"Creating family traditions, one family at a time."  That is the mission of Great Wolf Lodge.  And this is a story of a recent opportunity I had to work alongside our Ambassadors of Fun at the Pocono Mountains Lodge to make that mission come true via a pallette of face paint in our Grand Lobby. 

Great Wolf Lodge - Grapevine, TXI’d like to preface this story with the facts:  I prepared myself for this.  I studied face painting.  I practiced face painting.  I allowed another person to paint my face into a wolf and I wore a brightly colored shirt to help make myself look fun.  I bought the really nice supplies.  And most importantly, I prepared my little marketing script, “Hi, welcome to Great Wolf Lodge!  What can I paint for you today?  Would you like a paw or a wolf?”  Readers, you should know that I was destined for success.

Until the first kid – the VERY FIRST KID – in line stared back at me and said “I want my face to look like an exploding volcano.”

It was approximately right THERE that the line was drawn between education and experience.  I practically had a whole college degree in my pocket for face painting and there I was, unprepared for an exploding volcano. 

Next kid:  I want a piranha.  Me:  Suuuure, like you want me to paint a piranha on your cheek?  [big cheesy smile] Kid: NO, I want my whole face to look like I’m a piranha.  [Very seriously] I want to BE a piranha.  Me: [blank stare].

Clearly at this point, I was in trouble.  I could have spent the rest of the day explaining to these kids why their choices were not quite “on brand” or how volcanoes and piranhas were not really icons of safety (especially near a waterpark).  But instead, I sat there, lamely, staring back at them wondering “Is this what happens to every corporate employee that tries – with every good intention – to re-insert themselves into the front lines, on the floor of their brand?!”

Someone randomly snaps a photo of my impending failure and I become alert.  I realize at that moment that my job is not to deliver a “perfect” scenario found on paper; my duty is to deliver happiness.  Memories.  An experience.  My duty is to turn this kid into a piranha!

My paint brush flies into some yellow, followed by green an orange.  I smear some white around.  I make something that looks like fins on his cheeks.  Giant lips.  Sharp teeth.  I ask him to growl a little (piranhas seem mean enough to make that sound).  Bam.  This kid is a full-fledged fish face!

I muster all of the confidence I can and flash another one of my award-winning smiles before handing him the mirror to check my work.  Although I wouldn’t have minded him seeming really excited about my artwork,  I’m pretty thrilled that he doesn’t pout, cry or run to mom after seeing what I just did to his face.  Relief.

Great Wolf Lodge - Grapevine, TX

My bonus of joy came later that night as I was daring myself down the ultimate collection of indoor waterpark slides:  The Double-Barrel Drop™, River Canyon Run™ and Hydro Plunge™.  As I was circling back around to the stairs for another ride, wouldn’t you guess it – four hours later – here comes my piranha around the corner!  With every opportunity to wash his face off, he has somehow succeeded in protecting his face paint for hours – he liked it!

And suddenly I’m able to enjoy the rest of the evening in a new way, knowing that I’ve actually done the only thing I’ve ever been asked to do:  make time for our guests, just one family at a time.

Summer is officially upon us.  That means lots of family time—BBQs, picnics, tee ball games, pool time.  And then everybody’s favorite, the family vacation. 

I don’t know about you, but my summer filled up fast this year.  So fast that my summer to-do list is packed to the brim—and I know I’m not alone.  In honor of crazy summer schedules everywhere, we’ve put together our very own Great Wolf Lodge Summer Bucket List.  Each Wednesday for ten weeks we will post our Top 10 Summer Bucket List on our Facebook page.  Our lists will include fun items that you and your family can do together to maximize family fun this summer.  That’s 100 ideas for a summer’s worth of fun.

Great Wolf Lodge Summer Bucket List Week 1

But it doesn’t stop there, we’ve got a Summer Bucket List tab on our Facebook page where you can post your own must-do items.  Is there one activity that you and your family have to do this summer?  Some place that you and your family have to visit or the summer wouldn’t be complete?  Add it on our Summer Bucket List tab and just click “Create topic”. 

You can also vote on topics posted by us and other fans.  Did someone post an idea that you love?  Click “love it”.  Every vote and every topic will earn you points.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a fun contest announcement, so start posting and voting to earn those points.

What’s on your Summer Bucket List

19
Jun
2012

Great Wolf Lodge Mason, OHWe were not going to take a vacation this year, then sadly my daughter went through something no child should ever deal with. We decided we needed to get out of town and get everyones minds off it.

We have gone to other waterparks and had an okay time. I have heard so much about Great Wolf Lodge, we thought we would add that on to a long vacation. The kids had no idea we were leaving or where we were going. Everyone was amazed, including the parents, as we pulled up to the hotel. It is beautiful on the outside as well as the lobby.

We had an excellent time! The wave machine was awesome, the water coaster was too cool! My kids had such a great time and even made new friends while we were there. Before we even left, my boyfriend and I were already making plans to come back next year and spend our entire family vacation there. Thank you so much for a great time and great memories!

