Monday, November 23, 2009

Jenny’s family visits Great Wolf Lodge

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny shares her family’s mini-getaway experience (and great tips) at a nearby resort.

With fall upon us and summer vacation just a distant memory, my husband and I were feeling a little cabin fever and decided it was time to take the family on another “staycation.”

We decided on Great Wolf Lodge, an “indoor water park resort,” because our 5-year-old adores swimming, it’s less than a 2-hour drive (the maximum nap time our 10-month-old will sleep), and we figured if the water park got boring we could visit any of the other great attractions in the Niagara Falls area.

We needn’t have worried. We ended up spending all day, every day in the water park, except for meals and sleeping! Unlimited access to the water park is included in your stay, which is just one of the pros of staying at this family-friendly resort.

At check-in you’re given a wristband, which functions as both the key to your room, and a charge card (only adults can charge) – infinitely convenient, as you don’t have to worry about misplacing your key or cash while in the water park, and even our 5-year-old soon became adept at scanning the band to get into our room.

Every night at 8 p.m. there’s story time in the lobby – arrive early for this don’t-miss event to see the lobby floor packed with kids, and enjoy the theatrics from the live storyteller! (The picture above is taken during Saturday night story time)

Towels are provided in the water park – they’re a bit small, but at least you don’t need to lug wet towels back to your room.

The water park features lots of different pools and many sizes of waterslides for all ages, from tot to adult. Our 5-year-old enjoyed the slides in the tot pool and our 10-month-old was delighted with the waves in the wave pool.

There’s both a snack bar, and a licensed bar in the water park for when you inevitably get peckish.

There’s an arcade, too, which keeps older kids entertained after the water park closes in the evening.

The single in-house restaurant’s dinner buffet is quite carb-heavy, with barely a cooked vegetable in sight, and costly for its limited selection (although kids 3 and under eat free with an adult dinner).

Although the water park is staffed with lifeguards, there is limited actual supervision – it’s not a daycare centre, after all; you’ll want to keep a close eye on young ones.

Lineups for the bigger waterslides can be longer than expected, especially on busy Saturdays. Expect to wait 10 minutes or more.

Save money by bringing your own food for breakfast and lunch – every room has a fridge and microwave and you can easily make a “picnic” meal in the galley kitchen.

Bring more than one swimsuit so you don’t have to put on a wet bathing suit after lunch.

Bring a robe, cover-up, or an extra-large t-shirt; and, crocs or shower shoes for walking back and forth to your room. The hallways feel chilly after the warmth of the water park!

Hit the water park early – at or close to opening at 9 a.m. daily – to secure a table near the pool your kids are likely to use most, so you can supervise while seated.

If you can, get a room on the first floor, the same level as the water park, for ease of travelling back and forth to your room.

We had a fantastic time and would definitely go back!
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  7. I think you've got some interesting points, but I'm just not sold. If you really want to get the crowd behind you, you've got to entertain us, man.

  8. We visited Great Wolf Lodge many times in the past before i put all my time into The First Years Wave Stroller. I miss it now, thank you jenny for the nostalgic moment.

    Maria Sherperr
    Dublin University
    The First Years Wave Stroller


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