Hello! I’m Susie Storey, Director of Communications for Great Wolf Lodge. I love to read and I love to write. With a degree in Communications and many years working in the amusement and travel industry, I have made a career out of finding unique stories and sharing with anyone who will listen, read or skywrite them (hey – a girl can dream.)  Most recently, I have added “mom” to my work experience and now blend my busy work life with a busy home life. Being part of the Great Wolf Lodge pack means each day brings a new story to tell about providing fun for families. It will probably also guarantee that my little guy’s first word will actually be a HOWL. I look forward to sharing my Wolf Tales with you. 

As a parent, I spend a lot of time worrying. I worry about how much sleep my son gets. I worry about how much TV he watches. I worry if he’s growing too fast, or too slow. Amidst all those worries, I don’t have to worry about the food he eats. I am a lucky mom. My child does not have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. However, my niece has a severe nut allergy and several of my friends have children with varying restrictions ranging from allergies to dairy to diets that demand they must be gluten-free, fructose-free and more.

At Great Wolf Lodge, we are the culinary leader in preparing and serving food that has been prepared safely and meets the individual needs of our guests. None of the food we cook or serve contains nuts. Our hand-tossed pizza is just as delicious gluten-free as the pizza ordered off the menu. We personalize and customize the food we serve so our guests can truly have a stress-free vacation together.

During October, each lodge celebrates Howl-O-Ween. Festivities include daily costume parades, Spooktacular Story Time, pumpkin painting and more. Most importantly, Howl-O-Ween also means weatherproof trick-or-treating throughout the lodge. Kids wear their costumes and dash through each resort, visiting unique stops created just for them. This year we added a special, and important, spot along the trail – a Teal Pumpkin.

The Teal Pumpkin Project™ is a national campaign launched by the nonprofit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014. Its purpose is to ensure all trick-or-treaters can enjoy Halloween alongside each other, regardless of their food allergies. Last year, more than 100,000 households took part on Halloween. Participating families display a teal pumpkin at their home, letting trick-or-treaters know allergy- or sugar-free food or nonfood treat is available.

We are excited by the addition of a Teal Pumpkin stop along our trails this year. Throughout Howl-O-Ween, each Great Wolf Lodge resort has a designated Teal Pumpkin stop. To bring this idea to life, we have partnered with Highlights for Children. Perfect for the Teal Pumpkin Project, resort trick-or-treaters receive a copy of Highlights and High Five magazine to take home with them.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I'm so proud Great Wolf Lodge is helping ensure all of our guests can fully enjoy taking part in the our Howl-O-Ween activities during their stay. Plan on taking your family to Howl-O-Ween this month? Share your Teal Pumpkin stop experience by using #GWLHowlOWeen and #tealpumpkinproject.

There are so many things to remember when traveling with young children.  Parents must pack several changes of clothes, extra bottles and sippy cups, the treasured lovey, snacks, and above all else, diapers. As the parent of a toddler, I have a tendency to over-prepare. I pack each day’s clothing in its own plastic bag. I include extra socks, extra sets of clothing. I check and re-check that I have my son’s favorite stuffed toy. I pride myself in thinking ahead.  

However, I  admit it wasn’t until I took my son on his first overnight trip  - incidentally to the  Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells - at the age of seven months that I encountered something I had not prepared for.

After getting settled in our suite, I changed his diaper. He was giggling and happy and clean. I, on the other hand, was left standing with a used diaper. Of course, I did not want to leave it in our suite. Nor did I want to stick it in the hallway. We definitely had quite the stinky conundrum.  In the end, I bagged the diaper and took it down the hall to the garbage near the vending machine (apologies to anyone who got a late night bucket of ice during our stay).

After our amazing visit, the diaper debacle was quickly forgotten. That is until earlier this year, the Great Wolf Lodge team discussed a new idea to ease the stress – and smell – of traveling with children in diapers.

Each and every day, our pack members strive to provide exceptional guest service and help our guests make special memories together.  As family-focused destinations, our twelve resorts were designed to help bring families closer together while having fun.  Half of our guests are under the age of ten and we know they have unique needs. Pack ‘n plays are provided free of charge and every suite comes with a complimentary fridge and microwave so parents can easily store snacks and prepare baby food and formula. And of course, the resorts feature entertainment options and activities for guests of all ages.

Now, Great Wolf Lodge has launched a new service to make family travel even easier for parents and our youngest guests! This month, we introduced the Diaper Den Service to each of our res orts. Re cognizing used diapers are not a fun part of vacation; our resorts now provide parents with young children an in-room Diaper Genie Elite for easy disposal of dirty diapers during their stay.

To bring this new service to life, we are proud to partner with Playtex, makers of the original Diaper Genie. As millions of parents already know, the Diaper Genie Elite is the perfect solution for the disposal of diapers. The all-in-one diaper pail features a 7-layer refill bag and double-lock design to seal away stinky diaper odors. It is also the perfect solution for families staying together in a resort suite.

How do families take advantage of the Diaper Den Service? It’s simple. Families can easily request to borrow a Diaper Genie at time of booking or during resort check-in. In addition, to help ensure our youngest guests fully enjoy everything Great Wolf Lodge has to offer, families also receive a voucher for a complimentary swim diaper redeemable onsite at the resort’s Bear Essentials Swim Shop.

The Diaper Den Service was first introduced at the Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains earlier this summer and we are excited to now fully share it with all of our guests.

I’m almost sad my son is now fully potty trained. Almost.

