To squeeze the last few drops of fun out of summer, we surprised the kids with a two-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This indoor water park boasts over 100,000 square feet of water-packed fun, including scream-worthy slides for risk takers—not for the faint of heart!—and zero-depth entry areas for wee ones. Outside the water park, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone busy until nightfall.
Our visit to this immense 84-degree indoor water park was the second for us in five years. I was a little worried that the lodge and all of its amenities might look a little tired or appear a bit rundown. Not so. And, with the kids being half a decade older since our last visit, I was worried they might not enjoy themselves as much (they are 7, 10, and 13). Again, not so.
We actually enjoyed ourselves more this time around. With the kids being that much older we, as parents, we were free to experience all the fun with our children without the incessant fear factors that come with having toddlers around water.
Check in and check out were a breeze. Parking availability was plentiful.
The staff, from reception to dining to housekeeping, was always pleasant and courteous. Lifeguards were impressively attentive. Even staff at the gift shop was friendly and helpful (usually a rarity when shopping with kids!).
Our room, with two queen beds and a pull-out couch, was clean and spacious. Movies were available on demand (always a bonus for our family). Our room came equipped with a microwave and mini fridge. So, we planned ahead and brought fruit, refreshments, bread, sandwich meat, and pizza. As such, we were able to cut down on meal costs by warming up pizza in the microwave for dinner the first night and making sandwiches for our lunch the next day—all done from the comfort and convenience of our room.
Thumbs down? Although many visitors seemed to enjoy MagiQuest, the “live-action adventure game” (new from five years ago), I give MagiQuest two thumbs down. The idea sounds magical, but the reality of it all is far from magical. With a “magic” wand in hand, children open treasure chests set up in hallways leading to hotel rooms, they also listen to a wizard, and do a few other “magical” things. Children were crying because the wands wouldn’t open all the treasure chests and parents were always on the hunt for misplaced wands—we’re talking about two-year olds carrying wands… Why wouldn’t they be misplaced? The least expensive wand cost $16.99 before tax.
For families with more than one child, the cost of these wands adds up quickly. Some families tried buying one wand to share between siblings. Before even leaving the shop, siblings were having meltdowns over who got to hold the magic wand. I witnessed parents frantically handing over fists full of cash to purchase additional wands just to stop the madness that had ensued. Those wands are a total cash grab. Each wand is nothing more than a small piece of plastic that stops being “magical” the moment you leave the lodge. Blah! Okay, rant over.
Thumbs up? Dining at the Antler Shanty was definitely an improved experience. The food choices, served buffet style, have multiplied tenfold from five years ago. Salads, sides, main dishes, and desserts were plentiful, with lots of variety, and always fresh.
Also improved? The atmosphere as you walk into the lodge is more energized. How so? Five years ago, we entered the Grand Lobby to the sounds of nature with birds chirping, owls hooting, and wolves howling off in the distance. This time around, in addition to the nature sounds, there was current music pumped into this area, giving a fun, youthful, active vibe the moment you walk through the doors. Children were singing and dancing while parents were toe tapping to the music.
Will we return? Absolutely. Will it be in five years time? Not if we can help it. For more information about Great Wolf Lodge Niagara, please visit http://www.greatwolf.com/niagara/waterpark .
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