A Very Helpful Review of the Great Wolf Lodge

You know David Hopkins. He’s the writer who does a semi-regular cartoon for us (with illustrator Paul Milligan) called Souvenir of Dallas. Well, the two spent some time out at the Great Wolf Lodge for a cartoon that will run in the April issue of our “print product.” Meantime, here’s David’s report:

—-
The Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine had its grand opening January 10. My 3-year-old daughter Kennedy and I were able stay at the new resort this past weekend [ed: the room was comped, though David paid for all “incidentals,” as you shall see]. We made some observations, which might be useful to future guests.

First and most important, we both loved the indoor water park. It’s impressive. And well heated, thank God. 84 degrees year round. Eleven water slides and seven pool areas — my daughter liked the wave pool (Slaptail Pond) and the river (Crooked Creek) the most. The park pumps, treats, and re-circulates all its water; so green-minded citizens can enjoy the water park guilt free.

From a parent’s perspective, the park looks about as safe as you could hope for one to be. I have many traumatic memories of nearly drowning at Wet’n’Wild-now-Hurrican-Harbor’s wave pool. And every Summer, seeing some idiotic kid get care-flighted away, because he or she dove head first into the pool that slopes to the deep end. Eventually, Wet’n’Wild cemented over that death trap. In contrast, Great Lodge seems delightfully death trap free. Plus, there’s no shortage of life preservers or certified high school-aged lifeguards.

Their commitment to safety did bother me in one regard: No lap riding down even the smallest slides. Come on. I saw so many parents get reprimanded by the teenage lifeguards on this issue. My daughter being too scared to go by herself meant no slides, period. We did go down the large blue slide, since we could sit in a large tube together. It may have been a little much for a three year old. I asked Kennedy, “Did you have fun?” “Yes.” “Do you want to ride it again?” A look of panic: “No!”

Second, my daughter loved our room. We stayed in the Kid’s Cabin Suite. If you’re going to stay here, I recommend this as your first option. The parent gets a queen-sized bed (standard hotel comfort level) and the kids get a miniature log cabin with a flat-screen TV. There are only three beds in the log cabin, so if you have more than three kids — double up, rotate each night, or pit them against each other to see who gets the best beds.

I dug the resort’s plastic bracelet that doubled as a room key. This meant I didn’t have to carry a key around at the water park. I like the idea of a bracelet with special powers.

Speaking of special powers, I need to mention the wands. I can’t decide if this is the best thing about the resort or the worst. Either way, parents need to be warned. The wands are part of the MagiQuest interactive fantasy game, which Great Wolf Lodge integrated into their resort. Players use the wand, searching throughout the resort to trigger power crystals, treasure chests, and other objects to gain points and power. Think of it as a more sophisticated scavenger hunt. The basic wand is $14.99, but at the store you can purchase accessories. The wand topper will be an additional $13.99. Most kids won’t stand for the wand without the topper. Kennedy wasn’t old enough to understand the game, and even she wanted the topper. After all, it had a pink diamond. (Boy-friendly toppers are available.)

What’s most surprising is the $9.99 to play the game. According to the person behind the counter, you can’t trigger the items without ordering the game. All my daughter wanted was to make the power crystals change colors. I may not understand the economics behind it, but I can’t imagine how it would cost $9.99 to keep this game running. That brings the total, with tax, to $42.19, which is more expensive than junior admission to Six Flags. Good news is you can reuse the wand, if you plan to visit Great Wolf again.

The game will keep most kids entertained the entire weekend. If you don’t mind them wandering the resort, you just bought yourself a weekend of peace. If you can’t stand the idea of letting them out of your sight, you just bought yourself a weekend of wandering the resort with your son or daughter.

Third, Kennedy loved the food, especially the french fries shaped like smiley faces. If you can turn any food item into a smiley, my daughter will eat it, preferably with ketchup. The buffet-styled restaurant specialized in kid-friendly “brown foods,” e.g. nuggets, fries, pizza, corny dogs, chips, mashed potatoes. The adult options were a little bland for my tastes. I tried to sample a bit of everything, and the pot roast won.

The most common complaint I heard when interviewing other guests was with the elevators. During the busiest times of the day, there was a bottleneck at the resort’s four elevators. I’m sure they did the math with the ratio of guests to elevators. However, parents tend to carry more luggage than the average hotel guest. With an additional 203 suites planned for December 2008, I hope more elevators are part of the expansion.