Name: Cassandra Shuff
City: Auburn
State: Indiana
Email: cassandrashuff@gmail.com
Lodge: Cincinnati/Mason, OH

Scott Newland, Aquatics Supervisor

 

Today, all Great Wolf Lodge resorts took part in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. The event took place simultaneously at waterparks, community pools and aquatics facilities worldwide to help demonstrate the importance of teaching children to swim.

We had a great time with the children who took part in the swim lesson at our Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City. Teaching swimming lessons has been a fun part of my career for the past eight years. Swimming instruction provides the fundamental aquatic skills necessary to help keep yousafe in, on and around the water. It is beneficial to participants six months and older.

Sometimes though, as a parent, the waters can be a bit murky when trying to determine the best instruction for your children. In honor of the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, here are a few things I encourage parents to keep in mind when seeking the best swim lessons for their children:

 

Consider the facility:

  • Is there a variety of depths ranging from very shallow (on stairs or sloped entries), to water deep enough for full swimming practice?
  • Is the water temperature appropriate? Young children get cold quickly, and their attention span could be significantly affected.
  • What type of programming does the facility offer? Will swim lessons have a designated area, or are there other activities such as lap swimming or water aerobics taking place in the same area?

How long and how often are the lessons?

  • Swim lessons vary in length, from 15-30 minutes for younger childrento hour-long lessons for more advanced swimmers.
  • Swimming is a psychomotor skill, like throwing a ball; practice makes perfect! Lessons that meet once a week are sufficient to retain the skills being taught, but lessons that meet two or even three times a week have been shown to significantly improve retention.

What certifications and training do the instructors have?

  • The American Red Cross, YMCA, and Ellis and Associates are all common entities that certify swimming instructors. While some facilities modify swim programs to better fit the needs of their customers, the most important thing is to know that your instructor is adequately trained.

Know the swim lesson curriculum

  • Instructors should be well prepared for each lesson, and ensure that all of the class material is taught.
  • Programs that enroll by age and test the students on the first day will typically have classes that are more closely grouped by skill, and the “Level” of the swimmer is more of a tool for the instructor or a benchmark for the swimmer.
  • Everyone learns at different rates. Don’t be upset if multiple attempts are needed on some levels. Conversely, the instructor should be addressing the concerns that are keeping participants from progressing.

Is anxiety a concern?

  • By far the greatest barrier to learning how to swim is anxiety! Be sure you are not pushing your little swimmer too far, too soon. Talk with your instructor after every class, and make sure that you know what you can do to help your swimmer progress. 

Scott Newland
Aquatics Supervisor
Great Wolf Lodge - Traverse City

 

Great Wolf Lodge Cub ClubI have been going to Great Wolf Lodge for as long as I can remember.  My mom and I have been to all eleven of the Lodges. Some Lodges, like the Poconos, I have been to many times.  Others like, Kansas City, I have only been to once.  I am going to start my blog off by describing the 5 general areas of the lodge….I will get into more details and funny stories in my future posts.

The Waterpark

The waterpark is the main attraction—it’s why everyone goes to the Lodge.  The waterpark is a fun place to go any time of day.  There are (at most lodges) 4 regular tube slides and 2-3 big tube slides (which I recommend). The big slides have names like the Double Barrel Drop and the Howlin’ Tornado.  In addition, there is a kiddie area, a wave pool, 2 hot tubs, a giant water fort with 2 body slides and a recreational pool where you can play water basketball.  There is even a lazy river!  There is so much fun to be had in the waterpark!

gr8_space

gr8_space is a place where teens (like me) go to chill out and dry out.  There are snacks and drinks so that you don’t have to go back to your room.  Inside, there are 15 different TVs, one big screen, 3 Xboxes and 3 Wii's along with PS3's.  Countless computers are available to go online.  There are contests and dance parties.  You could spend hours there.

Northern Lights Arcade

The arcade is the last thing closed in the evening so you can stay there for a while.  With over 100 games to play, the fun never ends.  One token is one quarter.  There are games for ticket hunters and games just for fun.  The prizes are pretty cool too—hundreds to pick from (although I am not allowed to bring home anymore stuffed animals). So much to do, so little time.

The Food

I am now a teenage boy so food is important to me.  My mom always packs snacks but I have to tell you the food is pretty great.  The Loose Moose Cottage has a buffet for breakfast lunch and dinner, which leaves you with hundreds of food choices.  There are 2 big restaurants—Camp Critter and the Loose Moose, there are smaller places like Spirit Island and Pizza Hut Express. Yum!  Everything always sounds so good.  One time at lunch I had pork with BBQ sauce and it was truly amazing!

MagiQuest

MagiQuest

MagiQuest makes you feel like a powerful wizard. I, myself, have played this game for countless hours—it is so addicting and fun.  First, you have to do quests to earn runes.  When you collect all the runes you can move on to bigger quests like dragon slaying or Pixie helping.  You get to keep your wand so the next time you stay at a Great Wolf Lodge, you can pick up right where you left off.  I have played at all the Lodges where MagiQuest is offered.

