How to Vacation in Style
Subtitle: How to survive the Great Wolf Lodge with your sanity, body and wallet intact.
Step 1: Go to their website. Familiarize yourself with the lodge and which location you would like to attend. Make yourself a wish list. Pick three rooms you would like and list them in this order. Here is the order I use while I am planning.
- Room I would book if I was were married to Michael Shanks (tee hee)
- Room I would book if I just scored a good translation job.
- Room I can really afford to book.
Next, go onto the packages. Don’t read them. Here is what you want to buy. IF you want lots of activities for the kids to do buy the Paws Pass. IF you want them to take a lot of stuff home (and have a POOP load of arcade tokens) get the Wolf Pass. PACKAGE CAUTION: The Wolf Pass includes a quest thingy that you have to either have this special wand in advance OR buy said $20 wand. Ask them to exchange for arcade tokens; they will do it. Now... DON’T BOOK ANYTHING ONLINE!!
Step 2: Call the phone number. This will not be the first time I mention this, but the people that work for Great Wolf Lodge are the NICEST people ever. They seriously give those Chick-fil-a people a run for their money, and they are so nice you have to wonder if their guts are made of cotton candy and gum drops. Once on the line, explain to them why you are coming to the lodge. EVERY last detail. Everything. Befriend them. Now, for my northern readers this may be hard, but us southerners were born talking to complete strangers. It’s in our DNA. We can’t buy groceries without inviting at LEAST one person in the line with us to dinner. Once you get on a nice first name basis with the booking agent, begin to talk about the first room on your wish list. Believe it or not, you may actually get that room for the third room price (Sadly, Michael Shanks is not included). Depending on your flexibility and applicable sob story, you would be amazed what the phone agent can do that the website cannot.
Step 3: Go to the grocery store, the day before you leave. This is IMPERATIVE. While the fun at the lodge is ENDLESS the food is AWFUL. AWFUL. I mean, so very very bad. This is not because I am some health nut, although my husband claims that it is, but there is a limit to the amount of processed garbage that you can eat. Every room has a fridge, so you will be just fine storing your items. There are stores nearby, but like any good entrepreneur, the prices are higher due to the proximity of the resort. So, don’t be lazy, bring your food with you. You will thank me later.
Step 4: Arrive at the lodge right when you can check in. Now you may arrive as early as 1 pm when check-in is at 4, but do not arrive at 1. First, since people are checking out at 11 and then hanging around to swim a bit, they start getting tired by one and leaving in a mass exodus of wiped, waterlogged, clueless parents staggering with little Timmy running unsupervised into the parking lot. And, without fail, your kid will be starving to death by 2 and begging for crap at the snack bar, which we have already discussed in step 3, and your food in five acres away in a cooler in the car. Ok, so you may be thinking, I will just walk to the car, it’s no big deal. Do that net thingy ONCE with your kid, just ONCE. Then reconsider walking to the car for a snack.
Step 5: Water park first. Not only will the kids be chanting “We want to swim, we want to swim!” over and over like some crazy protesters on the White House lawn, but it will wear them the hell out. Yes, you want to enjoy this vacation with your kids, but isn’t it also nice to have them pass out so you can talk to your spouse and enjoy some adult conversation. With adult words. Words like pontificate. That’s a nice word. I had forgotten about how great a word was. I enjoy pontificating on the internet in abundance.
Step 6: Step 6 will be a mini how to, because the water park itself requires its own survival guide. Here is how it will go down.
- You will enter heated water park. For sun bums like me, it is fantastic. For my husband (aka hot roommate), the resident yankee, it might as well be the Sahara desert. Dress accordingly. I have seen non-swimmers in there, in sweaters, complaining about the heat. The sign says 84 degree year round. If you cannot read that huge ass sign by the door you need not be here in the first place.
- Next, do not take your own towels, they have towels there and it gives you less to keep up with. Because your child will lose at least 5 things on this trip and the towel is something you don’t want to lose for future beach trips.