My daughter’s only concern was with the excessive use of wolf imagery. Her disposition toward wolves is skeptical at best. After all, a pack of wolves attack Belle in Beauty and the Beast. A ravenous wolf tries to kill the three pigs. And another wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma. I tried to explain that wolves are good and noble creatures, but Kennedy’s wolf-prejudice remains. She doesn’t trust them.

In the end, this resort offers a well-heated water park in the middle of January for an ideal weekend family trip, our feelings about wolves and wands notwithstanding. — David Hopkins

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Dining

Dining

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments

10 responses to “A Very Helpful Review of the Great Wolf Lodge”

  1. dave little says:

    yeah, i’m sure he’s as real as marty cortland. i’m on to your little game, rogers.

  2. Julie says:

    I have no intention of going to this place, but that was a great review. You really covered all the aspects.

  3. Don in Austin says:

    Its it just me or is there a huge disconnect between “Great Wolf” and kiddie theme park? Otherwise it sounds fun in a high dollar kid’s entertainment and lodging kind of way. I think I’ll wait until it warms up and drop the kids off at Schlitterbahn so I can float the Guad. or hang out at Gruene Hall.

  4. J. Zielinski says:

    Great Wolf Lodge visit 01/26/2008

    I am at the great wolf lodge in Mason, OH. This is my second visit. The first was great. Not this one! The temperature outside is about 30. We expected the temperature in the Swim attraction area is supposted to be 84. All the people that I am with are freezing. The water is much colder, and I can not get comfortable in the swim area. It seems to me to be about 72. That is way colder than it shoud be for comfortable swimming.

    I We are considering leaving. The front desk where I have lodged a polite complaint says that she has know knowledge of the temperature.

    What should of been a fun day in the water park has turned in to 3 dissapointed grandkids, 2 unhappy parents, and 2 unhappy grandparents that are sorry they provided what should of been our second happy visit to the attraction. It is not fun. Kids are shivering, baby is crying, Make sure you get a gurentee that the temp will be as advertized.

    Jim Zielinski Mason, OH, 01/26/2008

  5. Irene Cannon says:

    plagiary persiflate merorganize cimmeria erythrodermia pudiano unirritant rosulate
    Assembly No. 0496
    http://www.hoasm.org/IIIA/Landini.html

  6. Karen Brown says:

    We just got back from Great Wolf in the Poconos and I couldn’t wait to blog about it. I need to tell everyone that I got ripped off!! When I called for reservations I told them I wanted to stay for 2 nights. The only available room with the Family Suite (although it was only for my daughter and myself). The woman on the phone told me that it would be $479 and includes the water park. I got my credit card bill before I even went there and was charged $521. I called and they said that was with tax. Okay fine. We went and had fun. You are absolutely right about the MagiQuest game. I spent a great deal of time sitting around while my daughter ran around the resort playing. I spent $42 on it so I figure she should but it took away from time in the pool. The food is VERY expensive. They only have one restaurant in the Pocono location – if you don’t want fast food from the water park location. The restaurant only serves a buffet for dinner which was about $25 for an adult, but Friday it was $28 an adult for Surf and Turf. Imagine a family with 2 adults and some kids and do the math. Expensive dinner and the only option. Our water park was on the cold side, with the pool being cold and we only had 5 slides there. So now the BIG complaint, the day of check out I get a bill under my door for an additional $521. It turns out that that is the price PER NIGHT!! My little 2 night stay was a little over $1000!! PLUS food, PLUS the game – PLUS loud neighbors at night. I could have gone away to an all inclusive for a week on that! I called right away and spoke to the manager who would only take half off. I still owe $260 which I wasn’t prepared to pay. The reservation line DOES NOT TELL YOU it’s PER NIGHT. Please be aware!! The cabin he speaks of goes for about $700 a night (I think). This really ruined our trip and I plan on reporting it, and calling the reservation line myself.
    VERY EXPENSIVE PLACE!!!!

