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Monday, May 31, 2010

Smarty Day Trip Series: Great Wolf Lodge

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger Kathie Harper

First of all, I guess I need to preface that Great Wolf Lodge is not really a one day trip. It is a one night trip, which includes two days of fun at the waterpark! In other words, when you purchase a night at the lodge, your family gets waterpark passes for most of the day prior to and the entire day after your night's stay.

My family visited the Great Wolf Lodge in April, and our guest blogger, Kathie, took her family last year. The children's ages who went were 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4. All can swim fairly well, but it was not a problem finding things to do! Kathie's account of her trip, along with a few photos and information from Rachel is included below.

Great Wolf Lodge is located in Concord, NC, which is an hour's drive from Winston, a little less from High Point, and a little more from Greensboro. We arrived at 1:00 on a Monday. Even if your room is not ready, you can check in at 1:00 and start the waterpark. You can then get into your room at 3:00. We were able to get right in our room and we were at the waterpark by 1:30. The price of your room includes lodging and the waterpark - from 1:00pm the day you check in and the next day until it closes. You may have to pay a little extra if there are more people in the room than allotted, but it is still a great deal. The basic family suite has 2 queen beds, a pull out sofa bed, a small refrigerator, a microwave and cable tv. This is for 4 people and ranges from $190 during the week to $270 on a weekend. Remember - this is lodging and one and a half days at a waterpark. In my mind, a pretty good deal.

The waterpark is in a huge room, heated, with heated water and great changing rooms. They provide the towels. They are not huge but you can get as many as you would like and they are very warm. The lifeguards measure the children as you go in to see what rides they can go on. There are lifeguards everywhere. They are always moving, always watching and they change stations a lot. I felt that it was very safe and very clean.

There are 4 waterslides:

Howlin' Tornado - must be at least 48". Sorry, I did not go on this because I do not do well if there is a lot of spinning. I did ask around and it was by far, the favorite ride!

River Canyon Run - must be at least 42" to ride; 42" - 48" must ride with an adult. This is great! It is four to a raft and you sit down. It does not spin you, but rocks side to side. My eight year old and I spent a lot of time on this one!

Alberta Falls - must be at least 42" to ride; 42" - 48" must ride with an adult. This is great! You sit in single or double tubes and go down. Also, a favorite with my eight and seven year olds.

Mountain Edge Raceway - must be at least 42". You lay face down on a mat and race 3 other people. It is great! My seven year old especially liked this one!

Other than the water slides, there are: (these are the ones the four and five year olds liked)

1) Beaver Tail Lake - a fantastic wave pool that is calm and then makes waves about every 10 minutes. This was loved by all my kids. You can swim or float in single or double rafts.

2) Cub Paw Pool - for little kids under 48". Older children can take in younger children. This is an enclosed water pool with great spray and play items. There is a maximum depth of one foot, so it is very safe.

3) Fort Mackenzie - a four story treehouse that sprays you as you walk around. It has two water slides which are great for children who are not skilled swimmers or who may be a little hesitant to ride the larger slides.

4) A deep water (up to 5 feet) pool with basketball and ropes/lily pad courses. It is great fun to swim around.

We stayed in the waterpark five hours the first day. We did take a break and get Edy's ice cream. The Edy's Lil Scoop was huge and more than enough for a hungry child or adult. It was a blast and we were already excited about going again the next day.

We went to the room, changed into dry clothes and headed out for dinner. There are two restaurants in the lodge - a buffet and a sit down. Because we were there on a Monday night, only the buffet was open. It was very good and reasonably priced. There are also numerous restaurants within a mile of the lodge if you want to get out for a while.

After dinner, the kids changed into pajamas for the Clock Tower show and story time. The younger children enjoyed this a lot!

There are many other activities at the Great Wolf - a spa, an arcade, MagiQuest which is a quest where you use high tech wand to solve challenges. As you might think, these can really add up if you decide to do all these extras. We just played in the water park and never ran out of things to do.

The second day, we were in the water at 10:00 when it opened. We had to check out of our room at 11:00 so I brought a bag of dry clothes for everyone to change into at the end of the day. You can also rent lockers for $10. We played until 3:30 with a short break for lunch. We ate at the walk-up restaurant inside the waterpark. Again, I thought the prices were reasonable - $4 hamburgers, $3.50 hotdogs, $6 chicken fingers and fries. They also have Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts on the property.

They also have a very nice gift shop and a swim shop. I had forgotten goggles and was able to purchase very good Speedo Jr.'s at the Great Wolf. Again, the prices were about what I would have paid at Target.

When we were finished swimming, we used the family changing room and all took showers. We were clean, and dry and tired. It was only a short drive back to our house but it had seemed like we had been on vacation a long way from home. It was fantastic!

Someone asked my eight year old if her family should go for one or two nights. My 8 year old said "definitely, one is enough". If you take advantage of the waterpark, which is what you are paying for, you will be exhausted!

Quick stats/info:
Click here for directions.
The indoor waterpark is typically open from 9am to 8pm daily
What to bring:
Plastic bag to carry wet suits home
Other than the essentials above, not much is needed, but some optional items could be:
Swim goggles, Earplugs, Flip flops, Aqua socks
Waterproof watch
Exercise clothing
Reading materials
Warm PJ’s/Slippers to wear to Story Time
If you’re not swimming, you may still wish to bring comfortable clothing for the 84-degree waterpark area.

* Some photos taken from Great Wolf Lodge's website.

If you have been to Great Wolf, share some of your experiences and tips with us!


Anonymous said...

We went to the Great Wolf Lodge back in February. My kids, ages 9 and 7, loved it and can't wait to go back!! I completely agree that staying 1 night is more than enough time to enjoy everything and feel like you've had a "vacation." My family loves the water and loves water parks...and we all felt like if we had been planning to stay for 2 nights we would have been tired of water!!

Carrie said...

We took my two older sons, ages 3 and 6, to the Great Wolf Lodge over Spring Break. It was fantastic. They loved the water park and they loved MagiQuest. One night was the perfect amount of time. We got one of the cub den rooms with bunk beds. The boys thought it was fantastic. We had heard that if you get there before 1pm they will let you into the water park early. We got there at 11am, there was no one in the check in line and we got into our room and got our water park wrist bands. At 1pm the line to check in was out the door. It may be worth it to try to get there early if you can.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to stay overnight or can you just buy park tickets and go for the day?

Rachel H said...

From what I understand, it is not an option to just do the park. You must purcahse a night in the hotel room, which then includes four passes to the water park. I guess it is a good way to control the amount of people in the waterpark though!

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