the restaurant.  If your house is like mine, then you have a couple of MagiQuest wands on hand, just bring one on your next trip and point it at anything you can activate.  

Color Your Character:  Coloring pages and crayons are somewhere to be found at every lodge.  Many locations have oversized art walls in the Grand Lobby, but you can always find some crayons and pages in Cub Club.  Color your favorite characters at the lodge and hang them in your room at home.

Meet the Bucket:  While climbing the watery bridges of Fort Mackenzie, everyone can hear the DING-DING-DING of the Tipping Bucket, signaling another terrific splash below.  For those willing to brave the mighty water pouring down from above, it seems like forever until the you “meet the bucket” for the next splash.  Insert. Fun. Here.  What can YOU do while you wait for the bucket?  Challenge yourself!  Ride the built in slide at the top of the fort?  Twice? Climb the rope ladder? Fill and splash three funnel buckets on a friend below?  Remember: walking feet only and—please! don’t lose your shorts!

Water Spray Target Range:  Place the kids on a nearby water toy that sprays water—check Fort Mackenzie or the kiddie pool area! Parents move along Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Parkthe target range that the water will reach, allowing kids to test their aim.  (Most dads score big points for this, especially with all of the other kids that join in!)

Collect the Cards:  Every lodge has a sign near the Grand Lobby that announces when the Great Wolf Kids characters will be around for a meet & greet.  Find this and set your smartphone alarms!  With the exception of Story Time (each night at 8:00 pm), characters will be handing out character trading cards when they are out and about.  Meet them to collect cards during your stay—and grab some great pics while you’re there to share on Facebook!

I’m Thinking of a Friend:  I admit, we play this game ALL THE TIME.  In the car.  At the dinner table.  In line at the library.  Anywhere our family waits, we play I’m Thinking of a Friend.  So while your din-din is on the way at the lodge, or you wait to get to the top of the slide tower, why not give it a try?  The youngest person goes first, stating “I’m thinking of a friend…” and adding 2-3 clues about the character they are thinking of, including one of what they look like and one of where the character lives—“that is brown and wears a backpack and visits Great Wolf Lodge”.  Other family pack members try and guess for the win:  “Brinley Bear!”  RIGHT!  This is fun with all sorts of your kids' favorite characters, but of course, my fav are from Great Wolf Lodge.

 

Every day our lodges work hard to help families make memories. From simple moments in the Cub Club between daddy and daughter, to annual family traditions—they see it all.  

Working in the Corporate Office, I don't get to experience all of these stories first-hand, but I do get to hear about a lot of them. Some of our guest share their stories on Facebook, or they tweet us during their stay.  They even take the time to submit their favorite memories to our blog.  But my favorite way to hear about the stories is from our pack members at the lodge.  The following story was emailed to our Great Wolf Lodge - Cincinnati/Mason pack members and I just had to share it.  

My son, Stephen, returned to us from Army Ranger school in Georgia very late the evening of December 16th. The next day, I helped to launch a scheme that would "buy" him the time to drive to Kenwood Mall to purchase Brittney's (now his fiance) dream engagement ring. The next "project" became creating a special moment for the proposal. "Stevie" (as I lovingly refer to him) was a little undone because his younger sister, Meghan, just became engaged on December 21st—her fiance took her to New York City and surprised her with quite a lavish production. Stevie was determined to do something equally grand for Brittney (without stealing his sister's thunder).  What became problematic was the amount of time he had left before he would have to return to Georgia. So, those circumstances, combined with a very anxious and curious Brittney, inspired him to secretly turn to me, again, for the next "scheme." Given that it was the early evening of Christmas Day, I wasn't completely optimistic that we could create the moment he desired—that is, until I placed the call to Great Wolf Lodge.

