We visited the Great Wolf Lodge this week. I was surprised by the number of people who said “tell us what you think! We’ve been meaning to go”.
The TL;DR version is, it’s awesome, and you should go. Kids under 6 months old probably wouldn’t care, but anything older than that will have a GREAT time.
Before I describe our experience I’d like to describe our timing. This is our third trip, and we always work to come when very few other people come. We homeschool and I have a flexible job, so we can go pretty much whenever we want. This year we came the week school started again. The hotel is almost empty, there are no lines for anything, and the cost is much lower than normal.
That timing is going to color my review a little. I have no idea what it’s like here on fourth of July weekend, it might be miserable. And expensive.
Everything here is just as nice, pleasant, big and awesome as in the promotional materials. I’m so used to promotional materials making things seem much better than they are that this is a very nice surprise.
The staff all seem genuinely pleased to help us enjoy ourselves. The wait staff in the restaurant stay and chat with us about where we’re from, etc. The bar tender came over to our table to make sure our drinks were mixed the way we liked, and took my wife’s back to tweak it a little. The life guards howl like wolves occasionally, and try to get kids (and grownups) to howl too.
It’s very much a party atmosphere.
Now I’m sure the wait staff wouldn’t have the time if we weren’t the only people in the restaurant like we always are. But that’s their default, and they do when they can.
In addition to the water park there are many other options.
There’s a thing called MagicQuest. You can buy a magic wand for your kid, and then all over the hotel are little animatronic things they can bring to life. It’s a big puzzle and they have to get clues. There are trees in the restaurant, and one of them lights up all over if you wave the wand at it.
There are some story times for younger kids that we’ve never done. There’s a large animatronic forest area and the animals tell the stories.
There’s also a miniature bowling alley. Everything’s about half size. The lanes are half as long, half as wide, and the balls are about half as big. I watched a 5 year old bowl just fine.
There’s a very large arcade with video games, “games of skill”, and lots of flashing lights.
There’s a top notch ice cream and fudge shop, a Dunkin’ Donuts in the hotel, and the restaurant is very very good.
I would assume each location’s restaurant has some of the same food, but the one in Traverse City also has lots of local food. Bison features prominently in the burgers and steaks because there are a number of bison farms around here.
The Water Park
For the most part you should just watch videos on youtube, they’ll describe it way better than I could. That said, I’d also like to mention that there’s something for just about every single kid. There’s a pool where the water’s a half inch deep. The deepest pool is 4 feet. I spoke with a guy today who was there with his 1 year old and his 3 year old. The 1 year old was having a BLAST, and they said they wished they’d brought their oldest before he was 2.
The first time we came we stayed in a room with a queen bed and a cool bunk set for the girls. The bunks looked like a tree house, and they LOVED it.
These days we save up more and stay in their loft suite. Each kid gets her own queen bed, and we get a queen in the loft, with our own bedroom. There’s a nice fireplace. Everything is very clean and neat and well appointed. There are 3 flatscreen TVs, one in each bedroom and one in the living room. The cable isn’t HD though, so they look pretty lousy. That’s my only complaint about this place.
I can’t recommend this place enough if you like water. If you don’t, it’s still a nice hotel, but you might like the casino down the road better. 🙂