My Very First Trip

So the first time I ever set foot in the Great Wolf Lodge was down in Williamsburg, VA.  My mom took my sister and me for a few days during our break from school.  I was almost 6 and couldn’t understand why my mom was taking us to a waterpark in the middle of the winter. 

Coloring at Cub ClubOnce I saw the waterpark I was so excited.  This was back before Williamsburg did the addition, so the Lodge was small.  We stayed in a family suite—which is a standard room.  I remember playing for hours in Fort Mackenzie. My sister, who was 14 at the time, wasn’t as excited as I was.  But being my big sis she went with me on all the slides—at least the ones I was tall enough to go on—and she loved them.  I colored my first Great Wolf Lodge t-shirt at this Cub Club, the Cub Clubs have gotten so much bigger since then.  

It was at the Lodge in Williamsburg that we realized that there were Lodges all over the country.  It was there I challenged my mom to go to all of the Lodges.  Little did I know she would take me up on it.

Trying the Wolf Rider Wipeout

So flash forward a couple of years later and the Lodge in Williamsburg has become one of my favorites.  Why?  When they did the addition they added the Wolf Rider Wipeout (the ride that simulates surfing).  It is not as easy as it seems.  One visit my friend came with us and my mom allowed us to take the group lesson after the waterpark closes.  Cool to be in the waterpark after it has closed. We had one-on-one instruction and learned a few tricks, mostly how to hold on. My friend Eric discovered that it is pretty funny watching others on the  Wolf Rider—especially when people wipe out.  

The trip that Eric went with us we stayed in a Majestic Bear Suite.  In this suite there are actually bedrooms.  My mom had her own room with a Jacuzzi bathtub and us boys shared the second bedroom.  We still had the living room with the sofa and fireplace.  Eric said this was the suite that his family got when they went with another family—plenty of room for every one. 

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.

 

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Great Wolf Lodge Helps Families With Food Allergies

As a new mom, I love the insight, parenting tips and ideas I get from blogsand I especially love to work with bloggers. After attending the Reviewer’s Retreat at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, PA-based mom-blogger, Gina Badalaty, wrote about her children’s dining experience on her blog, Mom-Blog.com. I asked her to share her story with you. 

Gina Badalaty blogs about parenting, raising children with disabilities and advocating for special needs families at Mom-Blog.com.  She lives in PA with her husband and 2 beautiful daughters, and a cat that thinks he's a dog. 

Enjoy, 

Susie

 

Tips for Traveling with Kids with Allergies

Gina's daughter enjoying a meal at Great Wolf LodgeMy children have allergies.  Specifically, their diets need to be gluten- and casein-free, which means they can’t have dairy or any kind of wheat products.  When we travel, we have to be careful not just to avoid glutens, but also to make sure the food they eat is not cross-contaminated. They can’t even eat something that has been on the same grill as food filled with glutens.

Going on vacation can be challenging! As you can imagine, this means that vacationing takes extra work on our part, so our favorite trips are to resorts that help make this easier. Great Wolf Lodge is a place we really enjoy. The resort’s chef will personally talk with you and discuss your needs for a gluten-free menu. My kids love that at Great Wolf Lodge they can eat food they love, and we are happy that everything can be made to their health requirements. Our meals are even cooked separately!

We’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of my top tips for traveling families whose children have special diet restrictions and food allergies:

Do your homework beforehand.
There are dozens of apps that tell you where the gluten-free restaurants are, but it’s up to you to do your own due diligence.  We once went to a park that advertised itself as being dairy- and gluten-free, and when we got there, we discovered that was not the case. Spend time on your destination’s website. Call the resort or attraction. We were pleasantly surprised by how accommodating and helpful the staff at Great Wolf Lodge was—it made our vacation less stressful!

Buy fresh produce along the way.
My children eat tons of fruit and vegetables because they are naturally allergen-free and will do in a pinch!  We try to buy organic, and during family road trips, when we drive by a local farm stand, we make a stop.Gluten Free Meatballs and Mac

Take advantage of resort amenities.
At Great Wolf Lodge, each suite has a refrigerator and a microwave. We often travel with our own snacks and this is a great way for us to keep fruit fresh during our stay. Gluten-free bagels are easy to carry and eat in the car, as well as serve as late-night snacks!  

Talk to the staff.
It is always a good idea to talk to the chef. Many restaurants and resorts, like Great Wolf Lodge, invite you to talk to the chef specifically about your family’s dietary needs and allergies.  You can share your family’s needs and he or she can detail what steps they can take to prepare food that best suits your child.

