Monday, September 6, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge, Kansas City

 Since my husband was gone out of the country for work for 2 months in June and July we were ready for a get away as a family! While he was gone he missed our Anniversary, my birthday, and Fathers Day. We had been planning on going on a Babymoon just us two, but since he ended up being gone for so long we wanted to be able to bring Monkey along with us so that we could hang out as a family. When we started looking for places to go we were wanting to go to the beach somewhere. As it got closer to the time we realized how complicated it could get flying somewhere with a two year old. Also with the heat and being 6+ months pregnant at the time we thought that the beach might not be as enjoyable as we had hoped.
This is where Great Wolf Lodge came into the picture! It was the best of both worlds. It had water, was within a few hours from home, had plenty of entertainment for the little man, we didn't have to fly anywhere, and when it was blazing hot or stormy outside all we had to do was walk to the indoor water park and play play play without the heat!
Arrival: We arrived just a little after 4pm on a Friday afternoon which is just after check-in time starts. My hubby stayed in the car with the little man while I went inside and got us all checked in. When I walked in to the lobby I noticed a pretty long check-in line, but they had 4 people working the counters and the line moved quite quickly. It took probably 3-4 minutes to get through the line and up to the counter. While I was getting checked in I was very impressed at how knowledgeable and kind the receptionist was. She knew what she was talking about, explained everything to me that we would need to know, was willing to answer my questions, and was quick about what she did. Our room was all ready when we got there so after check-in we went right up to our room and got settled in.

The Room:
The room itself was nice. It had a semi-private living area with a full-size sleeper sofa in one half of the suite that worked well for putting Monkey at nap time and during the night.  We did have to have all of the lights off so that he would sleep since there wasn't a wall full in between us and him but it worked. The other part of the room that we stayed in had two queen sized beds, a full bathroom and a TV. Our room also had a private balcony that was nice to sit out on or just for hanging our wet clothes out on.
 Our room had nice and high vaulted ceilings, rustic decorations, and was plenty big for a two year old to run around and play in. When we arrived we had a nice welcome package waiting for is with T-shirts for all of us, GWL cups, a wolf stuffed animal, and some pens. Monkey Loved the wolf and was playing with it the whole time that we were there.

The room also included an Ironing Board, Coffee Maker, Hair Dryer, Mini Refrigerator, Microwave, Clothes / Drying Line, Wet Bar, All of their suites are Non-smoking.
What we didn't like about the room:
There were two things about the room that we didn't like. First of all, the beds were uncomfortable for two people to sleep in. Maybe it was just that they were too hard or something else, but if my hubby and I both slept in the same bed we didn't get any sleep at all. After a night of both of us getting almost no sleep at all we finally decided to sleep in separate beds so that we could actually get sleep. It was sort of a bummer on a family trip to have to sleep in a separate bed than my hubby.

Second, the bathroom had sort of a musty smell the whole time. We checked to make sure that we didn't leave wet towels laying around or that there wasn't anything in there that wasn't supposed to be but we never found anything. I am not quite sure why it smelled like that, but it did.

Fort Mackenzie:The water park was of course our favorite part of the whole lodge. The whole water park area is built around "Fort Makenzie" which is a four-story interactive treehouse water fort. It offering 12 levels of super-soaking fun for the whole family. From dumping buckets, to water fountains, spraying hoses, water guns, rope bridges, and much much more. We weren't sure at first how Monkey would do on the "fort" just because there were so many stairs, but he did great and loved all of the fun things to do.
 The center piece of the fort is the soaker bucket that it above the whole thing. It is a HUGE 1,000-gallon bucket that sits atop Fort Mackenzie and dumps all of its water out every 5 minutes or so on its suspecting (or un-suspecting) recipients below. Every few minutes the warning bell would ding and Monkey would squeal "DING DING!! bucket dump...bucket dump."  The big bucket was probably the highlight of the whole place for Monkey. He had to stop whatever he was doing every time that it dumped and then he would get back to playing when it was over.
The first time that we went down to the water park it was very crowded. There were lines at all of the slides, but we didn't have to wait for more than 5 minutes to ride each one. That was the only day that we actually had to wait to get on the slides. Every other day we could climb all of the way to the top of the stairs without stopping and get straight on to each of the slides. Monkeys favorite of the big slides was the three person slide where we could all get on together. The look on his face after we would get off at the bottom was a look of "what just happened to me" and then he would look up with his pleading little eyes and say "mo mo." He LOVED all of the slides!
 There was one bummer. The new, super exciting looking, triple twist slide was closed for repairs while we were there so we never got to try it out. But I would rather not be able to try it out than ride it and have something go wrong.
Even though we all loved the big slides, we spent the most time over at the Cub Paw Pool. It is a pool that is made specifically for kiddos that are 48" and under. It had two water slides that he could ride down all by himself and we would just catch him at the bottom. I am pretty sure that if we had let him he would have gone up and down those slides all day and not done anything else. The look of pure and utter joy when he was going down the slide was something that I will always remember.
The Life Guards: I was very impressed with all of the life guards (*besides one thing-see below.) Even when there was not one person in the pool they were always on high alert. Always checking-always scanning to see if anything was wrong. They had sort of a little dance that they did for scanning the pool. I never saw a life guard that wasn't paying attention to everything that was around them.

