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.
Earlier this year, 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick made headlines when he and fellow student, Johnny Wood, helped prevent an accident as their bus driver suffered a heart attack while driving. Jeremy got behind the wheel of the school bus and brought it to a safe stop while Johnny started to perform CPR on the driver. The story earned national attention for the two boys from Milton, Washington.
After the incident, Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound invited the boys and their families to visit the resort and see how its lifeguards learn how to react when dealing with a stressful situation, like the one they experienced on their school bus. During Jeremy’s stay, he took part in the Junior Lifeguard Program. He learned about Great Wolf Lodge’s lifeguard training program and CPR basics. Jeremy received a personalized sweatshirt from Great Wolf Lodge and an “Honorary Lifeguard” certificate. He then had a great timing howling with waterpark guests.
During his stay, Jeremy told us about the situation on his school bus and shared his thoughts from the experience.
Great Wolf Lodge: What was your first thought when you noticed something was wrong with your bus driver?
Jeremy Wuitschick: I thought, “This is so unusual.” I had never seen anything like that happen before.
GWL: How did you remain so calm?
JW: I didn’t know what to feel; my gut instinct took over and I just did what I did to help.
GWL: Were you surprised by all of the media attention you received?
JW: I was completely surprised! I had no idea our actions would get so much attention; we had no idea what to expect. I always dreamed about what it would be like to receive such attention but not during something tragic.
GWL: What has been the coolest thing to happen to you since the incident on your bus?
JW: I got to visit New York City with my mom! We stayed across from Central Park. I actually thought it would be like (in the movie) Madagascar 3 but it was completely different. I enjoyed taking pictures of Lady Liberty and Rockefeller Center.
GWL: Do you have any advice for other kids if they ever find themselves in a scary situation like you did?
JW: Expect everything. When something happens like that, expect everything because anything could happen.
GWL: As you got ready for your visit to Great Wolf Lodge, what were you most looking forward to?
JW: I couldn’t wait to see my mom go down the Howlin’ Tornado in the dark and scream. I also love the breakfast buffet in the Loose Moose Cottage! Give me bacon; bacon, bacon, bacon!
GWL: Has this experience made you think about what you want to be when you grow up?
JW: It would be fun to be a host on a show like “Top Gear” - driving cool cars and doing crazy stunts. But, if I were to be more logical about it, I’d say an accountant. I enjoy helping people and math.
As a new mom, I love the insight, parenting tips and ideas I get from blogs—and 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.
Tips for Traveling with Kids with Allergies
My 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.
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.
When on vacation, what is important to you? Comfortable rooms? Variety of activities? Value for your money? For me, food is high on the list. When we travel, I subscribe to the “there are no calories on vacation” mentality, so restaurants with good food and variety are important!
My family and I have been having fun discovering—and tasting—the many options for meals, snacks and even drinks by the pool at our Great Wolf Lodge resorts. This summer Great Wolf Lodge has added a number of new dining options to help make eating at the resort just as much fun as it is playing there.
In my opinion, nothing says vacation like a delicious pizza. I love pizza fresh from the oven and so do our guests. Our new Hungry As A Wolf pizza location at the Great Wolf Lodge Mason is quickly becoming a guest favorite. With choices like homemade pizza, bread sticks, salad and the “Wolf-It-Down” family meal, everyone in your pack will agree on this meal. You can pick it up and enjoy it poolside, or take it back to your room. Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains also has a Hungry As A Wolf takeout pizza window.
Vacation and buffet are two words that go hand in hand. And for guests staying at Great Wolf Lodge Concord, buffet also means value. At the Loose Moose Cottage in Concord, the breakfast buffet consists of Wiley Waffles, hash browns, bacon, muffins, cereal, fruit and my personal favorite, made-to-order omelets. Dinner features a carving station, salad bar, entrée specials and even a “kids only” buffet filled with healthy kid-friendly foods. And—we can’t forget to mention the Wiley Waffles are served at dinner, too! Wondering where “value” comes into play? Until September 3, Kids Eat Free at Great Wolf Lodge Concord. Children 10 and under can enjoy a free breakfast and dinner buffet, when accompanied by a paying adult.
Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky also has a similar summer program in Lumber Jack’s Cook Shanty and the Gitchigoomie Grill. Families can receive one free child breakfast or dinner entree per regular priced adult entree purchased. What a great way to save money—and experience a sit-down meal together!
Have you ever eaten with a wolf? How about a raccoon? Now at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine you can. Each morning, guests can “Wake Up With Wiley and Friends” and enjoy a unique character breakfast in the Camp Critter Bar & Grill. Bring your camera because the experience includes tableside visits and autographs with Wiley, Violet and Oliver the Raccoon, and a complimentary 4x5 event photo and souvenir. Seating is limited for this fun-filled breakfast and reservations are recommended.
