We just wrapped up a weekend "staycation" at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, Minnesota.
My family was invited to stay there as a part of their Press Weekend.
This was our room. It is the most common type of room on the property. Two queens, a full-sized pull-out couch, table, microwave and fridge. The room was clean, comfortable and had plenty of space for our family.
While on a press tour, I also got to see an example of one of their "suites." I know my kids would go bananas over this! It has a little bunk room inside of the regular room. The bunk room had a log cabin feel - with two sets of bunk beds.
Great Wolf Lodge took over the former Waterpark of America Hotel site located near the Mall of America.
If you were to just walk in and glance around - you would see that the waterpark layout is pretty similar to the way it used to be. They did add a new slide and it was my family's favorite!
However - after spending some time in the park (and hotel) you start to notice that they did make plenty of changes!
The most prominent change is that you are required to be an overnight hotel guest in order to use the waterpark.
Wow what a difference that rule has made! The weekend we stayed there - all roughly 380 finished rooms were booked. (They still have about 75 more rooms to finish and make available to the public.) This means that we stayed at the hotel while it was at full capacity. (Although it will get a little more "full" as they finish the rooms.)
Even though the hotel was at capacity - the waterpark had plenty of space for us! No long lines for waterslides or inner-tubes. We were able to grab chairs anytime we wanted. We were able to secure a locker ($15 a piece but you can go in and out all day.) There weren't any lines for food or bathrooms. Towels were readily available. Everything was clean - the staff was able to keep up!
We were really impressed with the life guards too. There were a lot of them. They do not stop moving. They slowly walk their stations and continually scan the water. You will not find any lifeguards checking their phones or staring into space here! It was so comforting because our kids are constantly on the move. We were very vigilant about watching our boys but it sure was nice to know there were a few extra sets of eyes looking too!
Truthfully - we are a family that usually shies away from the popular places at popular times (like a waterpark on a winter weekend or holiday.) We like going to places during their "off seasons" because there are less crowds and better prices... However now that we know we stayed at the Great Wolf when they were at capacity - and it wasn't too congested - I feel like this is a viable option!
The only times I saw lines were at check-out and check-in. The lobby is madness then. Try to come early or late to avoid that!
A few mom friends had told me that they had been deterred by the cost of the rooms... Although yes the price does feel high, it starts to make more sense when you factor in that access to the guest-exclusive water park is included.
All guests are welcome to arrive to the park at 1pm on their day of check-in (even though you can't check in to your room until 4.) And you are welcome to stay in the park all the way until it closes in the evening on the day of check out. If you make full use of those options - you are getting A LOT of waterpark time for all the members of your family included in the cost of your room!
And.... there's SO much more to do than the waterpark! Guests are able to buy passes that include most of these adventures.. like rock climbing.
A three-story high ropes course
Plenty of restaurant options! Delicious home-made pizza.
A self-serve old fashioned candy shoppe!
The activity my boys loved the most was the MagiQuest game!! Absolutely perfect for kids their age. Upon arrival the boys were each given a magic wand and registered their made-up usernames into the Magiquest system. There were Magiquest stations all around the hotel. Some obvious and some hidden. The boys were sent on missions through the hotel to find hidden crystals, gems, potions. They had to fight a dragon and save pixies. It had a very Harry Potter feel to it and it was just MAGICAL for a little boy. They begged to bring their wands to every meal. They wanted to play right up until bed time and again the second they woke up. When it was time to check out - they still had more to play. The hotel saves their progress - so next time we come the boys can pick right back up where they left off!
In addition, there was an arcade, a place to mine for minerals and gems, a kid salon spa, a buffet-style restaurant (that was quite good), a pizza restaurant, a snack bar, a bar, a Dunkin Donuts, a Ben & Jerry's, story time, yoga, arts and crafts, a build-your-own-stuffed-animal station and more. There was so much to do that my six year old actually took a nap!
A really neat treat for the adults was the "Wine Down" service. You fill out a little card and place it on your door handle. A little after the kids' bed time, you will receive a text message (they know better than to knock and wake up the kids!) and a little tray with wine and treats will be waiting for you outside your door. You know only a parent who has experienced that feeling of being "stuck" in a silent hotel room after an 8pm kid bed time could invent such a great service!
Overall - we loved it. My husband and our little Magi's had a magical weekend. We actually forgot we were still in Minnesota!
Thank you SO MUCH Great Wolf Lodge for the wonderful family get-away!
You can learn more on their site: