Dallas Moms Blog was provided a complimentary stay at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine to bring you this review. All opinions are 100% our own!
It’s been three weeks since we spent a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine and my son still hasn’t taken off his wrist band, Wolfie and Violet, the kid’s souvenir stuffed animals, have kicked all the other snuggly toys in our house to the back burner, and I’m still savoring the last few bits of the travel-sized, scrumptious smelling, warm vanilla body lotion…all sweet reminders of this memorable family trip.
We were invited as part of their Media Event and treated with passes that let us try out almost everything Great Wolf Lodge has to offer. I’m not saying it was hard, but it was a true challenge fitting everything into our two-night stay. So much to do…and so much to tell you about!
Just The “Basics” (Included in your Stay)
With your stay at Great Wolf Lodge, each guest gets a pass to the indoor and outdoor waterpark (open during the summer months…and occasionally on warm spring weekends). It’s huge and has something for every age.
Giant water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, a huge kiddie pool area with smaller slides,
a pool for bigger kids and teens with ropes course-type challenges and basketball hoops, and an indoor/outdoor hot tub.
We lucked out and they surprised us by opening the outside pool Saturday and Sunday, even though it was early May.
Then there is story time in the evenings and activities scheduled throughout the day, like the morning Wolf Walk indoor “hike,” family yoga, dance parties, face painting, bingo, photo opps with the characters. There is always something to do! Story Time is where my almost two-year old daughter learned their wolf cry, “Clap-Clap, Stomp-Stomp, Awwhoooo.” Three-weeks later and she is still doing this and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty adorable.
The Extras Worth a Splurge
If you are on a tight budget, the water park and included activities are more than enough to keep your kids busy and happy for two to three days. But if you’ve got a little room in your budget for a splurge, they have some really cool extras that added a lot of fun and adventure to our weekend.
My husband couldn’t make it the first part of our trip and my five-year old son decided he simply couldn’t wait for his Daddy to do the Howler’s Peak Ropes Course. He’s a little too small to go on his own, which left me to put on my big girl harness go up with him. My son was a little nervous at first, so I gave him pep talks, “You’re safe, the harness has you, you won’t fall.” I think I was almost too reassuring because before long he was leading me and going higher and higher, and on more and more challenging levels. As my nerves started to show, he was suddenly telling me, “You can do it. Don’t worry. Your harness will hold you. I’m right here. Oh, you made it!”
Mothers let your son (or daughter) take you on this adventure….and have someone video you shrieking like a crazy person as you propel yourself off the three-story ledge. Not that I did that or anything… The next day, my husband went up with him too and I hung out with our daughter on the little practice course below. She LOVED it and was soon begging to go up high with her brother.
If I had to choose one family activity for kids 6 and up to suggest splurging on, it would be this one. Even though my five-year-old loved it, there are a few parts, especially going across the zip line that he almost got stuck on. He was just a little too light to get the zip line to go across with enough speed. But with some helpful ropes coursers, he made it. The cool thing is that when you pay for the unlimited pass ($19.99), they give you a wrist band so it gets you in for your whole stay. Also, it’s not a course you go straight through. You can go through it a different way each time, stay on the same level or go up, you can jump down or just take the stairs back down, spend 10 minutes or all day up there.
When at Great Wolf Lodge, one thing you’ll quickly notice is that lots of kids are running around the halls and stair wells waving a wand in front of random objects. This feels very confusing and odd at first, but a trip to the MagiQuest store clears it all up…kind of.
To participate in MagiQuest, you buy a wand and then pay an activation fee to play during your stay. You can keep the wand and bring it back for future trips. Once you have it activated, you take it to one of two trees with computer screens built into them and you add quests to your wand. Each quest is a mission to go find an object in Great Wolf Lodge and collect a certain amount of gold.
The objects and gold are hidden all over the hotel. For this reason, we didn’t actually accomplish very many quests. With a 2-year-old and 5-year-old at a water park, I had already gotten plenty of walking in. But, for certain kids or their parents, this could very well be the highlight of their stay. It could also be a great way to keep older kids or teens occupied while you enjoy a little nap in the hotel. I think I’d like to do a mother-son day trip and dedicate an afternoon to just playing MagiQuest. We were too busy to get the full game experience this trip. (Everything, except the water park and the ropes course, is open to the public.)
ClubHouse Creation Station
I’ve never taken my kids to Build-a-Bear and honestly, I never have seen the appeal, but our passes came with a chance to build our own animals at the Creation Station, Great Wolf Lodge’s take on Build-a-Bear with the characters your kids have gotten to know throughout their stay.
Color me surprised when my kids fell head over heels for their animals, Wolfie (what he renamed Wiley Wolf) and Violet. They sleep with them, eat with them, snuggle up on the couch and watch cartoons with them. I can’t recall either of my kids becoming so attached to a stuffed animal for so long. Similar to MagiQuest, the animals come activated for their own simpler scavenger type adventure, Clubhouse Crew. Fair warning, it takes them to visit lots of money spending hot spots, like the gift shop, ice cream shop, and the arcade (they do get a free game there though).
