Great Wolf Lodge: Family Fun Worry Free

By Zoe AckahSpecial Features Editor On November 15, 2012 @ 4:55 pm In Travel | No Comments

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls. (Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge)

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls. (Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge)

Great Wolf Lodge is a group of large family-oriented hotels disguised as log cabins with locations around North America. I recently visited the Niagara Falls lodge with my three kids and had a fantastic time.

At the heart of Great Wolf Lodge Niagara is a 103,000 square foot, 90-ft tall indoor waterpark that has 13 water slides, a wave pool, a 4-storey tree house water fort, and 7 pools. There are fun activities for people of every age and swimming ability. 

Admission to the waterpark is included with the price of the room. The facility is exclusive to guests of the hotel.

“Our lobby is a living room,” says Keith Simmonds, general manager of Great Wolf Lodge Niagara. “We want it to be all registered guests.” 

This means security is excellent and line-ups are not all that bad on weekends and nearly non-existent on weekdays. 

All guests, including kids, wear a small wristband that identifies them, but the band also allows guests to do so many things: unlock the room door, charge purchases to their room, and children can have money loaded onto it to spend. There is no need to fumble for your keys or hide your wallet.

Splash! 

Great Wolf Lodge—103,000 square feet of waterpark and 2.5 million litres of water! (Jason E. Miczek)

Great Wolf Lodge—103,000 square feet of waterpark and 2.5 million litres of water! (Jason E. Miczek)

The waterpark is a balmy 29 °C (84 °F) all year round—a real antidote for the winter blahs.

Kids are thrilled by the scope of the waterpark, but the first thing you will notice when you hit the water is the number of lifeguards who are vigilantly watching. 

All waterpark staff undergo Ellis & Associates water safety training, which Simmonds describes as “the most detailed lifesaving standard out there for waterparks.”

You will soon forget about their reassuring presence and start splashing and having fun with your family.

When you all dry off, the Northern Lights arcade is filled with video games suitable for kids of all ages, including you. Playing Dance Dance Revolution with your kid for 45 minutes is by no means conspicuous here!

Tokens for the games are reasonably priced and are often included in packages you can buy when you plan your stay. 

Fun creates an appetite

Antler Shanty Grub's all-you-can-eat buffet. (Jason Miczek)

Antler Shanty Grub's all-you-can-eat buffet. (Jason Miczek)

There are several places to eat inside Great Wolf Lodge. The largest facility is the Antler Shanty Grub, a massive “all you can eat” buffet with a number of stations that customize your food to order. It is open for breakfast and dinner.

If you have a child with special dietary needs you can contact the chef by email in advance and they will try their best to accommodate you. My kids had no trouble gobbling up the gluten- and dairy-free pancakes each morning!

There are seven additional places to eat onsite, including a bar and grill and a pizza place that will deliver pizza to your room.

Cub Club kids programming

Kids and parents gather around for story time. (Jason E. Miczek)

Kids and parents gather around for story time. (Jason E. Miczek)

According to Simmonds, being a great entertainer is the first priority of working at Cub Club. “We’ve got staff who are great dancers, face painters, and some have acting training.” 

The Cub Club is a fun place filled with activities for kids. Parents can stay and play too, or there are kid-only programs to give mom and dad a break.

The Cub Club Pyjama party gives kids the chance to make their own crafts to take home. (Jason E. Miczek))

The Cub Club Pyjama party gives kids the chance to make their own crafts to take home. (Jason E. Miczek))

The most popular Cub Club program is the no-parents-allowed pyjama party from 7:00–9:30 p.m. The program fills up quickly, so be sure to book your children in after you check into the hotel. Children with special needs are also welcome.

Cub Club staff also appear in the Grand Hall by the huge fireplace for story time each night at 8:00. The lobby is filled with children singing, dancing and, of course, listening to a story before bed. 

Pamper yourself

Scooops Kid Spa. (Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge)

Scooops Kid Spa. (Courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge)

On-site full-service Elements Salon and Spa offers everything from hairdressing for men, women, and children to a wide variety of facials, massages, and manicure/pedicure services. 

My daughters got their first proper manicure and pedicure at the Scooops Kid Spa. They loved having a spa experience like mommy and spent the next week showing off their sparkly fingernails and toes.

It’s included

Kid Cabin Suites feature a cabin with bunk beds for three children. (Jason E. Miczek)

Kid Cabin Suites feature a cabin with bunk beds for three children. (Jason E. Miczek)

When booking your room, the room price includes a lot of value. A single room at $199 can fit a family of four. Larger suites can fit eight people for $320. 

A number of the rooms have fun themes like little log cabins or tents inside the room for kids to sleep in. Other suites have whirlpools and fireplaces.

“Kids never forget their own little log cabin in a room,” says Simmonds.

Every room comes with “two days of play with one night’s stay” for all guests, including waterpark admission for both the day you check in and the day you check out, free parking, free Internet in your room, and story time each night with seasonally themed entertainment.

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