Expect to be surrounded by pint-sized miscreants from the time you enter to the time you leave the facility. Great Wolf Lodge is truly a vacation destination designed from the ground up by a 10 year old. The epicenter of the lodge contains a large arcade the entrance to the water park, multiple gift shops, an ice cream parlor, a pizza take-out window and countless animatronic animals and treasure chests activated by a $20 magic wand that can be purchased in a gift shop. Indeed it provides everything a 10 year old could think of when designing the perfect vacation destination. Unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned 10 year old is prone to a few oversights when designing something as complex as a family vacation destination. Healthy eating options are among the first oversights. While pizza, chicken strips, ice cream, and slushies, may seem like a sustainable diet to a 10 year old, it may in fact have played a role in the wave pool being closed down 5 times in a single day to clean out vomit and fecal matter. Yet another downside of succumbing to the decision making of an adolescent design team is massive pinch points in foot traffic. Again, while I'm sure to a 10 year old the idea of having an electronic scavenger hunt set up on multiple floors of the hotel may seem like a brilliant idea, the reality is it can make for extremely long waits at the elevators. Don't be surprised to wait 5-10 minutes for an elevator to avail itself in this eight story building. Indeed everything about Great Wolf Lodge is designed to provide sensory and consumerism overload to every child who enters.
The saving grace of this establishment is the water park. While it does offer limited options for older or more adventurous children, it is well maintained and has a staff that does a tremendous job at looking out for the safety of everyone while greeting each guest with a smile. I was very impressed with all of the lifeguards energy and enthusiasm as it lasted throughout their entire shift. Certainly limiting water park access to hotel guests alone does help maintain reasonable lines to some of the more popular rides in the park (unless, as mentioned above, the wave pool is closed for emergency cleanup).
All in all, we had a great time at the water park and found the accommodations to be acceptable. However, for the money I would like to see the hotel transcend the level of acceptable. I would say Great Wolf Lodge does a better job at catering to younger children (under 10) than it does older kids. Indeed if hemorrhaging money for the sake of your family’s entertainment is not a problem then the Great Wolf Lodge is a great choice. Otherwise I might suggest you find a city with a nice Ritz Carlton and a stand-alone water park and design your own water park vacation at about the same price.
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- Also Known As:
- Great Wolf Hotel Centralia
- Great Wolf Resort
- Great Wolf Lodge Washington/Centralia