Arcade and Laser Challenge
The kids loved the arcade. It’s huge. Corabelle’s favorite was the carousel and Jackson’s was air hockey. If you can snag the table, it’s probably your best bang for your buck. Kids aren’t that great, so one game can go on for a long time!
It’s not in the archade, but another game we loved was the Lazer Frenzy game (across from the MagiQuest store in the Hollywood XD Theatre). Think Ocean’s Eleven. You can time yourself and try to beat your record by going through it and pushing a button and then coming back and pushing a finish button…or you can just play in there without pushing the buttons and you’ll get a lot more Lazer Frenzy time for your $3. We discovered that by accident while trying to figure out how it works. Once my son realized there was a competitive element, it was hard to get him to go back to just working his way through the lasers for fun though.
Spa Treatment for You or Your Daughter
There is a spa for little girls called Scoops. It’s super cute, all ice cream themed with lotions “flavored” chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They offer the girl’s plush robes to wear and have tiaras and sashes for them. This would be a fun treat for a birthday girl! It’s pricier than your typical salon, but it’s also a little girl’s dream salon at a kid’s dream retreat, so it’s to be expected. My daughter, not yet two and very shy, wasn’t quite ready for the full treatment, but we’ve had fun with the goody bag they sent her home with
Don’t worry moms, you are not left out. They have a luxurious top of the line spa for you too. We walked through Elements Spa during our tour and I felt instantly relaxed just listening to the calming music, and taking in the smells and ambiance.
The hotel room that we were in was really nice. It had two queen-sized beds, a fold out couch, a table, a microwave and spacious mini-fridge, and a bathroom with a shower/tub combo. Our room overlooked the outside pool and faced the airport. You can’t see the airport, but you could see the planes that had just taken off. It was like a babysitter for my kids. While I changed, or got things ready between adventures, they would sit at the window and watch planes fly by.
We also toured a suite and a kids camp room. The kids camp rooms are so cute! The kids have their own little sleeping quarters with bunk beds and a tv. If you want a little privacy at night and you just have two kids, this is the way to go! Another suite we toured had two rooms with doors and two bathrooms—a great option if you’re with another family.
Housekeeping was amazing too. We’d come back to what felt like a new room each afternoon. Beds made, everything straightened, and they really spoiled us over the media weekend with surprise goodies waiting for us after a long day of play.
They just launched a new Wine Down Service so you can arrange to have wine, fruit, and cheese pairings delivered and waiting for you once you get your little wolf pack to sleep.
With 8 restaurants, including a buffet, and snack bar, there are plenty of dining options. We ordered a pizza and salad from Hungry as a Wolf our first night and ate off that for at least two meals. The Loose Moose Cottage had a delicious breakfast and dinner buffet.
They have a full Starbucks–not just a kiosk, a real deal full-service, full menu Starbucks.
They also have nice sit-down, full-service options at Grizzly Jack’s Bar & Grill and Lodge Wood Fired Grill. The meals we had catered to us for media events where absolutely divine, and their meeting rooms were spacious and comfortable.
With a small fridge in your room, you can store leftovers or pack some of your own food and drinks. You just can’t bring them into the pool area, though we managed to get a few small snacks in without a problem.
Also, don’t fret, alcoholic beverages are available. They had a stand-alone bar in the lobby in the evenings and some of the restaurants serve beer, wine, and cocktails too. We had this tasty Sangria Margarita at our media mixer and it was delicious. And yes, it had the good stuff, tequila and triple sec, not just wine.
Safety First Facts
The lifegaurds at Great Wolf Lodge are highly qualified. They are tested on their abilities throughout the day with Timmy the Dummy. A supervisor drops the dummy in random spots and at random times and the life guards have ten seconds to identify that he’s down and 20 seconds to rescue him.
Also, the child’s pool area, although the shallowest, is actually the most heavily staffed.
I loved that they have a big supply of nice US Coast Certified life jackets available in multiple sizes, so if you’re packing light or don’t want to lug a jacket to and from the pool, you’re still covered. I never noticed a time when they were running low on life jacket availability.
– If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, I say go for it! Sign up for their emails to get the best deals. Their deals tend to beat even the ones you might find on Groupon.
– If you’re going to celebrate a birthday while you’re there, be sure to let them know. They’ll put a special poster on your hotel door, give your birthday boy or girl a special pair of wolf ears, and an ice cream voucher, all complimentary.
– Even though check-in isn’t until 4:00, you can pick up your waterpark passes at 1:00pm the day of check-in and they are good until 9pm the day you check out.
– You can save money by packing something simple like yogurt and granola bars for breakfast and chips and sandwich stuff for lunch.
– Bring enough adults. The first afternoon, it was just me and two kids under five until my future sister-in-law came after work. We had a great time checking out the wave pool and kiddie pool as well as the smaller slides, but we couldn’t do any of the big rides until we had another adult to stay with my one-year-old. If your child is between 42 and 48 inches tall, he’ll need an adult to ride with him on most of the big slides, so just keep those logistics in mind if you have multiple kiddos. There is only one slide that you have to be 48 inches to ride, The Howlin’ Tornado.
That’s my super long recap on our awesome weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. Would we return? Absolutely! It just might be our new favorite DFW staycation spot!