Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge

by Terry 8/19/2008 12:22:00 PM

Karen, Kaitlin and I spent the weekend with friends at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound Washington (http://www.greatwolflodge.com/Locations/Grandmound/index.aspx). It was a fun trip. Kaitlin had loads of fun at the water park and playing MagiQuest (http://www.magiquest.com). Overall, I think it was a bit overpriced for what you get, but it was fun nonetheless. Given a choice between spending two and a half days at Great Wolf Lodge or Disneyland, I would likely choose Disneyland. However, Great Wolf Lodge is considerably closer to my home, and therefore a better and more likely option.

The water park was pretty cool. In western Washington, an indoor water park is really the way to go for year-round usability. From what I heard, there are plans to double or triple the size of the current park at the lodge. If this is true Great Wolf Lodge will be pretty spectacular. As it is now, the park size is good for about a one-night stay, provided you can arrive early or leave late on either side of the night you stay. The hotel is accommodating for this to a point, you need to check out by 11:00 AM but you can use the park for the remainder of the day. Likewise if you arrive early, you can use the park until your room is ready. This last weekend the hotel had near complete room turnover on a sold-out weekend, which makes it nice to be able to use the features even though you may not have a room.

Karen and I were a little underwhelmed with the suite. We shared a suite with our friends, a total of seven of us in the two-room suite; cozy, but not crowded. For a new hotel (about 4 months old, as I understand it) the room was in fair condition. The chairs and sofa were too few and not very comfortable to sit on, the floors were not well vacuumed (Karen found an old grape and bit of plastic in the middle of the room), and our bed frame was broken making the bed rather uncomfortable to sleep in. However, this is not a ‘resort’ hotel like the kind I have worked for in the past. This is a family-fun-park, not a Park Hyatt. Most of the amenities are not in the room. For example, there is no ‘bell staff’ hovering at the door, but there is an ample supply of baggage carts for use. A typical resort hotel would have the bellhops getting edgy if you used a cart without a tip; the opposite is true at Great Wolf Lodge. Still I would expect a little more in in-room amenities for what we paid.

On a good note, however, the suite had a small refrigerator, which was very helpful, as Karen has strict dietary needs that make eating-out less pleasant. We tend to eat organic, unprocessed foods and having the counter, sink and room refrigerator was a good alternative to eating at the hotel restaurants. For most people, the on-site food-service would be fine, if slightly expensive, but the in-room features made the suite a good option for us, making up for the other defects in the room. Other food options are limited without a significant drive, which cuts into your play time. If you can plan for this and suffer with the local food or bring your own you should be good.

My friend Richard told us about MagiQuest before we left. I was pretty convinced I would not spend the money to buy a wand and have Kaitlin run around the hotel for two days looking for paintings and other treasure-hunt objects to end with a five minute duel with a dragon on a video screen. It turns out it was good pay-up and do the quest anyway. This is largely because we spent two nights and we had exhausted ourselves on the water park. If or when the water park is expanded then it may not be the same, but as it is now, having the treasure hunt for Kaitlin and her friend were convenient, particularly since there were enough adults to help them. At age eight, Kaitlin is a bit young to be running about the hotel without supervision. Below age eight, the game is not really a good fit, and as an adult I was moderately entertained too, I was just too tired from being in the water half the day to really run with it.

If you are looking for a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, I would recommend making the most out of the water park as you can, bring your own food if possible and make sure the kids have companions. I think the ideal stay is about one night if you can come early or leave late. Be prepared to spend money on food and other activities, relax once you get there and have fun.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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