Great Wolf Lodge

This past weekend, we made our inaugural trip to GWL in Concord, NC. It was so amazing, I wish we could go back tomorrow. For now, I’m settling for doing it once a year, in the dead of winter when we haven’t been to a pool for ages. The timing was awesome!

But… this was how I felt literally up until today.  (This was the drive home, not 5 minutes into it.)

The Great Wolf Lodge was AWESOME, but the Great Wolf Hangover was very rough. We aren’t at the age where we get to just hang out and pretend it’s summer and relax. Oh no, lots of physical keeping up with the kid to do. Or, as it could also be called, chasing and yelling for her to come back and hold my hand.


It was awesome, all around. One of the most exciting and gratifying things I’ve seen in a while was Margo swimming… we did swimming lessons last spring and she spent a large chunk of the summer in a pool. It’s important to me that she knows how to swim, enjoys the water and respects the water. She ran right in and was seemingly unstoppable.

The place we spent most of our time was a kiddie pool that went from zero to 18 inches. A kid Margo’s height walking in 18 in of water is, frankly, trecherous. The lifeguard in me was resurrected the minute I saw that. It was hard to walk and if (when) she fell over, she’d be under and would she be able to get her head above water on her own? She did fall, several times and I had to grab her. But, and this is the part that continually amazes me and makes me love my kid’s personality, she rubbed the water out of her eyes and picked up where she left off. Not even a touch of whining or fear. Watching her figuring out swimming, walking in the baby pool on her knees, on her hands and letting her legs float… all of the experimentation she didn’t do last summer, it was so fun! She is a poolrat, and I love it!

After the first day, Margo looks at the waterpark and says "Margo do again tomorrow?"

Some thoughts on our GWL experience:

  • For the money, it was exactly as cool as I expected. The room was beautiful, and even a standard room (not the tricked out ones decorated to look like a log cabin) have a high partition wall so that we could actually speak after Margo went to bed. The waterpark was amazing. Margo was able to do most of the cool stuff, except for the big slides. She even was allowed to go on some of the slides on Totem Towers, which say you have to be 42 inches to ride but I went down first then she followed. (FEARLESS, I tell you!) She would get down and say immediately (after wiping hair out of her face bc that thing was fast & gave you a moutfull of water!) “Again!” So, it’s not cheap, but I’ve spent more for less.
  • The lifeguards were amazing. I mean, for real. I don’t know you that you can call what I used to do at our community pool the same thing as this. They were so focused and I couldn’t even wager a guess at how many kids they have to pull out of that kiddie pool daily. Whatever they’re being paid, it isn’t enough.

The not great stuff.
*Note, notne of it was so terrible as to mar our experience or make us never return.

  • Somehow, our kid remained on her super crazy early waking schedule, stirring at 5:30am. This sorta blew because the restaurant didn’t open until 8 and the waterpark didn’t open until 9. We wished they would have opened earlier, it was annoying to “kill time” when we just wanted to play and maximize every moment there.
  • The restaurant was great for dinner (kids eat free!), annoying for breakfast. There was a mad rush at opening at breakfast, because EVERYONE was up and hungry at the same time. Our service was terrible, food was ok. In hindsight, we should have just gone to Bob Evans offsite (and probably will next time).

I’m not sure it’s a bad thing, but a fact of going to GWL is that there are people everywhere. It’s built to accommodate lots of people, so it wasn’t intolerable, but it was something to deal with. Know how I get annoyed with “other people’s kids?” Like when they talk to me and demand my attention, the attention I should be paying to my own kid and their parent should be paying to them? Well, they’re everywhere at GWL. There were also lots of big kids everywhere, even in the baby pool. And they were quick to butt in line in front of a little defenseless 2 year old so I had to pull rank and command that some kids “wait their turn.”

It’s also really hard to take pictures in there… not only is the lighting weird, but you never really have your camera of phone when you need it. In some ways, this was part of the beauty and relaxation of the place: we were’t on our devices constantly. That was a pleasant change, but not many pics to speak of!


8 thoughts on “Great Wolf Lodge

  1. We went there as a group of 4 adults in 2009 and it was fun but taking a kid there ummm that sounds exhausting.

    Glad you guys had fun! Did you ride the Tornado?

    • I didn’t get to ride the Tornado. I did the Canyon River something, but only did one ride. The lines took a long time but I wanted to do just one bc we were there. Howlin’ Tornado seemed like an intense reentry into waterslides, not having ridden one for a while. 😉

  2. I LOVE reading this because we have been talking about going there forever. My boys are complete water babies, they love love love it.

    I have a cheapo waterproof camera I use for the pool. Here is a shot from when the boys were 4:
    Alex underwater

    • You should totally go, Laura! Especially bc at your sons’ age they’ll be able to do so much more and independently 🙂 They also have this whole “MagiQuest” thing for the evenings where you buy a fancy wand and have to do some sort of treasure hunt or something. IDK, all the kids seemed really into it.

      A waterproof camera is an excellent idea… thanks!

  3. Jamie, we were there two weekends ago and had what sounds like a very similar experience. Our kids were excited and busy the whole time and crashed the minute we got in the car. It’s funny to think that we might have bumped into each other at the water park!

  4. Jamie- we just went to GWL for the first time a few weeks ago. We had a blast and can’t wait to do it again! It’s even more fun when your kiddo is old enough to ride the big slides! We (the parents) had just as much fun as our son! And yes it was great to disconnect from our phones/ipads/etc. It was a great family get away in the middle of winter!

  5. Oh and next time you must find a way to ride the Howlin’ Tornado! Fun fun fun! But oh my! I’m a big chicken but it was so cool! I actually rode two or three times!

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