So there is my overview of the Great Wolf Lodge….stay tuned for my fun adventures.

 

Ask A Mom Son

RJ H.

RJ is the son of our Ask A Mom Panelist, Leslie H.  Like his mom, he has visited all 11 Great Wolf Lodges. Stay tuned for more from RJ and his mom Leslie.

 

We (and by we I mean my son RJ and I) have been to all eleven Great Wolf Lodges.  That's right, all eleven lodges. There is just so much to share and talk about.  Do I start at the beginning or end?? Wolf Rider Wipeout Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

We are actually going to the Great Wolf Lodge in 2 weeks for our annual swim team trip.  Where else would you take a bunch of kids that love the water? 

Two years ago we had our first adventure traveling with a bunch of people.  RJ and I usually travel as a duo.  The group thing from start to finish was very cool.  To start, I was paired up with a Pack Member who specialized in groups.  I was guided step-by-step through the process.  We booked as a group, but once there everyone had the ability to set up to charge to their room.  Very convenient.  We all ended up with rooms near each other in the "forgotten hallway."

The best part of this trip for me was watching all the “newbies” come into the Lodge….priceless to see the faces of the kids as they looked into the waterpark. Much like my last blog about my husband not believing us, I am guessing some of our friends didn’t believe us either until they saw it that first night.

MagiQuest Great Wolf Lodge WilliamsburgThe kids took off running to the waterpark.  We had to remind them that they had all weekend.  A great tip when traveling with a group—send the kids down to the waterpark when it first opens to get seats for the adults who are still enjoying their coffee.  RJ thought it was great that he had so many people to go on all the slides with. Both the family raft ride and the water roller coaster are much more fun with friends than with mom. 

It was a great day—the adults played board games, chatted and even got wet in the waterpark.  The kids played until they were waterlogged.  Then they dried off and went to try out the “dry “activities.  We had pre-planned a dinner in the Loose Moose Cottage—including the Loose Moose birthday song.  The kids didn’t want the night to end, but hibernation hours start at 11pm.  This was where being in the forgotten hallway worked out great—the kids were directed to the Lobby.  Duck duck goose at midnight!  I enjoyed sitting by the fireplace! 

The next morning some of the kids tried out MagiQuest.  Hopefully they remember their wands so they can continue their game when we go in 2 weeks.  Most of the group stayed until dinner time before heading back home.  The second year we went we had twice as many families as the first year.  Oh and did I mention that when you do a group trip the room rates are very reasonable?? So grab your friends, teammates or family and head on down. 

 

Ask A Mom Panelist

Leslie H.

Ask Leslie, or any of our Ask A Mom panelists, a question at askamom.greatwolf.com

Sandusky, OH Scooops Kid SpaThis week, we celebrated the grand opening of Scooops, the ice cream themed spa at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, OH. Not only is this a one-of-a-kind spa for the region, it is also the final one to be added to the Great Wolf Lodge resort family. Now guests can visit each of our resort locations and experience this sweet treat.

Once the Neapolitan ribbon was cut by General Manager, Sara Wysong Miller and Violet the Wolf on Tuesday, the first guests who started down the pink carpet were faced with a tough decision - choosing between chocolate, vanilla and strawberry scented scrubsand fizz balls for their service. All of the products smelled sweet and tempting!  Our first visitors to the spa, wrapped in signature pink plush robes, were treated to flavored manicures and pedicures while others went directly for glitter tattoos. Their experience was topped off with a Scooops tiara and unique bag of treats – and of course, ice cream!

Sandusky, OH General Manager and Violet

Scooops Kid Spa – spelled with three “o’s” to represent the popular ice cream flavors of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla – can accommodate six pedicures and six manicures at one time. The spa, which features over 500 square feet of spa and retail space, also specializes in birthday celebrations and “Mommy and Me” packages designed to “scooop” loads of fun and create special memories. 

The addition of Scooops Kid Spa is just one part of an extensive $2 million renovation the Great Wolf Lodge has undertaken this spring. With brand new bedding, curtains, carpet and upgraded in-room appliances in every room, the guest experience at the resort has never been better. Additional improvements include new chairs in the waterpark, and new carpet throughout the resort.  Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky is definitely ready for summer! 

As we opened Scooops this week, we began to wonder - what does our  favorite ice cream flavor say about us?  Scooops has the answer!  Visit our online Flavor-ator at www.greatwolf.com/scooopskidspa.  Is the Flavor-ator right? Or do you think you’re a combination of two flavors? Tell us what your favorite flavor is - and book your daughter’s appointment at Scooops today! 

 

New to Scooops? Check out our Scooops Kid Spa video.

 

 

This year Great Wolf Lodge is adding a wide array of family fun attractions and experiences resort-wide that will bring smiles to everyone in your family. Whether you are a first time visitor, or one of our loyal returning guests, you will find something new at your favorite resort. All summer, we will include posts about these new amenities so you can plan to take it all in during your next visit!

