For years the A Parent in Silver Spring crew have been sharing our opinions of local destinations and weekend suggestions, but never before have we experienced a Great Wolf Lodge getaway.
Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains was every bit as awesome as the commercials on TV. And it was not a budget breaker!
I was completely surprised and we were all completely into our howling good time at GWL.
Here are our favorite aspects of the resort.
OMG. This was the biggest and best indoor water park we have experienced, hands down. Although check-in is at 4pm, visitors can access the water park at 1pm the first day of their stay, and then on your last day although check-out is at 11am, you can stay until 9pm that evening playing in the water park. This maxing out of the water park experience really allows families to obtain the greatest value from their vacation.
Our favorite bit about the water park? Everyone had to put away their phones! That is why I do not have as many photos as I would like — iPhones and water do not mix! But this encouraged the best family time. Chris and I were completely focused on the kids and left those pesky digital chains back in the locker.
All three of the kids (and both parents) felt sheer joy hurtling down these thrilling slides. Some of them were unlike anything we have ever encountered, such as the Double Barrel Drop. This great big tunnel slide can hold up to four persons on its raft and plummets you down two funnel drops. One sends you spinning 450-degrees before coming to a splash-landing in the plunge pool. Check out this Go Pro perspective video to see what I mean!
Alice was too young for that one, but her favorite slide was River Canyon Run which allowed our entire family to climb into a raft together and ride. There were over 25 different water park activities. We spent the bulk of our two days riding the rafts and shooting down slides, but I know there are a few slides we just did not get to.
Our room was huge and accommodated all 5 of us comfortably … but we were in simply a standard room! All rooms at GWL are suites. Ours had two queen beds in the bedroom and a pull out couch in the sitting area. Our room had a microwave and fridge, which allowed for bringing fruit, snacks and other items with us.
We have all seen the deluxe rooms at GWL featuring log cabins, tipis and more, but here is a beautiful and affordable way to make a standard room like ours extra special: request a Snowland Suite. For just $40 more, through January 3rd your room will come decorated for Christmas with lit tree, snowflake decorations, lit garlands throughout, several special presents for your children, and a bedtime milk and cookie delivery from a GWL character!
Snow showers in the lobby, decorated trees and twinkling lights everywhere, gingerbread houses and more, GWL was a winter wonderland and keeps its beautiful winter dressings on through January 3rd.
Charlie, Eve and Alice, when not careening down a water slide, were kept completely entertained by GWL Kids Experience pack members. The kids snuggled with characters, played Bingo, had their faces painted, decorated cookies, listened to stories, received custom balloon animals, listed to singers. There was always a family fun activity happening in the lobby! The Wolf Walk was especially cool: a prowl around the Grand Lobby learning the habits of the native wildlife. The nighttime Forest Friends Show was fun to attend in pajamas (even the parents) for animatronic animals singing songs and telling tales.
We received a $50 gift card to use at any of the on-site restaurants, and you will too if you book your GWL Poconos reservation by January 11, 2016. You will also receive a 15% discount if you stay longer than a single night.
We liked the food at GWL. Our $50 gift card covered lunch for our five. There is a buffet-style seated restaurant and several quick-service spots, four of which are located right by the waterpark for mid-swim snarfing. Oh, there’s a Starbucks in the lobby and a bar in the water park. Chris and I tried them both and give them four enthusiastic thumbs up.
Charlie and Eve adored heading to the arcade solo after Alice was beat for the night. They both played for about an hour with $10 each, choosing from the latest high tech video games. Tickets are awarded after every game and are generously doled out: both kids earned enough tickets to choose a medium-sized stuffed animal.
Activities we will try next time
We McFaddens did not sign up for every single item on offer in this packed-with-options family vacationland. But we were completely engaged throughout our one night, two day stay. Items we will try next time, and would be do-able to fit in over a two-night or longer GWL getaway.
Bowling in Ten Paw Alley: We DMV folks already know the joys of duckpin bowling, and this mini-alley provides a similar take on 10 pin bowling. You can wear your own shoes, the lanes are half regulation length, balls are five pounds and bumpers are built in. I know Alice would have loved this!
Howl at the Moon Glow Golf: Indoor, colorful, black-lit glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
MagicQuest: This popular magic wand-fueled high tech scavenger hunt includes challenges with dragons, pixies and more lore on this journey throughout the resort. We saw so many families taking the Quest challenge, wearing capes, bearing wands, that we felt we were at Hogwarts.
Clubhouse Crew: A mini high tech, resort-wide scavenger hunt for the kids too young for MagicQuest.
Scooops Kid Spa: An ice cream-themed spa designed just for kids, with pint-sized manicures, pedicures, fizz soaks, sherbet scrubs. Kids and moms partaking in a Mommy & Me experience receive their treatments wearing tiaras and plush pink robes.
Howly Wood 4D Theatre: Chairs that move, special glasses and amplified effects all make for a multi-sensory movie experience.
Creation Station: Make your own GWL stuffed animal souvenir and dress her in accessories.
Elements Spa Salon: Traditional adult spa for the parent who needs some “me time.”
Ropes Course: Outdoor ropes and adventure course (this appeared closed when we were on property, as temps were low.)
Cool new option for families with babies
GWL has a new “Diaper Den” program in which Playtex offers a Diaper Genie to every guest family who requests a Pack ‘n Play at all 12 properties. This will help traveling parents with the burden of dirty diapers in a hotel room! These families also receive a travel size package of baby wipes and two packages of swim diapers. And of course, each suite comes with a complimentary fridge and microwave so families can easily store and prepare baby food and formula. Just request a Pack ‘n Play for your room when you book to get all the Diaper Den perks.
Are you a Great Wolf Lodge Lifer? Which property is your favorite? Because we are hooked!
My family and I received a free night’s stay for review, a Snowland Suite and a $50 dining credit. All other expenses we covered. No additional compensation received.