Showing posts with label water park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water park. Show all posts

Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls - 5 Things Your Family Will Love


Our last family vacation found us visiting Niagara Falls, Canada for the first time.  After a few days exploring the local area and seeing the natural wonder that is Niagara Falls, we headed over to the nearby Great Wolf Lodge for our first stay at this popular family destination.  We had an amazing 2 night, 3 day stay!  There was so much for our family to enjoy, it was hard to fit it all in!  Check out why Great Wolf Lodge was a fabulous vacation spot for our family - and it may just be a great fit for your family too!

I was gifted a Paw Pass for each of kids and some free meal vouchers to enjoy during our stay!  Thank you Great Wolf Lodge for your partnership!

Chipmunk's Cove at Great Wolf Lodge - Niagara Falls
1. The Waterpark - Let's start at the most prominent feature of any stay at Great Wolf Lodge. . .Bear Track Landing! This waterpark is perfect for EVERY member of your family.  Our 4 year old felt confident and comfortable in Chipmunk Cove where the water depth was only 18 inches and he had slides sized just for him as well as spray features.  For our more adventurous 7 year old, he spent more time in the deeper pool, playing basketball with new friends, and riding water slides throughout the indoor water play area.  At 49 inches, he was able to ride just about everything - except the Wolf Tail slide which he was perfectly content not to try!  His favorite - Niagara Rapids Run which is a water coaster featuring up AND down parts of the slide.  There was also an outdoor pool area, but we honestly had so much fun playing inside that we barely stepped outside.
Wolf Den Suite at Great Wolf Lodge

2. The Rooms - Great Wolf Lodge features some amazing rooms for families to enjoy.  With a variety of options for families large and small, there is something for every family at a variety of budget points.  We ended up staying in a Wolf Den Suite because we thought the kids would enjoy the extra special theming and the bunk beds in the room.  The room was spacious for our family of four and even had a balcony for added space.  The bathroom was on the small side, but for our purposes it worked out just fine.  I'd rather have the extra living and play space than a big bathroom for a family vacation.
Breakfast at Antler Shanty

3. The Food - Being totally honest, I had heard mixed reviews on the food at Great Wolf Lodge and wasn't too excited about this part of the trip.  However, I was pleasantly surprised!  There are several different spots within Great Wolf Lodge - Niagara Falls, and we tried many of them.  One of our favorite spots was the buffet, Antler Shanty.  We had breakfast there each morning and dinner there as well.  The variety of food offered something for everyone in the family with a lot of kid friendly choices.  Around the waterpark, there were several options for quick bites from burgers to hot dogs, fries to chicken fingers, and everything in between!  There were even some great spots around the hotel to find some sweet treats.  The gluten free chocolate cake was one of my favorites!  If you're looking for gourmet dining, it's not here.  But for a family friendly vacation venue, the food is good, fresh, and well varied.

Great Wolf Lodge? There's an app
for that!
4. The Free Extras - Around the hotel, there are many activities for kids and families to enjoy that are included with your stay.  Young ones can enjoy a morning yoga session, meet Great Wolf friends at character greetings during the afternoon, and even end the day with story time featuring a talking display.  Don't be surprised to also find dance parties and other fun popping up all over the lobby throughout the day.  There's even an app that you can download to use during your stay to keep track of all of the events happening around the hotel that day!

5. The Extras with a Price Tag - Beyond the waterpark and the free activities, there are also many paid activities and extras that can be added to your resort stay.  My 7 year old absolutely loved MagiQuest and sometimes preferred that over time in the water!  You can create stuffed animal, bowl, play arcade games, participate in mini-golf, enjoy a spa treatment, and much, much more!  If you're looking to bundle experiences together and save some money, definitely check out the Paw Pass - it has a little bit of ALL of the fun at one low price!

When we booked our Great Wolf Lodge stay, I really thought we were going to simply get a waterpark experience, but we found a lot more fun.  Our 2 night stay could have easily lasted another night or two to make time to squeeze in everything this property has to offer.  We hope to visit more Great Wolf Lodge locations in the years ahead and my boys are anxiously awaiting our next opportunity to catch some waves and ride the slides!

Is a Paw Pass Worth it at Great Wolf Lodge?

Our family headed to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Canada for our first visit to this popular family resort.  Great Wolf Lodge has locations across North America, and we decided to pair our visit to GWL with a family trip to see Niagara Falls as well.  After several days exploring the natural beauty of the area, we checked into Great Wolf Lodge for 2 nights and 3 days of family fun.  Many people think of a fabulous indoor water park when they think of Great Wolf Lodge, but did you know there is so much more for your family to enjoy?!?  Enter the Paw Pass!  With activities around the lodge including bowling, a stuffing station to build your own stuffed friend, MagiQuest game, an arcade and so much more, the Paw Pass provides an opportunity to purchase access to many of the popular activities at a discounted price.  Let's take a look at what's included and the break down when this is a good choice for your family.

My boys were provided complimentary Paw Passes from Great Wolf Lodge - Niagara Falls so that we could share our experiences with you!  As always, thoughts and opinions are honest feedback from our real experiences!