One of our newest family activities is Ten Paw Alley. This spring, we took the sport of bowling and put our own Great Wolf Lodge spin on it. Starting with bowling balls that are perfect for little hands, the new six alley lanes are already striking a chord in our resorts in Pocono Mountains, PA; Mason, OH; Williamsburg, VA and Concord, NC.

I had the opportunity to see how many pins I could knock down during a recent visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. The first thing I noticed – no rental shoes were required! Who hasn’t wanted to bowl in their own shoes?

The length of the lanes are half that of a regular alley, and as I bowled alongside children who ranged in age from 2 to 14, it was such fun to watch the little ones stare intently as their ball rolled toward the pins. The lanes also have the option to add glowing bumpers during play. This way the littlest bowlers can watch their scores go up alongside their older siblings, rather than watch their balls get trapped by the dreaded gutters. (I’m afraid, I had no excuse.)

Each game automatically scores, too, so you don’t have to remember when to mark an “X” and how to add the score after bowling a spare. And, just like everything else at Great Wolf Lodge, the atmosphere is light, cheery and definitely family-friendly. At Ten Paw Alley, parents can play alongside their kids and with other Great Wolf Lodge guests.

While a photo is worth a thousand words, as seen in the above picture of my little friend Spencer, you can watch our new YouTube video showcasing the fun to be had at Ten Paw Alley. Reservations are not required to play – just drop in after enjoying the water park, or before heading to the Loose Moose for dinner. As you prepare to visit Great Wolf Lodge, make sure Ten Paw Alley is on your “must do” list!

If there is one thing that comes with parenthood, it's planning ahead - sheesh!  And boy, am I good at procrastinating.  Mom, what are we having for dinner tonight?  I'm not sure, I'll tell you at about 5:55 p.m.  Mom, where is my blanket for school?  Doh!  Still drying in the dryer, but we're late, let's go!  Mom, I need help with my shoes!  Great, another shoelace has been devoured by the knot-monster...but I learned that last week, I think.  Mom, when are we going to Great Wolf LodgeWait a minute - I know this one!

Our next trip to Great Wolf Lodge is scheduled in precisely 6 weeks and 2 days from now.  But don't think for a minute that I'll be quick to share that...with the kids.  Hee hee hee...Although I'm late on dinner and slow on new shoes, family vacation planning slacker I am not!  And my one reward for all of this awesomely secretive planning is this:  The Surprise.

Here's my plan:

5 Days to Howl:  Break out the wolf gear.  I don't draw attention to my choices, but - hey! - how ironic that my kids are dressed in random shirts with paw prints, bears and tents on them, we're reading wolfie storybooks and howling at bedtime, and - what's that?! - Mom's doing the laundry with her wolf ears on.  Fascinating.

4 Days to Howl:  84 degrees of WHA?  Chit-chat at the dinner table is now very strategic and the hubs and the cat are both in on it.  Gee, sure wish it was warmer out, don't you?  What does your swim suit look like again?  Oh that's right, it has a blue shark.  Hey, I wonder if those water shoes from last summer still fit - please, try them on!  Nobody suspects, but yes, we're headed right towards 84 degrees of fun.

3 Days to Howl:  The MagiQuest wand makes a mysterious appearance at the table.  What is THAT?!  I ask, as if I've never seen it before.  The "I don't know" response tries to steal my glory, but I persist.  Isn't it that wand from...oh, where did you get that thing from?  "Great Wolf Lodge!"  Bingo.  I go on and on, drawing the memories out of them of all the things they like most about their trips to the lodge.  By the end of the night, we're all giggling and swirling with happiness that seem to be only fit for dreams.

2 Days to Howl:  Origami Mommy.  It turns out that a Grand Lobby isn't the only place you can go on a Wolf Walk.  After dinner, I pass around a square sheet of paper and teach everyone how to master the origami wolf (okay, I'm crafty and I've practiced over 1200 times, but I'll share the instructions - it's easy!).  We raise them up and howl for fun and then go on a hunt.  It "seems" these little origami pups have seemingly left their paw prints all over our home - and we're out to find them.  [I've left] one in the swimsuit drawer. Another on the piggy bank we painted in Cub Club on the last trip.  Oh - there's a whole pile of them on the suitcase! 

What could this mean?  The kids guess something about a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, but I'm not so sure.  I put in a "call" to Wiley the Wolf to find out.  He's not there, so I leave a message and we wait overnight for his call back.  The kids take an extra hour to fall asleep.

Origami Wolf

1 Day to Howl:  Breakfast is nuts in the morning.  The boys argue with me about everything - from how many marshmallows they didn't get in their cereal bowl to how close they should or shouldn't be sitting near each other.  I'm magnificently patient with them, pacing and faking my own stress and muttering things like "I can't believe that wolf didn't call me back yet..."

