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Your thoughts: Great Wolf Lodge, WA?

Ahhh, getaways are so fun to plan!  Lucky Heather is considering a trip:

I always get great input from urbanMamas.com…I am hoping if anyone has made a trip up to the new Great Wolf Lodge in Washington?  Apparently it is a kids type resort with a 60,000 square foot indoor water park, etc.  Most of the reviews I have read on tripadvisor.com, etc. are TERRIBLE!  Just wondering is anyone has their two cents to share about it.  Because I sure don’t want to make the trip up there plus the expense just to be totally disappointed….or to disappoint our 4 year old! 

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There was a very thorough story in last Sunday's Oregonian travel section. The upshot sounded like it was fantastic fun for the kids, but parents?
http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/travel/1207086901252400.xml&coll=7

I haven't been there and honestly don't think I want to. For one, you have to stay at their own hotel to even use the pool 'amusement' activities, which I think is lame. It sounds like the food amenities are very, very limited and bad (their own over-priced grill type restaurant or Pizza Hut??) and the prices of the rooms seem pretty darn high to me, considering the location.

We had some frineds just come back from there. This is what they had to say about it.

our whole experience felt like it cost way more than it impressed us. some of it may be that they are still doing some slight construction, like in the stairwells and are still working on landscaping, etc. but i think that even with giving grace on those things, it was still less than awe-inspiring, as the price tag would indicate.

I can't wait to go. I am originally from Michigan and my family took frequent trips to Wheels Inn (in Canada) which is similar to the Great Wolf Lodge.

I would say save up (give them time to work out the knots) and experience it for yourself. Indoor water parks are so much fun with 6-12 year olds.

We just got back. It was very crowded, even though we went on a Sunday/Monday. Tables filled by 9:15 am, chairs by 9:45 (yep, I watched the clock, lol) The kids wading area is huge, you need to follow your toddler/preschooler everywhere. My 3 year old fell several times under the water and could not regain his footing, so if you have a toddler, stay right by them. The floors were slippery in SEVERAL places where the texturing was not done well enough. I hit one of those slippery spots and went flying, falling and skinning my knee. Two of my 4 children also fell, one of them had a bad bloody knee. We also saw several other people fall. The slides were fun, the biggest ones each had a 15-20 min. wait. There biggest were the funnel type slide, a blue one and a green one. Then there were 2 small slides inside. The wave pool was sorta small, similar in size to Clackamas indoor wave pool. The food......terrible, avoid it. Even the cookies were tastelss. Staff was very friendly, even houskeeping was asking us if we were having a good time. Storytime at night started with an animatronics show that was hard to hear, and then a staff member read a story to the kids. Her mic kept cutting out, so she did her best to read the story loudly. The kids enjoyed it. I don't think we will be back unless we get a spectacular deal.

We are going next week. I am really excited as are the kids. After tax, our room is only going to cost 174.90 a night, so for a family of 4, I think its a screaming deal! I think that its nice that only guest can use the water park, that way its not too insane. I will leave a review when we come home.

Just returned from GWL-WA where we stayed for 3 days.

We took our 3 children with us and were advised to purchase swim shoes before hand by the resort for safety. This prevented any slips on the wet floors for them. Our youngest has just turned 3. She managed to navigate her way around the waterpark without falling once, for her this is an amazing achievement - sometimes it seems she could fall down while sleeping in bed.

There was so much to do for the kids. they were exhausted each and every night. Our advantage lay in the fact we went during school. There appeared to be at least 2 lifeguards watching each of our children (as well as us) at all times. Often, the guards would get down in the splash pool and play with our kids.

We didn't eat at the resort. We brought our own food and when we didn't feel like making anything there were restaurants within walking distance.

We will be returning to this resort though we will wait a few years until the children and be given more of a free run at the park.

We had a great time at Greatwolf Lodge! Here are some details about the lodge... and things to keep in mind if you plan to go some day.

Rooms
We stayed in the kid cabin room. I was great for our kids ages 4, 6 and 8. Older kids may not like it as much because the design is aimed toward kids 10 and under. They do have family suites available that are a little more grown up. Don't ever stay in a room near the elevator if you want to go to sleep before 11pm. They have a game going on throughout the lodge on the first 5 floors called MagiQuest. They keep the game on from 9am to 10pm (weekdays) 11pm (weekends) Then about 10 or 11 when the game is off for the night and all of the other activities are closed, people loudly return to their rooms. Request a room as far down the hall as possible. The only real con was the mattress... it felt like sleeping on stone. But after several hours in the water park you can sleep on anything!

Water Park
There are activities for every age group in the water park... however; older teenagers might get a little bored. There is a fairly big toddler/preschool area with small slides and lots of ropes to pull and wheels to turn that sends water dumping down/spraying on people. Once the kids figured out what each thing did they waited for an unexpecting adult to walk by (usually mom or dad) They provide lots of lawn chairs for parents to sit and watch the kids... but you can be in the water with them as well.

The water fort is for kids 4 and older. Our 4 year old didn't want to climb on it though. It's a very tall structure with a 1000 gallon bucket of water at the top that dumps on the fort every 5 minutes or so! It's a lot of fun! There a two slides at the top that have a very gentle landing into about a foot or less of water. The older two spent most of there time there.

They have 4 other slides that are fast. Alberta Falls consists of two slides that end in the same pool. You can go in a single or double tube. Riders have to be 42 inches with a parent or 48 inches to go alone. However, our oldest had NO interest in going alone! We didn't go on the Howling Tornado or the River Canyon Run. I saw lots of tweens and teens in line over and over for those rides though.