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The Comforts at Great Wolf Lodge

When you think of what goes into a great resort stay, what comes to mind? At Great Wolf Lodge, so many things create memorable guest experiences – fun waterpark adventures, Cub Club activities, MagiQuest challenges and more. With all of these “active” aspects to your resort getaway, it’s easy to forget the quiet parts that are just as important. 

When families stay at Great Wolf Lodge, we want them to feel at home. Kids are encouraged to attend Story Time in their pajamas, parents wander the halls in bathing suits and flip flops; everyone is relaxed and happy.

This year, we invested $4.8 million in the Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells and the Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky. This investment is in you, our guest, and has been completely focused on making you feel at home. We took great care to identify areas where we could exceed your expectations and continue to improve. While these additions may not sound as thrilling as a new waterslide, to moms like me, they go a long way when I’m thinking about where to tuck my son in while on vacation.

Both resorts started small and spread out. Brand new carpet and curtains help enhance each family suite’s comfortable feel. New in-room appliances, including 32” flat screen TV’s, refrigerators and microwaves are all sleek and fresh. New sleeper sofas provide restful sleep and brand new mattresses and bed linens have been added to each family suite, so that you feel as though you are in your own own bed. (Not to be outdone, Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine has also upgraded its bedding by adding new pillow top mattresses to each family suite.)

These new additions are just the beginning for our Wisconsin Dells and Sandusky resorts. Both resorts are receiving new carpet property-wide in all public areas and a new paint scheme in the lobbies. Many of these changes can already be seen. I visited the Sandusky resort recently, and the soft green color, along with the new plush carpet in the lobby really helped me get in “vacation mode” within moments of entering the resort.

These additions do not mean that we didn’t also increase the fun at Great Wolf Lodge. The resort in Sandusky has added Scooops Kid Spa, complete with ice cream flavored manicures and pedicures. Already a guest favorite, Scooops is the perfect addition to the Sandusky resort. Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells continues to be one of the most unique places to play MagiQuest and the resort added Topper Powers, complete with new challenges – and rewards – for all players.

At Great Wolf Lodge, we are constantly working to ensure that no matter which of our resorts you visit, you receive exceptional service, in a safe, comfortable, fun environment. Plan your active daytime adventures and leave the restful nights to us.

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Tips for a Great Wolf 48 Hour Sale

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.

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The Best Surprise: A Trip to Great Wolf Lodge

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.

 

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Pack Family Trip

In my first post I wrote about being a new member of the Great Wolf Lodge Pack. I’m also a new guest to the Great Wolf Lodge experience. Recently, my husband, eight month old son and I enjoyed our very first experience at the Wisconsin Dells Lodge.

Our family suite was wonderful! Not only did we have a king size bed, but we also had an inroom Jacuzzi, fireplace and complimentary refrigerator and coffee maker. I was also pleased that we were able to borrow a safe “Pack and Play” by calling Guest Services.  

My husband and I love waterparks and we were excited to explore the Lodge’s. We started at the North and South Hot Springs whirlpools. Aiden loves to “swim” in our arms and soon he was bobbing away.

Our next stop was Fort Mackenzie. Aiden is too young to splash through the 4-story interactive tree house but he did smile big when the 1,000 gallon bucket spilled over. We all enjoyed Slap Tail Pond, the Lodge’s wave pool. Listen for the howl that signals big waves are coming!

While we did not experience the “thrill” rides this time, we had a lot of fun. I was pleasantly surprised by the relaxing atmosphere; it wasn’t loud, overwhelming or uninviting. It was a true indoor water playland!

Next we played MagiQuest®. The interactive game is part scavenger hunt, part live action, part video game. We purchased one wand, complete with a cool armillary topper, and shared it on Aiden’s behalf.

MagiQuest is quite unique. We had fun reading the quests, searching for clues, collecting coins and elevating Aiden to “High Score of the Day”. I think we also underestimated how quickly we would become competitive with each other.  

We enjoyed dinner at the Loose Moose Bar & Grill. We had not yet put away our MagiQuest wand and soon discovered we could make a raccoon swing from the ceiling. What a fun surprise - the wand even has powers in other areas around the Lodge! 

The one souvenir I wanted from our stay was a pair of wolf ears. While a set of ears comes with a children’s meal, you can purchase them a la carte. I bought three pairs! 

Our visit ended much too quickly and I can definitely see why a Great Wolf Lodge visit is best for multiple nights. There was so much to do. As a Pack Member, and as a guest, I cannot wait for our next Great Wolf Lodge getaway!

Susie

 

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