Road Trip Discoveries: The Great Wolf Lodge

by Amy Kraft on September 8, 2013


Sorry things have been so quiet here on the blog front. We’ve just returned from a two-week road trip to Illinois and back. Though we’ve made this trip before, we decided to try some new things on this trip that I’ll be sharing here. The first is the Great Wolf Lodge.

We were staring at maps looking for something big to do with the kids on the way to Illinois, someplace to stay and have fun that was more than a roadside hotel. Last year we did Cedar Point, and while we were in the area we noticed a big hotel with water slides sticking out of the side. We did a little research on the Great Wolf Lodge and found out that they’re all over the place. The closest one to us in in Pennsylvania, but I priced out a few options and found the one in Mason, OH (near Cincinnati) to be significantly cheaper a night. Cincinnati took us only a little out of our way, so we decided to go for it.

We checked in and didn’t leave the building for two days. The obvious appeal is the water park. Normally the idea of a water park makes me recoil. It just sounds like work. Packing up all the stuff that the kids will need, dealing with wet clothes, etc. (I’m not a summer person, can you tell? Don’t even get me started on the beach.) But when the water park is built right into the hotel and the entrance is right down the hall from your room… now we’re talking.


The water park, in addition to the requisite slides that shot Olive outside the walls of the building, had other great features like a wave pool, an elaborate water-spewing playground apparatus, a lazy river, and a few pools to choose from. There were even some Ozzie-sized slides and he went around and around and around until he was thoroughly exhausted.


The room was great. The kids has a “Wolf Den” that looked like a little cabin with bunk beds and there was a TV all their own mounted to the wall. The arcade was awesome. Picture an uncrowded, super-clean Chuck E. Cheese where all the games are working. I taught Olive how to play Skee ball. Olive and I also got mommy and me pedicures at the Scooops kids’ spa.


There are plenty of ways for the Great Wolf Lodge to separate you from your money. They even give you a bracelet to charge things to your room so you don’t have to do anything as pedestrian as carry a wallet. One thing I was skeptical of but that ended up being worth the money was MagiQuest. You go to a room filled with magic wands, and after purchasing one your quest begins. Head to a forest with TV screens built into the tree-trunks and a Dumbledore-like dude will tell you to seek out runes to give you wizardy powers. Then embark on a scavenger hunt across three floors of the hotel. As you wave your wand at chests and paintings, they register that you’ve found a quest item. This was better exercises than being in the water. Olive and I ran up and down stairs completing quests until we could barely walk. The usability of MagiQuest started to fall apart in adventure mode, where the technology was unresponsive and we couldn’t defeat the dragon before we left. Still worth it, though.


Meanwhile, Ozzie enjoyed the animatronic clock shows that the rest of us found pretty creepy. We joked that it looked like the tree people keep the children hostage.


We would totally seek out Great Wolf Lodge again. I could see doing the one in the Poconos just for a weekend getaway. It’ll have real appeal in the dead of winter. There are lodges all over the country. Check to see if there’s one near you.

GBK Gwyneth September 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

My kids have loved MagiQuest for a long time. And when I saw there was one at the Great Wolf in NC, I couldn’t wait to take them. I could work in the room while they ran around completing quests, then we could all swim together at the end of my work day. A little contrived and cheesy, but those were some good times!

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