When Jennifer heard my explanation, she didn't hesitate to spring into action. (She, quite honestly, sounded as giddy as I did...it was fantastic!) Through just a couple of phone calls and her consultation with her leader, Jen, the plan came together that offered Stevie the chance to propose in your beautiful lobby, complete with snow—on cue!  When they arrived at their suite, they were delighted by a special arrangement of chocolate-covered strawberries and a select celebratory beverage—details crafted by Jennifer and Jen—details that made the experience complete! In Stevie's and Brittney's words, "Everything was amazing...and awesome!"

The next day, I texted Stevie to see how things were going. He replied that they had checked out of their suite, but were "hanging out" in Great Wolf's lobby because it was such a "cool place...a great place to relax, talk and have some coffee." (I also think they were continuing to relish in the experience and didn't want it to end!)

As you might imagine, by now many family members have heard this story and plan to visit your resort—even the family that's local, including me! (It's funny...I had previously considered staying at Great Wolf, myself, thinking it would be a great spot to bring my husband, given that he's terminally ill and can no longer travel any sort of distance. It's that thought that inspired me to think of Great Wolf for Stevie and Brittney's special occasion.) As well, there will, most assuredly be events related to their upcoming wedding (not sure if it will be in 2013 or 2014, as of yet). We will be certain to locate guests and/or host additional gatherings at Great Wolf! And, let there be no doubt: our immediate and ever-lasting loyalty to Great Wolf Lodge was earned by Jennifer and Jen.

Thank you and have a wonderful Holiday!

Thank you to Susan Hampton for allowing me to share her story, and for letting us be a part of her family's big day.

Remember being in middle school and having to learn a new vocabulary list each week? You’d study the list just enough to get through the test and then move on. And, occasionally a word would stick with you. Welltoday’s blog post is sponsored by such a word. Triskaidekaphobia.  And most importantlywhat Great Wolf Lodge is doing to combat it!

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Did you know this fear is so real, that most hotels do not have a thirteenth floor and airplanes do not have a thirteenth row? 13 has long been viewed as an unlucky number. For anyone who has the fear of the number 13, 2013 will probably be a tough year.

The number 13 isn’t all bad, though. The United States was formed from 13 original colonies. A baker’s dozen is 13 yummy treats, not twelve. Turning 13 is a milestone for kids as they transition from child to teenager. And to give this New Year a lucky start—we are excited to announce the search for the Great Wolf Lodge Lucky 13.

Is your child turning 13 this year? Perhaps your niece, nephew or grandchild? Wouldn’t a trip to Great Wolf Lodge be the perfect way to help ensure they have a luck-filled year? Families that have a child celebrating their 13th birthday in 2013 are invited to enter the Lucky 13 contest.

When: Sunday, January 13, 2013 from 12:01 a.m. Central Time until 11:59 p.m. Central Time that night.

How To Enter: Eligible guests can send an email to lucky13@greatwolf.com with the subject line “Lucky 13” and the following information in the body of the email:

  1. Your name (parent or guardian submitting the entry)
  2. Your address 
  3. Name of your child who is turning 13 in 2013
  4. Birth date of your child who is turning 13 in 2013

13 lucky winners will be randomly selected to receive a single night’s stay at the Great Wolf Lodge resort nearest them for just $20.13. This very lucky reservation rate is more than 90% off of the average cost of a stay in a Family Suite at Great Wolf Lodge.

For official sweepstakes rules, visit www.greatwolf.com/sweepstakes.

Don’t have a child turning 13 this year? That’s Ok—all luck is not lost. You can still save up to 20% off a multi-night stay at your favorite Great Wolf Lodge by entering the promotion code EARLY to book your reservation by January 18. Want to keep this lucky savings streak going? Join the Great Wolf Lodge E-pack to receive news about limited time promotions and deals all year long! 

So next time you play Trivial Pursuit, you'll not only know the definition of triskaidekaphobia but you’ll also remember Great Wolf Lodge resorts helped ensure 13 teens were not affected by it!

 

 

I grew up in a family with three kids. Vacation hotel stays always presented a challenge. Most hotel rooms could only accommodate four people. Inevitably one of us slept on an uncomfortable fold-away bed that came at an extra cost, or on the floor. 

