Family Travel Review: Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls (VIDEO)
If you have ever yearned for a family vacation with plenty of water fun (but without paying an arm and a leg for flights) Great Wolf Lodge is a great choice!
I was recently invited by Great Wolf Lodge to take a look at their new MagiQuest Adventure and while visiting, we experienced a few features that we had yet to discover on previous trips.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Great Wolf Lodge, it is a huge indoor water park resort built exclusively for families. There are currently 11 resorts spread across North America, with one location in Ontario – Niagara Falls. We are close to both the Traverse City Michigan location as well as Niagara Falls, so both resorts are close enough for us to getaway for a weekend.
Great Wolf Lodge offers a very different check-in experience. Upon arrival, you walk-in to the huge lobby of the resort and your kids can run up to the talking bear, moose and other wildlife, or sit by the cozy fireplace while you check-in. There are no keys to deal with (or lose), instead each member of the family is provided with a wristband. Hold the wristband approximately 1-2 inches away from the lock and it unlocks. The bands are water-resistant and you can have one (or all) bands programmed for charging privileges (dining, snacks, gift shop, etc).
There are several different room and suite options suitable for everyone from couples looking for a romantic weekend away, as well as options for both small and large families. The largest suite sleeps up to 8 comfortably! We have stayed in two of the different suites.
The standard Family Suite is spacious and sleeps up to 6. There are two queen size beds and a full size sleeper-sofa as well as a private balcony or patio. This is the least expensive out of all the suites and very comfortable. If you would like the kids to have their own room however, I would recommend one of the themed or premium suites.
On our last trip we stayed in the KidCabin® Suite. Our girls were thrilled with the set-up as they currently sleep in bunk beds at home. The KidCabin® Suite comes with a cabin-themed sleeping area for the kids (bunk bed and day bed) which includes their very own television. In the suite itself you have a queen size bed, full bathroom and living area with pull out sofa bed, gas fireplace and television.
I really appreciated the separate sleeping area for the kids as I was able to get some work done in the evening and watch television with my husband without worrying about keeping the kids up. Worked out really well!
So, let’s talk about the crowning glory of Great Wolf Lodge – the Waterpark! This park is so huge you could easily spend over half the day there without getting bored. There are so many attractions, rides and pools suited for various ages. When you walk in, there is a bear where little kids are measured for rides. They are then provided with a colored wrist-band which alerts the life guards as to which rides they are allowed on.
Fort Mackenzie is always a highlight! This 4-story interactive tree house is placed int he very center of the water park and offers everything from soaking spray stations to treetop slides. There is even a 1,000 gallon bucket that tips from the tree tops. So fun!
The Kiddie Slides, Frog Pond and Chipmunk Cove were preferred by my little ones! They loved the shallow water, mini water slides and floor geysers. That being said, there are plenty of thrilling over-the-top slides for older kids and adults as well. If you get hungry, or if mom and dad are looking for a refreshing beverage, there are two snack bars in the water park area itself.
TIP: When visiting the resort, bring a pair of flip flops and comfortable shoes to walk around in! Swimsuit cover-ups are another great option as chances are you will be spending quite a bit of your time in the pool area.
Great Wolf Lodge recently welcomed a brand new attraction to their resorts called MagiQuest. You can purchase wands in the gift shop which will then be programmed with each user’s individual info. You can view video and our full review of this exciting game here.
Cub Club is always a favorite and chances are if you bring your little one here you will have a hard time getting them out. Packed with activities and crafts, this fun clubhouse has everything from paint to toys. When we visited the lodge for the very first time, my daughter was just a toddler and she absolutely adored this space! In fact, she would have happily stayed the Cub Club all day if she could. We painted, played games and made some sparkly crafts before I finally had to tear her away. Definitely a great space for little ones!
The Northern Lights Arcade is filled with little games and ride-ons for the smaller kids as well as more interactive and complex games for the older ones. We aren’t big arcade people and since there is so much to do throughout the resort we usually skip it, but for those of you (and the kids) who love that kind of thing, this is a fun spot.
If you want to surprise your girls with something super sweet, head over to Scooops Spa. We had never tried this spot until last month and oh, boy what a treat!
Located just off the adult spa is a special room just for kids. As you can see, there is a double seating area in the shape of a giant banana split. When we walked in for our appointment, my girls were each given their own crown and then chose their polish. Before the session began, the ladies had them choose from yummy ‘flavored’ cleansers and creams for their pedicure.
The girls were treated like princesses and enjoyed every single minute of it. That being said, the services at Scooops aren’t cheap. Pedicures run at $40 and when you have two girls… well it can get pricey! We will definitely reserve this spot for special occasions only.
Parents looking to fit in a little bit of fitness into their getaway can head down to the 24 hour Iron Horse Fitness Room. I didn’t try this out personally as getaways allow me to take time off from my current workout regime, but if you need a release, it looks like a well-equipped gym.
Whether you are looking for pizza (Northwoods Pizza) delivered to your room, a quick bite to eat (Camp Critter Bar & Grille) or a full buffet, there are plenty of food options at the resort. Antler Shanty Grub is the buffet area which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are so many different options here, and picky eaters are sure to find something they like.
Two of my favorite spots are the Bear Claw Cafe and Canoe Coffee Shop. Open late, these two spots are great for a quick treat, beverages for the kids or snacks.
Why I Love Great Wolf Lodge
So, we’ve talked about the basics that the resort has to offer, but I wanted to fill you in on what I love most about this resort. Yes there are plenty of attractions and activities for kids, but what I love most about Great Wolf Lodge is the overall atmosphere which is warm, welcoming and incredibly relaxing. Kind of ironic considering the action-packed days you can have if you choose! The staff treats you like family and there are so many touches that really make a big difference to your stay.
I also really enjoy the extra activities that are included in your stay (no extra fees). Kids can partake in shows and games such as the Great Forest Friends Show, Wolf Walk and more. To top off the day kids (and parents if you wish) can throw on their pyjamas and slippers and run down to the Grand Living Room at 8pm for Story Time. Wiley or Violet (Great Wolf Lodge mascots) get your kids involved in the story-time with dance and song. If you REALLY want to tire them out, stay up for the dance party. We danced like no one was watching for 2 hours past their bedtime (whoops). I blame the catchy tunes and mama’s overall relaxed state on that one.
Another bonus – after check-out you are still welcome to use the facilities for the afternoon. So if you want another run through the water park – go for it!
Disclosure: Great Wolf Lodge invited my Child Mode to the the media launch of MagiQuest. All opinions (and bragging rights) are mine and mine alone. My family and I are and always have been big fans of the brand.