Most people go someplace warm for spring break. Not us! This year, our family chose Minneapolis, Minnesota, where there was still about a foot of snow on the ground in some places! We stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, MN, which is just a few blocks from the Mall of America. It may have been cold out, but there was plenty to do inside. And let me tell you, it was the perfect spring break destination with three boys 13 and under.
We arrived at the Great Wolf midday on Saturday. Even though we were there before the official check in time, our room was available so we were able to get settled right away.
I had requested one with a balcony that overlooked the water park, which also had two separate sleeping areas for the adults and the kids. There was a queen size bed in the main area in addition to a smaller room that housed two bunk beds for the boys. That small room even had its own TV. There was a large full bathroom as well as a second sink and counter area, which made getting ready quicker and easier.
The room amenities included a small fridge (but no freezer so I couldn’t refreeze the ice packs from the cooler), a microwave, and a single cup coffee maker. The larger side of the room also had a small table with two chairs and an over-sized chair with ottoman. I really had only two minor complaints about the room. First is that there was sleeping for six, but only four drawers to store belongings. Two of the boys had to share a drawer, which resulted in their stuff getting all mixed up. The second is that it was a little on the small side. A larger table with more chairs would have been nice so we could sit around the table for a snack or to play a card game. And maybe a love seat rather than just the chair in the sitting area would have allowed for a more comfortable lounging time. But otherwise it was perfect for us, and to be honest we didn’t really spend that much time in the room anyway.
The water park itself was huge! There were of course the standard wave pool and lazy river as well as a separate play area for smaller kids with fountains and slides and water features. There was a smaller activity pool with basketball nets in the middle, although that was closed most of our time there due to “high chlorine levels.” There was a wave surfer, tube slides, body slides, and of course the biggest, fastest raft slide that holds up to five people and plays loud music and flashes strobe lights.
Entertainment & Activities
As if that’s not enough entertainment, the kids can make their way through a ropes course two stories high. Down below is a mining station next to a two-story climbing wall. Little ladies can spend the day in the kids’ spa. Everyone can participate in MagiQuest or a game of 10-pin bowling. And who doesn’t love an arcade?
Throughout the day, the lodge hosted a whole slew of other activities for the kids, most of which ours did not participate in. The activities are geared more toward the younger kids and included story time, a pajama party, a dance party, arts & crafts, and character appearances.
Shops & Restaurants
The lodge has three restaurants and three bars, as well as a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Ben & Jerry’s. The restaurants were a bit pricey, and the food was nothing spectacular. In fact, I was given moldy fruits and vegetables from the snack bar in the water park. Unfortunately, there were not very many options nearby other than within the Mall of America, and I guess we paid for convenience.
As far as shops, there is a candy shop, a gift store, a swimming outfitters store, and a character creation station where kids can assemble and dress their own Great Wolf Lodge characters to take home with them.
I admit I was pretty impressed with the technology utilized at the lodge. For example, after check in I got a text from my ‘virtual assistant’ telling me to text back if I need anything. I got to use the service when one of the light bulbs was burned out in our room. I sent a quick text letting them know, and it was fixed by the time we got back from the water park later that afternoon.
We all got wrist bands identifying that we were guests of the lodge, but the two adult bands were a bit different than the kids’. Ours had a built in room key that doubled as a room charge. We could use it anywhere in the lodge that we had to pay for, and the charge would be added to our bill. This was such an added convenience since there was no need to carry around a wallet or credit card or even the room key.
Our original vacation plan was to spend three nights there, but at the last minute I decided to add an extra night so that we didn’t feel rushed to fit everything in. I’m so glad I did, too! Even with the extra day, we still didn’t do everything or didn’t get a chance to go back and do our favorites again.
This was not a cheap vacation, but it was worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The kids had a blast, and we all created so many wonderful memories. And to me, that’s what vacation is all about.