Want a way to beat the winter blues? Slide … into a fun vacation at the Great Wolf Lodge in Pocono Mountains, PA where you can have both an exciting and relaxing stay with the family. In our first piece I will talk about the hotel itself, how we enjoyed the food, and some events and areas in the hotel itself. Part Two will focus on the water park, as it deserves it own piece to talk about each of the rides that the family enjoyed. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and stayed overnight and in the waterpark until later in the day on Saturday, never leaving the site.
We decided that for this trip it would just be the four of us, with our baby girl staying home with the grandparents so we could give our boys some quality time that they had been missing since their sister was born. It also allowed us to get a room for the 4 of us without having to worry about dragging along a crib and getting 2 hours of sleep after a fun day at the park.
The Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is a Generation 2 property, which means there are many different tweaks from the Generation 1 Great Wolf Lodge Resorts. All this information was given to us by Michael D. who was kind enough to give us a full tour of the property and answered tons of questions for us. We learned that for this Generation 2 property it had a bit of a different layout for the lobby, and we learned a bit about the time of stay and the amount of people in each party. We were also taken through the lodge to look at all of the different areas that they had many of which are now on an entertainment type street next to the water park. This takes a very nice queue from other parks where you know where to find most of your activities, which include Scooops Kid Spa, MagiQuest store, Northern Lights Arcade, Ten Paw Alley and others.
There are many different types of suites available at the Great Wolf Lodge including a few different theme options as well including the Wolf Den Suite, KidKamp Suite, Majestic Bear Suite, and Grizzly Bear Suite, all sleeping different amounts of people and giving you a different layout and design. They all looked to be very fun and comfortable, we ended up staying in a Family Suite.
It must be very difficult to keep rooms clean and fresh when you have so many wet items going in and out of the rooms, but the Great Wolf Lodge staff was up to the challenge. The room was great from the moment we walked in and when we saw the cleaning staff they were very nice and had a kind word for you. What I really enjoyed about the room was even with the two beds there is an area of the room that has a couch. What I liked was that the beds and couch area has a wall between so that you could sit and relax on the couch and talk without interfering with whomever is sleeping. It was nice for my wife and I to relax and talk a bit while the kids sleep. The design is very nice and gives you some family separation. The regular Family Suite even has some of the lodge theming with the headboards and such. It also included a balcony that the boys still tried out even in the cold weather.
The buffet style option is most prevalent at the lodge and we had both breakfast and dinner at the restaurant buffet style. The Loose Moose Cottage and Camp Critter buffet both provide this style of eatery. We ate in the Loose Moose Cottage once and also at the Camp Critter area, which I believe was the one that overlooked the waterpark. It was nice being able to see all the rides while eating, as it gave the kids something to amuse themselves while we ate. While the common knock on Great Wolf is the high prices of the buffet we found the price to be about the same, as it would cost us to eat dinner in Northern New Jersey, but with more options. The desserts at dinner were great and you also have the Edy’s soft serve ice cream as a dessert as well as the other options. Both of my boys who eat a totally different menu found items to eat that they were both happy with. The common ground was the fact that they both loved the macaroni and cheese as well as chicken, fries, pork. They also had all sorts of desserts that included types of cakes, cookies, and ice cream. There was also a pasta bar with a chef, and a carving station among the many other options that my wife and myself tasted.
If you do not want to do the buffet there are a few other options including a Pizza Hut Express, a cheaper NY Style Pizza place that we are told is doing very well, and Bear Paw Sweets and Eats which also offers healthy alternatives. Do not forget that they also had a Starbucks as well. We had no complaints at all about the food at the lodge.
While there is a little girl salon/spa called Scooops and looks very interesting, I am going to focus on two areas that my boys were super pumped about. The first one we did not get to do this time around, but it looked like a great area to play with the kids, and that was Ten Paw Alley where you get to do some candlestick bowling. It was right next to the NY Pizza area and it includes 10 lanes for your amusement.
The Northern Lights Arcade is one of the best arcades I have been in since the 80s! We had a GREAT time here with all the different types of games they had. Like many arcades you can play the games to get tickets to turn in at the end of your gaming time, but to be honest the most fun was had with the games themselves. My wife was hooked on the GIANT Fruit Ninja game and Skee-Ball while my oldest son and myself could not tear ourselves away from the football throwing game and basketball shooting games. My wife did get into a very hectic game of Deal or No Deal as well. My six year old distributed his fun equally among all the games! I mean we really had a blast here and the setup of the arcade does not feel packed at all, it is a very large area with the games spread out so that you are not bumping into any players. I could have stayed here happily for days and days on end.
They also have some other areas and activities that include Story Explorers where you get to become the main character in a storybook. MagiQuest and Compass Quest where you get to go on an adventure throughout the lodge with a magic wand in your hand (and maybe a hat and cape also!) Cub Club is also where the little ones can do some fun activities as well. As you can tell Great Wolf Lodge is much more than just an indoor water park.
There is also the Elements Spa Salon at the Great Wolf Lodge for the adults that would like to get away and relax. We were able to visit the reception area, but did not have the time to partake of the their services this time around. It is definitely an area that I would like to get acquainted with next time around.
So, even with the waterpark and all the areas and activities Great Wolf Lodge still gives you more with a Story Time and The Great Clock Tower Show. The kids gathered around the clock tower and then things come to life where all the animals sing about life in the forest. After the Clock Tower Show, the kids get to head to the fireplace where a bedtime story is read and you also get to see Wiley or Violet there as well. The kids also get to howl during the bedtime story. It was actually a great way to get the younger children in bed at a very decent hour. After these two events, when the kids are a bit older, they get to really get into MagiQuest!
So there you have Part One of our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos, we LOVED it and are already thinking about when we can go again. Stay tuned for Part Two where we talk about the Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark.
Some Tips and Tricks for Great Wolf Lodge
If you eat at off hours the food area will be less crowded and then the water park will be less crowded when you go there during the normal food hours.
If your children are the type that feels left out of events, you will need to do MagiQuest. After story time MagiQuest is in full force in the halls
If you are a Starbucks person, make sure to get yours early also it seems that eating breakfast in your pajamas is encouraged as we saw many families doing this
If you are looking to get your children out of the water park for a break, we used the Northern Lights Arcade to get them to leave the waterpark so we could make our way home the second day
If you have the vacation time, going on a Friday during the day to start your vacation was great as you can settle in before the weekend crowd
Note: Our stay at Great Wolf Lodge was discounted in conjunction with this review.