Travel is a treasured tradition. It’s a great time to bond, loosen up, get away, and enjoy time together. For many parents, travel can also be stressful. As a mom of two, and the CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., Kim Schaefer knows all about traveling with kids: the good, the bad and the really great. Recently, Mashable asked Kim to share some of her best tips to help parents make traveling with their children easier. Once she started sharing, she just could not stop. As summer winds down and we begin to look ahead to holiday getaways, we hope Kim’s tips will help make your next trip one to howl about:

  1. Plan ahead. Spontaneous travel always sounds adventurous and fun, but it can be more expensive. Go during an off-peak time of year. Surprise your family with a mid-week getaway, or start your stay on a Sunday.
  2. Stop along the way. Plan your drive to include time for quick meals as well as places to burn off energy. Letting your kids run around a playground or park for 30 minutes can give you a couple hours of quiet time in the car
  3. One size really does fit all. Pick a destination that offers entertainment for everyone in the family. At Great Wolf Lodge, our indoor waterparks include toddler play pools, attraction the family can do together and high-thrill water slides for teens. Everything is under one roof, so we’ve taken the stress out of planning, and created a place the entire family can enjoy together.  
  4. Snacks. Snacks are a traveling mom’s best friend. Whether its drink boxes, or sippy cups, finger treats and crackers or fruit such as grapes and apples, sometimes the best entertainment while en route, is a snack. Snacks can also help minimize how many stops your family will make along the way.
  5. Take it old school. While it’s very easy to hand your kids iPads and portable DVD players, the same car games you played as a kid are still just as fun. The license plate game and the “I’m going on a trip” memory game are both examples that get your kids talking. Technology can work in your favor, too. “Heads Up” is a favorite for everyone – just make sure the driver isn’t playing!
  6. Wipes, wipes and more wipes. Cars are tight spaces and kids can be messy. Having wipes on hand is not just for changing diapers. You never know when you need to wipe sticky fingers or quickly clean up a juice spill. It doesn’t matter if you are in a car; traveling with wipes is just smart travel.
  7. Don’t pack the kitchen sink. Think about what you really need, and what is provided at your destination. In our waterparks, towels and life jackets are provided free of charge, so families don’t have pack them or figure out how to bring damp towels back home.
  8. You can keep your schedule. Naptime and bedtime routines are important for children, and your schedule can be kept while on vacation. Consider booking a hotel with separate sleeping area for your kids. At Great Wolf Lodge, our themed kids’ suites offer children their own space, right in the suite. They can go to bed on time, and you don’t have to sit in the dark.



May is National Water Safety Month. At Great Wolf Lodge, water safety is on our minds every single day. Each year more than one million families visit our resorts to make memories together. The waterparks provide hours and hours of fun. And that fun is closely watched by our dedicated and diligent aquatics teams. Our lifeguards keep a close eye on all of our guests, ready to assist at a moment’s notice if anyone needs an extra hand.

As the weather gets warmer, families start to plan vacations that involve swimming, boating and all kinds of water fun. This is also the time when we encourage families to take a moment to think about staying safe while enjoying such activities.

In honor of National Water Safety month, we asked our talented team of Great Wolf Lodge Aquatics Directors to share their thoughts about water safety. Each of them was asked to share one important tip about how to safely enjoy the water.

“The tip I always I tell my friends and family is they should never take a lifejacket off their child until they are certain they are done with all water activities. Wearing a lifejacket can mean the difference between life or death.” 

- Keenan Weiss, Grapevine

“Knowing how to swim is very important. Parents should put their children in lessons as soon as possible. Learning how to swim at an early age, and wearing a lifejacket around water can truly be a lifesaver.”  

- Adrianne Newman, Wisconsin Dells

"My most important tip is that you should stay calm when in the water and master the simple skill of treading water. While knowing how to swim may come naturally to many, it can be tough for those who might be afraid of the water. Knowing how to tread water can make all the difference.”  

- Brett Garrett, Kansas City

“No one should ever swim alone. Period. Parents should participate with their children while they are in water and everyone should remember that even the most experienced swimmers may need unexpected help.”

- Justin Yacob, Sandusky 

“It is important to understand the dangers of COLD water! I live in the Pacific Northwest and we have a lot of glacial and snow runoff. Even in the summer, bodies of water can be as low as 40 degrees. Cold water constricts the body’s blood vessels, causing a person to have trouble breathing. Before you jump in the water, be sure to check the temperature to ensure it is safe you to enter.  

- Cory Wynn, Grand Mound

“Parents should ALWAYS be with their children. Children often think they are better swimmers than they really are.  It only takes a second or two before a child can find themselves in water over their head and slip below the surface.”  

- Jason Arthur, Mason  

“Lifeguarding is a shared responsibility. Lifeguards do their absolute best to ensure the safety of all of their guests however parents know their child’s swimming abilities. Parents should always keep their children within arm’s length at all times.”  

- Adam Jones, Pocono Mountains

“Research has shown that struggling swimmers cannot stay above the water surface for more than ten seconds and can be difficult to recognize. They rarely call for help or splash at the surface. When enjoying water activities with your friends and family, continually verify that each swimmer can comfortably keep his or her head above the water. If someone’s head is below the water, even if they appear to be playing, that individual may actually need assistance. If you are not sure, notify a lifeguard right away.”  

- Nick Licastro, Concord

“The most effective way for parents to watch their children is not from the pool deck; rather they should be in the water within arm’s reach of their child. This is by far the safest and much more fun way for both parent and child.”  

- Charlie Mullaney, Williamsburg




Today the Great Wolf Lodge pack is celebrating and saying, “Thank you!” We are thrilled announce Great Wolf Lodge has earned the designation as Best Family Resort in the 10Best Readers’ Choice poll sponsored by USATODAY.

Families across North America chose Great Wolf Lodge as their favorite, and we are howling with excitement.