When the phone rings (I mean when Dad's cell phone secretly calls to make Mom's cell phone ring)... Hello?  I continue the conversation with Wiley, who has graciously called me back to inform us that those little origamis need a lift back to Great Wolf Lodge, and wouldn't we be so kind to give them a ride?  He'd love to have us stay overnight, if we wouldn't mind the trouble.  I'm repeating his "conversation" out loud so the kids can hear me.  Their eyes and ears are literally growing right off their heads in my direction.  Why, of course Wiley, WE wouldn't mind coming to Great Wolf Lodge - we will leave right away!

I hang up the phone and their are woo hoo's and howls all around.  Perfection achieved.  We grab the already-packed-suitcase and STOMP-STOMP, CLAP-CLAP, HOWLLL our way right out the door.

 

Great Wolf Lodge Cincinnati/Mason, OHBeing a single Mom, this was a fantastic family vacation for my son and me! It was close to home and had so many fun activities that kept us busy all weekend. My son even went on to state that he loves Great Wolf more than Disney! We already have our next visit planned with family at the Charlotte location this August. I plan on taking him on many more long weekends at our new favorite vacation spot! Hoping that we will make it to all the lodges one day! Thank you to all the staff and support that made this trip and stay so wonderful and fantastic for us!

Name: STEPHANIE THORNE
City: GEORGETOWN
State: Ohio
Email: STEPHANIETHORNE@HOTMAIL.COM
Lodge: Cincinnati/Mason, OH

 

Kevin Eldridge Great Wolf Lodge GrapevineI’ve been a “pool rat’’ since I was a kid. We went to the local swimming pool every day each summer. During my teens, I spent summers sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking. It is no surprise that my first job was at a water park and twenty years later, I’m still at it. I love the water!

Today, my love for the water has not changed. It is still my favorite form of recreation. However, my respect for the water has grown. I can’t take my eyes off it. I love to watch it and my job requires I do so. Along with my love for the water, I also understand there is risk, and I have spent my career watching out for others who may not have this understanding as they take part in water recreation.

Our lifeguard teams at Great Wolf Lodge understand this risk. They are trained to be focused on watching the water in our slides, our pools, and our attractions, ready to assist at any moment. While you are having fun, they are focused. That is the reason when you approach them they only take their eyes off the water briefly, just to acknowledge you. Their attention must always be on the water. “Eyes on the water” is the way of life at our resorts. Their focus on the water demonstrates how much we value your safety.

Sadly, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 14 and younger. It can happen in just seconds, with just a few inches of water. As lifeguards scan the water for swimmers in distress, they are looking at the surface, in the middle, and even on the bottom of the pools. You can understand how challenging this can be in a crowded, bustling pool and why it is so important to always keep “eyes on the water.”

I love the water and I think swimming and other aquatic recreation is essential to life. Water slides are great fun! Boating, trips to the beach, and visits to the local pool are opportunities for your family to create lifelong memories. Swimming is an important life skill, is great exercise and is just plain fun. But, enjoying the water also means we need to remember there is risk.  

Remember the next time your family hits the water, safety begins with each of us. Teach your children to respect the water. Register them for swim lessons. Swim alongside them. Supervise them at all times. Encourage the use of a lifejacket. As an aquatics professional for Great Wolf Lodge, my eyes are always on the water. And as a parent, yours should be too.

 

Kevin Eldridge 
Director of Aquatics 
Great Wolf Lodge - Grapevine, Texas

Kevin began his career in aquatics over 16 years ago, and has worked in Cincinnati, Ohio and at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. An avid waterpark fan, Kevin loves to ride the Howlin’ Tornado at his resort.

 

Tony Lucca at Great Wolf Lodge ConcordAfter competing on this year’s season of The Voice on NBC, Tony Lucca looked forward to many things – including a visit to Great Wolf Lodge. We caught up with him during his stay at the resort in Concord, North Carolina to learn more about life during the show, and what’s next for him.

Great Wolf Lodge (GWL): You got your start on the famous Mickey Mouse Club. What’s your favorite memory of your time with the show?

Tony Lucca (TL): We often had a lot of wonderful, young, emerging artists on the show as guests. At the time, I introduced the cast to Brian McKnight's music and campaigned hard to get him on the show. When the producers informed us that they got him to perform, I was beyond excited. I remember asking producers if we (the cast) could sit in on his sound check. It was amazing. I had never heard so many notes in a single vocal run before! It was cool to take the credit when he asked how everyone had become such fans of his music. 

GWL: In one word, describe your experience on The Voice? 

TL: Educational 

GWL: What’s the first thing your family said to you after the finale?

TL: "We love you!" 

GWL: Now that the show is over, what are you most looking forward to doing?

TL: I am really looking forward to getting back to work. I wasn't able to do much songwriting during the show, so to get back to the creative process is something I've been looking forward to for awhile now.  

GWL: Is this your first visit to a Great Wolf Lodge?

