First, let me say that I applaud this company for attempting to develop what I would call a "Disney"-grade product. The concept, theme, architecture -- all of it is well put together and implemented, in general. Although I am a bit biased towards Disney, this chain gets an A- from me in terms of "concept". Service is another issue. If you are going to charge a premium price, the guest experience better back it up.
After coming highly recommended by several family friends and despite the sticker shock, we took the plunge with our two kids and decided to make a weekend out of visiting Great Wolf KC. We paid over $300 w/tax for one night in a kid-themed upgraded room, about $50 more than the most basic room we could have gotten -- and that was after a 20% discount after finding an obscure online coupon. Keeping in mind, of course, the price includes water park admission for day of arrival after 1pm as well as checkout day all the way to closing, if you choose to stay that late. Either way, not exactly cheap.
My entire family was impressed by the place when we first arrived. We even filmed the kids opening the door to the kid-themed room which had a mock-canvas tent area and bunk beds. Kids were over the moon. That was unfortunately our highlight of the trip.
We arrived just after lunchtime and hadn't eaten yet. We went to the main restaurant on site to see if we could scavenge up some lunch. No dice -- no host/hostess, 1 waiter (likely the bartender) was scrambling to serve several tables all by themself. After standing around for a few minutes waiting to get acknowledged, we wrote the place off and went to the waterpark area.
Waterpark is definitely a big plus. Lots of fun for the kids -- even a kid-friendly hot tub (not exactly *hot*, but warm enough). Some of the water features were showing a little wear and tear. Hopefully refurbishment is on their to do list.
Eventually found some food at the water park snack counter. Wife ordered a grilled chicken ceasar salad which we were told had to be cooked -- okay, fair enough, nice that it wasn't under a heat lamp like the rest of the food. Went to look for seats (suggestion: get a table early in the morning, people claim tables early in the day and hoard them, near impossible to find mid-day) which we eventually found on the complete opposite side of the water park -- just so we could sit and eat! Wife made the long round trip back to the counter and returned with her salad, only to find out that the lettuce and croutons had been pre-made and left in the fridge. Everything was soggy and gross. She ended up munching on our kids' meals, not wanting to waste another long trip back to the counter.
Skipped dinner on site entirely -- not wanting to risk it -- went elsewhere to eat. Ironically, when we went to check out, however, we had a dinner bill charged to our room (!) -- which they quickly removed. Signs posted everywhere that "hibernation hours are from 11pm to 7am". Nice of them to post, but the structure was obviously built with wood -- like one other reviewer posted, you can hear every step from the floor above. As luck would have it, someone was having a junior gymnastics competition in the room upstars at 10pm at night while our kids were trying to go to sleep. We didn't bother to complain, but an annoyance at the least.
Beds are tiny. Who puts a full/double size bed in a hotel where people are paying $200-300/night? Water park or not, this place was billed as a premium experience. Sleeping on a tiny double-size bed (if it was even that big) was less than enjoyable. Queen or King!!
And when we thought we were just a little underwhelmed by the whole experience this far, breakfast the next morning was the last straw. We arrived at the main reastaurant area for the breakfast buffet in the morning and found the complete opposite of the previous day's experience. The line was 20+ people deep waiting to check in with the hostess, not counting hotel patrons everywhere waiting their turn for a table. We overheard the hostess apologize to people that she was the only hostess that day and was working as fast as she could.
Once seated, we realized the entire restaurant wasn't being fully utilized -- they just didn't have enough servers. For a buffet? On a weekend with a hotel full of people?? And when we thought it could not seem more ridiculous, they started to run out of food!! We went back for some additional breakfast items only to find that half the buffet had run out of food. We chose to get some cereal instead for our kids as they were still a little hungry and took the last two clean bowls in the entire buffet.
We joked about the experience, gave up on eating any more and I told my wife I'd round up some coffee from the hotel coffee shop/bakery if she would take the kids back to the room and get dressed for swimming again. After going to the coffee shop and ordering some drinks (Mochas, etc) -- you guessed it! -- the espresso machine was broken. They had regular coffee and whatever was bottled for retail in the fridge. I laughed and went to the room.
My wife convinced me to write a letter to the company, which I rarely do, but after $300+ for one night.. I was a little more than just disappointed. I found the CEO's email after doing a little homework online (sorry, not going to share) and sent an email that said all of the above, almost verbatim. I never got an email rejection notice so I assume it made it, but wasn't sure until today. Never heard from teh CEO or any reps. Over two and a half weeks after I sent my email, I get a random phone call from the food and beverage manager at Great Wolf Kansas City asking me to return his call and tell him what went wrong with our stay. If you've bothered to read this far, does that not sound like a silly question?
All in all a nice concept, but the actual experience did not justify the cost by any stretch of the imagination. Add to this the locaition in KC is starting to look a bit tired. Our room had the first "tube" television that I've seen in a hotel in the past few years. I've been in Best Westerns that had newer equipment!
Needless to say, I don't think we'll be returning to any of their properties. If you want a great experience, go to Disney World or Disneyland. You'll pay through the nose, but you'll at least get what you pay for.
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- Also Known As:
- Great Wolf Hotel Kansas City
- Great Wolf Kansas City