Travel: Great Wolf Lodge packs best of a water park into small space
Special to the Daily
I had never heard of Great Wolf Lodge and initially found the idea of an indoor water park a bit confounding. When I think of water parks, I think of Schlitterbahn in Texas, which sits on 70 acres. How could you possibly put that indoors? Well, you can’t. But Great Wolf Lodge manages to pack the best of a water park into a much smaller (50,000 sq. ft.) indoor space. It is a pretty brilliant concept to bring to a snowy state. Great Wolf Lodge makes it possible for Coloradans to feel a bit like they are at the beach, even on a snowy day.
We made the trek down to Great Wolf Lodge on a snowy day in February and hit the water park immediately after checking in. Our preschool and grade school kids were enthralled with — and thus spent the majority of their time in — the wave pool, Slap Tail Pond. As advertised, Fort Mackenzie is the best water fort tree house you’ve ever seen. It includes all kinds of splash-and-spray water toys, as well as water slides.
Our grade schooler really enjoyed crossing Big Foot Pass with giant, floating lily pads and cargo nets. We played in Chinook Corner dodging water cannons from Fort Mackenzie above and throwing a few shots of water basketball. Our kids passed on the opportunity to try out the Howlin’ Tornado, Mountain Edge Raceway, Wolf Tail and Alberta Falls, but I am sure those thrill rides are the highlights of the park for older kids.
DRY LAND ACTIVITIES, TOO
Obviously the water park is the main attraction, but you will want to enjoy some of the dry land activities, too. Our kids joined in the evening PJ Party, which was really a dance party. The following morning after breakfast, they also warmed up with Yoga Tails, before we hit the water park again.
Great Wolf’s adventure park has a fun miniature golf course and ropes course. There is also a miniature bowling alley, arcade and ice cream themed spa. Of course, you won’t want to miss Dunkin’ Donuts and Ben & Jerry’s as a special treat. With those two shops nearby our kids barely noticed the candy store. Beware: While it’s fun, the Dave & Busters style arcade can be a bit addicting and over stimulating. Adventure park activities are not included in the price of your lodging.
We did not try out the live action game, MagiQuest, but it seemed to enthrall the older kids. Apparently you choose a magic wand and set off on a quest to Vellara, the realm of imagination, as you help the guardians to protect the realm portals.
WHAT TO KNOW
• You must stay at Great Wolf Lodge to access the water park. The price of the water park is included in your lodging.
• Sign up on the Great Wolf Lodge website to receive special offers. A few days after we signed up we received a special offer with a discount that also included a resort credit. Of course, it was not for peak times, but we found a date that worked for our schedule.
• One night is enough but two is probably better. You can start using the water park at 1 p.m. the day of arrival and can use it until close the day of your check out. We found that for a preschool aged child and an elementary aged child about 1.5 hours at a time in the water park was enough.
• We were advised to avoid staying on floors 3 to 5 where much of the MagiQuest action takes place.
• If you have extra swim suits, then bring them. You will want to get out and back in before the others dry off. Depending on your planned time of arrival and departure you will probably want to pack a swim bag. You don’t need towels, they are available for check out at the water park, but you will want some type of flip flops or water shoes. Swim robes or cover ups to wear when walking to and from the water park are useful, as well. Great Wolf Lodge has life jackets for the little ones so you don’t need to bring floaties.
• The Lodge provides you with wristbands at check in that enable you to access your room, water park entry and the ability to charge dining or adventure park activities to your room. Racing to see who could be first to open the hotel room with the wrist band was a favorite activity for our kids.
• The on-site restaurants are all kid friendly and most are reasonably priced. The rooms have mini refrigerators and microwaves so you can bring your own food and snacks. And there are plenty of additional kid friendly dining options within a short drive.
• Bring friends. We had an awesome time just with our family but I think the kids would have had even more fun in the water with friends of the same age. I bet our grade-schooler would have taken on more of the slides if she had a friend with her, and our preschooler might have spent more time shooting water cannons at Fort Mackenzie if he had a friend along.
MORE IN TOWN
Our family thoroughly enjoyed our time at Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs and will make an annual spring weekend getaway to the town, which has many other family friendly attractions in addition to the Great Wolf Lodge. You might want to think about making a long weekend of it and include a stay at the Broadmoor, a visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, a ride on the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, a visit to Pikes Peak or a day at the Garden of the Gods Nature Center.
Liana Moore is Chief Mama Blogger at Insider Families and Marketing Director of Antlers at Vail. She can be reached at http://www.insiderfamilies.com, http://www.facebook.com/InsiderFamilies or email@example.com.
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