A trip to Great Wolf Lodge would not have presented this challenge to my family. No one would have to sleep on the floor and everyone could have comfortably spread out. My parents would have been happy too—they would not have had to pay for a second room so we could enjoy this comfort.

Great Wolf Lodge resorts are all-suite properties. Most families book a Family Suite, which includes two queen beds and a full size sleeper sofa, so six people can comfortably relax after their full day of water park fun! And while the Family Suite is a wonderful option, we offer so many additional others, too!  

During a visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, we surprised our son with a KidCabin suite. While he is probably too young to full enjoy it, he immediately recognized the KidCabin was just for him. The suite provides a separate sleeping area for children, complete with two bunk beds and a third bed. (It would have been perfect for my sister, brother and me.)

The KidCabin has its own TV, and while it does not have a door, the suite’s layout makes it easy to put your pups to bed, but still keep lights on in the room. (How many of us have sat in a dark hotel room because the baby was sleeping?) And, if you’re keeping score, the KidCabin suite is perfect for seven people, with its queen size bed and pull out sleeper sofa.

The KidKamp and Wolf Den are two other suites that are as fun and playful as they are spacious and comfortable. The cozy “tent” and animal-themed den feature bunk beds in a similar, separate space just for kids.

Cute theming aside, you can choose several other unique suite to meet your needs. My personal favorite is the Whirlpool Fireplace suite. Luxury king size bed, inroom fireplace, huge whirlpool tub. While this suite is for four people, nothing says vacation like a room with a fireplace. Great Wolf Lodge Suite

Our guests tell us that Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect destination for family reunions. From the Majestic Bear suite which includes a breakfast bar; to the Grizzly Bear suite and its two bathrooms; to the truly amazing Great Frontier Loft condo in Wisconsin Dells complete with four bedrooms; Great Wolf Lodge resorts have the perfect alternative to the boring hotel room.

Don’t forget all of our suites include a complimentary microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator, so sippy cups, bottles, snacks and leftovers from your dinner at the Loose Moose buffet can be saved and enjoyed throughout your stay.

For your next vacation - what suite style will you surprise your family with?

One of the best parts of my job is finding the little vignettes and anecdotes that collectively make our full Great Wolf Lodge story. Recently, one of our resorts did something that goes beyond the howl and straight to the heart. In the spirit of this holiday season, here is the story of the Norman family and their recent visit to Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg.

At Great Wolf Lodge, we focus on creating family traditions and making memories. For five year old Nathan Norman from Rustburg, Virginia, his recent visit made memories that will last a lifetime.

Like most boys his age, Nathan is happy, energetic and full of joy and hope. Unlike most boys, Nathan is fighting brain cancer. And in the middle of doctor appointments and treatments, Nathan’s parents are always looking to ways to help him feel and be like every other little boy. For example, in September, Nathan told his mom that Christmas lights would make him feel better. Soon his home was decorated, and his neighbors' homes were decorated, to help encourage his early holiday spirit. In October, a group even came to his home to sing Christmas carols to Nathan and his family.

Two weeks ago, the family took a much needed trip to Great Wolf Lodge and there, Nathan’s holiday dreams got even better.

Nathan’s heroes are those who keep us safe—firefighters, policemen, EMT’s—the men and women who help others when they need it most. When the York County Fire Department heard Nathan was coming to Great Wolf Lodge, they wanted to do something really special for him. They partnered with Fire Rescue TV who put out their own “All Points Bulletin” to create a lasting memory for Nathan. Together with the resort, the area's first responders threw Nathan his own parade.  

The fun began with a personal escort to the resort by police motorcade. Upon arrival, Nathan was greeted by Great Wolf Lodge’s Wiley the Wolf and characters from the local stations. The family then boarded an antique fire track to lead the parade around the resort.

The extra special treat was the arrival of Santa Claus on the Life Flight helicopter. He surprised Nathan and his family with gifts and then a ride in the helicopter. And to think – all of this took place before Nathan ever set foot in the resort!