At Great Wolf Lodge, meals are the perfect time to come together and share highlights from your day in the waterpark, Cub Club activities and MagiQuest adventures. Happy dining!
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.
This year Great Wolf Lodge is adding a wide array of family fun attractions and experiences resort-wide that will bring smiles to everyone in your family. Whether you are a first time visitor, or one of our loyal returning guests, you will find something new at your favorite resort. All summer, we will include posts about these new amenities so you can plan to take it all in during your next visit!
One of our newest family activities is Ten Paw Alley. This spring, we took the sport of bowling and put our own Great Wolf Lodge spin on it. Starting with bowling balls that are perfect for little hands, the new six alley lanes are already striking a chord in our resorts in Pocono Mountains, PA; Mason, OH; Williamsburg, VA and Concord, NC.
I had the opportunity to see how many pins I could knock down during a recent visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. The first thing I noticed – no rental shoes were required! Who hasn’t wanted to bowl in their own shoes?
The length of the lanes are half that of a regular alley, and as I bowled alongside children who ranged in age from 2 to 14, it was such fun to watch the little ones stare intently as their ball rolled toward the pins. The lanes also have the option to add glowing bumpers during play. This way the littlest bowlers can watch their scores go up alongside their older siblings, rather than watch their balls get trapped by the dreaded gutters. (I’m afraid, I had no excuse.)
Each game automatically scores, too, so you don’t have to remember when to mark an “X” and how to add the score after bowling a spare. And, just like everything else at Great Wolf Lodge, the atmosphere is light, cheery and definitely family-friendly. At Ten Paw Alley, parents can play alongside their kids and with other Great Wolf Lodge guests.
While a photo is worth a thousand words, as seen in the above picture of my little friend Spencer, you can watch our new YouTube video showcasing the fun to be had at Ten Paw Alley. Reservations are not required to play – just drop in after enjoying the water park, or before heading to the Loose Moose for dinner. As you prepare to visit Great Wolf Lodge, make sure Ten Paw Alley is on your “must do” list!
Family vacations are fun, but traveling with little ones can be stressful. As a new mom, I still struggle to remember everything we need each time we step out the door.
Having a baby does not mean that vacations are over, but it does mean you need to plan a little more. Great Wolf Lodge specializes in vacations for families with young children. Here are a few of my tips for making your Great Wolf Lodge visit a success.
Play with your visit dates
There are 365 days in a year and only 104 are weekend days. Plan your Great Wolf Lodge stay during an off-peak time of year when the water parks are not as busy. Surprise your family with a mid-week getaway, or start your stay on a Sunday.
Do your research
There is so much to see and do! Visit Greatwolf.com before your trip. Water park attractions are listed by age, so you can plan what is appropriate for everyone in your family before you arrive. Utilize the Great Wolf “Ask A Mom” panel and visit the Great Wolf Facebook page each Monday to see questions from moms like you.
Bring Baby’s food
Every room at Great Wolf Lodge comes with a refrigerator and a microwave, free of charge. This makes it easy to store formula and baby food, as well as re-heat meals. Purchase a “Wolf it Down” Family Meal during your stay, which includes pizza, salad, soda and cookies. You can save whatever is not eaten right away for a midnight snack after the kids have gone to bed!
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Our water parks help make baby’s day easy. Water park rest rooms include baby changing tables and towels and life jackets are provided free of charge. In case you forget to pack them, swim diapers (and other amenities) are available for purchase in the Bear Essentials Swim Shop.
Take a break
With the water park down the hall from your room, you can keep your family’s naptime schedule. Pack ‘n Play beds can be borrowed on a first come, first serve basis from the front desk. Bring your child’s favorite blanket and put it in the Pack ‘n Play so it feels like home. While baby sleeps, stretch out on your comfortable bed and relax. Isn’t that what vacation is all about?
This may seem obvious, but I have two reasons. Each night Great Wolf Lodge invites all children to the lobby for Story Time. The resort’s youngest guests all arrive in their pajamas and nightgowns for the Clock Tower show and that night’s bedtime story. Who doesn’t love to see little ones in pj’s?
Need a second reason? On your last day, as you change from swimsuits before heading to the car, dress your children in their pajamas. This way, when they all asleep on the drive home, it’s easier to transition them to bed once you get home.
Last night the Corporate Team and the Customer Contact Center Team from Great World Lodge joined together for a howling good time as we took part in the annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake, benefiting Big Brother Big Sisters.
Since 2009, we have participated in the fun event. Over 100 Pack Members have taken part and last night’s theme celebrated the ‘80’s. Pack Members came dressed in attire inspired by the era, ready for a night “Livin’ on a spare.” (Bad pun, I know. I just couldn’t help myself.)