Earning the top spot is quite an honor for our resorts. After learning we were voted Number 1, we reached out to Dave Parfitt, founder of the family travel website, AdventuresbyDaddy.com, and member of our Ask-A-Mom panel for his perspective why Great Wolf Lodge was chosen as the leader of the pack in family resorts. Dave travels extensively with his family and visited many of the resorts nominated in the category. In addition, he has stayed at four Great Wolf Lodge resorts, most recently our Williamsburg property. Here’s what he shared:

“Great Wolf Lodge rightly deserves to be listed among the top family resorts in the country. The signature indoor waterpark is just the beginning. The many recreational attractions including MagiQuest, indoor bowling, and mini golf; and one-of-a-kind experiences such as Scooops Kid Spa, mean there truly is something to please everyone in the family.  And after a full day of play, there’s nothing like relaxing together in one of the large, comfortable suites. With 12 different resorts, many located near popular national kid-friendly destinations, Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect home base for a family vacation.”

All of us at Great Wolf Lodge couldn’t agree more. Of course, we could not have earned this honor without our loyal guests. Whether you are one of our dedicated repeat guest families or are planning to visit us for the first time this summer, THANK YOU for making Great Wolf Lodge your family's favorite destination.


Ask any child under the age of ten and they will tell you no party is complete without balloons. They’ll also tell you vacation is more fun with balloon animals. Every day, our Kids Experience teams at each Great Wolf Lodge resorts create cute animals and figures out of colorful balloons. This month, in celebration of  Howl-O-Ween, the Kids Experience team in Traverse City decided they wanted to show off balloon art in a new way.

Halloween has its own cast of character and creatures: jack o’lanterns, ghosts, bats, witches, vampires and skeletons to name a few. And anyone who has ever seen the Skeleton Dance from 1929’s Silly Symphonies knows, skeletons can be fun and silly. The Traverse City team thought of something else that skeletons are great for: really cool balloon structures. To help bring this idea to life, they reached out to Magic Galaxy Entertainment from Euclid, Ohio and challenged them to create a friendly skeleton to fill the entire Grand Lobby.

With Howl-O-Ween beginning on October 9, work on the enormous skeleton began at 9:58 a.m. on Monday, October 6. Think that balloon-twisting experts never break a balloon? Not true. A mere ten minutes later, the first balloon popped!

As the skeleton came to life, excitement filled the lodge. Guest families stopped to watch in wonder as balloon after balloon was connected and twisted into place. It was like watching  the Macy’s Day Parade come together in many, many pieces. 2,104 pieces to be exact; that is how many balloons were needed to bring the skeleton to life.

It took a full 72 hours to build the skeleton, right in the Grand Lobby. Next, the team brought in a large lift to assist in (carefully) raising him high above the floor for a true bird’s eye view of guests as they arrived. “Standing” at 69 feet tall and stretching more than 24 feet across, Traverse City’s skeleton was the true centerpiece for Howl-O-Ween all this month. And tonight we’re sure he’ll be moving and shaking with guests during the Monster Bash Dance Party – just like one of those dancing skeletons that so inspired his creation.

When I accepted my first job (many) years ago, a friend told me my career would take me to “new heights.” This week, that prediction came true during a visit to Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine.

Earlier this year, Great Wolf Resorts added an all-new and unique guest experience to four resorts: the Howlers Peak Ropes Course. With an indoor version debuting in New England, and three outdoor courses added to the Pocono Mountains, Grapevine and Grand Mound respectively, these attractions took fun to an entirely new level. This week, I got to try the multi-level balancing experience myself.

My first thought when I saw the ropes course was focused solely on its height. It is tall. Rising 50 feet into the sky, Howlers Peak is four levels of fun. Zip lines allow you to fly through the air from one side to the other, while strategically placed ropes, steps, and small wooded shapes, create pathways that require some concentration, some balance and a sense of adventure.

The highlight of Howlers Peak is the “quick jump” or as I jokingly called it, “the death drop.” It sounds simple enough, 45 feet above the ground, you step right off the platform and sail on down to the awaiting landing pad – complete with a signature Great Wolf Lodge paw. Friends and colleagues had told me the quick jump experience was a lot of fun and as I watched several people glide down, I decided I was next.

Happily, I zip lined toward that corner of the attraction. Then I balanced on a thin rope and “crab crawled” my way across to the platform. A pack member calmly adjusted my harness, told me what to do, checked in with his partner below, yelled, “Jumper!” and opened the gate. Bravely, I smiled, headed to the edge and….nothing. I couldn’t do it. I stood for about five minutes and could not find my courage. Apologetically, and with my proverbial tail between my legs, I unharnessed and zip lined away.

Internally, I negotiated with myself. I decided I didn’t need the quick jump; I could zipline, and balance, and walk and climb with the best of them. But my inner voice nagged and said, “This is not over.”

Suddenly, a movie reference popped in my head. I grew up crushing on Harrison Ford, and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” started playing in my mind. Remember the scene with Indy standing at the edge of the cave, with no path or bridge ahead of him and a huge abyss below? It was the “leap of faith” scene. If he took one step forward and believed he would be alright, he would. He just needed to move forward. (Spoiler alert – he took the step and a bridge magically appeared beneath his feet.)

I knew a bridge would not appear under my feet at the quick jump site, but I also knew that if four year old kids (YES!) could do it, I could, too.

So, with thoughts of Hollywood magic in my head, I went back up to the platform. Moments later, I took a bold step forward - ok, more like, slight stumble and ungraceful trip – and WHEEEEEEEE! A moment of flying, couple seconds of floating and a HOWL of delight. I did it! I conquered Howlers Peak.

Everyone clapped, a few cheered, and I promptly removed my harness. Check the box for another amazing, unexpected Great Wolf Lodge moment. And a quiet thank you to Indiana Jones.

In the last two weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS has inspired thousands of people to pour a bucket of ice water over his or her head and challenge others do the same, within twenty-four hours, or make a donation to fight ALS. With 12 buckets dumping thousands of gallons of water across North America every four minutes, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a natural fit for Great Wolf Resorts.