During their stay, Nathan and his family got to experience everything! They enjoyed a dining experience in the magical life size gingerbread house, road the resort’s trolley and splashed in the waterpark—complete with their own personal cabana.

At this special time of year it warms my heart not only as a Great Wolf Lodge Pack Member, but also as a mom, to know there are people in our community who help others. Thank you, York County Fire, Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, and Nathan, for making us all smile.

 

When I was younger I used to love the “Hidden Pictures” puzzles in magazines. You know the ones—find the hidden apple, the hidden house, the hidden mouse. Probably the only good thing about going to the doctor as a child was having the chance to read Highlights magazine and its monthly puzzle.

That’s why I took great delight in learning that the gingerbread house at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City was not just a beautiful and delicious masterpiece—it is also a life size puzzle, complete with its own hidden pictures!

For two months, the team at the resort combined their baking skills with their production skills to build their gingerbread house. The ingredient list alone was huge—it took 1656 lbs. of confection sugar, 600 lbs. of sugar, 200 lbs. of popcorn and 300 lbs. of egg whites to create the unique structure. This year, the team also got special assistance from HGTV design expert Carter Oosterhouse. But even Carter got excited when the team told him that about the little game they added to their fairy tale-inspired home.

The “I Spy Gingerbread Rocks” were created and cleverly baked into the walls of the gingerbread house. Just seeing the house is not enough—guests are encouraged to seek and find each of the animals cleverly hidden in plain sight. And of course, the exterior of the house is not the only place to find unique, treat-based art. While dining inside, guests can also see artwork made from sugar crystals of Wiley the Wolf and friends, and  woodland creatures decorating a forest tree that lights up.

During my visit, I got in touch with my inner puzzle-loving child. List in hand, I looked for: a large turtle; two baby turtles, two wolves—one howling at the moon, a buffalo, the state of Michigan (complete with a candy heart denoting Traverse City); three gingerbread men, a foot, a bear, an elk, a fish, a snake, and a wolf pawprint. It was a fun challenge.

As I write this, I can visualize where each of these hidden creatures was located on the house. However, I must admit, I never did find the bear or the elk. So, to anyone making the trip to experience Snowland at the lodge in Michigan this month—I challenge you to find everything on the list. And then send me an email letting me know where that elk was hiding.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear—or so I’ve heard.  Sticking with our Snowland theme this month, we are giving you another downloadable activity to bring Snowland to your home.

So far we’ve helped you make your own miniature Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house and taught you how to do the Reindeer Romp.  Now we will spread some Christmas cheer with the lyrics to the Snowland song and other holiday favorites.  

Just download the template here and start singing.  Remember, the louder you sing the more cheer you’ll bring.

18
Dec
2012

Life is busy. To survive in this world, someone has to work. Its a hard truth, but my husband is a wonderful man who works hard seven days a week so I can stay at home with our two small children, Isabel and Ronan.

As a mother, I'm still very busy myself. I do a lot of volunteering at my daughter's preschool, so I'm involved in her education. I help out in the classroom as well as sit on the Board of Directors. This means long hours away from my husband, because her preschool program with language and culture is important to me as well. Isabel was also attending public school at the same time as her preschool, so as a direct result, family time suffers.

As luck would have it, work slowed down for my husband over the summer and my daughter's preschool also invited us on a Board of Directors retreat at Great Wolf Lodge.

While I was in my meetings during the day, my husband got to spend some wonderful alone time with our children swimming, sliding and bonding. During a heart-to-heart chat, he got it out of my daughter that at her public school she was being bullied (just a boy who was mean because he liked her) and she was afraid to go back to school. We noticed she was throwing tntrums the whole summer with us and we were honestly at our wits end. My husband was clearly relieved to get the information out of our daughter and she seemed a lot happier telling someone.

The day went on and I joined them for our family time. Colouring t-shirts in the Cub Club, going down the big water slides, which Isabel was tall enough to ride this year, and an amazing dinner in the Camp Critter restaraunt, ending with Story Time in the main lobby. aAfterwards we heard the announcement for a family dance. Isabel has always loved dancing and she asked if we could go to the dance party.

