The Six Best Things About Great Wolf Lodge (According to My Kids)
By Calvin Hennick
When we pulled up to Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, we were expecting a hotel with a couple of modest water slides.
Instead, we got Kid Las Vegas.
Before we even got out of the car, we could see the spinning fluff in the window of the property’s Build-a-Bear Workshop, and when we walked into the lobby, it was teeming with toddlers, elementary-aged children, and pre-teens wearing fuzzy wolf ears and dancing to kid versions of Top 40 hits.
There was plenty we couldn’t fit into our two-night stay, including the ropes course, miniature golf, rock climbing, or the mommy-and-me ice cream pedicure (yes, really). But according to my children, ages 7 and 4, here are Great Wolf Lodge’s greatest hits.
6. The Treats – What is it about filling up a container with the Jelly Belly flavors of their choice that makes kids’ eyes light up? Between the jellybeans, ice cream from Bear Paw Sweets & Eats, and the kid-friendly fare (pizza, popcorn, grilled cheese, etc.) available all over the property, my kids were constantly in a state somewhere between “full tummy” and “sugar coma.” Hey, it’s vacation.
5. Crooked Creek – The water park was way larger than I expected (68,000 square feet!). In fact, it’s really two water parks, with a hallway separating a pair of indoor oases. Each side has its own kiddie splash pad, larger water slides, and other activities, but my children probably spent the most time in Crooked Creek, an inner tube lazy-river ride with a strong clockwise current. Honorable mention goes to the neighboring Chinook Cove and its water basketball.
4. MagiQuest – This is an indoor fantasy scavenger hunt game that takes hours to complete (my kids didn’t make it to the end), and starts with each child receiving his or her own magic wand and selecting a unique magi name. (My son chose “Terminator,” while my daughter is now known in magical realms as "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.") Kids can keep their wands, although they’re only magical on-property, where they have the power to light up crystals and open treasure chests.
3. Slap Tail Pond – My seven-year-old son had never been in wave pool before this, and every time he went in, I eventually had to drag him out well before he was ready to leave, all pruny and waterlogged. He loved it.
2. Northern Lights Arcade – It’s not enormous, but something about the design of this place made me lose all sense of direction every time I walked into it. Factor in the bright lights, the opportunity to win prizes, and the fact that it’s open 24 hours, and this is the closest thing to a kid casino. If my children could have, they would have taken out a second mortgage on our house just to play the motorcycle racing game a few more times.
1. The Water Slides – Right when we arrived, I grabbed a double inner tube and climbed the stairs to one of the larger water slides with my four-year-old daughter, thinking that any indoor slide was bound to be relatively tame. Nope! This one was steep, curvy, super fast … oh yeah, and pitch black. So it may be a while before she’s ready to give water slides another shot. But a bit later, I took my son on an even larger slide called River Canyon Run. After climbing what felt like several hundred steps, we sat facing each other in a large circular raft, and a teenage girl pushed us out into the night (the enclosed tube of the slide actually exits the building before bringing riders back indoors). I ended up facing backwards the entire time, nearly causing me too lose my lunch. But as we whipped around the curves, my son bellowed out his succinct, five-star review: “This … is … awesome!"
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