For the second time in my adult life, I'm home - basking in the afterglow from a water logged, highly caffeinated, stair climbing, pizza eating, cotton candy having, wave pool splashing, inner tube riding weekend with my family. The only differences between this trip to Great Wolf Lodge and the last are that a) the latest Disney teen princess (Jordan Pruitt in our case) didn't ride the elevator with us, and b) there was real fake snow falling in the lobby throughout our stay.
I'm not kidding. My kids stuck their tongues out and everything, just like they do with real snow, and found it surprisingly...soapy. It was harmless, odorless and evaporated within minutes - but the overall effect was magical, whimsical and totally fun.
I shouldn't say that those were the only differences, because they aren't. Also included on my list is that I fell on my behind (or "bahookie" as Katie likes to call it) right in the middle of the place (I got up quick, straightened my flip flops and looked around to see if anyone was laughing - and no, they weren't, THANKGOD), I rode more water slides, spent less time in the kiddie pool (since Katie is a bit older and far braver this time), and drank 3 vodka tonics (one made with a lemon garnish because the bartender was out of limes - it's ok, I suffered through it).
Now before you go accusing me of being the drunk at the water park, hear this:
I was not driving.
I was among friends.
I did not ride the slides after those vodka tonics...oh no I did not (you can probably have yourself arrested for that behavior). And I wasn't drinking them when I fell either. Those were for later, after the snow fell, after the trees came to life in the lobby and after Mr. and Mrs. Claus had every child in the place sit on their laps for a picture and a candy cane. Those were for after the dinner served in buckets, the games won in the arcade and the many, many trips up the stairs to ride the River Canyon Run. Great Wolf Lodge has nailed the concept that happy parents make happy kids and it's in everyones best interest to keep the parents happy, whether it be a Starbucks in the lobby, brownies bigger than your head, or a bartender who pours generously. Chose your poison people, it's there.
But that isn't really what it's all about.
(The hokey pokey is what it's all about)
Christmas carols were piped into every nook and cranny of the Lodge, and I found myself singing along while standing bathing suit-clad holding onto an inner tube bigger than Italy (you're welcome for that mental picture). It was both surreal and surprising all at the same time. The kids are definitely more stoked for Christmas and brought home the souvenirs to prove it. And the parents, although their wallets may be a bit lighter, are also a little, wee bit stoked too.
Because when you find yourselves in the middle of all that water, your three kids bouncing and bumping in waves to and fro and screaming people everywhere, and you know that right then...in that very moment (eyes burning from the chlorine and all), you are all happy, healthy and content - that's what it's about right there. Your unit. Your kids. Your family.
Thank you, Great Wolf Lodge, for another fabulous trip!
*Disclaimer: We did not receive our trip for free, but we were invited at a special media rate. This is NOT a review - simply my thoughts on our weekend.