On August 12, Shane Ciccarelli, a guest at Great Wolf Lodge New England, asked the team to help make his Ice Bucket Challenge creative and memorable. The resort’s aquatics team gave Shane an ice bath he’ll never forget - as hundreds of gallons of water, followed by buckets of ice from Great Wolf Lodge lifeguards – splashed down. Shane then offered a challenge of his own: to the Great Wolf Lodge New England pack members.

From there, the challenge was on. All 12 Great Wolf Lodge general managers challenged each other to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. Coast to coast, lodge managers got creative taking part and then passing the challenge on to another Great Wolf Lodge. The final stop, in Mason, Ohio, did not end the story. Terrie Zajo, the resort’s general manager looked to the corporate office of Great Wolf Resorts and the company’s CEO, Kim Schaefer.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge has captured the attention of the entire company,” Schaefer shared, “With our tipping buckets and enthusiastic pack members this was the perfect way to bring everyone together for a few fun moments and to help raise awareness for ALS.”

Excited by the enthusiasm and compassion from the Great Wolf Lodge management team, Kim thanked everyone for taking part and announced Great Wolf Resorts was donating $12,000 to the ALS Association, representing $1,000 from each resort.

Then, with a huge splash, lots of laughs and howls from the entire corporate office, Kim stood under 20 gallons of ice water. The Ice Bucket Challenge officially made its way through the entire Great Wolf Resorts company.

“The water was freezing, but the moment was memorable,” Kim said of experience, “Several pack members have shared they have family members battling the disease and that made our participation mean much more to all of us. We’re honored to have taken part.”

Check out the Great Wolf Lodge resort-wide Tipping Ice Bucket Challenge here: http://youtu.be/fw9YbHcCkaI

This fall, 15 pack members will be howling with excitement as they head back to school! Today, we announced the recipients of the 2014 Great Wolf Resorts Scholarship. A total of $56,000 has been awarded to students at several Great Wolf Lodge resorts, the corporate office and central reservations office. New this year, we also awarded four scholarships to dependents of full-time employees to assist with their college education.

The announcement of the scholarship winners is always exciting. In 2012, I wrote about our inaugural class of recipients, and each summer we look forwad to the next announcement. The scholarship program means a great deal to our company and is something that makes me proud to be a pack member. To date, we’ve awarded $175,000!                                                                   

All of us at Great Wolf Resorts extend a howl of congratulations to our class of 2014 Great Wolf Lodge Scholarship recipients:

Scholarship Recipient Resort Location School Attending
Makaylah Deanna Heyward Concord, NC University of Miami
Jared Gerard Wiegand Grapevine, TX Baylor University
Katelyn Joanna Gee Corporate Office, WI University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
Travis Edward Diamond Grapevine, TX Oklahoma State University
Nicholas John Drill Corporate Office, WI Worcester State University
Erin Colleen Fluharty Traverse City, MI Lake Superior State University
Rachael Renae Grubbs Grapevine, TX El Centro College
Alexis Wilcox Sandusky, OH Bowling Green State University
Dana Michelle Barber Concord, NC University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Jaquan DeAndre Dozier Concord, NC University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Karen S. Buschke Central Reservations, WI Madison Area Technical College
Amanda Zehner-Carlson Traverse City, MI Ferris State University
Rachel Chia-Wen Chang Grapevine, TX Texas A&M University
Kirsten Colleen Page Concord, NC University of North Carolina - Wilmington
Lauren Bromley Kansas City, KS Neosho Community College

We’re already looking ahead to the future scholarship recipients. The 4th Annual Great Wolf Resorts Scholarship Golf Outing will take place in September at The Legend at Bergamont Golf Course here in Wisconsin. Resort general managers, company partners and vendors will join us for a day focused on having fun and raising money to help our pack members achieve their college dreams.

Now that’s something we can all howl about.

Summer vacation is a time-honored family tradition. Parents often spend weeks (months?) researching where to go, what to do, how to save money and activities everyone in the family will enjoy. Careful planning goes into packing, maximizing minimal space and time as well as determining each day’s itinerary. No matter how many blogs are read about travel tips, safety tips, planning tips and more….there’s one little secret you won’t read: vacation is tiring.

I just spent a week in New England with my son. We visited Boston Harbor, the New England Aquarium, and most importantly, the new Great Wolf Lodge. We had a ball. But – I’m tired. Very tired.

My son’s nap schedule was off, his bedtime routine was off, and no matter how healthy and yummy the food, his meals were off. As a three-year-old, temper tantrums are to be expected – but sobbing in an elevator for six floors…that was new. Sharing a room was tough. I would be wide awake at night, sitting in the (quiet) dark, afraid to turn on the TV, so he could finally fall – and more importantly stay - asleep. And while there were just two of us – our stuff quickly took over the suite. My new flips flops somehow ended up in the suite’s mini fridge (??). Each night I rinsed out sippy cups, planned the next day’s clothing needs, requested more and more towels and tried to keep track of my daily contact lens supply.

So, I’m tired.

In one of those non-TV-don’t-make-a-sound-there’s-a-sleeping-preschooler-dark moments, I did think to myself, maybe he was too young for a real vacation. Maybe I should have waited until he was older. I thought about how, in reality, he won’t really remember this trip years from now. I wondered if I should have saved the money.

Well, in showing the amazing wisdom little kids so innocently have, he answered those questions for me. During a visit to the waterpark, I watched him explore Fort Mackenzie. First, he tried a slide, and at the bottom, would reach for me to help him up and out. Later, after countless rides, he said, “I can do it” and no longer needed my help. Instead, something new happened. He looked up at me excitedly asked, “Mommy – will you come, too?”

Next thing I knew, we were sliding, side-by-side, hand-in-hand together. We laughed, we splashed, and he said, “Do it again!” (over and over).