TL: Yes, this is my first visit to Great Wolf Lodge. I’ve been so looking forward to spending quality time with my wife and kids and this trip will go a long way towards achieving that.  

GWL : Is there anything you would like to share with your fans and fellow Great Wolf Lodge guests?

TL: Thanks for tuning in. For those of you who may have watched The Voice and went so far as to cast your votes for me, THANK YOU! I look forward to sharing my music with you all. 

Great Wolf Lodge Traveling with Babies

Family vacations are fun, but traveling with little ones can be stressful. As a new mom, I still struggle to remember everything we need each time we step out the door.

Having a baby does not mean that vacations are over, but it does mean you need to plan a little more. Great Wolf Lodge specializes in vacations for families with young children. Here are a few of my tips for making your Great Wolf Lodge visit a success.

Play with your visit dates

There are 365 days in a year and only 104 are weekend days. Plan your Great Wolf Lodge stay during an off-peak time of year when the water parks are not as busy. Surprise your family with a mid-week getaway, or start your stay on a Sunday.

Do your research

There is so much to see and do! Visit Greatwolf.com before your trip. Water park attractions are listed by age, so you can plan what is appropriate for everyone in your family before you arrive. Utilize the Great Wolf “Ask A Mom” panel and visit the Great Wolf Facebook page each Monday to see questions from moms like you.   

Bring Baby’s food

Every room at Great Wolf Lodge comes with a refrigerator and a microwave, free of charge. This makes it easy to store formula and baby food, as well as re-heat meals. Purchase a “Wolf it Down” Family Meal during your stay, which includes pizza, salad, soda and cookies. You can save whatever is not eaten right away for a midnight snack after the kids have gone to bed!

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Our water parks help make baby’s day easy. Water park rest rooms include baby changing tables and towels and life jackets are provided free of charge. In case you forget to pack them, swim diapers (and other amenities) are available for purchase in the Bear Essentials Swim Shop. 

Take a break

With the water park down the hall from your room, you can keep your family’s naptime schedule. Pack ‘n Play beds can be borrowed on a first come, first serve basis from the front desk. Bring your child’s favorite blanket and put it in the Pack ‘n Play so it feels like home. While baby sleeps, stretch out on your comfortable bed and relax. Isn’t that what vacation is all about?

Bring pajamas

This may seem obvious, but I have two reasons. Each night Great Wolf Lodge invites all children to the lobby for Story Time. The resort’s youngest guests all arrive in their pajamas and nightgowns for the Clock Tower show and that night’s bedtime story. Who doesn’t love to see little ones in pj’s?

Need a second reason? On your last day, as you change from swimsuits before heading to the car, dress your children in their pajamas. This way, when they all asleep on the drive home, it’s easier to transition them to bed once you get home.

 

 

 

Ask A Mom Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound, Washington This photo is from one of our first trips to Great Wolf Lodge and it’s a favorite of mine, they have grown so much since I took this picture. 

As you exit off the highway and turn the corner, there is no mistaking where you are!  This is the time in our car when the screaming of excitement begins. At the entrance of the lodge stands two mammoth, beautiful sand sculptures of a mama wolf and her cubs, the other a lone wolf. 

My husband has a demanding job and gets very little time off, so when he is able to take a few days and enjoy a mini vacation with the family it is so nice to be able to escape and reconnect as a family. We live in Port Orchard and with the recent highway improvements it takes less than 2 hours for the fun to begin. 

We have 4 kids at home ranging from ages 9-16. There is plenty of fun and family entertainment for all and my favorite part of the trip is the wind down time in the evenings when we get dry clothes on and have a family dinner at Camp Critter Bar & Grille.  It has become a family tradition to watch Alpha and Omega the night before our trip to get into the Great Wolf spirit.

 

Ask A Mom Panelist

Grand Mound Lodge

Lani M.

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

 

With summer travel on everyone’s mind, we’re excited to have a special guest author today’s blog! Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of WeJustGotBack.com, a multi-award-winning family travel planning site. 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.

 

 

5 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation

As a family travel expert and longtime travel journalist, I’ve been watching travel trends since before I had kids. I’m always looking at industry statistics, travel surveys and consumer polls and then connecting the dots to determine how families can get the best value when they plan a vacation.

One dismal trend is that airfares have been rising, and nobody in the travel industry seems to think they’re going down anytime soon. The high cost of air travel means that the family road trip is still the cheapest way to take a vacation. One of the most economical strategies is to jump into the “nearcation” trend, targeting vacation spots within a day’s drive of your home.