What we didn't like about the water park:
There was really only one thing that we didn't like about the water park itself. It sort of seemed like all of the life guards had different rules for one specific thing. We had been there for three days and then all of a sudden the life guard for the big water slides tells us that my son can't ride on the slide with us because he is too little, but then every other guard said it was just fine. There was also a time that one of the guards told someone that they couldn't ride down the cub paw pool slide with their kid that was too small to ride on their own, but thirty minutes later a different guard says its just fine to go down with your kid on your lap. It just seemed like they all had different rules for things.
Project Green Wolf:
Great Wolf Lodge is dedicated to saving our planet. You will find recycling containers in the rooms and hallways. Our room had both a normal trash can and a recycling can. They also have energy-efficiency plans to recirculate water. Basically all of the water in their water park is recirculated and reused over and over again since it is inside they don't have to worry about it evaporating. Great Wolf Lodge is also the first and only national hotel chain to be completely Green Seal Certified.
The most water that is used in the Lodge is from showers and washing sheets/towels. So unless you are needing clean sheets they automatically change your sheets every third day (if you do need them changed you just call the front desk and they will get it taken care of.) Also if you dont feel like you are needing clean towels all you have to do is hang them up on the shower curtain rod or the towel rack and they won't replace them. If you are wanting them replaced, you just throw them on the floor or in the tub and they will replace all of your towels.
The Clock Tower Show:Every evening at 8pm we went down to the lobby for the clock tower show. The clock tower show was basically a bunch of talking animals and dancing trees that sang a song and told a story. Monkey has a very short attention span, but the clock tower show was exciting enough to sit through the whole thing and not get figity. His favorite part out of the whole thing was the dancing/singing trees that would sway back and fourth. He would just sit there in awe staring at the trees and tell me about the "sing tees." The older kids that knew more of what was going on were more interactive and sang along with them or danced around. All of the kids there loved it and it was a great wind down time before bed.
Story Time: Story time is at 8:15 every evening right after the clock tower show is over. Pajama clad kiddos show up with their blankets and stuffed animals in hand ready for the story. We tried staying 4 out of the 5 nights but the only problem was that there were stairs right next to where they have story time and for a 2 year old that is much more exciting than having a story read to him. There was one night that we got about half way through the story and he really did enjoy it. I think to fully enjoy it your kiddos should probably be 3 and up unless you have a younger kid that sits still well and doesn't get distracted after 2 seconds. There were some kids there that we Monkeys age that sat through it, but most of then got distracted with other things. The older kids that were there all had a blast. They all sat there enthralled by the story.

Northern Lights Arcade: Even though Monkey didn't really understand the purpose of an arcade he LOVED going in there. With all of the black lights on everywhere, the cars to "drive", buttons to push (pretty sure that he got every button in the place!), and tickets to be played with he was one happy man. Besides pushing all of the buttons, I think that his favorite thing to do in the arcade was the one where you roll the balls up the ramp and try to get them into specific holes. He didn't exactly roll the was more like throwing them in the direction that he thought was right, but he had so much fun.

Would we go back??It depends. We had a wonderful time and greatly enjoyed everything that we did. We don't regret our decision to stay there at all, but to make it a tradition would get quite expensive. If we could find it on the off season for a good price we would definitely go back, but to pay full price (plus there are "resort fees" for every night you stay and very high state tax on each night just because it is a "luxury item") just isn't feasible for us. If you are wanting to go, do make sure that you check different days and weekends for prices. We were there for 5 days and if we had checked the day before we went it would have still been their "high time" so the prices were $100 more than what we got. Also if you stay there during the week prices are lower and there are a lot less people there.
So all said and done. If we could find a room with more comfortable/bigger beds for a good price we would definitely go back. Monkey had the time of his life and enjoyed every second of it.

Thank you to Great Wolf Lodge who gave us a discounted rate for two of the nights in exchange for our review.  I was not given any monetary compensation for writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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