Great Wolf Lodge~The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Last week we decided to take a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada.  This was not my first choice of locations, since my children don’t even enjoy swimming lessons, but my husband has been suggesting it for a while so I agreed.  Now, I am not a good traveller. I am fine on my own, but I am sure I am not the only  mother on the planet who needs a vacation AFTER the vacation.  My husband is great and is a very involved father, so travelling with him is not what causes the stress.  The things that stress me out the most about travelling with the children are cleanliness and food.  I want my children to maintain good health when travelling and for my husband and self too.  GWL

My first reaction when we pulled up to to Great Wolf Lodge was the size of the place and its rustic decor.  We entered the lobby doors with the greeting of howls from wolves , and I knew this was going to be an experience unlike any other.  It was nice to see they have tailored everything to children.  As soon as you walk into GWL you are in the middle of all the action.  We barely could get through the crowd to find an elevator up to our room.  There were children running around in every direction, strollers, carts and of course all the swimmers going back and forth in their swimsuits.  All I could think was….”Did I remember to bring a skirt to wear with my bathing suit?”  I had no idea you had to walk through the entire hotel lobby and restaurant in your bathing suit in order to get to the swimming area.

We made our way up to our room and my initial reaction was, “this is it!?”  The rooms are themed and we had the Cave Theme room, which I thought for the price of the room would be larger than what it was.  Although I did like the private deck, so at least we could get fresh air and sit out there in the morning (it was pretty mild for February and no snow when we arrived).  The first thing I noticed in the room was the overpowering stench coming from the bathroom of dirty diapers.  I swear we would find a dirty diaper somewhere, but we didn’t.  It smelled so bad!  My husband was first to comment privately how dirty it felt, and then moments later my daughter made the same comment.  I focussed on my own internal thoughts to remain positive as we unpacked and headed out to explore the hotel.  As we were leaving our room, our neighbours whom just checked in, were already leaving their room with unhappy faces.  I decided not to ask them, since I really wanted to just keep a positive attitude about it all, for the kids sake and overall feel of our stay.

Have you ever noticed how much impact we have as women and mothers in setting the tone or mood of the day or a trip?

Anyway, here is a general list of our stay…the good, the bad and the ugly.

What I Liked about GWL:

  1. The food was good and healthy enough for restaurant food;
  2. Lots to do;
  3. Close enough to Niagara Falls so you can visit other venues;
  4. No room keys~ you used your wristband to get into the swim area and your room;
  5. Recycling in the rooms;
  6. Microwave in the room;
  7. Many sizes of lifejackets;
  8. Variety of water activities for every age~ slides, pools, roller coasters!
  9. the spa~my daughter got her first manicure ever at GWL; sarita nails
  10. Story time before bed

What I didn’t like about GWL:

  1. The plastic mattresses on the bunk beds, and not just covers, but the actual mattress~I realize this is to protect the beds from bedbugs and/or children wetting the beds, but I thought it was disgusting;
  2. The small bed in the Cave themed room for the adults~this was due to room size, but for the price we paid you would think at least we would have a queen bed;
  3. The sign on the microwave that prohibits you from making popcorn in your room~fire hazard maybe? but a popcorn snack would have been nice in our room;
  4. The bathroom was way to small for a family of 5, and the sink was separate from the toilet and bathtub;
  5. The water source to our bathroom sink was freezing cold and took forever to heat up to wash our hands/faces;
  6. The room felt dirty~dirty walls, carpets and bedding. Not sure if it was the ‘rustic’ theme, but just didn’t feel clean. I couldn’t bring myself to look too close or I would have lost more sleep than what I already had;
  7. The children’s television had no cable service.  It was only in-room movies you had to pay for;
  8. The feeling I was in the middle of a 24-hour birthday party with no way out~I love children, but I have little patience in a setting like this where children are just running wild with little adult supervision;
  9. They didn’t post anything about when their pools are checked or cleaned and/or meet health standards;
  10. No healthy food options in the pool area~ it was mostly fried, junk food


I’ve had my fill for waterpark fun for at least 10 years, so I don’t think we will be going back anytime soon.  We did visit the Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls, and we all enjoyed that very much!

I’d love to hear if you’ve been to GWL and what your experiences were! The good, the band and the ugly too!