Great Wolf Lodge with Teen Kids and a Baby- By Jen Campbell
A couple weeks ago I wanted to take my son, daughter, grandson and nephew to The Great Wolf Lodge, for a quick overnight trip. We had such a good time, I wanted to share my experience with you.
My grandson is an infant, the boys are between 15-17 years old and my daughter is almost 20. With it being a "quick" overnight trip, we didn’t get everything packed in that we planned (since it was a short trip) but did all the things that we wanted!
My son went about a year ago with his dad for a weekend trip, and he couldn’t wait to get back to the indoor water slides. We went as a family several years ago and had a wonderful time! The hotel room included the water park access, so in order to visit the water park, you have to stay at the hotel. When I calculated the rate for a local water park plus staying overnight someplace, it worked out to be about what one would expect to pay for this, so I tried to work out the huge chunk of change I forked over, in my mind...being the frugal one that I am!
We went to The Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, NC. There are 14 different locations now in the US, but the Charlotte/Concord location is just over 3 hours from us.
You don’t have to do everything they offer! There's a lot to do there for all ages. We simply wanted to do the water slides and areas for the smaller children. They offer MagiQuest, they say it’s much like the Harry Potter World at Universal Studios (I’ve not yet been, so I can’t say for sure). You basically purchase your wand and the game, then you receive a booklet with neat clues, that will send you all over the HUGE Hotel searching for your clues. Kids all over the hotel seemed to be having a fantastic time! However, since my son had done this before and is a teenager now, this didn’t interest him one bit.
The boy’s favorite water slide was the Tornado. It’s like a huge big funnel that you slide down on a raft built for up to 5 people that drops like 4 feet into a huge waterfall type pool that slides you up one wall and then down another. Finally releasing you into a pool at the end. I’ve done this ride several times, and while it’s my favorite, I always end up closing my eyes once we did the short drop, as I am a big scaredy-cat! The boys kept going time and time again, with grandma keeping the baby at times, so the 3 could go do a few rides. Even though I consider myself in fairly good shape, climbing the stairs for every single ride…put me out of breath and tired. Whew!
I liked the wave pool, the regular pool, the small children's areas and the large bucket area for smaller children. Also the zero entry water area which was super shallow, was nice. The boys enjoyed immensely playing basketball in the regular pool with other guests and I was more than happy to simply watch over them and swim about. The lily pad floating area looked like lots of fun, but I chose to sit back and watch others do the adventure and fall into the pool, with many (including me) looking on and laughing.
They also offer an outdoor waterpark type area, but we didn’t even wander out there. It was such a hot day 90+ degrees, and with a baby, we didn’t want the sun exposure. They have a neat little ropes course for all ages, but alas it was outdoors, so we didn’t partake. The area looked super packed, and so we happily stayed indoors.
You could sit in a lounge chair and relax with a nice cold drink in your hand (they do sell alcohol, but it’s a bit pricy in my humble opinion- so I stuck with the bottled water I brought from home)….but I wasn’t able to relax much with the loud room's noises…to me it seemed like the sounds were maximized in such a huge area.
They also have a neat Arcade for kids of all ages (which the boys checked out) mini bowling and a Scoops Spa (which seemed to be a mom and me place for kids who enjoy pampering). For our family group, it was all about the water park area I guess this trip!
THE ROOMS AT GREAT WOLF LODGE-
Great Wolf Lodge offers standard rooms and then themed rooms. We didn’t stay in a themed room (we could have done so in a bunk bed fort type room for an additional $50 per night!) but seeing as though it was summer, the rates for one night already busted our budget (and we chose a Sunday night stay so it would be less), so needless to say we stuck with the standard room. I had wanted to bring our niece with me, but when I tried to upgrade prior to arrival, I was told they were sold out, and on the website it showed booked up. Hmmm….
So back to our room. Our standard room was HUGE, very nice, super roomy and offered plenty of room for the 4 of us and a sweet baby. We had 2 queen beds and a pull out couch! The partition between the couch and sleeping area was cool. We brought the babies small bed so we didn’t need to ask them for a crib. We had a small refrigerator, where we stored our drinks from home, a microwave and nice patio area, since we were on the ground floor. They even had cute little scented shampoo/conditioner, and kid’s fun, scented body wash. Lots of luggage carts were available to lug all our luggage and miscellaneous baby items to and from the room.
THE FOOD AT GREAT WOLF LODGE-
The Dunkin Donuts inside The Great Wolf Lodge had great coffee and donuts for breakfast that we ate the next morning. Their food area near the water park area was clean, although the staff seemed a bit disorganized. The boys ordered cookies on the way home and seemed to enjoy them in the back seat. We ordered a hamburger, fries and a drink in the park area, and while it was pricy, it sure was convenient, and tasted good, alas it worked in a pinch. We opted to head out to dinner locally (a chain steak place) that evening that was really delicious!
The staff went out of their way to make our stay pleasant. While some of the food workers weren't super friendly and attentive, overall we didn't have any issues in any area of the hotel or water park. I was impressed with their quick response by the lifeguards on duty. I think they take safety very seriously (and they should) and I actually witnessed them "testing" the staff on 2 occasions with someone doing a fake drowning (someone on staff) to see how quickly they responded, to me it looked like they did a fantastic job!!
I think for a short weekend, The Great Wolf Lodge-Concord is great for all ages, even adults, and is doable on a tight budget. We stayed only one night, but were able to enjoy the park that afternoon we arrived, into the next day even after check-out, so it seemed reasonable for around $320. It’s worth going to any time of year in my opinion, although having been in summer and in winter, it sure seemed more exciting to go in the winter. For me, knowing it was super cold and dreary outside, we were busy having tons of laughs and fun indoors! We'll definitely be going again soon I think.
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