I will never forget this trip! I will forget how tired I was. I will forget the tantrums. I will remember his smile. I will remember the joy I felt when he invited me to slide with him. I’ll remember I was his chosen slide partner.

My advice? Take that vacation and treasure every moment.

For July 4th weekend we did what so many other families did: visited Great Wolf Lodge! And while there is always so much to see and do there is no denying the waterpark is the only thing that REALLY matters to my three year old. Waterslides, spray features and swimming are the perfect water trifecta for myin his eyes.

My son is fearless and he loves the water. He jumps in, he tackles waterslides and he moves fast. There are so many “tips” for “Keeping your child safe in the water” and while some tips seem so obvious, is not always easy in real life.

At Great Wolf Lodge, safety is the number one priority. As both a proud pack member and “helicopter mom” – here are a few things I share when describing how Great Wolf Lodge keeps the waterpark safe and fun.

Life jackets

Life jackets for various age ranges and sizes are provided FREE of charge at all Great Wolf Lodge waterparks. Located at each park’s entrance, lifeguards help parents choose the proper size and fit for their child.

If you have a stubborn child like I do, a limited number of puddle jumper life jackets are also available. My son refuses to wear a life jacket, but with a puddle jumper, he has more mobility. These jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved, are sized for children weighing 30-50 lbs. and have an adjustable buckle on the back for a snug, secure fit.

And while no device is a substitute for mom or dad – having access to these safe life jackets is just one way Great Wolf Lodge helps make vacation a little less stressful.

Wiley’s Safety Club

Great Wolf Lodge removes the guesswork, as well as potential tears, from determining if your child can safely ride certain attractions.

As soon as they enter the waterpark, children can stand by the Wiley the Wolf® measuring sign and receive a color wristband based on their height. Each color designates what attractions they can go on either alone, or with a parent. Signage throughout the park reflects this color coding system, and together, you and your child can see what color they can ride before reaching the top of the stairs. (And if your child is disappointed their color band limits them - you can say Wiley is keeping everyone safe and as he or she gets taller – you’ll keep coming back.)


This may seem obvious, but I always look at the lifeguards no matter where we travel. Again, lifeguards are not a substitute for a parent, but knowing a trained aquatics team is constantly watching the water means a great deal. At Great Wolf Lodge, they are constantly moving and scanning the water, ready to assist at a second’s notice and they can be found at just about every attraction – indoors and out. Company-wide, Great Wolf Lodge employs over 1,000 lifeguards. Wow!

Becoming a Great Wolf Lodge lifeguard is not easy. Candidates must be at least 16 years old, eligible for employment by Great Wolf Lodge, pass a background check, complete a minimum of 24 hours of lifeguard training and earn certification from a third party company. Once hired, the Aquatics Team layers in tests, drills and mandatory “in-service” training each month for each lifeguard. Phew! This is no easy summer job.



As I helped my son down the kiddie slides hundreds of times on July 4th, I was also reminded that safety is a shared responsibility.  As parents, we know our children’s abilities; we know what they are drawn to, and we can often anticipate where they will go. If we have concerns or questions about whether or child should try something, it is our job to read the posted safety signs, talk to the aquatics supervisor and even listen to our inner parent voice. I don’t leave my son when he’s in the bathtub at home – why would I at a waterpark?

Summer is here, and this July 4th, we had the happy smiles and the wrinkly skin to prove it. More water-filled adventures are ahead of us – at Great Wolf Lodge, at the beach, at the pool. And if there is something we can all agree on – a safe summer is truly the most fun of all.

What do you get when you combine a new resort opening with an appearance by one of pop music’s fastest growing artists? A howlingly great time!

Days before heading to Europe to kick off his summer-long tour, Cody Simpson, performed an exclusive acoustic set for guests at Great Wolf Lodge New England. Between taking on the waterpark’s exciting attractions, playing in the Northern Lights Arcade with his brother and meeting hundreds of guests from around the country, Cody also took time to give a glimpse into his life for "Behind the Howl."

Below are a few submitted to Great Wolf Lodge via Twitter and Instagram, as well as a few from our Pack Members, and Cody’s responses:

Q: @Cute_fashionable_hh: What is your favorite slide at #greatwolflodge?

CS: The Wolf Tail slide was crazy. I was not expecting that drop!


Q: @Eva.co: What age where you when u first picked up an instrument?

CS: Way back when I was 10-11. My grandparents bought me a guitar and I started messing around with it. I still play guitar every night before bed so that I can improve!

Q: @Simpsonedits_: What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

CS: Hang out with my mates and hit the beach for a surf. Really just relax and enjoy not being busy every single minute of the day. I've realized how important it is to spend time with the people you love.

Q: @CodysSkateboard: Where’s some place you haven’t visited but would like to?

CS: I haven't been to a lot of the places that I’m hitting on my European tour. I have shows in Turkey, all over Scandinavia and Portugal. I’ve never been to any of those before and I can't wait to indulge in the culture.

Q: @liamprfxct: What do you like the most about touring?

CS: I love changing places from day to day. You go to sleep in one city and wake up in the next; sometimes this means completely different climates, languages, time zones, people etc.  It's surreal. I also love being with my tour crew - some great lads on the road!

Q: @CodyTitanicLove: How does it make you feel having so many people supporting you from all over the world?

CS: It's extremely gratifying. I appreciate the support from each and every one of you. It truly means the world to me.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when you write music?

CS: Anything that's relevant in my life really. If I'm experiencing hardships with girls, it'll come out in my music. If I’m happy over a particular situation, it will influence my mood when writing and that will ultimately reflect in the song.

Q: What did it mean to you to have your whole family with you at Great Wolf Lodge?
CS: I've been extremely busy lately and I don't always get to spend as much time with them as I would like. Great Wolf Lodge was a great place to spend some quality family time and re-connect before I left for Europe.

