Great Wolf Lodge
The kids were excited to find out that we would be staying at the Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Waterpark Resort as we’ve been to several as part of our “Indoor Waterpark Tour”, but this one was still on the “Conquer” list.
Being the first Indoor Waterpark in Ohio, this place set the standard that all others have continued to follow. Don’t do as I did and allow the fact that it was built in 2001 to fool you into thinking that the resort wouldn't equal or surpass it’s competition as they have continued to update their amenities. To “comfortably surprising” results.
Walking into the Lodge we were immediately amazed by the attention to detail purveyed inside. There's a grand fireplace that stands as tall as the ceiling (im guessing over 50 feet) that commands your attention, several couches and a wide open space that abuts the GWL “Great Clock Tower” log cabin where each night everyone gathers for a storytime performance read by the staff and several animatronic “robots” (Not to be confused with Chuck E. Cheese styled animatronics, this is more akin to Disney level theatrics).
We were greeted & checked in by AJ and he immediately set the tone for our whole stay as he was super friendly and ran down all of the daily activities that take place in the resort like a morning “Wolf Walk”, “Yoga Tails” morning Yoga, The “Great Clock Tower” Show, “Lunch Time Lineup” activities and crafts, “PJ Party” a nightly dance party in the lobby followed up by Story time where the kids can jump into their PJ’s and head to the lobby for a nightcap story with Wiley, Violet or Sammy and much more, all for free! Which is well within our budget!
In addition to the above activities, you can purchase a “Pup”, “Paw” or “Wolf” Pass, which enables you to enjoy additional activities at the lodge at a drastic savings vs purchasing alacarte.
We were provided “Paw Passes” which included the following:
1 MagiQuest game
1 MagiQuest classic wand, topper or belt
1 12 oz. candy cup
1 scoop of ice cream
1 $5 Paw Points game card
The kids loved these even before they knew the benefits because the Paw Passes all came on bright red lanyards they hung around their necks like trophies. AJ gave all the kids high-fives and we were off to our suite!
GWL has several different room styles sure to fit a family of any size! Due to our abnormally large family (Insert Evil Genius laugh), we stayed in a Loft Fireplace Suite.
I will say this is the way to go, even if your family isn’t as expansive as ours! Downstairs it includes 2 Queen beds and a full size pullout sofa, a fireplace, 2 TV’s, a “Kitchen Nook” with a coffee maker, granite countertop, a microwave and refrigerator, plus a full bathroom. Upstairs features another Queen bed, TV and a half bath. We LOVED the room as it provided everyone their own space (which seldom happens), and the bedding was so comfortable, I inquired with the front desk to see if I could purchase some to take home. Oh and each room comes with a balcony or patio so you can relax and enjoy the tranquil, post waterpark madness!
A couple additional touches that I enjoyed about the room:
Upon check-in or after housekeeping cleaned the room, the TV's would be set to a "Fireplace Channel" that would show a burning, crackling fire and added a relaxing touch as I would turn this on before going to sleep and it was totally relaxing.
There is also a Great Wolf channel that would show a cartoon story about the origins of GWL. The perfect bedtime story, the kids watched it continuously, especially the "Lil's".
In most cases when we visit these resorts, the waterpark is the main attraction for the kiddos and it's easier to pull teeth than it is to pull them out to take a break. Although I can't say I blame them in this case due to the cool assortment of activities that almost beg for your attention.
A lazy river, several waterslides for all ages, a kids play area for the little tykes, Fort Mackenzie water playhouse with tons of water toys, water guns, and climbing obstacles you can navigate while attempting to reach the top deck which is topped off by a MASSIVE water bucket that soaks everyone on and around the structure.
Family and adults-only hot tubs.
Lilly Pad water crossing activity
A seasonal, outdoor pool and sun deck
Several poolside basketball hoops AND MORE!
GWL was different however as MJ and Scoop spent most of their time playing game after game of water Basketball with kids they met, Vegas obsessed over the Fort Mackenzie playhouse, screaming and laughing each time the huge water bucket tipped, while Munchie and Chipmunk seemed to get on every slide just as quickly as they got off and Sydney mused over the water geysers and mini slide in the kids play area. Then the “weird” thing happened as the kids wanted to spend just as much time out of the waterpark as they did in!
With MagiQuest you are a Wizard and you use a book provided to you in a sort of interactive scavenger hunt kind of way. Roaming around the hotel, they would all huddle up and try to figure out where they needed to go next to collect each item, waving their magic wands at certain “ports” that would then trigger an action.
One place has a huge sleeping Dragon that you awaken with a wave of your wand, or there is a bird in a cage that would recite a riddle to you, providing the next clue of where you should head. We really appreciated the learning aspect of the game as you couldn't skip around to accomplish your missions, you had to follow the book and figure out the clues, which was a great way to get them to use their minds without realizing they were! At one point, the game go so serious between them, Munchie called the others “slackers” and attempted to cast a spell on them! Love these kids!
On-site you have several dining options including “Gitchigoomie Grill” a full service restaurant that also offers a morning buffet and family styled servings for dinner. We tried the breakfast buffet and the kids stuffed their faces while Scoop ate enough bacon to wipe out a farm. Not your typical buffet filled with mediocre food, we enjoyed it so much, we went back the second day for more!
Other places to eat include “Hungry As A Wolf” where you can order all the great munchies like chicken wings, salad, subs and some of the best pizza we’ve tasted in a waterpark! Speaking of the waterpark, when hunger attacks “Buckets Incredible Craveables” is located right inside so you don’t have to dry off in order to “fill up” and if a buffet is too heavy for you, no worries because Dunkin Donuts (or is it just Dunkin now?) is located right down in the lobby!
Let me not forget the “Bear Paw Sweets and Eats”, an Ice Cream shop with hand dipped cones and the kids favorite, DIPPIN DOTS! The candy shop includes a wall with every kind of Jelly Belly jellybean you can imagine.
The kids are night owls (like their father, unlike their mother) so we really appreciated that after the night dance party and storytime, while everyone else was back in their rooms tucked in, we were able to venture down to the arcade and rack up the tickets because its open ALL NIGHT! This is a feature that we have yet to see in any other waterpark and we really don't know why.
One last really cool and helpful feature are the wristbands. All Indoor Waterparks provide you with them as a way to allow access to the Waterpark, however here they serve an additional purpose. Each one is embedded with RFID chips where you can allow at check-in certain ones to act as door keys so the kids can have access to the room without lugging around a key and you can also allow them the ability to be used as “virtual cash” and scan them whenever you want to purchase something and not need to carry your credit card around while swimming.
In all, Great Wolf Lodge is a top notch resort that has something for everyone and every budget, in and out of the water. We definitely recommend staying for more than one night because there is just way too much to experience in one evening. When planning your stay one way to adhere to your budget & maximize the "fun factor" is to upgrade and purchase add ons like a meal plan or one of the “passes” so you can experience as much as possible while knowing what you're paying before you arrive!
On last nod to the staff at GWL that made sure our experience was memorable! Read more about it HERE!
**Please note that our stay was provided in exchange for our review on GWL and it's attractions, our opinions are our own**
So you've read all you need to know, drop a comment below then head HERE to book your getaway!!
4600 Milan Road, US-250,
Sandusky, OH 44870