Before we begin, it's important to note that each Great Wolf Lodge location has a slightly different Paw Pass deal.  Pricing and activities will vary from location to location as what each lodge offers also varies.  The Paw Pass at Great Wolf Lodge - Niagara Falls runs each wolf $69.99 and includes the following:

  • One MagiQuest game and classic wand or topper
  • Two games of bowling at Ten Paw Alley or one game at Wacky Wilderness Mini-Golf
  • One animal at Great Wolf Stuffing Station (outfit not included)
  • One 5x7 Paw Prints Water Slide Photo
  • One gift at Scoops Kid Spa
  • 1/4 lb of fudge at Bear Claw Cafe
  • One Great Wolf Kids Color-Your-Own item in Cub Club
  • One pair of wolf ears from the Trading Post Gift Shop
  • 30 Paw Points and game card for Northern Lights Arcade
Caleb and Wolf-Wolf
So is it worth it?  My boys would absolutely say yes!  While you can certainly go to Great Wolf Lodge and have a wonderful family vacation enjoying your room and the water park which are all included in your rate, these activities really enhance your experience.  Both of our boys couldn't wait to get to the Trading Post not long after we arrived and get their wolf ears and new stuffed animal.  They made sure to have their new friend made the first evening we were there so they could sleep with him in bed that night.  We decided to space out our other activities and used them as some breaks from the water park.  The stuffed animal was Caleb's favorite part of the Paw Pass.  He loves his new Wolf-Wolf and carries him everywhere!

Brody's favorite activity hands down on the Paw Pass was the MagiQuest game.  For this game, young wizards use a wand to visit interactive objects, pictures, etc. around the lodge and complete various quests.  It sounded confusing at first, but with the help of the friendly staff at the Quest Cottage and our handy guide book, it became pretty intuitive very quickly.  It's important to note that this game is probably best enjoyed by 1st graders and up.  Since Caleb had a Paw Pass, we had him get a wand and tried to have him play along with Brody, but his attention span at 4 years old as well as his ability to comprehend what the quests were, just didn't lend itself to this activity.  At 7 though, we couldn't pull Brody away from this!  I saw many older elementary kids running around completing quests as well.  The older the child, the more they are going to be able to do independent from adult help.
Brody on one of his many MagiQuest adventures!

The boys also really enjoyed their evening in the arcade.  Dan decided to rest in the room after a busy first day so I had both boys in the arcade by myself.  We took turns picking games and the 30 Paw Points per kid lasted our family about 45 minutes or so.  You can purchase more arcade points if you'd like as well.  The Northern Lights arcade was also where you could claim your game of mini golf or have the two games of bowling loaded onto your arcade card.  We opted to bowl and this was the final activity our boys completed before leaving the lodge to return home.

At the end of the trip, I would say that we would definitely buy a Paw Pass again.  While the boys claimed the fudge, free slide photo, gift from Scoops spa, and the color-your-own activity at Cub Club, those are not items we probably would have purchased without the pass.  When you add up the cost of the other items, the Paw Pass definitely is a cost savings for families who plan to enjoy the extra activities at Great Wolf Lodge.  For another look at our family trip, check out the video below and keep your eyes open for another post on the blog that will recap the entire experience at Great Wolf Lodge including the waterpark, room, food, and free activities around the property.  Until then, have a Great Wolf Day!




5 Tips to Have a Dutch Wonder-ful Day!

Since Dutch Wonderland opened it's gates in 1963, they have been known to delight families visiting Lancaster County.  While many new rides have been added and the park has undergone numerous expansions, the family fun atmosphere has only grown too.  I remember visiting Dutch Wonderland as a child myself and enjoy being able to bring my kids there to make new memories with them.  There's a lot to love about this Kingdom for Kids and I have a few tips to make to your day truly Dutch Wonder-ful!

As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland in exchange for sharing our experiences with you.  As always, thoughts and opinions are true to our experiences!

Arrive at Park Opening - We pulled into the parking lot at 9:40 for a 10:00 opening.  By the time the park officially opened we had cleared security, entered the gates, and my family was in in line for our first ride - the Wonderland Special - a train ride around the park.  Coming early to Dutch Wonderland offers a few great perks.  First, we were there to open the park with a special announcement from Princess Brooke as we joined her countdown to begin the day.  Second, we beat the crowds to some of the most popular rides.  While lines weren't a big issue throughout the day, we certainly experienced faster lines and lower crowds within the first 2 hours.  For example, we rode Merlin's Mayhem 3 times in a row - walking right back on each time!  And rode the Kingdom Coaster twice with the same experience.  Lastly, it allows you to beat the heat.  We took a park strategy of riding rides until about 1, then breaking for lunch and a visit to Duke's Lagoon in the heat of the day.  We left Duke's Lagoon around 3:30 and went back to the rides for a few hours before departing.  As the summer weather only gets warmer, this will certainly make your day more enjoyable.

