Monday, April 18, 2011

How We Ended Up in Wisconsin for Spring Break!

When we first started planning our spring break trip we were determined to take a beach vacation.  I spent hours researching the best family beach spots and never could find what fit my requirements and budget. 

That's when I decided we'd go to Branson, MO for spring break.  Again, I spent hours researching all of the "to do's" only this time in Branson.  Let me be the first to say, there are a ton of things to do in Branson!  But, they all cost a ton of money!  I just couldn't bare to spend that much money on a mid western vacation...I'm sorry, but I need sand and sun for that price!

Then I decided we'd take a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinatti, OH.  It's only two hours away and let's be honest...Undercover Boss made it look AWESOME!  I checked it out online, loved what I saw and began the booking process.  That's when I realized, for spring break, it was nearly $350 a NIGHT!  Umm...No.  So, on a whim I looked at the next closest lodge, in Sandusky OH.  Score!  $149/night!  I made my reservations and was stoked.  I began reading as much as I could, because I'm crazy and I do that, when I read that Sandusky was substantially smaller than the others.  Uh oh.

I called the 800 number and asked them when they told me that Sandusky is 30,000 square feet and the one in the Wisconsin Dells is 80,000 square feet.  Okay, noticeable.

The AWESOME customer service line was more than willing to change my locations and the price was the same so it didn't even cost me any extra!  Yay! 

I then read all about the attractions in Wisconsin Dells and was getting geared up for our trip.  I even "splurged" for the Kid Cabin suite at the lodge!  Well.  Worth. The. Money!

Everyone who we spoke to told us that the Dells is an eight hour drive from our town.  We had to drive from one end of Illinois to the other, NOT a fan!  Actually, that trip is when I came of the opinion that Illinois shouldn't even be allowed to be a state!  Anyway, we drove there in just over six hours, including a fill up of gas and a pit stop for the girls (and mom!).

Check in at Great Wolf is 4pm but because it didn't take nearly as long as we expected, we got there early and our room was ready!  Yay!  The lobby is so warm and inviting and it just reeks of good times!

(this pic was actually taken at story time, but I forgot to get one of just the lobby)

I was a little disheartened when I saw the notice that said "Due to unforeseen circumstances Fort Mackenzie will be closed until further notice, we apologize for the inconvenience."  UGH!  That's like a fourth of the water park!  I was kind of irritated that no one offered a verbal apology or any type of compensation and I was worried that it would set the tone for the entire trip.  I was determined to shake it off and enjoy our trip in spite of the first impression.

When we got to our room, I was very happy and impressed!  I had tried and tried to find pics of the rooms online and never found just what I was looking for.

The room was surprisingly NOT crowded!  At all!  I had worried with all the things they list it having that we'd be on top of each other but that wasn't the case.  There was plenty of room for us to spread out and move around.  My only complaint on the size was the dresser, it was tiny.  We ended up leaving our clothes in our suitcases because there wasn't enough drawer space to unpack everything.
Seriously, the room "sleeps 8" and that's the drawer space they give you!  So we just left our clothes in the suitcases and used that for our food and dirty laundry.  It worked out fine.

After check in we went to the water park and it was AWESOME!!!  OMG!  It was quickly apparent that we wouldn't be doing any of the other stuff in the Dells that was on my list!  As soon as I saw this picture, I knew we were going to be spending all of our time at the water park!

One thing I forgot, was how tiring water is!

The next morning we went to MagiQuest to see what all the hype was about.  Again, Worth.  EVERY. Penny!  The kids (and dad!) loved it!  We spend several hours on our MagiQuest.
In our pajamas!  Any vacation where I can spend the majority of the day in either pajamas or a bathing suit makes me VERY happy!

The breakfast buffet is a great buffet with really well prepared food and an omelet station and a waffle station.  They even make chocolate chip waffles and the waffles have a wolf in the center of them.  If you add on the breakfast package to the room it's a good deal because it includes tax and gratuity and a drink.  However, they don't refill juice or milk which was a little bit of a bummer!  The waitresses and cooks are all friendly and helpful. The dinner restaurant is also really good and decent prices, it's about like Apple Bees.

We were up north and I firmly believe they'd be even more helpful down south!  I bet Texas will knock you over with their kindness!

The morning after our first night, Fort Mackenzie opened up and I was so glad!  Especially after actually getting to try it out!  It was so fun!

Ironically enough, I think Lydia and I spent the most time at the wave pool and I didn't take a single picture of it.

Hadley and Keith spent the bulk of their time on the Howlin' Tornado.  The kid was ADDICTED!

The life guards at Great Wolf are phenomal.  I have never seen such intense life guarding at a pool in my entire life!  You would have to put serious planning into having an accident there!  They stalk the pools, cannot be distracted, and are always ready to dive in!  Trust me, you are safe at Great Wolf!  Even an over protective parent, like me, feels safe there!

On our last night there, we stayed in the water park until 9pm, when they close, and scurried out just in time for story time.  All the kids were so cute in their pajamas and my two rug rats sat there in bathing suits and towels!

Story time is very cute!  The clock tower has animated animals and the totem poles move around and they tell a cutes story.  Then a staff member comes out and reads a bedtime story. 

The only real complaint I have about the entire experience was the arcade.  Half of the games were out of order and the other half either took your money or didn't give you tickets.  The staff was very accommodating and would replace your tokens and comp you tickets but it was more trouble than it was worth and unless that gets better, I wouldn't recommend wasting your time there.

Another valuable lesson I learned is that the Paw Pass is probably worth it's money.  I didn't buy one because I didn't have any intention in using all the things they tag onto the paw pass, which I didn't, but I ended up spending about the same amount of money as I would have if I'd gotten the paw pass and I didn't leave with nearly the same amount of trinkets! 

 By the last day of our trip, no one wanted to leave but we were all too tired to protest!  It was a great spring break and it was a lot of fun!

I feel like I'm leaving out important details but there just isn't time to write about it all.  I would highly recommend a Great Wolf Lodge vacation to anyone with kids or without kids!  It was really THAT MUCH FUN! 

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