There is also an activity pool with basketball and lily pads that you can cross and a wave pool. Young kids need to have an adult AND a life jacket in both of these areas. Greatwolf provides courtesy lifejackets. : )

Food
Bring your own! We did a lot of research before we went and heard that food prices were crazy... so I packed a cooler full before we left. The rooms come with a decent size refrigerator and microwave. Don't forget plastic utensils, cups, napkins and paper plates. They do have a pizza hut there that is ok priced. $11-$14 for a medium depending what you want on it. The Starbucks in the lobby is about 25 cents more per drink than normal. All of the other places were pretty pricey for the amount/quality of food. Within a mile of the lodge there is a Dairy Queen and McDonalds.

Activities
~Cub club is an arts and crafts area for kids 10 and under... they offer several different activities throughout the day (most with an additional cost)
~Northern Lights Arcade is similar to Chuck E Cheese... but you get more tickets per game and the prizes are not the cheap dollar store quality you would normally get.
~GR8 Space is a computer room/ video game room. They have activities offered throughout the day as well - guitar hero contest etc.
~MagiQuest is an interactive game that covers 5 floors of the hotel as well as the stairwell! If you are at all offended by or hate Harry Potter I wouldn't play. Using a magic wand and guide book you follow clues that lead you all over the place. As you complete each quest you are given a rune that allows you to have a special power. Lots of kids run around the hotel trying to complete their quests! If you decide to play and get stuck on a clue, 10 - 13 year old boys seem to know the answer. LOL

Homeschool/Education
They offer junior lifeguard training, wolf/forest animal classes, and freaky frog class! Some of them are free and some have a cost... usually around $10 per child. Check to see what they are offering before you go. : )

Wheelchair/Disability Info
The whole place was great overall for wheelchair accessibility! Even the water park. : ) So I am only going to list the things to look out for and think about ahead of time. The carpet is thick so it might be hard for a child or older person to push themselves around. I'm not sure about electric wheelchair or scooters. The water park has ramps everywhere... the main ramp to go down to the wave pool is rather long and might be difficult to go up or down unassisted. My husband was fine though. The doors going into the water park are very heavy. The rest of the doors in the lodge are fine. You have to be able to climb lots of stairs unassisted to go on the water slides. They do have hand rails and the floor is textured... my husband didn't fall once... which is normally a common thing, so that is saying a lot. MagiQuest is totally accessible except for one task. After you get the hourglass during a task it tells you to run down the stairs and find the treasure chest within 30 seconds. For everything else you can take the elevator and then go in to the stairway on that floor. You don't have to go up or down the stairs.

Overall we had a great time and will go back again in a couple of years : )

A Dad in Oregon did a great video review of the park that we really liked... here is part 1 of 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQQBcq6x_aM

Here's another video by the same Dad with even more info
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxE2SOXxEj4&feature=related

And one about MagiQuest
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSiAmxB4ipE&feature=channel

We have been there two times and it's all documented on our website www.pdxfamilyadventures.com. We had a GREAT time both times. We have a 5 year old and a 9 month old and both had a blast. I would however, recommend bringing your own food. There's lots more detail, info and video on the website.

We also had a great time when we were there a month ago with our kids ages 7 and 3. We found that staying one night was plenty since we got there around 1 for check in and left in the late afternoon. My MIL got us a gift certificate for Christmas and since we went on the cheep we have enough to go back again - it was a very generous gift. Both the girls still talk about it on a regular basis over a month later.

We ate very little food there and brought most of our own. One thing we did try to do is support a local restaurant with our dinner meal. It was a horrible experience eating at the Little Red Barn or whatever it is called. Our server was very rude (until it was time to pay and tip and she was in front of other people). We strongly believe that she did not like the fact that we are a lesbian headed, adoptive and transracial family. It is easy to forget how far 90 minutes gets you from Portland.

We have a great fun time with my family.

We have been there twice and the kids love it! We have a lot of fun too. What they say above is correct - bring your own food. We never pay full price, we always buy when there is a special (sign up for their email alerts) and we go midweek.

Also, we only go for one night. You can play there all day both days, regardless of check-in and check out. It would be easier if we stayed for two but we are on a budget and this kind of trip is a splurge for us. Some people go to Disneyland, we settle for one night at GWL. The kids play magicquest (they save some money for that) and we all swim. The water slides are great fun. Sure the place is cheesy and not the kind of thing our family normally gravitates to (usually more like camping, etc) but again, pretty fun. We have always found the place to be clean. Just bring your own food.

What is the cheapest kind of room for 8 people? Thanks!!

I recently returned to Greatwolf for the sixth time with my family. We have always had a great time. This time would have been no different, we even extended our stay! But we had an unusual occurrence. During a run on `The Howlin Tornado` I was violently thrown out of the raft. Those of you who know this ride know it is HUGE. To those who don't, picture a cheerio (being the raft holding 4 people) being flushed! I was beat and banged and hit HARD several times by the raft holding 3 other members of my family until I was finally flushed out. The staff was to say the least, unconcerned. We spent a TON of money at this place again and no one even bothered to check to see if I was ok. I suffered a concussion, bruised ribs & now have a capsular contraction of a breast implant. I was beat up pretty good. My family has loved this place for year's. Due to what happened, how it was handled or actually NOT handled by Greatwolf, & the fear of one of my children getting hurt if I could, we won't be going back. No one cared. It was very disappointing...

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