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20 Things You Didn't Know About Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge is the largest indoor water park resort in the United States. In its two decade history, the Lodge, which prides itself in good friendly service and fun for all ages, has grown to include 18 locations. Great Wolf Lodge includes a massive indoor water park, themed guest room suites, a variety of dining options, shops, and a ton of activities for all ages. Great Wolf Lodge strives to be a fun place for families to unite and create great memories. Here are 20 things you didn't know about Great Wolf Lodge.

1. Founding

Great Wolf Lodge was founded by brothers Jack and Andrew "Tuck" Waterman in Wisconsin in 1997. The Waterman brothers owned a smaller park called Noah's Ark before venturing into building a much larger attraction. The brothers wanted to focus on family fun for all ages. The wilderness themed Lodge would have overnight guest rooms, restaurants, shops, activities for kids, and of course a huge indoor water park.

2. Fast Growth

The Wisconsin Dells location of Great Wolf Lodge was an instant success. The original Lodge had 117 guest rooms and a 20,000 square foot water park. Within two years the Lodge expanded to include 309 guest rooms and doubled the size of its water park. In 1999, Great Wolf Lodge was purchased by Marc Vaccaro and Bruce Neiaser of The Great Lakes Company. They continued to expand the lodge and opened a second location in Sandusky, Ohio near Cedar Point Amusement Park. Today, there are 18 Great Wolf Lodges located throughout the United States. The company was acquired by Apollo Global Management in 2012 for $703 million and in 2015 by Center Partners for $1.35 billion. In 2017 the company's headquarters were moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois.

3. Mission Statement

From the beginning the Waterman brothers goal was to create an indoor amusement park that would provide fun for families of all ages. Their mission statement is "Create family traditions, one family at a time". The lodge provides a fun place for families to play in the water park and enjoy games and activities for an overnight trip or an extended weekend. In the past two decades, Great Wolf Lodge continues its tradition of providing family fun and offering excellent service.

4. Water Park

Of course the biggest attraction at Great Wolf Lodge is its huge indoor water park that can be enjoyed by all ages any time of the year. Today's Great Wolf Lodges typically have over 75,000 square feet of water park space. This includes attractions like different size slides. Some smaller slides are for younger kids while older kids and adults can enjoy giant tube slides. There are also attractions such as water basketball, a wave rider, and a wave pool. There's a lazy river and hot tubs. For the littlest guests Cub Paw Pool has a zero entry pool that is baby and toddler friendly and fenced in. There's also Fort Mackenzie which is a splash around play center to get the kids started. When you get to the water park, life guards will measure kids and provide them with a wrist band corresponding to which rides they can go on.

5. Rooms

Great Wolf Lodge is decorated like a lodge with a lot of wooden beams. When you enter the establishment, you're greeted by a large lobby and staircase. The guest rooms and suites carry on the wilderness lodge theme. It's feels almost more like a boutique hotel than a typical indoor water park.8 There are over 400 rooms. These include a standard family suite and a themed wolf den suite which can accommodate between 4 and 6 guests. The themed kids cabin suite accommodates between 5 and 7 guests. The Grand Bear Suite accommodates between 6 and 8 and is great with extended family members joining the trip. the Wolf Den Suite and the Kids Cabin Club Suite features semi separated bunk beds for the kids who have their own television. For an enhanced experience, the themed rooms come with devices that are interactive with a Magi Quest wand that can be purchased.

6. Restaurants

There are several dining options at Great Wolf Lodge. One great thing about the Lodge is that the entire facility is nut free and great care is taken with anyone who may have an allergy. There is a restaurant, a pizza place, a snack place in the water park, and a Dunkin Donuts. Bear Paw Sweets and treats offers "Enjoy Life" brand desserts. There's also a great candy shop where kids can pick from a lot of different kinds of candy. The guest rooms have a refrigerator and microwave, so many guests bring in their own food and snacks as well.

7. Mascots

Like any good amusement park, Great Wolf Lodge has mascots. They show up for children's activities and at character breakfast buffets. The mascots include Wiley Wolf, Violet Wolf, Oliver Raccoon, Rachel Raccoon, Brinley Bear and Sammy Squirrel. At the Lodge's Clubhouse Crew, kids can choose from the mascots and make one for themselves, like "Build a Bear". These stuffed animals can be used with interactive devices throughout the Lodge and in the themed guest rooms. Kids will have a blast with their very own mascot.

8. Underground City

Great Wolf Lodge not only has the water park, guest rooms and restaurants, but there is much more to do for all ages. There are shops, a large arcade, an activity room, Creation Station, a laser game, and an XDmovie theater and much more. It's fun for the whole family to take a break from the water activities and enjoy these other activities. It's a great way to wind down the evening before retiring to your guest room.

9. Undercover Boss

In 2010, Great Wolf Lodge's CEO, Kim Schaefer, appeared on the CBS realty show "Undercover Boss". The show features heads of companies posing as employees of the company while being secretly filmed. Schaefer posed as a stay at home mom returning to the work force. She visited several Great Wolf Lodge branches. She worked as a lifeguard supervisor, a front desk clerk, wait staff at the Lodge's restaurant, and as part of the children's programs. The episode was a hit. One of the employees that Schaefer worked with was Deanna Lyons. Schaefer was so touched by her dedication and enthusiasm for her job, that Lyons was promoted and received a salary increase.

