When the school year is in full swing, along with activities and sports, it’s difficult to fathom getting away with the family, let alone planning it. That’s why we’ve been embracing mini-breaks lately. Sneaking away for a night at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls was just the ticket for a quick recharge in the midst of a very busy spring.
We realized it had been seven years since our first visit to Great Wolf Lodge. At the time we were still just a family of three, and our nine-year-old was then two and enjoyed herself very much! With Bub being six (!) now, we figured this would been a great time to go.
Clearing a Sunday and booking off a Monday meant we were able to make our one-night escape into a two-day getaway. Though check-in is not until 4pm, you can arrive as early as 1pm to enjoy the resort’s facilities and waterpark.
The lobby is pretty busy and quite crowded, but the line to check in moves remarkably fast, and there’s animatronic animals to entertain the kids while they wait.
I packed a separate small day bag with our swimsuits and cover-ups, got a locker (from $5-$15 per day), and put the rest of our luggage in the car.
The kids were quite impatient once we arrived, so I was pleased to send them off to play while I waited for our room to be ready. We had a Wolf Den room, complete with bunk beds in a little nook just for my pups. I knew they would be delighted, if we could ever drag them away from the slides!
Bub is exactly 48″, which is the height one needs to be to go on all the slides. 42″ is the cutoff point for smaller kids that can go on the bigger rides with a parent or guardian. Great Wolf Lodge advises that all under the age of 18 should be under the direct supervision of an adult. Our kids are confident swimmers, but I was grateful for the vast number of very attentive lifeguards in the waterpark. A part of me always worries at these type of attractions, but seeing how vigilant the staff is at Great Wolf Lodge was very reassuring. There is an abundance of free life jackets available for guests to use as well.
Though he was tall enough, Bub found the bigger slides like the Wooly Mammoth and the Niagara River Rapids Run to be a bit much for him (the rest of us loved them!) That said, his favourite was “The Toilet” (Canada Vortex) but do exercise some caution with the littles even if you’re going down with them. He got thrown around a bit on his last turn–luckily the lifeguard was right there to fish him out.
Other favourites were the “tree house” Fort Mackenzie, Rainbow Lake wave pool, and the Crystal River lazy river, but #1 for both kids was crossing the lily pads in the Frog Pond. Who knew?
There were LOTS of babies and toddlers at Great Wolf Lodge. It was obvious that they were baby sisters and brothers of biggies that were off with mom or dad while baby stayed with the other parent and splashed or napped. Great Wolf Lodge supplies Pack’N’Plays and bedrails, and all rooms are equipped with a fridge and a microwave, so that’s a few necessities crossed off a parent’s list.
After practically a full day of playing, then a sleep, you’ll find the kids are raring to go back! We had an early breakfast so the kids were ready and waiting to hit the slides once the doors to the waterpark opened at 9am. I snuck off for a mani/pedi. It felt great to treat myself!
Checkout is at 11am, but you are free to enjoy the waterpark and all the facilities again until closing that day. We left around lunchtime to give ourselves some time to get organized at home before starting our (abbreviated) week.
Eating at Great Wolf Lodge:
There are plenty of dining options at Great Wolf Lodge, and I was pleasantly surprised at all the healthy options at the Antler Shanty buffet. Prices are about the same as if you went in to Niagara Falls to eat, but it’s just so much easier to stay put when your visit is quick. On offer at the resort was a meal plan that included Breakfast at Antler Shanty, a lunch combo from either Northwoods Pizza, Bear Claw Cafe, or Spirit Island Snack Shop, and then dinner at Antler Shanty. The price was $50 per adult and $25 per child over three–kids three and under eat free throughout the resort.
All rooms at Great Wolf Lodge are equipped with a fridge, coffee maker, and microwave, so heating up some baby food or whipping up something familiar for a picky eater is easy peasy. Outside food is allowed at Great Wolf Lodge, just not to be brought inside the waterpark.
Of special note: My husband cannot tolerate gluten, and even though it wasn’t mentioned in the signage, gluten-free pizza is available, as was a sandwich made using a gluten-free bun. Staff were very informed and knowledgeable when discussing food allergies and intolerances, which was a bonus for us but would be a real relief for parents of allergic kids.
Sleeping at Great Wolf Lodge:
The hotel rooms at Great Wolf Lodge are very spacious and accommodating for families. The beds were very comfortable, and cots and bedrails are available. We enjoyed our Wolf Den suite with the cute bunkbeds, but remember from our first visit where we had a regular room being very comfortable as well. It can be noisy in the hallways around bedtime, as the kids head back and settle, but ours had no trouble conking out once they hit the hay.
Playing at Great Wolf Lodge:
There is more to Great Wolf Lodge besides the waterpark. My guys were all about the pools and slides, but many friends mentioned how much they love MagiQuest. I snuck away to get my nails done at Elements Spa Salon, and I promised next time my daughter can get pampered at Scooops Kid Spa.
A highlight for my guys was hitting Northern Lights arcade once the waterpark was closed and they were in their jammies. It was kind of like Vegas for kids!
Getting Around at Great Wolf Lodge:
With no traffic, it’s about 90 minutes for us to drive to Great Wolf Lodge from our home in Toronto. And it’s only about five minutes to get to the main drag in Niagara Falls.
But once you’re there, it’s nice to just park the car and stay put. The resort itself is accessible for those with mobility issues, which means it’s a breeze to get around with a stroller. When the lobby is quite busy, there can be a wait for the elevators. All the attractions and activities are smack dab in the centre of the property, so there’s no hiking for miles to get anywhere.
We stayed as guests of Great Wolf Lodge, but all opinions are my own.