|I was not asked to write a review for the Great Wolf Lodge. This was a vacation that we chose to take on our own and I decided that I would write a blog about my trip. I've not been compensated.|
A few years ago, we were walking around in the Bass Pro Shop/ Outdoor World in the mall when we were approached by a "vacation agent" to book a mini vacation at such and such a place for only $100 or something low like that and we could use it to go anywhere within 12-18 months. (Sorry, it was a couple of years ago, so my memory is a little vague.) At the time, I had a 5, 3, and almost 1 year old and didn't know if I wanted to be traveling with them, but the guy had mentioned that one of the places we could go to was the Wisconsin Dells and that would include water passes and our hotel. I told him that we would think about it and gave him my phone number and address and then was plagued with phone calls and mail for a few months.
One day, I got a call and the salesman pitched me a deal that was too good to be true and we could schedule our visit within the year. I put the man on speaker so my husband and I could both talk with him and we had decided to schedule a trip to the Dells that July.
It really could have been an awesome experience, the prices were just right, but we had some difficulties along the way, but due to my persistence, everything turned out alright in the end. Our hotel got switched to Mt. Olympus and we had a big room with bunk beds. My then two-year-old wouldn't leave that alone and actually fell off and bumped his head, but other than that, we had a lot of fun.
However, when you do deals like this, you have to go to a presentation where they try to sell you time shares. My youngest was too young to accompany us, so our kids stayed in the hotel with grandma. the presentation was only supposed to take two hours and I think we were there for four. That really cut into our time to swim with the kids, but we made the best of it.
After the presentation, we went back to the hotel and by then, my youngest was crabby and needed a nap. I offered to stay behind with him while the others went out. By the time we were ready to meet them, the sun was high and we had to cross a parking lot to get to the pool. I had no shoes or flip flops and burned my feet very badly. Actually, we all did. Even though we could have swam the next day, we declined and went home.
Even through all of that, it was still nice to get away and let our kids experience something new. So when we heard that the Key Lime Cove in the next town over was being converted into a Great Wolf Lodge and that they were going to add more slides and attractions, we were very excited.
As soon as we heard that they were taking reservations, my husband booked us a big suite to fit us during his birthday weekend. We were so excited, that we forgot that the kids would have started school by then, so my kids were extra excited to miss a couple of days of school.
Because the drive for us is only about fifteen minutes, we left our dogs home and I went back and forth to let them out during the day. It was the perfect set up. We didn't need to pay to board the dogs and if we left something at home (our brush) then it could easily be brought back during one of the short trips home instead of having to go to the nearest store and pick it up.
But that's enough about me, let me tell you about the Great Wolf Lodge:
Right when you pull in to the lot to check in, you're immediately greeted by this awesome wolf statue.
It was even cooler to see at night when it was all lit up, but the camera on my phone made it look a little demonic, but I can assure you, there was nothing wrong or scary about this wolf.
|We were given wolf ears for each child.... yes, I know my youngest's shoes are on backwards.|
|Such a sneaky wolf pup|
|He's so excited to go in!|
There were only two elevators in the wing that we were staying in, so when we first came in, it was a bit of a walk, but we enjoyed taking in our surroundings and we eventually found the entrance and elevator that was closest to us.
|I took this picture as we were walking, I should have stopped. The carpet had animal foot prints leading the way to our rooms. Where there wasn't an animal print, there were "stone" paths.|
|This was just one light fixture in the hallway. Others had moose, caribou, and wolves. I wouldn't mind this for my house.|
One of the first things I did was open up the curtain in the living quarters and saw that we had a balcony. We were on the 4th floor and I discovered that maybe I'm a little bit more afraid of heights then I thought, although I got over that after going out there so much because the kids wanted to look out.
Six Flags is just within sight.
I loved this lamp.
This was our little kitchenette. I bought ice cream for the cake we would have for my husband's birthday, but discovered too late that there wasn't a little freezer at the top. So don't buy ice cream for your room.
Master bath. It was humongous. I could have fit all of my kids in there and an adult. I should have taken a picture, because that would have been pretty funny.
This was the living room area. I thought that the furniture could have all been a little more rustic and thought that this was actually a little boring for the room. The love seat folds out into a couch bed. That was very useful our first night when my in-laws stayed the night.
I really should have rotated this, but alas, I did not. This is the second bedroom. It featured two queen size beds, a television and had another bathroom attached to it.
Inside the Hotel
The first two floors are dedicated to the attractions that the hotel offers.
This is a little mini bowling alley. The balls were bigger than a soft ball, but smaller than your average bowling ball.
