Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Great Wolf Lodge ~ Grapevine, TX

A good friend of mine, Jen from Round Rock, Texas, had a wonderful vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge up in Grapevine, Texas this summer.  I know she had a great time, as I jealously excitedly saw all her posts about the trip on FaceBook.  Knowing that there are a few Great Wolf Lodges around the US and the heat is getting a bit oppressive outside, this post comes in at a great time!  Thanks Jen!

Great Wolf Lodge, located in Grapevine, Texas, is a wonderful retreat from the summer heat for the whole family.  Located near both Grapevine Mills Mall and downtown Grapevine, there are several attractions close to the lodge as well including the recently opened SeaLife and Lego Discovery Land.  Inside Great Wolf Lodge, in addition to the water park, are several shops and attractions including: Scooops spa (for children up to 12,) Elements Spa (for adults), Northern Lights arcade, Gr8_Space (an area for teens to interact,) Cub Club (daily activities for children and kids only time ($25) on Fri/Sat nights, MagiQuest and Compass Quest,a fitness center and even a Starbucks.

The water park itself is mainly indoors.  This is a huge benefit to those who sunburn easily.  There are five large slides inside and two smaller ones located outside.  Upon entering the park there is a large play area, Fort Mackenzie and Totem Towers.  This  area is designed as a huge tree house that has water cannons that fire down onto folks floating in the lazy river, two slides, springs that shoot out of the ground, buckets that dump etc.  It also has one HUGE bucket that dumps  approximately 1000 gallons of water onto onlookers every ten minutes or so.  This is a good area to let the kids run around and play.  There are areas surrounding  it where a parent can sit and watch or you can play with them. These two slide are rated at up to 400 pounds.

To the right of Fort Mackenzie is the Cub Paw Pool.  This is the area for little ones.  We did not actually play in this area, but it looked very interactive.  The depth was listed as 0’ 0”, and there are life jackets available.

Behind Fort Mackenzie to the left is Chinook Cove, directly behind are the five slides, and to the right is Slap Tail Pond, with the Crooked Creek winding around it.  Chinook Cove is a constant 4’ deep pool that has several basketball goals,  floating platforms (shaped like a beaver, acorn and snake) anchored to the bottom and Big Foot pass which is an agility course that consists of six floating disks and a cargo net overhead.  All of these floating toys are rated at 400 pounds, so everyone can play.  Balancing on the snake while your kids try to push you off was a big hit with our kiddos.

Slap Tail Pond is the salt water wave pool.  There is a howl alerting you to when the waves begin and make sure you are there!  The wave pool is zero entry with the deepest end being five feet.  Double tubes are always available so there is never a wait.

The Crooked Creek  is a lazy river.  There are always tubes available so jump in and have fun!  There is a decent current, so swimming around it is fun also.  Kiddos on Fort Mackenzie can shoot water down onto floaters and buckets dump at random times.  I ended up with a lap of water I wasn’t expecting one time around!
The five slides are:  Howlin’ Tornado, River Canyon Run, Alberta Falls, and Coyote Cannon.  Alberta Falls and Coyote Cannon come off of the right side of the tower.  There are actually three slides (we couldn’t figure out all three names.)  We believe that the yellow and orange slide collectively are Alberta Falls.  These are both fun with the orange having a few more twists and the yellow having two drops.  The lines for these two were never very long.  Coyote Cannon is a green slide that twist and turns until you land in an enclosed “bowl.”  Inside, you go around several times before being shot out at the end of the ride.  Tubes are always available at the end of these rides and you can either ride single (250 lb limit) or double (400 lb limit.)  We rode double and love it!

On the left side of the tower are Howlin’ Tornado and River Canyon Run. River Canyon Run allows up to five people to ride in a round raft through the slide. It is a nice ride and fun to do with the entire family.  Howlin’ Tornado seats up to four people on a clover shaped raft.  This ride is not for the faint of heart!  In the evening when the sun is setting, the first part of the slide is dark.  Then there is a significant drop into a funnel that your tube flies up the sides until you finally reach the bottom of the slide.  This is by far the “scariest” ride.

Great Wolf Lodge gets several things “right.”  Inside the water park, there are several life guards and they are very attentive.  Also, tubes are always available at each attraction and you don’t have to lug one around all day in order to have one.  Life jackets are available as are towels (and lockers for a fee.)  There are several places to sit and tables/chairs where you can eat lunch. 

Located on the second floor (which is ground level) are the other attractions including the store for MagiQuest.  MagiQuest is an interactive game that requires a “wand.”  After that, it is a scavenger hunt all over the lodge.  This game is very engaging and the kids LOVE it.  It does involve taking the stairs to look for clues, so you get a work out as well.  Little magi will need assistance, but older children can be left to quest on their own, as most of the guests are running around playing the game.  The game is a lot of fun and gives families something else to do while you “rest” from the water.  Magi run around the hotel in various stages of dress from bathing suit to fully clothed, so you can go from the water park right to the game and then back without going up to your room to change.

Paw Passes are offered upon check in.  Each pass is $59.99 and includes: twenty tokens for the Arcade, MagiQuest wand and game, one small glitter tattoo, One Scoop Ice Cream, One stuffed animal, One Color Your Own Item and one 4x6 paw prints photo.  If purchased separately, these would all total around $98.00.  All things are offered a la carte however.

Upon check in, everyone gets a bracelet, with the adults getting special bracelets.  The adult bracelets both open your room door and can allow you to charge items (lockers, the spa, food, or any thing at any of the stores) to your room.  These are GENIUS because who has pockets in a bathing suit?!?

All in all, the Great Wolf Lodge is a great family get away that can be totally self contained.  I felt that my kids were safe both in the waterpark and inside the Lodge even when they weren’t directly in my line of sight (and I rarely let them out of my sight.)  The Lodge was clean and very cute.  Lots of opportunities to hang out and make memories!

Helpful Hints:

·         Check in is at 4:00. Check out is at 11:00.  However, you can begin using the park at 1:00 on the day you check in and continue using it until the park closes on the day you check out. 
·         Park Hours are usually 9 to 9.  Raccoon Lagoon (outdoor area) is open 10 to 7. MagiQuest is available until 11:00 p.m.
·         Bring Snacks/drinks/breakfast bars for your room.  
·         Wear a cover up and flip flops down to the waterpark and get a locker.  That way if you want to eat, leave and go walk around or play MagiQuest, you don’t have to go up and change.
o   Water shoes would be ideal and just keep them on all day. 
·         Plan on breaks throughout the day so kiddos (and adults) don’t get water logged.


Barbara said...

Thanks for the great review - I hope to get there someday!

Cyndi said...

Great article and website!

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

Wow! Comprehensive review. looks like an amazing place. I think I saw this park on Undercover Boss. We don't have those on the West Coast.