With the weight off her shoulders, surrounded by people who loved her, all her friends and even a few of her preschool teachers, my girl finally started to relax and dance. Before the dance ended, we heard Katy Perry's "Fireworks". As the music started, Isabel got very excited. She started dancing like no one was watching and singing at the top of her lungs. It's almost as if the song woke something up inside of her, throwing up her arms and bursting like the firework that she is.  It is definitely a memory that I'm never going to forget. After the dance, she told me and her daddy that this was the best day of her life. Seeing my daughter come out of a funk that hung over her, thanks to some much needed family time, is something I thank Great Wolf Lodge for, and a lasting memory for myself, my husband and both of my children.

Name: angel meawasige
City: hamilton
State: ontario
Email: angel_girl_exj96@hotmail.com
Lodge: Niagara Falls, ON

 

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. Amidst the parties, gift-giving, family traditions and overall feeling of goodwill, I also love the decorating. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I get in touch with my inner Martha Stewart and pull out boxes and bins filled with holiday decorations. My snowman collection alone could take over the entire house. The house twinkles with lights, our Christmas tree, candles, garland, stockings and oh yes, those snowmen. (Did I mention many of them also sing?) I just love how our house transforms into a wintery home that’s cozy and filled with seasonal cheer.

The Great Wolf Lodge resorts REALLY get into the spirit of the holiday season. From the gingerbread houses that take more than two months to complete, to the hanging of lights, displays, icicles and snowflakes to trees, trees and more trees. Each December, the resorts take on an entirely new persona. They glow from within.

During a recent visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains, I watched the lobby transform into a winter dreamland! And while the Grand Lobby and its amazing décor delight our guests, I think the parade of trees make Snowland at that resort something special. 

As you wander through the resort, you’ll spot seven trees that have their own individual personality.  During my stay, I asked Kids Experience Manager Terri Klee about the unique trees. She told me they are part of an annual tradition where resort departments design and decorate their own tree.  

This year, seven departments decorated trees around lodge. The Administration offices, Aquatics, Guest Services, Kids Experience, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping and Retail/spa departments were all given a tree to design any way they wished. Some trees reflect the departments themselves—the Aquatics tree is adorned with Band-Aid packs and rubber ducks dressed like lifeguards. The Food & Beverage team created a tree about pet rescue, complete with pet-themed ornaments, plush cats and dogs and even a few biscuits.

As I mentioned, I love snowmen, so that tree, created by Guest Services and Kids Experience, made me smile. The most unusual and “out of the box” tree definitely goes to the Administration department, as they created a tree out of water bottles. (It’s also fully recyclable.)

The Pack Member tree contest is an annual event, now in its seventh year. Throughout the month of December, guests can take a walk through the trees and vote for their favorite. The tree with the most votes earns a pizza party for the entire team that created it.

If you visit the Poconos Mountains this month, take a moment to look at the trees. They’re sure to give you something to howl about.

It was February of 2010 and my 4 year old son, husband and I were enjoying a wonderful staycation at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine. Considering it was during school and during the week there were not a lot of visitors there. We had much of the Cub Club, waterpark and arcade to ourselves and it was awesome! (Like, "can't wipe the smiles off our faces so worn out we had the best sleep of our lives" awesome).

We were enjoying the amazingly perfect hot tub in the indoor waterpark when the snow started to fall outside. I mean big, white fluffy snowflakes. This is a rare occasion in Texas as it does occasionally snow, but usually it's a mix of sleet and snow that melts when it hits the ground. Texans sometimes get 3 hours to take full advantage of sledding and building snowmen that last maybe 1 night before going to snowman heaven (at least that's what we tell our son). But on this day we watched the snow pile up to 6 1/2 inches outside of the lodge.