Q: What do you think your fans would like best at Great Wolf Lodge?
CS: There is a huge assortment of rides that suit all different types of people. My show was extremely intimate experience and I then got to spend quality time with my fans as well as my family!

Q: Will you come back to Great Wolf Lodge again?
CS: Of course!  I was stoked to check it out and it was a blast. I hope that I can return when I have some time off the road.


When I got my first job - a number of years ago - I never dreamed I’d have a career I’d one day “howl” about. I just knew I loved four things: planning events, speaking, writing and always being on the move. Working in the hospitality and entertainment industry was perfect for me.

PR and event planning quickly became my niche. Most people don’t understand how many steps go into planning an event. Or that each step, often has many steps. But I admit – I love it.

This year has been filled with Great Wolf Lodge events. So far, the biggest and most exciting event has been planning the official grand opening of Great Wolf Lodge New England, which will take place in just a few short days. The debut of our first new resort in four years is thrilling news for our company.

For me, its been about tapping into my creative side, juggling many, many projects at once, planning a party for hundreds of guests, telling our story to the media and trying to appear organized and calm through it all.

The other day a colleague came into my office and burst out laughing while looking around. Who can say their office is home to: 100 pairs of wolf ears, 100 beach towels, over 500 wooden sticks that are actually pens, homemade packets of Howlin’ Hot Chocolate, thousands of Lincoln Logs, hundreds of printed resort photos, paw-shaped USB drives, glitter sipper cups, folders, stationary, glue dots, envelopes and a seemingly endless supply of Mike and Ike Candies and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? I can.

And each of those items has been an essential part in the planning and execution of the full campaign to tease and entice writers around the country about Great Wolf Lodge New England. (The candy? Well, that’s to thank (bribe?) my colleagues for when I need a little assistance. 

A key component to the planning process has been department “stuffing” parties. Everyone comes together and helps with a make-shift assembly line stuffing envelopes, labeling mailers, counting Lincoln Logs, packing boxes, dubbing flash drives and more. Pizza, pop and iTunes complete the mission.

Many years ago, while working at my first internship, I remember stuffing a large quantity of envelopes and thinking, “One day, when I’m in management, I won’t need to do this.” And with each subsequent job, title and position, I have continued to stuff, sort, dub, print, label and assemble.

It’s a key part of “a day in the life of a PR professional.” And to me, it’s one of the fun parts. Now with just a few days to go, as we count and sort and assemble everything we have spent months planning for, I could not be happier to see it all come together.

My role in the day-to-day operation at Great Wolf Lodge sometimes feels like a small one. But now, as we get closer and closer to our grand opening event, I remain honored and thrilled to be a part of this new chapter for Great Wolf Resorts. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more flash drives to burn.

Oh - and if you’re at Great Wolf Lodge New England this summer, you just may find me finally relaxing at Slap Tail Pond, planning our next big event.

The Great Wolf Lodge wristband is an important part of a lodge stay. In fact, for many of our guests, it is even a unique souvenir. Kids love to wear their wristband and take advantage of the “all access pass” it grants them. With the flick of the wrist, they can enter their suite, waltz into the waterpark and, if mom and dad give the OK at check-in, even buy treats at Bear Paw, Paw Points in the Northern Lights arcade and Great Wolf Kids merchandise from the store. We often hear stories from guests whose kids refuse to take their wristbands off even when they return home. The daughter of a colleague actually wore hers for four months!

But, there is a flip side to the little wristband. They don’t fit perfectly. Once you position it to fit around your wrist – there’s almost always an extra piece. If you’re like me, you LOVE the convenience of the RFID technology, and not needing to carry a wallet around the resort, but that extra “flap” can be a little annoying. However, as I received discovered, snipping away that little annoyance is one of the simplest and coolest acts of guest service at the Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains. It’s also a bit competitive.

Pack Members at the resort carry scissors on a small zip cord. If they see guests with wristbands that have the extra “tail” - they approach and offer to snip it away for the perfect fit. Problem solved.

However, the snip is only half of the activity. The story of the little wristband tail does not end in an abrupt cut.


Instead, wristband snips are saved by each department and are then entered in the “Great ‘Wolf Tail’ Competition”. Each little tail is collected, saved, and put in a large container as part of a monthly, spirited contest across all resort areas. The challenge is on to see which department is a cut above the rest, and how many guests had their wristbands sized to perfection.

While I was at the resort in the Pocono Mountains, the Retail Team was in the lead. Their jar was so full; the team had to tie bags of tails to it!

No prize is given out for “most tails” collected, but everyone enjoys the fun and simple competition. Departments take great pride in turning in their colorful band snips. And judging from the collection I saw, guests are happy to have their wristbands sized, and extra tails bobbed off.

This tale of the tail, I just had to tell.


While there is always something exciting taking place at Great Wolf Lodge, I can’t think of anything more exciting than a new resort! And with 2014 already in full swing – so is our 12th property, Great Wolf Lodge New England.

Scheduled to open in late spring, Great Wolf Lodge New England will offer the very best of our family-focused attractions and amenities as well as a number of brand new experiences. Wands in hand, kids will have an entire new property to explore, earn runes, battle dragons and collect gold as they play MagiQuest. For a sweet treat that pampers and delights, Scooops Kid Spa will offer ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures. Little toes and taste buds will be tempted and spoiled.

Of course, the heart of the resort will be the indoor water park. The massive water play land will feature something for everyone. Currently under construction is the park’s signature attraction, the Howlin’ Tornado. With its bright red and yellow funnel, this six story raft ride will definitely provide many howls of excitement!

Late last fall, Great Wolf Lodge Mason and Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine debuted a new restaurant, The Lodge Wood Fired Grill. We look so forward to opening the third location at Great Wolf Lodge New England! The full service, a la carte restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. It has quickly become a favorite at our two resorts in Texas and Ohio and we can’t wait to debut it to our New England guests, too.

