We just returned from a fabulous mini-getaway to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina. This isn’t an endorsed post. We paid for our vacation there, but we had such a great experience that I wanted to let you all in on this place, in case you hadn’t heard about it.
Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park with 84 degree weather, year-round. Enough said:)
But let me tell you the details that caught my eye.
The lodge is grandiose, replete with a mammoth stone fireplace and wooden antler-like chandeliers in the lobby. A great clock tower (also in the lobby) comes to life as a show in the morning and evening, and in the evening is followed by story time with a Great Wolf Lodge character. It was neat to see all the kids in pajamas in the lobby and this made Great Wolf Lodge feel very homey. J-jo thought he was at home and refused to wear his shoes the entire stay (we don’t wear shoes in our house, as a rule).
Check in is at 4pm, but you can start using the water park at 1pm. After you check out, you can stay the rest of the day if you want/can and play in the water park. This would be especially worthwhile if you are visiting during a busy time.
We got a theme room (wolf den) at the recommendation of the GWL employee at the homeschool convention, and Bear was thrilled to sleep in a bunk bed for the first time. (She would not stay still so I apologize for my very blurry photo. It’s the only one I got!) The bunk is separated from the rest of the room by a “rock” wall – see website for a photo of that wall.
When we were too cold to swim, we could take breaks and take the kids to the Cub Club where they could play and color. There were also easels with giant coloring sheets in the lobby.
In the late afternoon, there is either face painting or balloon twisting to entertain in the lobby. When Bear told the wonderful lady in charge of the Cub Club how disappointed she was that we would miss the face painting because we had to drive home, Miss Dee said she would happily paint her face before we checked out. Bear was one happy girl. All the staff we encountered were pleasant and so serviceable!
GWL staff are a stickler for rules – especially in the water park and as much as I would have loved for them to bend the rules a little for Bear (she was 1/4 inch short of the 42 inch magical number that would have let her ride the Alberta Falls with me), I appreciated that our safety was their number one priority. The lifeguards were quick to blow their whistles at any inappropriate and unsafe play. Again, as much as it sometimes seemed over-the-top, it is really nice to know safety is that important to them.
Zootastic visited with some animals one of the days we were there. That made our visit extra special, as Bear got to feed the kangaroo! She was chosen at random – not all the kids got to feed it, but all who wanted got a chance to come pet it.
It’s a little hard to get photos of the water park when you are busy playing in the water, but I managed to get a few to put a bit of permanence to our memories. I only brought my phone and it just got reconfigured so that the camera wasn’t working well. Our fondest memories are of getting a giant bucket of water poured over our heads as we made our way to the Totem Tower slides.
J-jo loved the slide in the Whooping Hollow (kiddie area). Our hands-down favorite to enjoy as a family was the wave pool.
(We talked to a mom who had also been to the Williamsburg location and she told us that the NC location was definitely better for Littles.)
There were many other activities we didn’t get to – bowling lanes, a kid spa, a long game involving purchased plastic wands called MagiQuest, an arcade of kid-friendly games, and mini golf.
We surely will be back. It was much much more restful than Disney and I loved that we didn’t have to drive anywhere to be entertained. It’s also a much closer drive for us than Disney. We’d be able to go for just one night and enjoy the park for a full day in doing that because of the pre- and post- check-in/check-out use of the park. It probably won’t beat Disney World for most of you, but it sure beat Disney at Christmas for my husband and I (we don’t love crowds!). I recommend you skip school and go during Great Wolf Lodge’s quieter times. We didn’t wait for a single slide today before we drove home and the inner tubes were always available in the wave pool. The bonus: GWL offers a special discounted price three weeks per year for homeschoolers!