We just got home from a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos.
Oh my goodness.
Let me first say that we love the beach. Since we were at the beach last year, Grace mentions it at least a few times a month.
Remember when we went to the New Delaware beach? Can we go there again? How 'bout next week? Next month? When?
I don't know why she calls it the New Delaware beach, by the way. She always has.
I had assumed we'd be headed back to the beach soon. If not this summer, definitely next summer. Now, though, after our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, I'm not so sure.
Joe and I had wanted to go there for years, but the opportunity had not presented itself before now. This year, we decided to make it our family vacation.
A blogging conference is a perfect excuse, don't you think?
The trip wasn't free - we paid (a discounted group rate) for our room and our meals, plus the conference fee - but it was still much less than we would have spent for a trip to the beach.
On the way home, Joe said, "Do you mind if we start putting some money away every month to go back there?" and Grace said, "That was awesome! I love the Great Wolf Lodge!"
Go back we will.
Hopefully in 2011.
10 Ways the Great Wolf Lodge is Better Than the Beach
- There is no sand at the Great Wolf Lodge. After a day at the beach, we have to come back to our rental house and clean up. We have to shake the sand out of everything and shower to remove the sand from our bodies. After a day at the waterpark, we went back to our room and dried off and changed our clothes. As I was washing my hair one day, I thought about the lack of sand, and I was very very happy.
- There is no weather. Last year, we had two days where the temperature soared to 100 degrees (too hot to be out on the beach in the sun), one day where the temperature was in the 70s (too cold to be out in a bathing suit), and two days when it rained. Seriously. We still had fun, but the weather put a damper on our beach plans. Oh, and my sister got sun poisoning, had a heat stroke, had to go to the emergency room for IV fluids, and stay in the shade the rest of the week. Seriously.
Inside the waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge, the air is always 84 degrees. There is no wind, no rain, no sun (aside from a couple of sky lights).
- The water is warm. At the beach, the swimming pools are not heated and not covered up at night. (At least, no swimming pool we've ever found was heated.)The water is frigid, too cold for swimming in my opinion. The ocean is also cold. I do venture into the ocean, but it's always a big shock to my delicate system.
The water at the Great Wolf Lodge is heated, and it is lovely.
- There are water slides. At the beach, there is a large water park, but it is very expensive. We've never spent the money even though I know Grace would love it. At the Lodge, the water slides are free, included in the room rate with the rest of the water park. Inside, there are four swimming pools, a lazy river, and a whole bunch of water slides. Outside, there's a bunch more stuff (but we didn't see it because it's not open yet).
- There is so much to do. Last year, Grace did not enjoy our time on the beach. Even though I spent hours preparing activities for her to do on the beach, we left early most days. Grace was bored and hot (or cold) and afraid of the water. She was done after a half hour. That did not happen at the Lodge. Grace was so excited about all of the different swimming pools, water slides, and activities, that we had to practically drag her out of the water park every day.
There are also events and activities and spaces for kids of all different ages. A treasure hunt. A video game space. Crafts. Games. So much to do.
- There is a cub pool just for kids under 48 inches tall. Grace never goes into the water at the beach. She totally refuses; she's afraid. But she loves to swim. The cub pool at the Lodge is 18 inches deep, just for little kids. There are 5 little water slides just for them. Grace played basketball. She crab walked. She laughed and danced and played all day long in the water.
- It doesn't smell. We always seem to find dead animals at the beach. They stink. And the ocean has an odor. If you've ever been there, you know what I mean.
At the Great Wolf Lodge, there is no smell. No chlorine, no animals, not even bleach. There is just no smell.
Except pizza. I did smell pizza a couple of times.
- The waves are predictable and safe and avoidable. Grace is, and always has been, afraid of the ocean waves. It may have something to do with me spending more than my share of time getting pulled down and knocked over by waves at the ocean. They are unpredictable.
The waves in the wave pool at the Great Wolf Lodge come every five minutes. They are consistent and predictable and not at all scary. Grace was even brave enough to get in the water. The waves are kicking me, she shouted, laughing.
- Eating is easier. When we go to the beach, we always rent a home. Often, we cook there, but that requires packing up our whole kitchen and grocery shopping during our vacation. On the other hand, if we don't want to cook, we'd have to go out to a restaurant. That increases the cost of our vacation very quickly. At the Great Wolf Lodge, there is a gourmet buffet restaurant called the Loose Moose. It is expensive, $20 per adult for dinner and $15 per adult for breakfast, but it doesn't have to be.
We met Mark, the "front end" manager, during our first meal at the Lodge. I explained that we had purchased a meal plan from the group office that made eating affordable (just $25 per person per day), and I asked if similar options were available for the public. He said yes! He told me that anyone could call the sales office and ask to purchase a meal plan. I don't know what the cost of the meal plan would be, but it doesn't hurt to ask!
On the Lodge's website, there is currently a deal that includes a meal plan for up to 4 people in the cost of the room. At the Poconos location, the deal is good until September 1.
- There is no driving. Because we always rent a home, we have to drive to the beach. We have to drive to the boardwalk and to a restaurant and to go shopping. We spend half of our vacation in the car. The Great Wolf Lodge is a resort, so once you arrive, you don't have to leave. We walked to the waterpark then back to our room. We walked to the restaurant and the store and the spa.
- I almost left this out to keep my list at 10, but I just can't. Magical story time. There is a big display of trees and animals next to the Clock Tower in the Grand Lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge. Every night at 8 pm, the animals and trees come alive to tell a story. After the show, a staff member reads a book to the children. Grace went both nights, and she loved it.
That's Grace in the bottom right, wearing her striped pjs.
Okay, so there are no sea shells and no sea breeze and no sand castles, but it's a small price to pay. Both the beach and the Lodge have an arcade and stores and spas and other things to do.
The Great Wolf Lodge has some activities that we didn't experience because they were under construction. I'm excited to go back again to see the Cub Club Room, the Magic Quest area, and the rest of the kids' areas.