Even better will be the new attractions and amenities that will be exclusive to this property. Guests who have been to a Great Wolf Lodge before will discover several new adventures and activities while staying at this the resort.

Are you as excited as we are? Over the next few months, we’ll continue to write and share more about what is happening at Great Wolf Lodge New England right here! Stay in touch and join the conversation about Great Wolf Lodge New England. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GWLNewEngland and sign up to receive exclusive news and offers by joining our ePack.

Great Wolf Lodge New England – it will be a wicked fun time!


In late 2013 we were excited to debut a brand new dining option at the Great Wolf Lodge resorts in Mason, Ohio and Grapevine, Texas. As we get ready to open new locations at our other resorts we took a few moments to speak with Chef Chris Hammond, Corporate Director of Food and Beverage for Great Wolf Resorts to learn more about the Lodge Wood Fired Grill.

Where did the idea for the Lodge Wood Fired Grill come from?

Every day we strive to exceed our guests’ expectations and dining is one of those areas that we focus a great deal of attention on. About a year ago we partnered with a consulting agency to help rebrand our current food variety and look at new outlets and options. This included also taking a “discovery tour” which entailed visiting and trying many restaurants to look at trends, ideas, menus and atmosphere.

We decided to begin with our Great Wolf Lodge properties in Mason and Grapevine.  We worked with the consulting team to develop on a brand new menu, which took over three months to develop. We had the culinary teams at each resort create their own drink menus to incorporate many local favorites, such as draft beer, to provide authentic regional taste.

From there, we reviewed and sampled every dish, as well as conducted a professional photo shoot and food stylist of each item. Hard to believe but it took three days, 34 hours and 1500 pictures to get the photos you see on the menu today!

Then the real fun began! We spent two weeks full training our teams – both the culinary team and the serving so they could accurately – and deliciously – describe each menu item to our guests. We were so excited to officially open the first two Lodge Wood Fired Grill restaurants last November!

How is the Lodge Wood Fired Grill different from the other dining options at Great Wolf Lodge?

The Lodge Wood Fired Grill is the only a la carte restaurant at the resort. But even more important, this restaurant has an identity, it has a soul, and everything has a purpose. From the fresh ingredients to the local beers and crafted cocktails, everything was inspired to give our guests a dining experience that they have not previously had at Great Wolf Lodge.

Are there plans to open a Lodge Wood Fired Grill in any of the other Great Wolf Lodge resorts?

We are excited to continue to add this restaurant to the Great Wolf Lodge family. It will open this year at our resorts in Grand Mound, Washington; Concord, North Carolina and our newest resort, Great Wolf Lodge New England in Massachusetts.

What is your favorite item on the menu? Are there any guest favorites?

That is such a tough question to answer as I spent so much time on this project, especially with the food. The spaghetti with lobster and shrimp is an amazing “wow” and so is the shrimp and farro salad. Come to think of it, I love the artichoke too, oh and the hummus, and the BBQ Platter….


Want to learn more about one of Chef Chris’ Lodge Wood Fired Grill favorites? He has shared the recipe below!

The holidays are the perfect time of year for families to spend time together in the kitchen. Christmas cookies, peppermint bark, maybe even fruitcake – all are treats that we love to make during this special time of year.

At Great Wolf Lodge, we have our own holiday season tradition - Snowland. Families can spend time with Santa, enjoy snow indoors each night and create new family traditions together. And just like being at home, yummy treats are a key part of the Snowland experience.

The center point of Snowland is not only beautiful – but also edible! For months, our culinary teams baked, created and decorated life-size gingerbread houses in the lobby of each Great Wolf Lodge.

Our guests can dine in these unique cottages. New this year, we partnered with the makers of PEEPS & COMPANY® and Just Born Quality Confections, the makers of PEEPS®, MIKE AND IKE® and HOT TAMALES®, to provide many of the edible treats that adorn the walls of each gingerbread house. The house at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains has over 1000 PEEPS® on it! (I know because I was able to help put all them on!)

To help bring some Snowland cheer into your home, here are two of our favorite holiday-inspired treats. From the Great Wolf Lodge family and the Just Born family, happy holidays!  

Great Wolf Howlin’ Hot Chocolate


  • 2 QT Whole Milk
  • 1 QT Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 4 Whole Cinnamon Sticks
  • 4 Whole Star Anise
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 LB Sweetened Dark or Semi-Sweet Chocolate (chips, coins or small chunks; use the best quality Sweetened Chocolate)


  1. Let the cinnamon and star anise soak in the milk cream mixture overnight. Add the sugar and place on the stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Strain the mixture and place back on the stove, add in the chocolate and whisk until fully blended. Makes 16 6 oz. servings.
  2. For an added treat – add a Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Flavored PEEPS Chick

PEEPS Holiday Pops


  • PEEPS® Peppermint Stars, and PEEPS® Trees
  • Equal number of paper straws or sticks
  • 12 oz. bag of chocolate candy melts
  • Sprinkles
  • Crushed candy canes


  1. Remove PEEPS® Trees and PEEPS® Peppermint Stars from their packaging.
  2. Slowly slide PEEPS® on to each of your sticks or straws, stopping just before the straw pushes through the other end of the PEEP.
  3. Lay out baking sheet and line with wax paper.
  4. Melt chocolate coating according to the package directions and apply to PEEPS® shapes

5.    Coat shapes with sprinkles or crushed candy canes and let cool.



What do you get when you simultaneously bring together hundreds of families across three time zones under the glow of a full moon? An event that is truly something to HOWL about!

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, our ten Great Wolf Lodge resorts across the United States offered a unique challenge to our guests: come together for the chance to set a new world record for the most people howling at the same time.

Earlier this year, we read about a record attempt in St. Cloud, Minn where students from St. Cloud State University gathered together to set a record for most people howling. Their event attracted 296 people.

