Last month my friend asked me if I’d like to bring the kids and join her and her youngest daughter at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. It was her daughter’s Spring Break. Homeschooling gives us a lot of flexibility. We had previous plans to visit my sister in South Florida but that ended up not working out at the last minute. I jumped on the chance to do something with the kids in April since they were so bummed about the Florida trip not happening. The kids had been asking for a long time to go to Great Wolf Lodge anyway. Also, I’ll take any opportunity to see my friends since it’s so rare that we get to hang out due to our busy schedules.
We left on a Wednesday and stayed for two nights. My friend lives in the Charlotte area so it was super close for her. She actually surprised her daughter and told her they were going to run errands but instead popped up at GWL. She said her girl was so surprised! I planned to surprise mine but my husband let it slip to Carmen, then Gabriel was told. My grand surprise was done for.
We live about an hour from Charlotte and the easiest way for us to get there was by taking some scenic country roads. Ruby kept us entertained by singing along to Hole. Who doesn’t love Courtney Love circa 1995? We passed a lot of farms and greenery which we all really enjoy. Before we knew it we drove through the city and shortly thereafter pulled up at Great Wolf Lodge. It’s quite an impressive entrance and must seem absolutely gigantic to little ones.
My friend beat us there so she had already checked in. They were waiting in the room for us. Amelia (my friend) did all of the booking for this trip. We stayed in the Majestic Bear Suite which had a sit up bar, mini fridge, microwave, a bedroom with a King bed, a living room area, and two additional queen beds (and obviously a bathroom). This room also has a balcony that Amelia and I used as our own private wine bar in the evenings.
The layout of the room actually worked out rather well for all of us. Amelia and her daughter normally wake up way earlier than we are used to, and we go to bed way later than they are usually used to. They got the bedroom, and we got the two beds in the main area. The staff was kind enough to bring a playpen for Ruby to sleep in and it was waiting there for us at check in. Each child gets a cute pair of wolf ears upon checkin.
As soon as we arrived, the children could barely contain their excitement to go to the on site water park. Amelia took the older kids down first and then Ruby, Gabriel, and I changed into swimwear and followed along within a few minutes. The water park is HUGE with a good bit of features, including big slides. My only advisory is for those with babies or toddlers to beware of the big bucket. You’ll see it when you get there and know what I’m talking about. It fills up with water and dumps out every ten minutes. The older kids and some adults crowded underneath, but it would be jarring for a tiny person that wasn’t expecting it.
I was a bit concerned about Gabriel due to his sensory issues to noise and his anxiety (crippling anxiety sometimes) at the water park but I’m happy to report he had a blast. The girls (Carmen and Amelia’s daughter) were very good at making sure he was comfortable. When they all went up to come down a slide, I suggested that he go in between so he wasn’t up there alone at all and someone would be waiting on him at the bottom. Apparently that wasn’t needed and he did totally fine without my helicopter parenting suggestion. High five to that!
Amelia’s daughter enjoyed the step across activity. You hold on to a rope overhead and step on what looks like pieces of cut wood in circle shapes. She insisted Gabriel go over there with her at least three times. He loved it just as much as she did!
I think most people know about the water park but GWL has so many other features. One of the other features that Gabriel definitely wanted to take part in was the on site arcade. We had so much fun in there! I love the rare moments I get to spend time with one of my babies individually. I also liked that they let me take my glass of wine into the arcade. That was a huge plus!
The next day Amelia offered to take Ruby and Gabriel to the onsite bowling alley while I took the two older girls to the on site nail salon. They do charge a cancellation fee if you do not keep your appointment. They also will not tell you (or at least they didn’t tell us) that the nail polish doesn’t hold up well in the water park. It’s pretty expensive to get a manicure and pedicure here, so hopefully in the future they’ll warn people ahead of time. By the days end, the girls polish was already peeling off of their fingers because they spend the afternoon in the water again. The service was great though, and the nail tech was very friendly and nice. The girls thoroughly enjoyed it.
Other than the nail polish issue, we had a couple of other issues that I will share with you now. As you read this I want you to receive it with an open mind. Let me preface this paragraph by saying we WILL return to Great Wolf Lodge and I’ll explain why at the bottom. On the second night we were there we had a small issue at one of the on site restaurants. As a restaurant owner myself, I understand that lackluster employees tarnish the reputation of an establishment. Great Wolf Lodge is no different. The kids were very hungry so we immediately put in the orders for their food. I was pleased to see a good bit of Gluten Free options. I’m a bit of a wine snob and the server graciously agreed to let me try a Sauvignon Blanc before I bought it. Everything seemed fine, then she disappeared. We literally didn’t lay eyes on her for another 25 minutes. Eventually I asked another server to find her and within minutes he helped her bring the food trays to the table. All of the food was cold. We sent it back. The manager immediately came over and smoothed over the entire situation. She also took off a couple of the entrees from the bill. The manager’s swift reaction definitely helped the situation.
The first night that we were there I posted a tag on the door with my order for Dunkin Donuts (on site) to be delivered at 9:30 am. The next morning while all cozy in bed snuggling with Gabriel, someone taps on the door at 6:30am!!! I opened the door groggy eyed with wild woman hair. I told the guy that we weren’t due for the delivery until 9:30am. He quickly apologized and said it would be delivered at the appropriate time. Luckily no one else woke up especially Ruby. I went back to sleep rather quickly after thinking to myself, “I hope I didn’t kill him with morning breath”. As promised, he came back at 9:30am with the order. Note to Great Wolf Lodge: never wake a sleeping baby!!!
We had a couple of other minor grievances that were enough (in addition to the ones I mentioned above) to notify the Manager On Duty. I spoke with a gentleman named Sam and went through the list of issues we had experienced. He was extremely understanding and apologetic. He made every effort to rectify the situation (including taking a chunk off of the overall bill) and we left as happy customers in the end. He was super nice and Great Wolf Lodge should keep him forever. We also received a call from the manager of he restaurant from the night before. She again apologized for the previous night and for the DD debacle. I guess she was also responsible for the DD morning shift or making sure am deliveries were punched in correctly by the staff. She gave us a coupon for free breakfast which we didn’t use, but it was the thought that counts.
Overall our experience at Great Wolf Lodge was fantastic! Even though we ran into a few minor hiccups, the management’s willingness to promptly address the issues we had is what resonates rather than the actual issues. I’m not even mad at all.
Great Wolf Lodge has many locations across the country. If you ever get the chance to go, do it. Your kids will adore it!