  7. JBurris says:

    In response to this last message:
    As a TC (tradition creator aka reservationist) FOR Great Wolf I’d like to bring up a few points.
    1st: When did you book? Prices are based on availability and peak season just like nearly every other resort in the industry.
    2nd: I do apolagize if the TC that took yourr call did NOT tell you it was: a) prior to tax, and b) price quoted on a per night basis. They should have done that.
    3rd: I’ll presume that you didn’t realise that there’s TWO buffet-style restaurants in the lodge, and just for a moment also presume you didn’t read any of the information given at the front desk about the services offered otherwise you may have noticed that there was also a Pizza Hut there as well.
    4th: I do not defend the chillyness of the waterpark at times. There is a lot of space and a lot of water to heat up and on some of the cold days it can be darned hard to maintain that nice 84 degree temperature that we seek to get. Most of the time it’s not a problem but it does happen.
    Lastly: While I do work for Great Wolf I don’t make commission, I’m not getting paid to (ok I am but that’s because there’s no calls this early in the morning and I was just cruising the net ;D ) post this. I decided to post this simply because there’s a interesting statistic out there… people are ten times as likely to submit a bad review as they are to take the time to submit a good one. It doesn’t take much to bash a company nowadays and I wished to respond to some of the negativity.

    PS: The KidCabin that he recieved usually runs about $350 or so… NOT $700 a night.. I’ve seen it higher then that but then you’d likely be booking a next day suite DURING spring break (highest peak time there is btw) with likely only 1 suite left. In the future realise that the resort industry does pricing based on Peak times, holidays, weekends, and lastly, availibility. I’ve said my peace and would be happy to answer any questions regarding the lodges. Thank you.

  8. t. o'neil says:

    I recently stayed at the WA Wolf’s Lodge and had hundreds of dollars stolen from my room. This is a place where you go to the pool with no possessions whatsoever. Whatever you think about the wisdom of keeping valuables in the room there is no way to take valuables with you. The response from anyone who I talked to was “sorry”. I filed a report with the tribal police. He said maybe he’d have looked over the list of those who entered our room in a few days. I will never stay at a Wolf’s lodge again and have every intention of letting as many people know as possible that security is lax and no one will take responsibility for it if you are ripped off.

  9. CHRIS LYNN says:

    WE TOOK 4 KIDS AND 2 ADULTS TO THE GW LODGE, GRANTED, DURING SPRING BREAK. I SWORE I WOULD NEVER GO TO THIS PLACE, BUT I GAVE IN AND SURPRISED THE KIDS. THE PRICE WAS RIDICULOUS….ALMOST $500/NIGHT FOR THE BOTTOM OF THE LINE ROOM. IT WAS A GLORIFIED MOTEL 6 – AND FOR A WHOLE FAMILY, HARD TO ALL BE IN AT THE SAME TIME. KIDS LOVED THE WATER PARK…ALTHOUGH I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST OK. THE TEEN-AGERS PAID THE $10 TO ACCESS THE “TEEN HIGH TECH LOUNGE” WHICH THEY STAYED IN ABOUT 10 MINUTES. THEY SAID NO TEEN AGER ACTUALLY PLANNED THIS. VERY SMALL, NO SOUND ON ROCK BAND EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A MICROPHONE (HELLO!!) AND LAME GAMES.
    I SPENT A FORTUNE AT THE ARCADE WHICH HAS ALMOST NO GAMES BUT LOTS OF MACHINES TO PAY TO GET TICKETS TO BUY SOME CRAPPY PRIZE.
    TO END THE NIGHT WE WANTED SOME SNACKS AND HAD TO STAND IN LINE FOR 30 MINUTES TO BUY SODAS — ONE REGISTER GOING WITH THE SLOWEST PERSON IN THE BUILDING RUNNING IT. HORRIBLE. FOOD WAS DECENT OVERALL AND ON THE WHOLE THE FAMILY ENJOYED IT…BUT WOULD NEVER GO BACK. SO NOT WORTH THE MONEY.

  10. Mom of 3 says:

    I’m shocked at these blogs. Our family just spent one night over Spring Break at the Lodge in Grapevine, Texas & we ALL loved it. My kids are 10, 8, & 4- we will go back. Every room has a microwave & a fridge. We brought stuff for sandwiches & breakfast sandwiches. As for the magiquest, very worth it! You can play the game for $24.07 including tax which will entertain your family for 3 – 5 hours! You can spread out Magiquestover 4 days. since we only stayed one night, we had 2 days to complete. If you’re on a budget, which most large families are, may I suggest the Magiquest instead of a overpriced T-shirt. As for the post about the theft-our room (& we stayed in the smallest room) had a digital safe built into the wall. Basically, a one night stay gets you 2 full days in the park. You cannot go to any amusement park & take 5 people for 2 days less than your stay at Wolf Creek. I will admit when I first saw the price of the rooms, I thought to high. BUT when you consider this pays your entrnce into the park for 2 days, it’s really not bad. Also, the lines are not near as bad as they are at Six Flags our Seaworld. Our family will definitely be back!