Howling is a fun tradition at Great Wolf Lodge resorts. Guests stomp, clap and howl alongside Wiley the Wolf and his cast of lovable characters every day. It is a part of the Great Wolf Lodge experience.

Each October the resorts also all celebrate Howl-O-Ween, complete with trick or treating through the lodges, Monster Bash dance parties and more. After reading about that record attempt in Minnesota, we knew we could not only beat that record – but also set a new one that would REALLY have everyone howling!

When planning a world record attempt, in order to “beat” the existing record, you must re-create the same circumstances as the original. For us, that meant bringing everyone together in one spot, outside and having them howl for 60 seconds. The full moon provided the perfect setting across the country for everyone.

Of course, we still had to put our own unique Great Wolf Lodge flair on our record attempt: as a special surprise, we gave everyone who took part a limited edition set of bright orange wolf ears to wear while howling at the moon!

At exactly 8:45 p.m. EST our resorts counted everyone down and the howling began. 4,341 people of all ages howled for one minute! I’m sure wolves in the wild all paused and perked their ears at that time, wondering just what was inspiring so much howling that night!

Were you at one of our resorts? Curious how many people howled alongside you? Check out our totals below. And next time you see a full moon, take a moment to howl, Great Wolf Lodge-style!

Great Wolf Lodge Concord, NC – 605

Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains, PA – 615

Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, VA – 412

Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound, WA – 412

Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City, MI – 381

Great Wolf Lodge   Kansas City, KA – 346

Great Wolf Lodge Wisconsin Dells, WI – 261

Great Wolf Lodge Mason, OH – 492

Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, OH – 478

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine, TX  - 339

This summer has been an exciting one for all of us at Great Wolf Lodge, and being part of the Wolf Your World team has truly been a high point. I love visiting our resorts and the Tour has been the perfect way to not only visit our amazing properties, but also get into the communities and areas surrounding them. I have personally had the opportunity to visit zoos, museums, children’s hospitals and so much more.

When we were preparing to visit Grapevine, Texas we looked at area tourist attractions for possible Tour stops. We spent time at the Fort Worth Stockyards and got up close and personal with some Texas longhorns, visited the historic Grapevine Railroad and then took Wiley the Wolf to an iconic place in TV pop culture, Southfork Ranch.

Yes, you read that right—Southfork Ranch. The home of fictional TV family the Ewing’s. The family may have been fictional, but the place is real. And whether you grew watching Dallas each Friday night on CBS, or have just discovered the recent reboot on TNT, you know that Southfork Ranch was, and still is, the center of just about every episode.   

For over 30 years, visitors to Dallas have also made trips to Southfork, to see the ranch and the home that seemed larger than life on their TV sets. The original show filmed there on location, and today the new cast also films on the property.

Tours of the mansion are offered daily. You can take a peek into Lucy Ewing’s bedroom, see Jock Ewing’s living room, imagine having breakfast in Miss Ellie’s kitchen and gaze out at the cattle as they graze on the sprawling lawn.

To be honest—I was giddy with excitement. And while Wiley is a young wolf, and didn’t really know much about the show, he was excited, too. Together with Wiley, we had the chance to go out onto the balcony that overlooks the ranch, and wander the entire house. We surprised a group that was on tour—handed out ears and hugs - and learned all about the mansion itself. Wiley did not get to get too close to the cattle, but we were able to visit with a couple of the ranch’s horses, and stand under the white “Southfork Ranch” archway. We closed our quick visit in true Great Wolf Lodge style—with a few stomps, claps and a HOWL.

Great Wolf Lodge is still a relatively new destination in Texas. What a fun opportunity we had to bring a part of our experience to such a unique tourist attraction. I bet even J.R. Ewing would have smiled.


As the Wolf Your World Tour continues to travel across the country, we have written about all the great things that Wiley the Wolf and friends have been able to do outside of our resorts. During our Tour stop at the Great Wolf Lodge Traverse City we got to have a great deal of fun inside the resort, too.

This summer has been a BIG one for the resort. Guests visiting our Michigan property this year will see and experience something new all throughout the property. Each suite in the resort has been updated and enhanced. New televisions were added, brand new sleeper sofas installed and all beds were replaced with our brand new mattress exclusive, the Cabin Comfort Collection. Sure—we know our guests don’t spent that much time in their suites, but there truly is nothing like a big, comfortable bed after a full day of water play!

Resort favorite, Scooops Kid Spa, has expanded, too. The ice cream-themed spa has been so popular, it is now almost double in size! Down the hall just a bit, a brand-new attraction has opened as well. Newly added to several resorts last year, Ten Paw Alley bowling is now open in Traverse City. Complete with balls that are perfect for little hands, the six lane alley and its “no rental shoes allowed” policy has been bringing smiles with every strike!

The most exciting addition is the River Canyon Run and the Wolf Your World Tour was on hand to celebrate its dedication. The new water attraction gives families a quick taste of what it’s like to try whitewater rafting! The River Canyon Run takes parties of three people at a time sliding and winding down a long indoor tunnel that stretches outside the resort and then back in, culminating in a final splash. The 330 foot long attraction even features a 32 foot vertical drop!

Wiley the Wolf and his friends could not actually enjoy the thrilling new addition, they did cut the ribbon and give a round of "paws applause" - and a few howls - as our first family, the Schmitt’s from Plymouth, Michigan splashed down!  

We also celebrated the resort’s newest dining option – the opening of Traverse City’s ONLY Dunkin’ Donuts® location! Resorts guests and local families alike are all now enjoying their morning with “America’s Favorite Coffee”, breakfast and bakery sandwiches, donuts, and my personal favorite, Munchkins®!

Haven’t made your summer plans yet? If a trip to Michigan is in your future—plan to stay at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City—and take in all that’s new!