That place? Twelve-year-old nirvana. You will never get closer to heaven than that place if you're a tween whose parents will empty their pockets for you.
We didn't quite know what to expect, and as we were walking to the main entrance of the lodge, there were families with COOLERS and CROCK POTS walking in. We were all, wha..?? They were only a tiny little step away from family-team-shirt wearing and adjoining-room yelling and balcony-catch playing. Except there weren't any balconies.
We walked in and were greeted by a ginormous two-story Christmas tree and an even bigger check in line. We waited in line to check in for AN HOUR. There were three separate times when one of us wanted to give up and drive back home and the other one said "Well? But... we've invested this much time...."
And the official verdict? Meh.
The hotel room was nothing special. Just a hotel room. The arcade would be awesome if we were younger (NOT if our kids were older, mind you, because then we'd go broke). The story time in the lobby was Celebration Station-esque with automation animals and people, and the snow in the lobby was kind of fun. The water park would be great if we were younger and could find that special sort of joy spending 12 hours a day climbing and going down the slide time after time.
But we are not tweens.
And the absolute worst part ever? The "cruise" mentality. I've only been on a cruise once ever (which may be too few times to actually JUDGE. But that won't stop me.) I found it to be populated by people wishing that they were on the boat entirely by themselves. They would therefore would get up at the break of dawn to "claim" their deck chairs by the ship's pool. People at the buffet would take as much of something delicious as their plates would hold instead of just taking SOME and letting others have some. And the rest of us? Who didn't care so much? We sat on the concrete by the pool. And ate whatever was left at the buffet (or, more reasonably, WAITED until the good stuff was refilled. We weren't exactly MARTYRS, for crying out loud).
Anyway, back to my point (yes, I HAVE one). The "cruise" mentality at the GWL referred to parents. It seemed like as soon as they walked through the doors, they were on vacation. From their kids. There were a bazillion 9 - 13 year olds running wild both in the water park and through the hotel doing their special Quest Treasure-Hunt thing. And again: the Quest Treasure-Hunt thing? AWESOME if I'm 12 and have a friend with me and my parents would leave us to it.
The toddler pool was fun for Lucy. There were a couple times I had to tell some older kids to get out because they were running through and splashing the other little kids (where were their parents?). Lucy spent some quality time with Daddy floating on an inner tube in the wave pool singing "Rock, rock! Rock, rock!" with each wave.
So. The gist? The GWL was fun enough, but it's not my thing and never will be. I don't do well paying to enter in order to stand in lines or pay extra to get what I want all the while fighting with crowds of people. I would rather pay three times as much to rent a cabin and get eaten by mosquitos in a row boat or jumping off a dock. Looking back, there are a bunch of things I'd rather we'dve spent that money on. Like Babysitter + tickets to the Nutcracker. Or Babysitter + tickets to White Christmas playing at the 5ht Ave Theatre. Or a play kitchen for Lucy. But, oh well, and now we know, and we never have to do it again.
Until maybe Lucy's 12 and begs and begs...
ETA: This is not a review of the Great Wolf Lodge. We were invited to stay overnight for a discounted media rate and this is a story about our experience there.