- DO wear a cover up. Please. I understand what it is to be heavy, I used to be very heavy, and to be honest, this had nothing to do with being heavy and everything to do with people need to have a realistic understanding of what they should and should not wear. Please. Some people should not wear a two piece bathing suit. And, to boot, put your boobs away. This is a kid’s theme park. If your boobs are hanging out I am assuming you want preteens to archive you for future reference. That is NASTY and WRONG.
- Do the central area first. This is because once you and your kids see the water you will quickly forget how old you are and go dashing up the net with them. Yes, the net. There are stairs leading to the water slides as well, stairs I did not discover until visit number 2, but your kid will act as if they do not exist and beg you to climb the net. Do it. Because depending on your fitness level, you will get up that net a max of ten times and you will be done for the entire trip. I run 7 miles easy now and after about time number 8, I was officially finished.
- Move onto the larger slides. This also requires a hike, up nearly three stories of stairs. Carrying a float. While your kids run ahead. And call you slow. What in the hell!?!? I run at least 3 miles a day and some stairs are killing me!?! PLEASE SLOW DOWN KIDS!! I’M DROPPING THE FLOAT!!
- Now, if you have played your cards right, your children will be tired and just want to chill in the pools. This gives you a chance to decompress for a while and allow them to finish the wearing down process.
Step 7: Dinner time! Now, if you did not buy sandwich supplies at grocery store or your kids are claiming that a sandwich will not satisfy their massive hunger, there IS a Pizza Hut Express in the Lodge. It is the BEST deal on food there and it is GOOD. Seriously. Plus, the Pizza Hut guys are super funny and will joke around with you while you wait. Nice and amusing. And cute too (make sure hubby is not reading this step...) :-)
Step 8: Bedtime. Your kids will be tired, but they will not want to go to sleep. They will fight you. Start by making them shower BEFORE going to bed, because, really, chlorine or not, it is public water. NASTY! Super nasty. Like every bad film strip you watched in health class in high school nasty. Remember, children pee in pools. Even good children. Even your children. Watch, at least once you will see an oops face that a little has escaped. Throw those little boogers under the hottest water they can tolerate and take to them with Brillo pads. The fit they will throw to avoid getting in this water will take the last of it out of them. Place children into beds.
Step 9: What about the rest of the stuff? That my friends is for day two. If you stay an entire weekend, which we have not done yet, fine, hop from thing to thing. But if you just do overnight, do all of the arcade crap when it opens the next morning. Your kids will be the first ones there and you can avoid and snotty noses and hardcore teens cursing at the zombie shooting machine. Or the odd adults that are playing the video games like they are competing for some sort of championship or million dollar prize. Unless you want to stare and make fun of those people. Dude, you’re getting all worked up over an arcade game at a place with pink and purple black lights and Jonas brothers music. That makes you look cool. Sure.
Step 10: Leave. This is it’s own step because one of two things are going to happen. Either your kids, out of tokens from the arcade, out of bowling passes, stuffed with crap food that in step 3 I told you not to buy but you did anyway thinking I was just being cheap but you now realize as you run to the bathroom for the fifth time that I was right, decide that they are finished OR they will throw a damn fit. If the first is the case, go ahead and head out, checking out and maybe even taking them to the water park again before you leave. If the latter is the case, you need to resort the either bribery of threats. Promise to go someone else one the way home (bribery) or if you parent like me, tell them if they throw the fit now “We will never come back here, ever, even if it was your final wish, and you will never go to a water park, anywhere, ever for as long as you both live.” My kids know I am mean, so usually by the word never they have backpacks on and are heading for the door.
Step 11: I know - I never do a Step 11. But we need this, right? A little personal reward for surviving this. Two words. Spanish Wine. (Betcha thought I was going to say Michael Shanks :-) ... Dude, if I figure out how to get that man to be my personal reward, I will NEVER SHARE - sorry. )