This past week I had my first experience staying at a Great Wolf Lodge. It’s been on my bucket list for a while and I thought with the recent non-stop rain that my four year old and I needed a pick me up. I considered both the Williamsburg and Poconos locations but went with PA because of its proximity to my mother’s house – a stop on the way home.
The GPS said 3.5 hours and it turned out to be a good trip as we left Annapolis at 1pm and avoided any traffic. I didn’t realize that it’s right next to Camelback Ski Resort – something good to know if we ever want to come in winter. That could be a good combo – ski in the cold air then warm up in the waterpark!
I had a little difficulty booking our stay. I checked their site and they offer a heroes rate – for military, police, etc. I tried to book a room for 4 nights but it gave me an error message. I tried calling the 1-800 number and they said the same thing but that I should try calling the property directly as it was the same day I wanted to check in. ALWAYS call the property directly because hotels will generally give you a better rate if there are unsold rooms. I left three messages with the reservation manager and she never returned any of them. I finally got a hold of SOMEBODY and they said just come to the front desk. I also mentioned that I was considering a stay at the Kalahari down the street and they offered me a good rate.
We arrived at Great Wolf, Scotrun after much anticipation. I approached reception with some frustration and informed them of my unreturned calls. The font desk manager was fantastic! She apologized profusely and speedily checked us in at the “heroes rate” for 4 nights in a 5-person room. We were happy to oblige. She also threw in a “wolf pass” – a very cool package that combines all different activities such as MagicQuest (a cool game where you get a magic wand and run around solving riddles no finding “treasure”), bowling, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, free items in store, arcade money, etc. IT’S REALLY a cool thing to get! That really made our trip MUCH more fun.
Our room was very spacious with a queen bed, pull-out sofa, a TV, gas fireplace, mini frig and balcony. The “kids area” had bunk beds for 3 kids and a TV all set into a little cabin area – Ellie loved to hang out there. It’s almost a reason to travel with more kids 😳. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room for me to do yoga. I only had two complaints – the maid woke us up one day because she didn’t see the ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign and the phone didn’t work. That was really frustrating as I tried to call the front desk several times for important things. Every time I ended up having to walk down to the front desk and ask for help. I was so frustrated once that I got on my cell phone and tried looking up the front desk number. Only thing I could connect with was the 1-800 number and they would NOT give me the direct hotel phone number without my reservation number which I didn’t have. Are the employees all in witness protection or something?
Other than all that stress I was quite impressed with the overall property. The manager who checked me in personally emailed me to ensure that we were having fun and continually asked us as we walked by the desk. They have activities like a dance party, story time by the fireplace and an animated show.
The waterpark is the largest in North America. I’d like to visit the biggest in South America 😎. They have: an area for small children with some “baby slides”, a wave pool that my daughter loved, 6 watersides I think, a hot tub for families, a hot tub for adults only, a lazy river, a complex of water guns and waterworks, an obstacle course and a pool. The hard part was always finding a chair as everyone plops down towels and never sits.
The food wasn’t bad. I was very “smart” and brought a few things from home so we only really ate dinner ‘out’. You’re not allowed to bring coolers into the waterpark but you can bring food in – so either bring stuff that doesn’t need to be in a cooler or run back to your room and eat. Of course there are a couple of restaurants – casual cafes – in which you can eat at a FAIRLY reasonable price. I had a salad that was pretty good and big enough to split over 2 lunches. One night we went out into town to eat and the other three nights we ate at the buffet which was pretty good and totaled $28 for both of us for dinner. It was all-you-can-eat and they are good about letting you take items out – each time I took an apple and an orange for the next morning and I asked for an iced tea to go. There is also a Starbucks in the hotel lobby if you need a fix.
I worked out in the gym a couple of times – it’s a little sad with just two elliptical, two treadmills and one machine. Since it was rainy it was a good way to get a little more exercise – beside the stairclimbing for the water slides! They have a TV so my daughter occupied herself at least.
With her “wolf pass” she played mini-golf and bowled (duck pin). I think her favorite was making a stuffed animal (Sammy the squirrel) then taking it around the hotel and interacting with the “clubhouse crew”. At the end she got an email ‘from the animals’ with a photo – a nice touch interacting with the kids. She doesn’t go anywhere without that bushy squirrel now!
We played Magic Quest for hours (they say it can take 8 hours – if I had known that I would have started played it on day 1). They give you an interactive wand and you run around the hotel following clues and answering riddles. I thought the spa was a little overpriced (it always is at resorts) so we did not partake – maybe for her birthday.
I rode every water slide (some are really fast) and the lines were pretty fast – I don’t think I would want to go during a holiday due to the amount of people there on regular school days. It was cold and rainy out but I wouldn’t mind coming in the summer when the outdoor part is open. We met some nice people and Ellie made some friends (imagine that). At the time of check-in I wasn’t sure if 4 nights would be too much. In the end I think it wasn’t too much – it was great mother-daughter time. When it was time to leave Ellie fussed that she never wanted to leave and she wanted to live there…😳