10. Kids Activities

Great Wolf Lodge is not just a water park. When the kids tire of the water activities, there is always something to keep them entertained. The Lodge holds activities every hour during the day and evening to keep kids occupied. There are character visits by the mascots. There is face painting. There's a trivia night and bingo. There's always an evening story time. The engaging staff is great with the kids and can hold their attention. Great Wolf Lodge has a special scavenger hunt called Magi Quest. If you wish to purchase a special Magi Quest wand for your child, they can use the wand with interactive devices located throughout the entire lodge. These interactive devices will lead kids through a scavenger hunt which includes several quests. The game can take up to nine hours if you go through all of the quests. The wands can also be used with interactive devices located in the themed guest suites.

11. Wrist Bands

As with most water parks, Great Wolf Lodge gives guests wrist bands. These wrist bands not only give you access to the water park but also work as a key to your guest room. This is especially convenient when you spend the day at the water park and don't want to worry about a key. Wrist bands of different colors are also used to determine what level of water park ride kids can enjoy based on their height. On check in everyone gets a wrist band. On check in kids also get a set of wolf ears to wear.

12. Discounts

As with any resort, Great Wolf Lodge can be pricey. One great thing is that use of the water park is included in the guest room price. Also, you can enjoy the water park from 1 pm the day that you check in and all day and evening the day you check out. Great Wolf Lodge offers bundled packages which are a great way to save money if your family wants to take part in activities outside of the water park. Bundled packages may include Creation Station, a Magi Quest Wand, candy, ice cream, arcade points and more. These may be well worth it. Groupon also offers discounted tickets. Booking early may take 50% off of the price. Great Wolf Lodge also offers a "Howling Heros" program. This program offers discounts to military, firemen, emergency medical service personnel, police officers and correction officers.

13. Ways to Save Money

There are a lot of ways to save money when your family takes a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. With so many free activities to keep your kids entertained, they should be good simply enjoying the water park all day and the free activities in the evening. Another great way to save money at Great Wolf Lodge is to pack food and snacks. Each guest room has a refrigerator and a microwave, so it's easy to bring along food for breakfast and lunch, snacks for the day, and drinks. Of course, your family may enjoy the breakfast buffet or dinner out at the Lodge's restaurant or even enjoy ordering a pizza for your room. Having snacks on hand will help save you a lot of money.

14. What to Bring

Packing a family for an overnight trip can be daunting. There's no need to pack formal attire for a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. Casual clothes are the best. Of course you'll need swim suites and cover ups.`If anyone in your party wants to try the rock wall, you'll need athletic shoes. You will need a pool bag. A waterproof case for your phone is also a great idea. What you won't need is towels. The water park has plenty of towels on hand for guests. You don't need flotation devices either. The water park provides life jackets for all ages.

15. Birthday Parties

Great Wolf Lodge offers birthday party packages for kids. This is a fun way for your child to celebrate with friends at the water park. The packages may include room decorations, party activities, birthday cake, and a special Birthday set of wolf ears for the birthday boy or girl. The staff takes great care in assisting with the party. The staff will also be sure to wish the special birthday boy or girl and his or her guests throughout the day.

16. Holidays

Great Wolf Lodge celebrates holidays with special themes and activities. The Lodge's restaurant offers special holiday buffets. They have events including "Howl" - o - Ween, Snowland "Howl" idays, and an event called Springest. What better way to spend your holidays with your family than to relax and enjoy each other in a fun and festive environment.

17. For Adults

A couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge with your kids is an active vacation. With so much to do, it won't be easy to find time to relax and wind down. Adults shouldn't really expect to find time to relax in the water park. However, once the kids are worn out, you can wind down at the end of the day. The suites are great because the kids have their own semi private area where they can play and watch television. Great Wolf Lodge also offers adults "Wine Down" in the evenings. A bottle of wine will be delivered to your room.

18. Hints

There are many ways to make the most out of your stay with your family at Great Wolf Lodge. One is to arrive early to check in. There can be a long line at check in at 1 pm. You'll want to be at the head of the line. Of course, the staff provides a lot of activities for the kids so they won't be board. Renting a cabana in the water park is a good idea. This provides your family with a meeting spot and a place to settle down. While you'll need to be with your little ones, you can let your tweens enjoy the park on their own. It's a great idea to bring friends. Packing snacks will save you money at the water park. When you check out of your room and still intend to enjoy the water park, make sure you set aside dry clothes for everyone. There are large changing rooms and showers.

19. Locations

With eighteen locations in the United States, it's easy to find a Great Wolf Lodge to visit. The first Lodge is in Wisconsin while the second is in Ohio. There is a second one located in Ohio and locations in Michigan, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, Illinois and even in Ontario, Canada.

20. Extra

Good service and a rewarding experience are important to the staff at Great Wolf Lodge. They go the extra mile to make sure everyone in your party has a good time. The Lodge will offer many extras throughout your stay. One great extra is a free Shutterfly photo book. It's a nice way to store your photos from your trip to Great Wolf Lodge and keep the memories forever.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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