Here are my five tips to help you plan an affordable family getaway:

  1. Be a backyard explorer. Think all the great destinations are further afield? Check out your state’s official tourism website as well as those for neighboring states. Not only will you find discounts and getaway packages, but you’ll be surprised at how many beautiful getaways spots are right in your backyard. Remember, kids don’t care how far you travel, as long as they have fun when you get there.
  2. Make value your top priority. The trick is to find a place to stay where you get as much as possible included in your hotel room rate. If your family loves waterparks as much as mine does, then an indoor waterpark resort such as Great Wolf Lodge translates to great value. The room rate includes unlimited access to an enormous waterpark with waterslides, raft rides, lazy rivers, wave pools and more, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Best of all: waterpark admission is exclusive to hotel guests.
  3. Plan your meals. When budgeting for a vacation, it’s easy to underestimate how much you’ll spend on food – especially during the journey itself. Purchases from your local grocery store are cheaper than convenience stores and fast food restaurants, so buy your kids’ favorite snacks and drinks before you leave home. This also means you’ll need to make fewer stops along the way.
  4. Go midweek. We all love the idea of extending a long weekend, but you will usually get more bang from your buck when you take off Tuesday to Thursday. Not only are midweek rates lower at Great Wolf Lodge and many other hotels and resorts, but crowds are thinner, too!
  5. Fuel up for less. Nobody wants to spend more than they have to for gas. I’m a huge fan of GasBuddy, a site and app that helps travelers find the cheapest gas wherever they are. I use GasBuddy to budget my gas spend for each road trip, and also to find the gas stations along my route offering the cheapest gas prices. It makes saving money a no-brainer.

Suzanne's kids at Great Wolf Lodge

Kristi Fox Director of Aquatics Great Wolf Lodge Traverse CityMay is National Water Safety Month, but as the Aquatics Director for the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, water safety is something I think about every day. I joined the Great Wolf Pack in 2004 as a lifeguard and together with the entire aquatics team, I have been focused on helping our guests have safe and fun experiences in our water park. One of my favorite activities is to watch our youngest guests take part in our Jr. Lifeguard and community swim lesson programs.

I often get questions about water safety. With summer fast approaching, here are a few tips I tell my friends and family as they plan visits to the local community pool, beach and even Great Wolf Lodge.

  • Never assume someone else is watching your child. Even with lifeguards nearby, you have the responsibility for your child. Besides, the best way to keep your child safe is to play right alongside them.
  • Never swim alone.  Always use the buddy system and be sure the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you or others in your group enter the water. 
  • Plan ahead. As a family, decide on a meeting place to go to if anyone gets separated.  Kids can take off in instant and crowded parks and beaches can make it difficult for little ones to find you.  An easy-to-spot location will help ease fears.
  • Stay hydrated.  Swimming and playing takes a lot of energy, especially during the hot summer months. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks and rest in a cool location.
  • Too much sun is no fun.  Be sure to limit your exposure during peak hours of 12pm-3pm and reapply waterproof/sweat proof sunscreen every 80 minutes.
  • Encourage your child to wear a life jacket. Many public pools and water parks, like Great Wolf Lodge, provide life jackets for your use, free of charge.
  • Before heading to the beach, pool or water park, avoid swimsuits that have ties, grommets or decorations that could get caught on something during water activities.
  • Skip the flip-flops. Look for sandals with a heel strap or a full-coverage, slip-on water shoe that will stay in place both in and out of the water.
  • Read all of the signs before going on a waterslide, pool or attraction. Make sure your child is tall enough. Always go down the water slide face up and feet first. If you have questions about an attraction, ask a lifeguard.
  • Take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important in any environment. This is a skill we all can benefit from – on land and around water.
  • If you see someone struggling in the water, call for help. Remember “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go!” Even professionally trained lifeguards don’t enter the water without having the proper flotation devices to keep themselves safe.

Summer is a the perfect time of year for water activities and all of us at Great Wolf Lodge look forward to welcoming you and your family for a safe and memorable visit!

Kristi Fox
Director of Aquatics
Great Wolf Lodge - Traverse City

Have you ever taken part in one of our 48 Hour Sales? Here are a few tips for how to take advantage of our big sale.

For those who don’t know, we only have a few 48 Hour Sales throughout the year.  The lodges will have discounts of up to 20% off on their most popular suites.  Each lodge’s sale will start and end on a different day/time but they all last for, you guessed it, 48 hours.

48 hours goes by quickly, so here are a few tips for getting the most out of a Great Wolf Lodge 48 Hour Sale.

Tip 1: Sign up for our ePack! 

Shameless self promotion, but also the best way to hear about our 48 Hour Sales.  It’s simple to sign up—visit www.greatwolf.com/esignup and enter your information.  Simple. 

Our ePack members get regular emails—usually 1 or 2 a month— that include updates like new attractions at the lodges, new social media contests and new events like Oliver Raccoon’s Big Day.  ePack emails also include limited time offers and sales alerts.  ePack members will actually hear about the 48 Hour Sale the day before it starts—that’s three days of access to our biggest sale.

Tip 2: Check our social media channels

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.  We will post alerts to the 48 Hour Sales for each of our lodges.  We will post the day the sale starts and even post a reminder letting our fans and followers know there are only 24 hours left.

Just another way we try to let as many of our guest and fans know about the sale as possible.

