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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Never again. 

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.



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.

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


  • 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


  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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

In September, we hosted our Back to School Contest.  After reading through all the great entries we received, we have our winners!

Congratulations to our Grand Prize winner, Larry Sullivan with his story entitled “Daddy, Take Me to the Cub Club”.  Second Place goes to Leyla Stuckey with her story “Great Memories”.  Taking Third Place is Lori Zeaman with “Great Wolf Zeaman Style.” 

Stay tuned next week as we share their winning stories.  

Do you have a story of your favorite trip to Great Wolf Lodge?  Share it at http://blog.greatwolf.com/blog/landing-pages/share-your-story



In 2009 we created our Great Wolf Lodge Ask-A-Mom panel.  We chose 23 super fans—both moms and dads—to help guests plan their vacations at our lodges.  They answer guest questions through our online trip planning forum, askamom.greatwolf.com.  The “parent-to-parent” format lets guests ask questions about amenities, activities, events and attractions at the resorts, and gives them answers from moms and dads, just like them. 

This year we decided to take our panel to the next level.  We are searching for new Ask-A-Moms (and Dads) who can answer questions, but can also write blog posts for Behind the Howl.  Create videos for our guests offering advice and answering frequently asked questions.  Host Twitter parties and Facebook Q&A sessions.  And attend regular lodge events acting as ambassadors for Great Wolf Lodge.

We will accept applications for our 2013 Ask-A-Mom panel until Noon CDT on November 2nd.  The application process includes submitting a 300-500 word writing sample and a video submission, with a brief phone interview for our final selection.

If you love our lodges as much as we do and want to help spread the Great Wolf love, visit www.greatwolf.com/AAMsearch to apply for next year’s panel.

Fall is officially upon us, and that can only mean one thing — Howl-O-Ween!  Today officially marks the first day of our Howl-O-Ween celebration. 

We were recently mentioned in a CBS News article because of our Howl-O-Ween event, and I can’t blame them.  So much to do and see at the lodges.  We have our nightly costume parades — nothing cuter than wolf pups in costume.  There’s also pumpkin painting, our Trick-or-Treat Trail, Spooktacular Story Time and Monster Bash Dance Party.  Not to mention all the decorations.

This year we are adding to the family fun with our Howl-O-Ween Mobile Scavenger Hunt.  All you need is your mobile phone and your thinking cap. 

Once you get to the lodge you will find a QR code on our Howl-O-Ween posters and Trick-or-Treat Trail maps.  Scan the code, and you’re ready to go.  A mobile landing page will load along with your first clue.  Five clues will take you throughout the lodge to collect codes.  Enter the code in the box below the clue on your mobile phone and the next clue will open.  Once you’ve solved all five clues you will unlock a prize.

Another fun way to get your whole family in on the Howl-O-Ween fun.


I come from a family of memory keepers—whatever the event; you better believe they are going to capture it.  First day of kindergarten?  Grab the camera.  Just got back from vacation?  Time to post a few albums on Facebook.  We have hundreds of memories hanging on our walls and nestled in perfectly labeled photo albums.  And I know I’m not alone.  Guests post dozens of photos to our Facebook page every day.  Families smiling and splashing.  Babies in wolf ears.  Kids asleep on the ride home.  They love to capture their entire trip and share the memories with us.

That’s why our new partnership with Shutterfly is so exciting.  We are giving guests the opportunity to take all the great memories they collect from their trip and keep them in one place—a Great Wolf Lodge Photo Book.  Did I mention it’s free? (yes free!)

Starting today, guests at our lodges will find a card in their room with a special code.  After your stay you can visit www.shutterfly.com/greatwolf, enter the code and upload photos.  You can even add captions so you won’t forget a thing.  Shutterfly lays them out in a Great Wolf Lodge themed photo book and sends it to you.  Perfect for my fellow memory keepers.  Display it proudly on your coffee table for friends and family to see. Tuck it on the shelf with your photo albums and bring it out to show the kids as they grow up.  The perfect souvenir to capture the memories you made with us.  Whether it’s your first trip or your 20th—we are giving you the perfect plays to keep your memories.    

So next time you stay at the lodge get your code and start making memories.

How well do you know the Great Wolf Kids characters?  Did you know that Wiley the Wolf’s favorite color is green?  Or that Violet loves gardening? 

You may have met our friends Wiley, Violet and Oliver, but did you know that there are even more Great Wolf Kids characters to love?

Good thing we put them all in one place for you to enjoy—the new www.greatwolfkids.com!

The new site introduces you to all of our friends, like Oliver’s sister Rachel and little Brinley Bear.  You can even find the story of how the Beaver Brothers built the entire waterpark. 

We also have a ton of new games like River Canyon Run where you explore the lazy river and try to navigate Wiley around the rapids.  Or Nab the Nails featuring the builders of our waterpark, Tooth & Nail.  Just watch out for the wrenches and hammers, those hurt.

Looking for fun kids activities like coloring sheets, printable games, recipes and stuff to do in the car?  You guessed it—all on www.greatwolfkids.com.

So the next time you are looking for a fun way to get your kids excited for a trip to the lodge, or if they’re just looking for some fun, send them to www.greatwolfkids.com

And check out our Facebook and Twitter pages in November.  We’ve got a fun contest planned using some of the activities on the new website.