So, we pulled every stitch of clothing we had together to bundle ourselves. This was a feat because at Great Wolf Lodge we lounge in our pj's, bathing suits and flip flops. We were able to get plastic wrap from the kitchen staff to wrap our feet and legs for "waterproofing". We looked mismatched to say the least.

That year we had so much fun building a snowman, even getting into a friendly snowball fight with the other staycationers in front of Great Wolf Lodge, that we opted to stay another night = ) It's not like we had chains for our tires to drive home in Texas snow!!


Name: Susie Johnson
City: Forney
State: Texas
Email: susieqwho4@aol.com
Lodge: Grapevine, TX

 

Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge

You’ve done our famous “Stomp, Stomp, Clap, Clap, Howl” before, but have you ever done the Reindeer Romp?  Now is your chance. 

 

All season long, we are bringing the fun of Snowland to you.  We’ve got photos from the lodges, YouTube videos from your favorite holiday movies and printable PDFs for you and your family to enjoy at home. 

We’ve already given you a template to build your very own Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house.  Now we will teach you the Reindeer Romp.  Just print the PDF and follow along at home.  Be sure to take some videos and photos of your pack doing the Reindeer Romp and post them on our Facebook page

Stay tuned for more fun, interactive ways to enjoy Snowland in and out of the lodge.

I have been to Great Wolf Lodge in PA many times during different holidays and times throughout the year—Halloween, early spring and even Snowland. Out of all the different times I have come, my favorite has to be Snowland.

Every year I always come the week before Christmas. I love Snowland because I can swim while it is snowing outside and “inside”. All while staying nice and toasty warm in 84 degrees all year long. I love the extended Clock Tower Show and having it “snow” when the song "Let it Snow" rings through the lobby.  And of course, "Cause it’s snowing at the Great Wolf Lodge and all my friends are here” which is my favorite song of all.  Also, seeing the lodge all decorated for the holidays in the lobby and Christmas trees that were decorated by the different pack members. 

But my most favorite time I came to Great Wolf Lodge out of the at least 11times I've been there  was with my older brother who is in the US Army. The winter he came home after being deployed overseas, he came with us for the first time. Even though this was the first and only time he came with us we both enjoyed going on the 2 rider rides (when I come with my mom I can’t go on because I’m a single rider) and had a blast spending quality brother and sister bonding time.

We did every ride over and over, but the ride we enjoyed the most was the toilet bowl ride. We loved that ride because we went really fast, high in the bowl and spun around many times inside the bowl then flew out at the end. When I am on by myself I go two maybe three times, with my brother we got at least four or five times around.

That is why going with my brother is my favorite memory of Great Wolf Lodge.


Name: Alison
City: Doylestown
State: PA
Email: Tweetyali@comcast.net
Lodge: Pocono Mountains, PA

 

Carter Oosterhouse at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City

This year, we were thrilled to partner with HGTV design expert, Carter Oosterhouse. Carter recently visited our resort in Traverse City, Michigan and assisted us with the life size gingerbread house. He also took a few moments to share his favorite seasonal decorating tips. 

The holidays are my favorite time of year, especially since I’m on the road so much. To make things even sweeter, this year I did something I’ve never done before—provided design insight and inspiration to a life-size gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge. Throughout the month of December, families can dine inside this edible creation—and similar gingerbread houses at each Great Wolf Lodge resort—for a $20 fee, which will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Life size gingerbread houses at Great Wolf Lodge are part of the resorts’ annual Snowland celebration. This year, when Great Wolf Lodge invited me to help bring something new to the gingerbread house project, I knew I could not say no. While in my hometown of Traverse City, I worked alongside the resort’s culinary team as we brought some of my fairy tale ideas to life. These included: icing icicles dripping from the roof, candy button wallpaper inside the house, “growing” poinsettias made of gingerbread for the window boxes and re-theming a traditional snow sled into a gingerbread sleigh to add candy curb appeal.

Families can visit the 11 Great Wolf Lodge resorts all this month to really get in the holiday spirit—and find inspiration to use at home for their own winter wonderlands.