Take Time to Visit Duke's Lagoon - While this wasn't my visit to Dutch Wonderland, this was my first visit to Duke's Lagoon and all I have to say is WOW!  Dutch Wonderland took their concept of creating a Kingdom for Kids and expanded it beautifully to this water play area.  Without an actual pool, Duke's Lagoon is a really a giant splash pad with play features, water slides, geysers, fountains, and, yes, dumping buckets.  The beauty of this play area is that it is entirely safe for little ones!  The concrete becomes a soft pad where the water features are located so little feet don't get burned.  And here's the great part grown-ups - you can totally decide whether or not you want to get wet.  I spent about the first hour in my street clothes and was totally able to keep track of my 4 year old and 7 year old and their friend without getting anything wet but my feet.  Now, because I'm a big kid at heart, I couldn't sit on the sidelines long and I joined in the fun in my bathing suit as well.  We took our 7 year old on Pipleline Plunge as well, which is a large water slide.  Even on this though you don't get soaked.  The water slide is in a raft and you don't end in a large pool, but rather in a chute with just a little water when you come out - again making this not scary and totally safe for little riders - despite the fact that it is a SERIOUS slide from the size perspective.  There are lockers and changing areas in Duke's Lagoon.  It's important to note that lockers are cash only - no cards accepted - especially because I'm usually a cashless person.  My husband actually commented too on how much he appreciated the changing rooms having individual changing stalls for an element of privacy instead of a "locker room" feel.  You can find lunch and snacks over here too.  We easily could have spent way more time than the 2 1/2 hours we already did at Duke's Lagoon and my littlest said it was his favorite part of the whole day!

Don't Miss the Shows - While it's easy to get caught up in so many other fun things around the park, you definitely want to make time to enjoy some of the shows during your day at Dutch Wonderland.  From comedy, to dance, to a little bit of magic - there's a lot to see.  Each show is timed perfectly for little attention spans too with typical run times of 15 minutes or so.  Our favorite show of the day was at the Aqua Theater where they had a diving story presentation.  Yeah - you  read the right.  We heard The Adventures of the Frog Prince, but instead of it just being acted out, it was presented complete with entertaining (and funny!) diving frogs.  The kids and adults both LOVED it and we laughed the entire time.  Be warned though that those red "splash zone" rows are serious splash zones.  If the divers don't get you with their dives, they will come over and give you a few splashes just for fun!  Shows also offer the perfect opportunity to rest your feet during a busy day and most feature some shade from the summer sun.  This is also a perfect time to reapply that sunscreen right before the show begins and let it soak in good during the show before going back out to the heat!  A few of the show locations also offer character meets throughout the day.  We met up with Merlin and Duke the Dragon at one of the stages.  But these locations aren't your only chance to meet characters as they roam throughout the park and are happy to stop for a quick conversation and a photo opportunity! 

Bring Your Appetite - Like most theme parks, there are a lot of great food options here.  While many of the restaurants feature your theme park standard chicken tenders, burgers, corn dogs, french fries, etc., you can also find locations featuring healthier choices like at Bean Sprouts located in the Mill Stream Eatery.  There are also several familiar favorites around the park.  Our boys are addicted to Auntie Anne's pretzels and were delighted to see not one, but two, different locations to get their favorite snack in the park.  We also found a Rita's for a familiar cool, sweet treat later on in the day.  Dutch Wonderland also offers a character breakfast on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer from 9:00AM - 10:00AM.  At only $15.99 per person this is an affordable option to get your day started right!  There's also refillable drink cup options in both adult and toddler size to save you money on drinks throughout the day and season pass holders may be interested in looking at an All Season Dining Pass which offers 2 combo meals each day they are in the park.  

Enjoy Being a Kid Again - Everything at this park is geared with little ones in mind.  I would say Dutch Wonderland is the perfect theme park for elementary school and younger.  My 7 year old was big enough to do any ride he wanted to and my 4 year old was big enough for most rides throughout the park.  This isn't the park to take thrill seeking teenagers as Kingdom Coaster and Merlin's Mayhem are probably the only two rides that would excite them, but those two coasters are perfect introductions into the "adult" roller coaster world that upper elementary school kids will be wanting to start to explore.  Whether it's driving a car, walking a dinosaur trail, laughing on the frog hopper, or getting a little wet on the log flume, the rides are designed to have fun as a family - something really important to us and to many of you!  We visited on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and lines were very manageable throughout the day with our longest waits being about 30 minutes and most wait times being between 5-10 minutes.  With wait times like those, it's easy to let kids enjoy their favorites over and over again.  I sometimes feel very rushed at theme parks trying to get from ride to ride and keeping an itinerary, where here we were able to slow down, let the kids take the lead, and really had an enjoyable time meandering through the park to experience it all.  

So are you ready to have a Dutch Wonder-ful day with your family?  I have a great deal exclusive to blog readers to save money for your whole family to enjoy making memories together.  Don't forget to use promo code summerblog19 to get the best deal. As you're capturing your fun that day, don't forget to share on social media with #DutchWonderland so everyone can see the royally good time you are having!  For the latest information, park hours, and magical details, check out Dutch Wonderland's website and social media channels.