Tip 3: Check our website

We have a great page dedicated to our 48 Hour Sale.  You can see the start and end dates and times of the sale for each lodge.  A convenient snapshot of the sale for all of the lodges so you know exactly when your starts and ends.

Each lodge also has their own 48 Hour Sale page with details specific to their sale.  These pages have countdown clocks so you can see how much time you have left to save.  You can also see calendars of all the dates included in the sale and how much of a savings you get each day.

Three simple tips to help you get the most out of our 48 Hour Sales.

Soothing music and a light waterfall. The smell of eucalyptus and mint in the air.  Plush seating surrounded by cool granite tile fixtures. Warm tea with a soothing herbal infusion of licorice root and peppermint.

These are all sensations not typically associated with indoor waterparks and family-focused resorts. At Great Wolf Lodge, however, they are a part of the guest experience. Tucked away from the thrills and excitement in each Great Wolf Lodge resort, guests can visit Elements Spa – a quiet escape to relax and rejuvenate from all the stresses of daily life.

If you have visited the Elements Spa location at during a Great Wolf Lodge getaway, or if you have not yet had the relaxing experience, the adult-only oasis has enhanced its services with new product lines and experiences. When I heard about these additions, I was ready to jump in the car and head to the spa myself!  

At each Elements Spa, we’re excited to now feature bareMinerals® Skincare and makeup. The product line from Bare Escentuals offers a unique mix of cosmetics that combine skin care with makeup that helps us enhance our best features. bareMinerals has been a spa favorite for many years, and we are thrilled to now offer its wide array of products to our guests.  

Elements Spa has also added Eminence Organic Skin Care to its locations. The complete line of Hungarian beauty essentials use healthy ingredients, including organically grown herbs, fruits and vegetables. With facial peels infused with natural acids from yams, pineapples and papayas and massage oils made using mimosa champagne massage oil, the combination of flavors will leave skin glowing and your taste buds tingling.

By using sustainable farming and green practices such as wind and solar power energy, Eminence offers products that are in line with our Project Green Wolf efforts. As a leader in quality organic skin care, Eminence products help make the Elements Spa experience as good for your body as it is for your spirit.  

I hope you are as excited as I am to visit Elements Spa. After taking in the waterpark thrills together as a family, a quiet escape to the Spa is the perfect way to get a little bit of “me time” while on vacation. There’s so much to choose from: an Eminence Organic Indulgence Facial, Body Treatment, Manicure or Pedicure and each Lodge often features their own special packages.

Want to guarantee you have this time during your next Great Wolf Lodge stay? Book your treatment before your arrive!

My son and I had been to the Great Wolf Lodge many times, but my husband had never been.  We had, as a family, just suffered a tremendous loss—our 16 yr old daughter Beth had passed away suddenly two weeks earlier. My son RJ who was 8 at the time and was at sleep-away camp in upstate NY (he had insisted on going). 

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, OntarioWe needed to go pick him up and decided to surprise him by taking him to the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls.  I had always known that my hubby didn’t believe us when we told him about all the stuff in the indoor waterpark, but it didn’t really hit me until I saw his face when we went to check in.  He was amazed, staring at the slides like a little kid. 

RJ and Jimmy went on all the slides!!! It was great for me as I got to sit and rest a bit.  RJ loved it because dad spent far more money in the arcade than mom ever did. The best part of the trip was when I was getting ready to pack the room —the boys had gone downstairs for breakfast.  I was speaking to the housekeeper when I heard my room number come over her radio.  Something about not checking out...I was like "What did they say?"  She smiled and said “Go relax.  It looks like you are staying another day.”

The boys came back to the room all full of smiles.  They were so excited that we were staying another night.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them I already knew about their surprise.  RJ and I still take most of our trips to Great Wolf Lodge without dad but at least we know he believes us now.

Ask A Mom Panelist

Leslie H.

Our family has an annual Christmas celebration that we call The Holiday Humdinger. The whole purpose of it is to get aunts, uncles and cousins all together for a couple of days of bonding and memory making! In total, there are 6 adults and 7 children that share in the fun.

For our 3rd annual HH, we decided to go to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. The youngest in the group of kids was 4, the oldest was 11. None of us had ever been to Great Wolf Lodge before, so we didn't know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised! What a great time we had!! Everyone was able to find something fun to do! There were even slides for the youngest set! The kids LOVED being able to ride down the slides with the adults. Talk about a bonding experience, try going down Alberta Falls with your uncle and he's scared the whole way down!!!

We had so much fun, we decided to go to Great Wolf Lodge for the 4th annual HH the next year in Grapevine, Texas. Of course, we made many new memories there also! A few of us will never forget our first ride down the Howlin' Tornado! Needless to say, plans are already being made for the big 5th annual Holiday Humdinger at Great Wolf Lodge!

Thanks for creating a place where young and old(er!) can join in and have fun together.


Name: Rachel Knight
City: Oklahoma City
State: OK
Email: raenae5@yahoo.com
Lodge: Grapevine, TX