Thursday, February 9, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge - Traverse City, Michigan

We finally visited Great Wolf Lodge (Traverse City, Michigan location)!  It's great to have so much all in one building but it can be overwhelming!  So I did my research before our trip and now that I have personally been there I am ready to share some tips with you.  Note:  we were there in the winter so I have no experience or tips that pertain to the outside activities.

There are a ton of picture opportunities!

The clock tower where they do story time at night.
Room check-in officially starts at 4:00 pm but you can check-in as soon as your room is ready.  You can start using the waterpark at 1:00 pm.  If your room is not ready before 4:00 pm you can still use the waterpark.  I recommend packing your swimsuits in a bag so you can access it without needing to bring all of your luggage in.

There are many room options.  We booked the Kid Kamp room but when we got there around 1:00 pm they didn't have one ready so they offered us a Wolf Den room instead (or we could have waited to check-in later).  It had the same layout just a different theme to the kids area.  My little ones LOVED it!  The room was actually the highlight of the trip for them and they still talk about how much they miss it!

There are many activities to do within the building besides the waterpark.  One is the MagiQuest (wizard wand) game.  You can purchase wands and a game (wand can be used for other visits but you will have to buy a game each time to play) for about $30 - or more if you want to upgrade the kind of wand and accessories for it.  We bought just one wand and had our kids take turns playing the game.  At their age and interest level it would have been a waste to just have them follow each other around doing the same thing. Although they did fight over the wand....  Eventually we will buy another when they learn how to play the game on their own more.  There are many ways to play the game but to keep it short, you run all over the building waving the wand at objects that have the game symbol on it.  The wand activates the objects so they talk, move, ... and you earn points or gold for many of them.  MANY kids were into playing the game and just about every kid had a wand.  My kids were a little tired by this time so they had fun but really didn't get into it.

At the Cub Club you can do a variety of crafts, play, and purchase items to craft yourself.  We decided to paint banks for $5 each.  My daughter LOVES to paint so this was a good activity for her.  The staff was very friendly!  We painted the banks the first day and then left them there to dry over night.  The next morning we went back to apply a layer of sealant and sprinkle on some glitter.  Then it had to dry for a bit before we took it home.  So, if you want to participate in one of these types of crafts you should start the process early on in your stay.  All the supplies and paint shirts were provided.

Package Opportunities:  There are many packages you can purchase to bundle your additional activities at a lower price.  One that many seemed to buy included a wand with game, a shirt at the Cub Club, a stuffed animal (like build-a-bear), and a variety of other things (highly promoted at check-in).  We did not buy the package because we would have needed two and it was just more than we really wanted during this trip.  It is a great opportunity though!

At 8:00 pm we all gathered around the clock, in our pajamas, for story time.  It was very entertaining as the clock animals came to life and then a staff member read a story.

Photo opportunity with Wiley after the story!
At check-in (or by 7:30 pm) you can place an order (through the main desk) to have cookies and milk delivered to your room after story time.  It's $16 for 4 fresh baked cookies and 2 milks but they are delivered to your room by Wiley for yet another picture opportunity!  It's a great surprise for little ones!  The time it takes for them to deliver your cookies depends on how many rooms are signed up for the night. They said it usually takes any where from 5-45 minutes (after story time).  I still have not seen any promotion of this opportunity but I was told about it before going and it is something that you can do.

Hug goodnight from Wiley!

The waterpark is the biggest attraction!  At check-in you are given a wrist band for each person in your reservation.  This has to be worn at all times to gain access to the waterpark.  If for any reason you need a replacement you can get one through the main desk but you have to bring your original band with you.  The bands are a little long but you can ask to have them trimmed if you don't have the "tools" to do it yourself.  We booked a one night stay so we could use the waterpark starting at 1:00 pm the day of check-in and until close the day of check-out.  These were durable bands so they stayed on with no problems the entire stay.

When you enter the waterpark they will need to measure any little kids.  They are given another color band depending on their height.  This lets staff know what rides they can/can't participate in.  The bands are paper and will fall off after a while.  Ours lasted the first day but we had to get new ones the second day.  My little ones were able to participate in all the rides except the big slide where you have to ride by alone and the other two big slides (where you can go double or single on tubes) they had to be with a parent.  

I purchased a disposable waterproof camera to take pictures in the water park.  They actually turned out really dark - this is the best one I ended up with.  I will have to figure out something else next time.  You can take your regular camera in and walk around taking pictures (taking your chances of getting sprayed by water).  I just wanted to get some shots while I was also participating in the water fun.  

We had a room on the same floor as the entry to the waterpark (the 1st floor).  So we comfortably walked to the waterpark entrance (all inside the the same building) with our swim suits and flip-flops.  I had a sweatshirt on over my suit.  Next time I think I will bring some kids of cover-up.  I actually saw someone walking around with their robe on over their suit.  Next time I will bring towels from home too - or at least from my room!  They do provide towels in the waterpark but they are the size of a hand towel, feel like sand paper, and you have to leave them at the waterpark (can't take them to your room).  

