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Great Wolf Lodge – Traverse City

September 19, 2014

  • Great Wolf Lodge3575 US Highway 31
  • Traverse City, MI 49684
  • (231) 941-3600
  • Website

When I was growing up, my parents took my brother and I  to a lot of water parks.  I wasn’t always a fan.  I always wanted to go to theme parks.  I was more of a roller coaster rider while my brother and dad loved water slides.

My daughter takes after her Papa and Uncle when it comes to water parks.  She loves them.  She loves the beach.  She loves the lake.  She loves the pool.  It doesn’t really matter what the body of water is, she loves to swim.

J and I desperately needed some time away from work and started talking about Traverse City.  I started looking at Great Wolf Lodge knowing L would love it.  Last month, they were running a booking special for this month which got me a room for less than I have paid at some regular hotels.  I decided to book two nights so that L would have three days to play in the water park.

Great Wolf Lodge is a chain of indoor water parks.  The company was founded in the late 90’s by the brother’s behind Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells (one of my families favorite vacation spots).  There are a dozen Great Wolf Lodge’s across the country including the Traverse City location on US 31 on the south side of  Traverse City.

The resort is huge.  It sits up on a hill and is visible well before you pull up to the entrance.  The resort consists of the water park, hotel, and a conference center.  The entrance to the hotel is kind of “around the back” on the north side of the building which is the farthest away from US 31.

While I went to check in, J took L through the large, lodge style lobby that includes a giant clock, animatronic trees and animals, a large gift shop, a Dunkin Donuts, and large windows that look in to the water park.  Once L figured out where we were, she couldn’t get her bathing suit on fast enough.

After getting our room keys and wristbands, we headed to our room.  I picked the cheapest suite since L is still pretty little, but for a little more money, they have some great suites for kids that have their own tree houses and bunk beds.

I was really hoping the keys would be tired to our wristbands like they are at Key Lime Cove in Gurnee, IL.  At that indoor waterpark, there’s a microchip in the wristbands that get your in to your room, the waterpark, and will work like a credit card at the restaurants throughout the resort.  No such luck at Great Wolf.  The wristbands were just wristbands and the key cards are typical hotel keycards.

Once we got everything in the room, L was begging to get her “baby suit” (as she calls) it on.  She couldn’t control her excitement.  She wanted to go to the waterpark.

We all got dressed and headed down to the lower level.  There’s an attendant at the entrance of the waterpark to check wristbands and check the height of the kids coming in.  They put one of three colored wristbands on all the kids based on their height and that wristband determines what slides the kids can ride.

Once we got inside, L headed straight for the Whooping Hollow.  J got L a puddle jumper to keep her afloat and L took the first of many, many rides down the two smaller slides.  The red one was faster the blue one and it depended on whether L could find a friend to race her down the blue ones.  She loved this area and it was always the go-to when she wanted to sldie.

Once we got her to try something new, we headed over to Fort Mackenzie.  L liked this a lot more than we thought she would.  It’s a four-story climbing structure with water elements all the way up.  The centerpiece is the 1000 gallon bucket that dumps every five minutes.  Once the bells started ringing as a warning for the shower that was about to rain down, older kids made a bee-line for the splash zone.  L would get right on the edge of where the water hit and we could feel the wind rushing by us as the water rained down.

That wasn’t the only thing she liked about Fort Mackenzie though.  The climbing structure also has a series of cargo net ladders.  For only being a little over 2 1/2, this little girl has no fear.  She would meticulously make her way up the various nets while I huffed and puffed behind her trying to find a good foot hold on nets that were clearly not designed for adults.

Once at the top of Fort Mackenzie, the quickest way down is one of the two slides.  L sort of looked at them at first then saw another little girl hop in so she wanted to.  Once the slide cleared, she crawled up to the yellow side and took off.  That was the first and last time.  At some point, she flipped over on to her belly and ended up going to down the slide on her belly with her face in the water.  J was there to catch her at the bottom and L told us the rest of the trip about how scary the yellow slide was.  She still climbed to the top of the Fort, but we had to come back down the stairs once we got up.

The other two areas she really liked were the Chinook Cove (which is pretty much just a pool) and Crooked Creek (lazy river) although she didn’t want to get in a tube, she just wanted the current to push her in her puddle jumper.  Surprisingly, the lifeguards were cool with this and let us walk around the Crooked Creek a few times to make her happy.

Getting out the waterpark was always a challenge.  L could have stayed there for three straight days if we let her.  We started bribing her with Icee’s from the concession stand (which they never made us pay for for some reason).  That seemed to work so we were able to go out to dinner and check out some of the other resort features.

Both nights we were there, we took advantage of the 8:00 storytime.  All of the kids come down to the lobby in the PJ’s and one of the characters comes out with an employee handler and they read a resort themed bedtime story.  Both nights we hit up the ice cream shop in the basement for some treats while L sat on the floor and learned to howl like a wolf.

After story time both nights, we headed back to the first level to play in the arcade for a little bit.  We played games where L could collect some tickets then let her pick out a few small prizes before heading back up for bed.

The other really neat thing about Great Wolf Lodge is the interactive game played throughout the resort.  On our floor, we had to walk past a “sleeping tree” that scared L to the point I had to carry her.  One of the employees saw this and showed her how to “wake up” the tree with a magic wand.  The kiosk was part of the MagiQuest game.  Once L saw this, she had to have a wand…so L bought her one….at a price of almost $50.  To our surprise, L did sort of pick up how to play the game and go on quests with a little help.  She figured out how to make things react to her wand and once we told her where to point it, she had a blast running from floor to floor looking for the items on our quest.

On our final day there, we got our car packed up, checked out of the room, and headed back down to the water park for one last swim before we had to go.  We knew leaving wasn’t going to go over well with L and with the help of another Icee and the promise of seeing Nana and Grandpa later in the day, we were able to get out with minimal tears.

She was sad to go though.  All three of us had a blast.  It was so much fun to see just how much fun L was having that I was even able to set aside my hate for waterparks for a while.  Chasing her up Fort Mackenzie was exhausting, but she had so much fun.  J was talking with another mom who said they make Great Wolf a yearly trip.  We were already thinking that before we headed up there and once we got there, it’s almost certain we will do this trip again in the future.

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

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