Excellent Adventure, days 3-4

GreatWolf09_8Great Wolf Lodge sits alongside 1-5 in south-central Washington state. It’s part of a chain. It’s basically a GIGANTIC HOTEL wrapped around a GINORMOUS INDOOR WATER PARK.

But it’s so much more…

The lobby has a soaring ceiling with a rustic, lodge-type design. Massive wood beams, and a wood covered peaked ceiling. The first thing you notice is NOISE. Bedlam, actually. It never stops. Happy kids running around everywhere. Mine joined right in.

I get in the line to check in, Margi takes the kids on a tour. Yes, there is a check in line, where you wind around for a while for the privilege of forking over your hard earned money. I waited about 10 minutes, tops.

Checking in is cool.

GreatWolf09Margi and I both got pink wrist bands. These were electronically coded to unlock our room (no need to carry plastic key cards) AND to pay for stuff (no need to carry a credit card). Our kids got white wrist bands that let them swim, etc. We also got a packet of confusing stuff, that only came clear after a while. I recommend purchasing the “Paws Pass” which gets your kid a lot of cool stuff, heavily discounted. We figured we’d buy most of the stuff on the list anyway, so let’s get it over with. An expensive trip. Not like Disney-expensive, but still pricey.

GreatWolf09_1We went to our room… after waiting in line for the elevator. Yes, I’d estimate that a third of the time, you will wait for an elevator. The elevators are slow, and there are so many kids flying around (not to mention luggage carts).

The pink wrist band opens the door perfectly. My son is jealous and wants one… the first time ever he has requested pink!

We booked a room with an inside “kids’ cabin.” It was fantastic. A big room with a smaller room inside it… looked like a mini log-cabin. Bunk beds and a 3rd bed for kids, with a flat panel TV. The room itself is decent. Not fancy. Neither super clean nor super dirty… a kind of 3 star room meets a kids’ cabin, that I would have loved as a kid.

We drop off our stuff, and it’s time to swim.

GreatWolf09_2The water park is awesome. I count four major pools PLUS a massive play structure. The four pools are….

1. WAVE POOL: incredibly strong. Waves for maybe six minutes, and rests for six.  Totally fun. They supply a whole bunch of inner tubes. The water is shallow, gradually reaching maybe 4 feet at the deep end. My kids LOVED this pool. They jumped the breakers, surfed on their inner tubes, and bounced up and down over the waves. Lifeguards seemed very focused whenever the wave machine kicked in. Water temp: cool.

GreatWolf09_32. KID POOL: Very shallow — 3 inches to maybe 16 inches tops. Fun sprinklers, slides, very safe, very nice lifeguards everywhere. My son liked this pool the best. He could sit on a little horse, and squirt water at other kids… he was the pool bully… not really.  He’s actually very kind hearted. This pool is perfect for non-swimmers and little kids, maybe 7 and under. You always risked getting squirted, or splashed, but it was worth every second to see our kids so happy. Water temp: warm.

NOTE: everything is bedlam… accept this, and you’ll have a great time.GreatWolf09_7

3. WIPEOUT POOL: We didn’t know what to call this pool, so we made this name up ourselves. One part of the pool had basketball hoops, and volleyball, and stuff to climb on. The other part had a mini-obstacle game.  Wobbly lily pads float across the pool, like stepping stones. Each pad is about 2-3 feet in diameter and is tethered to the bottom so it won’t go anywhere. A rope stretches above the lily pads, across the pool, at head height.  Kids get to hang onto the rope, and cross the pool on lily pads. Once they fall, they have to immediately exist the pool for the next kid.  Our kids LOVED the wipeout game. They both made it across, gingerly, without falling, GreatWolf09_4about half a dozen times. They waited in line… and loved every second.  Very focused lifeguards here, too.  One kid at a time… Water temp: warm.

Did I mention the bedlam?

4. TODDLERS OUTSIDE POOL… we stopped long enough to look. Fountains, sprinklers, too babyish for our kids. There is an outdoor spa pool here, which we didn’t use.

But the heart of the water park was the:

GreatWolf09_6GIGANTIC PLAY STRUCTURE.  This thing was cool. Think of a huge play structure with water everywhere. Balanced precariously at the top was a massive bucket. It slowly filled with water, and every 5 minutes or so, it dumped ONE THOUSAND GALLONS onto happy, screaming children. My daughter loved this part. She eagerly waited in the spill zone for the bucket to dump. I did it once… it felt like getting hammered with padded fists, which is a perfect metaphor for parenthood.

Steps, mini-buckets to tip on unsuspecting climbers, hoses, ropes to pull that turned on hidden sprays, and two huge water slides (red or yellow, take your pick). My daughter loved the slides right away… she was very brave. Curvy, fast, splashy. My son warmed up to them on his last day… and love it. Water temp: cold.

There was one more ULTRA HUGE SLIDE, but my kids weren’t interested. That’s cool, because it gives us something to graduate to next time, and oh yes, there will be a next time.

Three hours in the water park, and the kids were WIPED OUT! But there was so much more at the Great Wolf Lodge, and I’ll save that for the next post!

Except to mention the buffet restuaurant… pricey. Busy. Does the job, though. Food quality like Hometown Buffet, or maybe a tad lower. Thankfully, there’s also a Starbucks in the lobby!  Yeah!

Bottom line.. fun place, tiring for adults, a blast for kids. Worth the trip. We’ll do it again.

What if the kids are tired of water? Oh.. how about a game that motivates them to RUN TEN MILES?  No kidding!  I’ll tell you all about it in the next post.

Here’s someone eise’s family video… we weren’t brave enough to bring a video camera into the spill zone…


One thought on “Excellent Adventure, days 3-4

  1. Pingback: Great Wolf Lodge trip - June 9-10, 2008 (part 2) | Niagara Falls Ontario Hotels

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