Wednesday, June 1, 2011
In the Den of the Great Wolf
We had a family trip last month which ended with a two night stay at a Great Wolf Lodge. For those of you without kids, a Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel/waterpark. On the day you check in you get access to the park starting at 1 PM and have full access until closing at 9 PM on the day you check out. So if you live a reasonable distance away you can get a pretty solid day in at the pools before heading home after checking out.
Since we were there for an event for my wife, I had our daughter with me most of the time by myself. So we got to explore the water park together and learn what was fun for her. They do not let you bring in flotation tubes for kids but they do provide life vests. We had brought our own for her but decided to use theirs so we did not have to worry about having another wet object in our room.
The water park has many different zones enclosed inside in a 85 degree room which feels warm as soon as you enter. Being inside meant I did not have to worry about my pasty white skin getting sun damaged. I am so pale it looks like I am only come out at night. The first place we went was the toddler pool that had like a 1-2 ft depth and some spray zones. Attached to this was like 5 different waterslides built into a little hill. The top height was probably 6 feet with a pretty long length. The next stop was a larger pool with about a four foot depth with an area with basketball hoops for play. My daughters favorite area was a slow path that you floated down in a tub with occassionally things splashing on you. She would want to go around it like 4 or 5 times in a row.
They also had a wave pool which had about a 6 foot maximum depth and a 2-3 foot valley to crest. This is sort of small compared to a wave pool that I was used to as a kid which was like 12-18 feet deep and 4-6 ft waves but was nice since I could hold my daughter and hoop over the waves. I spent so much time doing this that one night it felt like I was still hooping while trying to go to sleep. They also had a water soaked play structured which is topped with a 1500 gallon bucket which would dump on to those below every few minutes. Right below this bucket was 2 water slides which where like 2 stories tall of twists and turns. You had to listen for the bucket alarm while waiting in line on the slides to avoid getting soaked. My daughter and I got up to them planning on going down together but when we got up there I learned that she had to go down on her own with me on the other side to meet her at the bottom. I asked her if that was OK and she said yes but did look nervous. We went down and when I meet her at the bottom not only did she enjoy it she demanded that we go back up to ride again. We also did an activity which had a rope net strung across a pool with flotation pads in it. You are supposed to hang on and work your way across but my daughter was not tall enough to react it so she just crawled from pad to pad and I moved them close together to help her jump from one to the next.
I tried it with the netting and expected more floation from the pads but it is not designed for the dads. Our trips to the pools always ended with a stop at the hot tubs to get warmed up a little before heading back to our rooms to get cleaned up. This should only be the last stop since it makes the other pools seem very cold.
I have not talked about the big water slides yet since I did not take my daughter on them even though I could have since while it might be pretty safe I am sure she would have been scared. They had 2 levels of these higher slides. The 3 floor high set of 4 different slides which go into and out of the building. One of the slides involved a drop into a big bowl where you went around a few times before dropping through a hole in the center. These were all fun but sometimes had a line when the area was busy. On our second day I was able to ride them as fast as I could climb the stairs back up since it was a weekday while school was still is session so not very crowded. I am not a huge thrill ride fan but I liked these. They also had a 4 story multiple person raft slides with three different choices. I only did one of them since you have to get paired with other people if you are riding alone. The ride I went on actually had powered parts which made it even faster than a normal gravity powered slide. I was not expecting that. I might have known what I was getting myself into if I had brought my glasses but I left in the room to not lose them.
We had a great time in the pools probably spending like 10-12 hours there during our stay. All the staff was friendly and helpful. I was constantly asking the lifeguards the time so I could meet my wife for events. They also had a nightly story time with both a short animatronic show and then a employee reading an extra large format book.
The only thing we did not like was the restaurant which was a buffet and we had a hard time find main course dishes that we enjoyed. We do not really eat seafood and many of the other dishes seemed very salty to us. We try to watch our salt by not adding extra but it is not like we eat salt free meals. We had already paid for the meals since we did not have time to go out and eat someplace else but in the future we would probably make time to go to other places in the area.