While at the resort, I also worked with the team to take some of the big ideas from the gingerbread house and find inspiration to apply at home. We used some of the tasty materials from the gingerbread house to create a fun project at home—candy holiday photo frames.

We started with a simple wood frame found at your local craft store. Using favorite seasonal candies like red and green Pop Rocks, peppermints, cinnamon hearts and Nerds, the kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwestern Michigan and I got creative. We applied the candy to the frames using glue sticks. This great indoor project is something the entire family can get into and the finished project is a perfect treat to hold your holiday family photos all season long.

While at the lodge, I was also asked about my favorite tips to help make your home ready for the holidays. Here are a few ideas to help create your personal winter wonderland:

  • When decorating your Christmas tree, use clear lights and ornaments adorned in white and silver alongside glass icicles, to create a snowy, outdoor feel.  Don’t forget to use spray snow or flocking before you light and decorate the tree!
  • In the dining room, lay a white tablecloth across the table and add a centerpiece of red and silver ornaments or pine cones sprinkled with silver glitter. Include subtle light with candles atop a festive table runner. Adding a dimmer switch in the room—and throughout the entire house—will really set the mood at dinnertime with your loved ones, and help enhance your home’s seasonal lighting.
  • Spread cheer throughout the house by introducing new seasonal colors with throw pillows or blankets. Red, green and silver accents will give your home an updated holiday feel without breaking the bank.
  • Decorate the windows with spray frost and place a flameless candle in each window to shimmer on the snow at night.
  • To put the finishing touches on your holiday home both inside and out, take the decorating outside by lining the driveway with white lights and hanging icicle lights from the rooftop.

Happy Holidays, 

Carter

 

05
Dec
2012

Great Wolf Lodge is all about family traditions.  And there are so many traditions that surround the holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate, traditions abound. 

Growing up, everything about the holidays was the same, year after year.  Same cookies.  Same decorations.  We even watch the same movie on Christmas Eve.  But my favorite of all the traditions is the letter to Santa. 

Each year we would break out the craft supplies and end up with impressive creations that only a child can make.  Once complete, we set them by the fireplace and waited for Santa’s magic to carry them up the chimney to the North Pole. 

A curious little tradition that led me to Santa Claus’ impressive Wikipedia page.  According to Wikipedia, kids in Britain actually burn their letters in the fireplace so that the wind can whisk them off to the North Pole.  In Mexico, some children even send them via balloon.  So many ways to send one man a letter.

During Snowland, Great Wolf Lodge offers more than just the fun of an indoor waterpark resort, we also make it easy for little ones to get their letters to Kris Kringle.  At our writing depots, children can write a note to Santa on a special postcard and slip it into the official mailbox located in the lobby.  Santa will even write back if you include your name and address. 

This year, we decided to share our postcards for everybody to use.  Just click to download, and start writing.  

What are you asking for this year?

I love the holidays.  I love the sights, the sounds, the smells—I love it all.  Most of all, I love the baking.  With Pinterest now in our lives it’s incredibly easy to find fun, new recipes (thank you Pinterest).  But I’m a traditionalist.  I want my holidays to taste exactly like they did in my childhood.  So every year I make one of my mom’s recipes and one from my mother-in-law.  Usually it’s the old stand-by—the sugar cookie—but this year I’m going to tackle my very first gingerbread house

Since I’m a gingerbread novice, I did a lot of researching.  How do I make the best gingerbread ever?  How do I make sure it’s going to hold up?  And not taste like cardboard?  How do I find a template for my gingerbread masterpiece?  With all these questions swirling in my head, I almost gave up.  Then I thought of the gingerbread house specialists, our Food & Beverage team.  Of course!  They do this every year.  They bake and prepare for weeks and create the biggest, prettiest gingerbread houses I’ve ever seen.  That's the gingerbread house I want to build. 

