As I mentioned in a previous post and have been status-updating about in Facebook for several days, we went to Great Wolf Lodge at Grand Mound this past weekend. If you don’t know about Great Wolf Lodge, it’s a “northwoods-themed” chain of indoor water parks. The one in Washington state (Centralia) opened last year.
Darlene arranged for all of us to spend a couple days at GWL while Sonya and the kids are in the states. Ted brought Alec and Abby down from Seattle and the rest of us drove up from Portland. We had three room reservations and had already decided they would be divided into snoring and non-snoring; Sonya and I stayed with Julianne, Katie and Abby, while the boys and Darlene/Grandma stayed in the rooms across the hall.
Turns out Abby shoulda stayed across the hall. But it’s okay; we love her even if she’s as loud as Grandpa. :)
There are “special” rooms at GWL that are almost Disney-like in their efforts to carry the woodsy theme throughout the decor. Fortunately there are also regular (read: affordable) rooms, which sleep six people and are quite spacious. We snuck a peek at the themed rooms on our way out of the resort our last day and they’re really very cute. Katie and Jack have already decided we’ll be staying in one of those next time.
The GWL experience reminded me a lot of the Disney cruise, and not just because I was seasick. I love the idea of spending a vacation at a place you never really need to leave—there are restaurants, stores, all sorts of activities, and a spa on site. There are activity areas for all different age groups, and the water park has a lot of different types of water slides, pools, hot tubs, play areas, etc. It’s definitely family-oriented.
One of my favorite parts of the trip had nothing to do with my family or really, even Great Wolf Lodge. My friend Sheila (oh she of occasional commenting fame here at Stuff Jen Says) lives about 20 minutes from the resort, so she came over and hung out with me for a few hours. We hadn’t seen each other in person for nine years or so, and there was a lot of catching up to do. It was great fun. Not Great Wolf Lodge fun, but funner.
We’ll definitely go back to Great Wolf Lodge someday; the kids had a blast in the water park and overall we really loved the resort. I was impressed at how clean and well-maintained it was. Of course, there were a few things I’d change if they asked me, but for the most part they all have to do with one big thing: MagiQuest.
There’s a game that—I swear—every kid in the place was playing. They all ran around with “magic” wands that activated otherwise stationary and QUIET objects throughout the resort. Ted said his kids had played it on their last visit and that MagiQuest is actually kinda fun, but we gave OUR kids the excuse that we didn’t have enough time to complete the quest because we are the worst parents in the world, or so they told us with their crossed arms and frowny faces.
“So, Grouchy Jen,” you ask, “why did the MagiQuest wands drive you insane?” Well, I eventually stopped counting the number of times I got wand-jabbed by kids running past me to get to their next challenge. I was also freaked out by how many times kids pointed them at me, as though I was part of the game. WTF??? But it was mostly the jabbing. I did not like the jabbing. I think the MagiQuest slogan should be “It’s always fun until someone loses an eye,” but it would probably be less popular with the parents that way.
(Oh lord, I just stumbled across a web site for MagiQuest. Looks like the kiddie version of Dungeons & Dragons. If you look at the site, note the four kids at the top of the page, all pointing their wands and smiling? That’s not real. No kid smiles while they point their wand. They point their wand like they have something to prove, especially when jabbing me in my already plenty-injured body.)
One of the large crowd-attracting parts of the *&%$@# MagiQuest game was situated at the entrance to the second floor guest rooms, called the Pixie something-or-other. I made up my own name for it, which is not something I can print here in this family-friendlyish blog. Anyway, if you were directing a stab-happy kid to the Pixie Pleasure Center or whatever, here’s what you’d tell that kid: “Go to the door of room #2004; turn around and there is the Pixie Palace [or whatever]. Or go to room #2007 and take one step to the left and there you’ll find the Pixie Poopdeck [or whatever].” Why do I mention this? Because two of our three rooms were #2004 and #2007. Apparently the check-in desk folk thought we looked like nice, family-loving people (which we are) who don’t mind shoving our way through jabbing hordes of unsupervised booger-eaters to get to our rooms (which we do).
THANK THE GREAT WOLF, the MagiQuest game ends at 9:00 every night.
There was one part of MagiQuest that made me hee-haw. While I was waiting for Sheila in the lobby, one of the pictures on the wall behind me kept coming alive. It was some mystical bad-ass wolf that the kids were supposed to fear, so it spoke in a scary voice and its eyes lit up like it had rabies. It made several different short speeches, and I swear to the aforementioned Great Wolf, every time it said “wolf,” it pronounced it “woof.” I even went and stood right next to it to make sure I was hearing it correctly (which, now that I think about it, might be why kids thought I was part of the show).
So I was supposed to be super scared when he roared, “If I stalk you, your days are numbered, for I am the woof in the stars!” but y’know, a wolf that calls himself a “woof” isn’t so intimidating.
If you get the chance, go to Great Wolf Lodge. But remember, you’ve been warned about the evil that lurks within.