Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Great Wolf Lodge, Centralia, Washington

Great Wolf Lodge.  Just the name is imposing…rustic, majestic, maybe crackling fires fill the mind.  What it doesn’t inspire are thoughts of a giant indoor water park and hundreds of shrieking kids, but that is exactly what it is…shrouded in the cover of a wilderness theme.

Now, if you have a shrieking kid or two of your own, you’ll fit right in.  An important thing to remember with this vacation that makes it different from others is the hotel IS the destination.  On most vacations, you check into your hotel, which is a haven, a restful place after a day of fun filled tourism.  With this vacation, the hotel IS the vacation, so the tourists surround you every second except when you are safely behind your “cabin” door.  People are everywhere, all the time…the hallways are filled, as are obviously the rest of the public areas.

You can check in a 1 PM. We arrived around 2 PM. It took about 30 minutes in line, which in retrospect wasn’t bad, considering the lobby was a madhouse.  

Line in the lobby

The employee that checked us in was fantastic.  Very friendly, he was efficient and genuinely seemed to want to help us.  He offered us free wolf ear headbands, which we gleefully accepted, adults included.  

Us, the wolf pack.  Sorry, I don't share my family online, but you get the fun filled point.

I texted my daughter to tell her where to park (she was pulled up in front of the hotel) and was informed she had a problem, so I went outside.  There was an employee opening doors for those entering and exiting, several cars lining both sides of the front of the entrance, and one “special” car that had entered the wrong way, stopped, parked in the middle of the way, and a group of women stood by the trunk, chatting the day away, while all the cars around were literally stuck there.  I pointed it out to the employee, who stared at me blankly, and said “Oh.”  So I walked over to the chatty cathies and said “excuse me, you entered the wrong way and there are at least 8 cars blocked by your car.”  One of the women (taking her time) meandered to her door and finally moved the car, allowing all that were blocked to move.  Here I would normally put “SMH” on Facebook.

At least a two day stay is recommended.  We braved just a one night stay, although that did include entrance to the water park after 1 PM on check in date, and throughout the second day.  Pretty good value when you think about it.  We paid $250 for the night, and that automatically includes entrance to the park.  The park is just for hotel guests, so the general public cannot gain entrance.  Our $250 got us a very nice room, with two queen beds, a pull out sofa in a little living area, a fridge, microwave, and a good amount of counter space, as well as entrance for the four of us to the water festivities.

Each guest gets a wristband.  The adult’s wristbands open the door to the room, and you can use it to charge anything you buy at the resort.  All the bands get you entrance to the water parks.  The band was convenient, and reminded me of a dumbed down Disney Magicband.

We brought in our own coolers, stocked with drinks and food.  That turned out to be extremely helpful, because the restaurants were very packed at dinner time, so we munched on the subs and cheese platter we brought with us.  The fridge was weird; it had a very strange non shelf on the door that served zero purpose.  

There were also little flip flop stickers on the door to the bathroom…not part of the normal décor.  I’m guessing one of the little mini guests that stayed in the room before us left us a little decoration.

The room was clean and comfy, with a definite Pacific Northwest theme.  Of course, since this was the Centralia Washington location, we were in the Pacific Northwest, so it isn’t as impressive as I imagine it would be elsewhere.

After we got settled, my son and youngest daughter changed into swimwear and went to the water park, to get started on the fun and save us a spot (I am not into crowds or lines so I needed a “safe” space, lol).  My oldest daughter and I had a cocktail in the room and took our time changing.  Then we headed down to the great unknown.

The water park was extremely fun and really great for all ages.  The wave pool was very fun, all four of us bobbed and swayed to the waves when it started each cycle, and laughed.  Those that are not great swimmers should not go that deep, it can get pretty rough.  There are lifeguards everywhere, and they do seem very diligent.  My daughter is a lifeguard and she was impressed with the staff.  The slides are great…although we went on the biggest and my brave little 10 year old had a look of sheer terror on her face when the huge round slide holding all four of us went all the way up the cyclone side.  There are several play areas for the munchkin sized set, as well as standing pools for playing kid sized basketball.  There are “lily pads” and ziplines, a giant bucket that dumps water on all around every couple of minutes, and many more spots of fun.  The one major thing I found missing was a lazy river.  The tables aren’t plentiful, we were there mid week so it wasn’t bad but I would imagine on weekends table space is at a minimum. 

They do have lockers available, although we didn’t use them, we just didn’t bring anything valuable to the water park.

In the evening we did go to the arcade.  It was a lot of fun, but their credit system is very weird, and it had to be explained to me a couple of times.  Let me say, I’m not a mathematician, but generally I can add numbers below 10, and I had a rough time at first figuring out this system.  The rewards counter closes early, and I mean they close, with a giant fence surrounding it.  We just redeemed our tickets the next morning.  The arcade was busy, but we generally only had to wait for one person to finish to get to each game we wanted to play.

Girl, not mine, with a thousand tickets

We spent the rest of the evening in our hotel room, playing board games.  We played Telestrations, which is seriously hysterical, and had to take this photo of one of the drawings:

We also brought a box of “decorate a twinkie” minion set, and giggled for at least 30 minutes as we decorated them.

Now, let’s talk about the wands.  There are mysterious “wands” that you can buy, and throughout the hotel, there are kids that wave the wands at things, that talk, and move, and unlock.  It is a world in which I chose not to delve. The children playing seemed enthralled, and I imagine it is like the magical wall games on the Disney Dream or Fantasy, or perhaps the Kim Possible game or the like at Epcot.  Anyway, it was both too expensive and too complicated for my family…keep it simple.  Give us food, a water slide, some Ski ball and a Mai Tai, and we are all covered.  Good clean family fun.

By Lucy
Travel Time Travel