We just found a table to place our shoes and shirts on while we played in the water.  The day of check-out we had more stuff (including our money and car keys) so we rented a locker.  The lockers are actually a pretty nice size!  They are located near the bathrooms and showers so there is easy access.  You pay $20 for unlimited access for one day but you get $10 back when you return the locker key.  

There are showers (open style - no curtains) with hand soap on the walls, restrooms, lockers, and changing area in the waterpark.  They also have a "water extractor" for swimsuits that is awesome!  Basically you put your suit in a little machine and within seconds it has spun most of the water out of it!  It's nice to have a dry suit to wear later or for packing.  

There are also cabanas that you can rent in the waterpark.  This is a great way to keep your things together and provide space to relax.  There are many tables and chairs through the park but we found it hard to find a free spot since people were using them to hold their shoes and stuff while they played.  I'm not sure of the cost.  We did not rent a cabana since our kids are little and needed us to be with them all the time.  But, it would be a great option if you do not have little ones to keep an eye on.  I will surely rent one if we go there with teens!


All the rooms are suites with a mini refrigerator and a microwave.  Many people I know bring their own food to eat.  There are also many places to eat close to the lodge.  We opted to stay in the building and order pizza from the lodge for dinner.  It was very good!

***As of our 2014 visit - this option is no longer available.
There's also a sit down restaurant:

We made breakfast simple and bought some stuff from the coffee/pastry shop near our room.

We ate lunch at the snack shop in the waterpark.  They actually had some good options for me and my picky kids!  The kids loved that their hotdog meals came in these cute boxes.  The kids meals were $7.49 each but they came with crinkle fries (perfectly cooked), apple wedges, a drink, and a large hot dog.  They also have kids meals with a hamburger, PB&J, and I think a chicken sandwich.  I ordered a small cheese pizza (menu only listed pepperoni but they were happy to accommodate).  They have a nice set-up for condiments too!  Oh - and you can purchase beer!  There's just a limited area (the eating area) where you can actually take the beer once you buy it.

***As of our 2014 visit - this is no longer available.

To give you an idea of some of the things they offered during our stay:

Yes - there's an arcade, spa, ice cream, and lots of little stores.

These letters came to us the morning of check-out:

If they have rooms available the night that you are checking out, they may offer you another nights stay at a discount.  We paid $169.99 ($199.20 with taxes and fees) for our first night.  Here they are offering us the room for another night at just $129 (before taxes and fees).  It's a great opportunity to keep in mind.  Unfortunately we had to get the kids back to school.

Other tips:

Read the signs in the waterpark!  The large rides require tubes so we took up tubes with us.  It turns out that the first ride we went on required a different tube that was already up there waiting for us...  We would have known this if we would have read the sign on the way up - it was big with arrows saying "no tubes this side"....  Oh well, I got a little heavy lifting in ;-)

There's two elevators next to each other in the the main area of the lodge.  They are small and always seem to be busy.  When you first enter the lodge you will notice a set of stairs but they only take you to one other floor....  We found a "hidden" set of stairs in the hall by our room.  They are huge but not placed well for new people to notice easily.  Then, the day of check-out, we noticed at the end of our hall (opposite the direction we traveled to get to the activities and waterpark) another elevator.  This would have been helpful when playing the MagiQuest game and when trying to fit ourselves and luggage in an elevator.  

In the water park there is a big barrel that fills with water and then pours down onto the the ground.  There is a bell that warns you when it is preparing to pour so you can move out of the way or get in the way if you want to get hit by the water.  We saw many people participate in this downpour of water!  So we decided to try it ourselves before we left.  My daughter and I went first.  As soon as the water hit me I realized it was more than I wanted my tiny 6 year old to experience so I covered her.  Some kids were knocked right on their butts.  So, my tip is to try it yourself before you let your little ones attempt it.  I actually saw one guy holding a toddler right in mid stream!!  Okay - I may sound a little overboard but as an adult it was okay - it was just not the kind of force I want my little ones to experience until they are older.

Be prepared to get wet when you are in the waterpark!  There is no avoiding it.  There are so many spray guns, buckets of water, ropes to pull so water dumps down on people in another area....  I don't know how many times my kids unknowingly dumped water on another person!  

So much has changed so here is my update from 2014!!!

1 comment:

  1. We love GWL! My kids favorite thing is the MagiQuest. It's also very convinient that you can keep your wand to use at other locations. It is a little pricey, but you get your moneys woth. When my kids aren't playing MagiQuest at a Magiquest location, they love to run around the yard and pretend to cast spells on each other with their wands. It's an awesome activity that GWL has to offer, make sure to try it!