This was one thing that the hotel offered that was kind of cool, but also not because we didn't let our kids play because it was a bit pricey and we wanted to keep the price within our budget.
This was a MagiQuest game. Every kid who played this had to purchase a wand that would get activated. They were able to chose their own Magi name and then were sent on a scavenger hunt to find different object within the hotel. (I believe it was just the two bottom floors and in the lobby areas.) It was kind of cool to see the kids activate treasure chests which opened or the random screens that would give them a challenge. The goal was to get through these and then defeat the dragon in the end. If they completed their quest, they got to go through a knighting ceremony the next morning.
There were a ton of gift shops, both on the first and second level. If you like to pick up souvenirs, there was a place for you.
If you live there forever and never leave, you really could do it as long as you're able to work from home or on a computer. There were several eating options in the hotel. This was just a couple of them. They actually have Dunkin' Donuts and a Ben and Jerry's on the second floor- a person could gain a lot of weight living there.
But if you want to go out somewhere, that's fine too. Gurnee has many places to eat because it has the Gurnee Mills Mall and Six Flags and the Naval Base a few towns over. It's a great tourist spot so there are many good places to eat. We actually went out both nights that we stayed.
The first night, we actually went to Giordano's for my husband's choice for his birthday. If you haven't had their deep dish pizza, you're missing out.
The Water Park
Ok, so lets get to the real reason that we went... The WATER PARK!!!!
|You can view the water park from both floors.|
They had a small area for the toddlers and babies.
Here's the little splash area for the small kiddies. This is where my youngest liked to go because he was traumatized by the big bucket. By the last day, he was adventurous enough to ride in the bigger areas.
The park offered two large body slides. My daughter was a die hard fan of these until the first shift change and we were told that she was an inch too short to ride on them. The slides are almost pitch black inside with just a couple of lights shining here or there. They were very fun.
The two bigger openings are where the raft slides led out. These were extremely fun and small kids could go with you as long as they were like 42 inches or taller. All of my kids fit that height, so they could go on with us. My oldest was able to do all of the rides by himself.
You can enter every water slide from inside, but they loop around and all over the place outside of the hotel. We were worried that we would have to go outside to access them, but they all start inside. It makes the inside look smaller, but it's really much bigger than it seems.
Two other things that I don't show here is the biggest water slide which separates into two lines. Both are designed to be like you are going on a white water raft trip. Everyone can go on it at the same time as long as you fit because you sit on a giant round raft and ride it together. The blue one is a more straight forward and more gentle ride. You don't slosh around on that one too much because it's mostly a straight shot. It's still a lot of fun, but if you ride the orange/yellow one, you're going to get thrown around and also go down a toilet bowl feature.
The last thing also not pictured was the outdoor pool. This was just a normal pool that has a few places to sit. There is a bar next to it, so I'm sure that it's meant for night swim for drinks and company. We enjoyed swimming in it during the day because it offered us just a normal place to swim without waves or water spraying us from every which way. It was very comforting.
Getting my kids to wind down usually comes with it's own struggles, but when we're at a hotel with many exciting things, it can be very difficult. One thing that the hotel offers its guests that is free is a chance for story time.
|We let my kids each pick out their own stuffed animal at the gift shop. Together we went into the second floor lobby and listened to story time. (You can see how happy they were to get lined up for a picture.)|
|They transform the information screen to a little puppet like projection movie that plays as the kids all come from their rooms and settle in for the story. It was so cute to see the different kids run to the elevator in their pjs.|
|This is the stillest he has been for the whole three days.|
Afterwards, the kids got to meet that night's animal. I think this one was Brinley? My oldest didn't want to get into the picture. Apparently 8 years old is too old to hang out.
This was a really great family vacation for us. My kids LOVE to swim and they loved the water park. Because we went in September from Wednesday- Friday, the park wasn't very crowded and we never had to wait in line.
Is this something that could replace the Wisconsin Dells for us? I think so, or at least for now. There was so much to offer that even if you didn't go to the water park every day, you could still bowl, do the arcade, miniature golf, climb the rock wall or adventure ropes, or even do a scavenger hunt to get a dragon on one day, and then go to Six Flags another day. I think that will probably be an option that we'll have to do when my kids get older because even though the water park is great, three days is a lot to continue to enjoy it.
Needless to say, everyone went home without arguing on Friday and everyone slept like rocks, that night.
Lastly, you get a lot of exercise. Wednesday is when we first arrived. We didn't start any activities until after we checked in around 2:30. Thursday, I had forgotten to put on my fitbit after I had taken a shower, that morning. Once I went back in to grab it, I still got more than 10,000 steps. Friday is the day we went home. After we got there, we didn't do a single thing except lounge.