My wife, two daughters (ages 8 & 11), nephew (age 4) and I visited Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA for 2 nights in early April during our school’s Spring Break. It was a destination that we agreed on through compromise, and now having gone there once in my life, I see no need to return.
We drove up from Seattle and arrived around 7:30PM which seemed like a good time. No cars out front, easy to unpack the car, and were checked in within 3 minutes of arrival. Over the next couple days I saw the check in lines during the day, and they can get pretty long. We were impressed with the lobby – it is very big, lots of seating, and it is well maintained. A nice touch is the fact they have airport luggage carts, at least 50 of them sitting in the lobby.
We booked a Kid Cabin Suite as we thought it would be nice for the kids to sleep in their own self-contained area and it worked out well as there is a bunk bed + a single bed along with a TV. The room was a good size, plenty of room for the five of us, and it was well maintained and clean. Two specific issues – 1) The pillows are tall and hard, not the most comfortable, and 2) The bathroom (toilet and bath/shower) is tiny, almost approaching Europe tiny. Not much room in there, but I suppose the hotel’s focus is on providing as much space in the room itself which makes sense. Our room was facing the freeway on the 2nd floor. The 2nd floor in our case was excellent as it’s the same floor as the waterpark, and our room was far down the hall away from the insanity taking place around the arcade area. There are rooms very close to here, you do not want those rooms as there is a lot of foot traffic in this area.
The food was hit and miss during our stay.
Good: The pizza/pasta place was very good, and the prices very reasonable. Large pizza + large Greek salad for less than 30 dollars is a bargain at this place. The kids also loved the Dippin’ Dots ice cream, it’s one of their favorite treats. And Starbucks in the morning is a great way to start the day. Nice to have one on site.
Less good/bad: We ordered food in the waterpark from the Spirit Island Snack Shop from our cabana (see below), and apart from the fries, it was pretty bad. Chicken strips / nuggets – whatever you call them were like eating cardboard. I had a grilled chicken sandwich, at first I thought they forgot to add the chicken, but they were really stingy on the portion. We briefly stopped by the buffet, and at the eye watering $19 per adult, $9 per kid, we knew we would not get our money’s worth by eating here.
As mentioned before, I was not too excited to come here, but I do love waterparks, and I do love fast rides. It was bigger than what I had pictured, but once it gets real busy, the place doesn’t seem so big. We spent all day Monday here which was more than enough time. After 7 hours of this, we all were perfectly happy not to return.
The best parts of the park:
• Wave pool – pretty fun, big waves, lots of motion, but it gets crowded at peak times and once that happens, people are crashing into each other and it’s not much fun
• Howlin’ Tornado – it’s fun, probably the fastest ride here, has a nice drop, up to five people can go at a time
• River Canyon Run – one step below the Howlin’ Tornado regarding speed and thrills, but up to five people can go at a time which was fun
• Cabanas – this was crucial for our group as it provided a haven from the chaos of the waterpark. We ended up with the biggest one, which I guess was nice and we could spread out a bit more. 4 chairs & table, two loungers, a stocked fridge with soda, juice, sports drink and water, a TV (didn’t quite work right) and a safe (didn’t work at all). You can also get food service and we ordered lunch via the tablet on the wall. Highly recommend this.
The worst parts of the park:
• “Hot” tub – there was nothing hot about this, it was like a lukewarm bath
• Slides – there are only two “regular” slides (red & yellow, center of the park). Having gone to Slidewaters in Chelan several times, I was spoiled and expected more from Great Wolf Lodge
• Crowds – we were there during Spring Break, the place gets packed after 11AM when the new arrivals can start using the park. If you don’t have a cabana, get there at opening and stake out your spot
• Bathrooms – pretty filthy even 10 minutes after opening. I cannot imagine what they looked like in the afternoon.
Since we were waterparked out, we thought that MagiQuest would be a fun activity for the kids in the evening as well as the following morning before out departure. You go to the shop to buy a wand, and then determine which activity you would do (there is also Compass Quest and Shadow Quest). We opted for MagiQuest for both my daughters, and since he was too little to follow along, we only bought my nephew a wand so he didn’t feel left out. I ended up doing some of the challenges with the kids, it requires a lot of walking as well as going up and down stairs (you will visit floors 1-5). All in all it’s a fun activity, but there were quite a few glitches with some of the stations. At one point in time the staff had to disassemble one of the kiosks as it froze. My oldest daughter had continual issues with her wand, but the shop was friendly and fixed it each time.
I suppose I’m glad to have gone to Great Wolf Lodge to see for myself what it is all about. But to me it’s a one hit wonder, we were bored after spending a day and a half there, and couldn’t imagine going back for another visit. We can find better uses for our vacation money.
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- Also Known As:
- Great Wolf Hotel Centralia
- Great Wolf Resort
- Great Wolf Lodge Washington/Centralia