We had a great time! Even a few “future” Pack Members joined their parents, and utilized the bumper option on the lanes. I wish I could have done the same. The evening was complete with contests for bowling “Granny style”, bowling backwards and for hitting a strike when a colored pin appeared at the end of the alley. Truly, there is no better way to spend time with your colleagues than by bonding over frustrating splits and gutter balls, and knowing that with each frame, you are helping others. This year’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake raised over $13,000 for the local Madison agency, and we are proud to have taken part!
For the past three years, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has been the Great Wolf Lodge official non-profit charity partner. As a company that works every day to provide smiles and happy memories to children, it means a great deal to us to work with a charity that is as focused on childhood experiences as we are. Our Pack Members embrace BBBS and take part in many ways; from serving on the local agency Boards in resort communities, to volunteering as a “Big”, to hosting special events on property each year, we are proud to raise money for this amazing organization. Last year alone, Great Wolf Lodge raised over $200,000!
As a guest of Great Wolf Lodge, you can help us support Big Brothers Big Sisters. Next time you book your reservation online, please consider adding a $5 donation. You can also make a donation to the organization as you check-in at your local resort.
Now, with my jelly bracelets, asymmetrical sunglasses and fluorescent nail polish back in storage, I can’t help but smile as I think of the great time we had last night. We work together, we play together and we help our community. Truly “You just can’t get enough” of the Pack!
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!
Great Wolf Lifeguards Deserve a Howl!
At Great Wolf Lodge, the safety of our guests is our number one priority. Every day, families come to our resorts to play in our waterparks and make lasting memories. Our Great Wolf Pack Members are a key part to delivering these safe and fun experiences.
Great Wolf lifeguards are among our most visible Pack Members. It is their job to ensure that our guests are safe while they enjoy our indoor waterparks. To help in these efforts, Great Wolf works with Ellis & Associates, a third party consultant that specializes in aquatics safety. In addition to assisting with our training programs, Ellis & Associates conducts random audits of our guards at work, to ensure key practices and procedures are being used.
Each year, Ellis & Associates announces its list of “Golden Guards” – lifeguards around the country who epitomize what it means to be a great lifeguard. Leadership, knowledge, and teamwork are areas that the guards are rated on. This year ten Great Wolf Lodge lifeguards earned the honor.
Great Wolf Lodge sends a collective “Howl!” of congratulations to the following Pack Member guards who work each day to provide a safe, fun waterpark experience for our guests.
- Charis Wilson; Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound, Washington
- Heather O'Camb; Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound, Washington
- Kathy Bickle; Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound, Washington
- ShelDen Richards; Great Wolf Lodge – Grand Mound, Washington
- Morgan Smith; Great Wolf Lodge – Concord, North Carolina
- Sarah Wilson; Great Wolf Lodge – Concord, North Carolina
- Nathan Hughes; Great Wolf Lodge – Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
- Zyra Edwards; Great Wolf Lodge – Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
- Kelly Brannum; Great Wolf Lodge – Grapevine, Texas
- Callie Rollins; Great Wolf Lodge – Williamsburg, Virginia
Nathan Hughes and Zyra Edwards from our Niagara Falls Lodge
As one of the newest members of the Great Wolf Lodge Pack, I have been excited and enamored with all things, “Wolf!” During my first week, I took part in Wolfology; that’s Great Wolf Lodge-speak for “employee onboarding.”
The class took part at our Wisconsin Dells Lodge, and included two of my colleagues from the Corporate Office and several new employees from our many important resort areas. Over the years, I have taken new employee classes at other companies. While each had its own spin and tone – no such class ever asked me to howl before!
As a guest at our lodges, you have probably learned how to “Stomp, stomp, clap, clap, HOWWWLLL” – but did you know that pack members do it, too? We even have our own little version of the Howl that is slightly different at each lodge. For instance, the Wisconsin Dells Lodge is our first Great Wolf location. Pack members in the Dells proudly say, “Stomp, stomp, clap, clap, Howl! Number one!” Our Grapevine, Texas Lodge pack members welcome all new pack members by taking them to the lobby and having them yell, “Stomp, stomp, clap, clap, Howl! Yee-hah, y’all!” I love that!
Wolfology then went on to discuss the Great Wolf Guest. With are so many options for family entertainment these days, we are honored each time you choose us. It truly is our responsibility to do all we can to ensure that our properties are clean, inviting, exciting and as wonderful as our advertising makes us out to be. We must exceed our guests’ expectations. Call me a little geeky – but that makes me proud. (More on that later when I write about my first experience as a guest.)
Soon, we were knee deep in Great Wolf Lodge lingo: “pack members” – employees of Great Wolf Lodge; “dens” – employee offices; “wolf wear” – employee uniforms. Do you like to give the celebratory High Five from time to time? At Great Wolf Lodge, we give the “High Paw.” Teach your kids to do it tonight! Start with your hand open, palm facing out. Then, bend each finger inward at the knuckles. Lastly, raise your paw and howl. You can’t help but smile as you do it.
Welcome to our pack!