You can check out Part 1 of our Great Wolf Lodge Review where we talk about everything except the waterpark. Now stay tuned as we jump headfirst into the waterpark portion of the lodge with our two boys who just turned 6 and 8 years old.
What impressed us most is how clean the waterpark was in the Lodge located at Pocono Mountains, PA. There is no stagnant water around as they really have a great draining system and running water over any areas that water might pool at. That was the best, as you never once put your foot down into any water where you felt it was yucky. They also have one of those HUGE buckets that fill up and spill down across the Fort Mackenzie area of the park that the boys kept standing under. It was also another nice way to keep kids interested and keep the fresh water flowing. We found the paint fresh and everything was clean and new looking so that it made you feel comfortable being in there.
We also found out that the Life Guards shift every 15 minutes. We felt that this was a perfect amount of time because every lifeguard that we saw was very diligent in doing his or her job. They were also very nice and were always talkative and helpful to the riders and guests. Many different times I got to see a lifeguard helping someone out of a raft, or out of the pool at the end of ride which was great. While you feel as if you can see most of the park when you walk in, the nice part was knowing that they did not skimp on the amount of lifeguards. Even though my boys were strong swimmers, I would think it would make people feel very comfortable in knowing eyes were on your children.
I know what you are asking next though, tell me about the rides!
Fort Mackenzie is a great area that has some buckets you can drop on people, water cannons, all in a tree house where at the top you have that 1000 gallon bucket that spills water on that whole area of the park. It is also has the entrance to Totem Towers which are great waterslides for the kids to start out on. Plus if your kids are a bit competitive it allows them to race to the bottom as well.
Hydro Plunge is one of the rides we were super excited about and had been talking about weeks leading up to the trip. A roller coaster type waterslide! Thank goodness both of my boys made the 48-inch cut for the height requirement or there might have been some upset children. We went two at a time and you go up and down on the slide, which was a first for us. What is neat is that when you hit the track that speeds you along it is like a burst of speed. Around the third time this happens you really get an up and down experience that feels wild.
Coyote Cannon (Did I see a sign that said Vortex?) was one of the rides that I went on that I had never been on anything similar before. Most people compare it a bit to a toilet bowl, but the term cannon bowl seems much for friendly as listed on the Great Wolf Lodge site. You shoot out from a large drop into a bowl and it was fun seeing how many times you could go around the bowl before you were sent to the end of the ride. It was also nice as you were able to see the bowl from the lines to some of the other rides and me and the boys would play the game of trying to guess how many times people could go around the bowl. This was my wife’s favorite ride and it was a solid second on my list as well.
The big one, the Double Barrel Drop. I will start with saying that I am a water park vet and this is probably the favorite water ride I have ever been on. The presentation with the music and the lights along with the areas of total darkness gives you an experience like no other. The first time riding this ride is so exciting and doing it later in the day even adds to the experience. The best part is that you are able to go with a friend (or child) at the same time. While I could not get my younger boy on this, my older one LOVED the experience as well. The drop that you make while in darkness is substantial and the first time you have no idea what you are in for and this drop really gets that heart racing. My favorite ride of the park. Even when the park is in full production we found the line went pretty quickly. Just make note of the height requirements so you do not stand on the line with a little kid. The nice part is that if you go up and you cannot ride this ride, they will send you down on River Canyon Run so you will not have wasted your time.
Want to relax a bit, or just do not feel like walking up stairs for a bit, you can head over to the Slap Tail Pond. It is a wave pool where the waves come every 5 minutes and are up to around 3 feet tall. It is zero-depth entry so you can hang out with the little ones here as well.
Alberta Falls was cool for the kids because they were so intrigued by the fact that the enclosed tubes went outside of the Lodge! Yes they would be outside in their tubes and then splash back down in the pool back inside of the Lodge. Not to worry though, just because they go outside does not mean that it gets cold, the temperature says the same as the tube you slide down is enclosed with the same water from inside the Lodge.
Big Foot Pass is like a giant game of Frogger where the children try to keep their balance and hop across the lily pads. The boys loved this area because they have two of the pads where they can try to get across the pool so they would start at the same time and see who could go the furthest. My older son would not leave this area until he had successfully gotten across the lily pads to the other side, it was so much fun watching them in this area.
River Canyon Run allowed all of us to go on a ride together at the same time. Think of a giant raft where you are in a huge tube that is sliding towards the bottom. This is one of the more tame rides (still VERY fun), but even our kids enjoyed it because there is something to be said about riding with the family. It has a landing pool finish and does have some fun drops.
In Chinook Cove you get a game of water basketball going or the kids can hang out on the floating snake in the water. What we did was got ourselves (the adults) dried off and let the kids have a little bit of extra time playing basketball while we packed up for the night. It was easy to watch them, as we got ready to settle down for the night in this area.
There is also a lazy river, Crooked Creek, some Hot Springs and some rides for the little ones like the Cub Paw Pool and Whooping Hollow for when they are a bit bigger, but still not ready for the larger rides. So there is more than enough to keep the whole family entertained.
I decided to ask our boys what their favorite rides were after we finished at the park and this is what we found:
Christopher 1. Double Barrel Drop 2. Coyote Cannon 3. Hydro Plunge
Nicholas 1. Hydro Plunge 2. Alberta Falls 3. Coyote Cannon
After a day in the waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Pocono Mountains, PA I can say we had a GREAT time and are already looking to go back. The waterpark was big enough we never got bored and setup in a manner where we did not feel like the kids were every too far away from us even when they went on rides without us. It is a balance that they have built perfectly. So if you are looking for something to do, make sure to put one of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts on your list for a vacation.
Some Tips and Tricks for Great Wolf Lodge
Bring a camera with a great flash if you want to take some pictures after it gets a bit dark outside, or just in general as the shadows will play havoc with your pictures even during the day
Get measured at the front before you go into the park if you have any children that are close to the height requirements, they will get a bracelet with a specific color which means that the lifeguard will not have to ask them each time to stand by the measuring area. Also the front area does more accurate job at measuring the height
Remember if you are going on most of the rides you will be walking up flights of stairs each day, so keep that in mind
If you forgot to pack Crocs, they have a great Crocs store right outside the waterpark inside of the hotel
Note: Our stay at Great Wolf Lodge was discounted in conjunction with this review.