It all starts with a good template.  And since I wanted mine to look just like a Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house, why not use the same design.  Our Food & Beverage team was nice enough to help me with a template, and of course I couldn’t keep it to myself.  So if you are stuck on where to start with your own gingerbread houses, I’ve got just the thing.  Download your very own Great Wolf Lodge inspired gingerbread house template here.  And when you’re done, share a photo of your masterpiece on our Facebook page.    

Now I just need to figure out how to decorate mine.  I think I know where I might be able to get some inspiration.  

And yes, that's HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse helping decorate our life-size gingerbread house in Traverse City. More on him in a future post.

While it’s beginning to get a bit blustery outside, it’s cozier than ever inside Great Wolf Lodge.  Millions of twinkling lights are on their way into the Grand Lobby, holiday trees are going up and up and up, the fire is roaring, and Wiley and Violet are matching up their mittens for a great season.  AND GUESS WHAT ELSE?  New character trading cards are on the way!  Ahh!  I LOVE these things!  (I mean, just LOOK at how many I’ve collected!)

Wiley the Wolf and Brinley Bear both have new collectibles in our “Winter Edition” character trading cards.  With fun facts on the back and cool new images on the front, they provide oh-so-many fun ways to play.

But WHAT do you DO with character trading cards, you ask?  Well, let me TELL you.

  1. Collect them.  Character trading cards on not sold in gift shops.  You can ONLY get them from a character at Great Wolf Lodge.  And meeting characters is super fun all by itself.  Give a high paw, take a pic, and collect a card. 
  2. Stare at them.  Maybe I’m just obsessed, but these are the cutest little fellers I have ever seen.  Love to review the cards with the kids on the couch after Story Time (a nightly occurrence in my house) and point out their eyes and ears and mouth and nose…head, shoulders, knees and toes.
  3. Learn with them.  Fun to play learning games with your preschool kids, nephews, granddaughters when you add color identification, pattern making or card matching to the mix.
  4. Engage with your kids. My favorite.  Each character trading card offers a short stack of fun facts on the back side, like the characters' favorite colors, activities, foods and seasons.  Enjoy reviewing these with the kids, asking what their fun facts are.  When is their birthday?  My husband also enjoys making up stories about the characters at bedtime.  The kids each get to choose a character and a few other fun facts and Mr. J goes to work making up all sorts of fun stories about these friends—from “Wiley’s first haircut” to "how Violet and Rachel used their manners at the dinner table”.  Super fun.

Do get your hands on these fun new—and might I mention FREE—collectible cards next time you’re in the Northwoods.  And when you see him, give Wiley a high-paw for me!

My favorite memory from Great Wolf Lodge has to be the first time we visited. There were two specific events during that time that stuck in my head.

The first was when we arrived; I brought my son and his best friend for his birthday weekend. They were really excited when we got there, they were running around looking at everything in the lobby and touching everything they could. Our room was on the second floor, we grabbed our bags and walked up to the second floor. When we got up there we passed the window into the waterpark and all I heard was “WHOA” really loud from both the kids. They were so excited to get in there and play, they were almost ready to change in the hall. I couldn’t open the door to the room fast enough.

The thing that stuck in my head is the look on their faces the first time they saw it, they were so excited, amazed and anxious to have fun. They didn’t want to leave. We spent hours in the waterpark that first day. We almost missed dinner because it is hard to keep track of time when you are having that much fun.

The second thing I remember from that trip was when I was in the lazy river with my son, there are buckets that fill up and dump on you as you are going along. At one point I turned around and saw this man behind me starting to relax in his tube, he finally laid back and got comfy.  As soon as he leaned back a huge bucket dumped right in his face. It startled him so much that he jumped backwards out of his tube. I guess he didn’t know the buckets were there. It was such great timing that the second he relaxed the bucket tipped over. It was so funny. The kids couldn’t stop laughing.

Our entire weekend both the kids always had a smile on their face and never stopped laughing. I love how everyone there tries so hard to do anything they can to make the kids happy.


Name: theresa mccarroll
Email: thmccarroll@yahoo.ca
Lodge: Niagara Falls, ON