Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lessons learned at Great Wolf Lodge--traveling with a 1 and 6 year old

An oldie but a goodie. I wrote this before I blogged. I think it has good info if you are planning a trip to Great Wolf Lodge.

I'm writing this note for my own memory (and for hubby's sake since he had to work the whole time) also as advice/warnings to those that are headed to GWL for the first time. I know I was full of questions before I came, and nervous to do this myself but fun was had by all --eventually.
We arrived at GWL around 1:30, our room wasn't ready so we headed to the waterpark, I knew that I was going to rent a locker so I started grabbing things out of the van-- swim bag, diaper bag, purse and snack bag. Big mistake. The locker was only big enough for one of those bags so I had to head back out to the van with 2 overstimulated children who wanted to go anywhere but out. I decided to go ahead and change Jenna in the van (love my mini-van) and we headed back in with just the diaper bag. By 2 we were inside the waterpark ready to explore. Lesson #1 learned, bring only 1 bag inside.

I followed M's lead but she was like a pinball in a pinball machine and once when I paused to read a sign, I turned around and she was gone, totally gone. We were in the middle between the pool and the waterslides. She had been contemplating the water slides so I assumed she was on one. I froze and watched each chute waiting for her and as I waited my blood boiled. Do I leave this spot? No I probably shouldn't because she probably expects me to be waiting right here when she is done with whatever she is doing. I let about 10 min. pass and then I started walking toward the front when I spotted her in the pool having a grand ol time, not a care in the world. That is when she got a GWL time out! I wondered if this punishment would be enough so I made sure to add fuel to fire by sitting her in a chair while she watched Jenna and myself splash around in the pool. After six minutes we established a game plan, how all three of us can have fun. Set the guidelines and the fun began. -Lesson #2 learned--set the ground rules and establish a meeting place if you should lose each other beforehand (I later read about this in a brochure, wish I woulda had that info first).

For the next 30 min. we all splashed around and tried everything but the water slides. My once adventurous 6 year old suddenly had a case of the chickens. No big deal I was learning to follow their lead and enjoying it. Then J all the sudden started frantically searching for something. What was it that she was searching so frantically for? She seemed to have spotted a door and took off. No, that was the locker room, not what she was looking for. I carried her out, then she spotted it and started squealing. I put her down and she took off for it, the exit door out of the waterpark. Clearly after only an hour she had had enough. I dried her off, cuddled her and continued to follow M around the water park. This made her happy. --Lesson #3 learned-- Waterpark is best for the under 2 crowd in short spurts of about an hour.
Pretty soon M was also stating that she couldn't wait to see our room. I looked at the clock, we still had 45 min. to wait (couldn't check in until 4:00) but once I told her that, she was fine and the next 45 min. went pretty smoothly.

4:00 check in time. I wanted to decide which activities we would spring for and which ones we would leave out. I was prepared to spend about $50 on activities since this was a free vacation (paid for by Ryan's work). When I realized you could do animal stuffing (like Build a Bear), 20 arcade tokens, mini golf for 1 person, magiquest and 1 Cubs club craft for $50 (in the form of a Paw pass) I was sold. M had since decided that she was going to be more helpful and was holding doors and the like for me. I explained to her that this was going to be her reward for helping because she was kinda my mommy assistant. She liked that role and really wanted a Paw pass so the deal was made. I also had in the back of my mind that the next chore of the day was bringing in the luggage for 4 people with only 1 adult and 1 sometimes helpful 6 year old while keeping the toddler in tow. I have forgotten to mention how big GWL is. I was already tired from carrying the 20 pounder around.--Lesson #4 learned, paw passes are extremely powerful motivators.

Now onto getting luggage from the van to the 4th floor of the hotel. I knew that this would be a task I could handle if I could just find one of those luggage cart thingys so I crossed my fingers and drove to the closet door hoping to find one there, success!!! I put J out of the way with a snack (was prepared with the Gerber snacks and Munchkin snack cup) We loaded it up and managed to get everything on it except for J. They did have a perfect little riding area but there was a warning label on it that it was not for children. I pondered it and decided the exception to the rule is mothers by themselves with a 1 and 6 year old and I loaded her up. This was one for the photo album but I had yet to discover the art of taking pictures on what was a so far stressful getaway. --Lesson #5 confirmed-- bring snacks and do what is needed to get the task at hand done.

Next up was finding an inexpensive place to feed the children. We chose to drive to the nearby McDonalds (I had already goggled to make sure there was one in the area). So we loaded back up in the van in search for the big golden arch. We started driving and driving, surely Morgan could spot the arch and possibly even Jenna *blush*, but as we are driving, there was no McDonalds in sight, and the kids were sooooo hungry (whine, cry). We were contemplating our other choices when hubby called. Apparently he needed in the room and I had his room key.
J's up from her nap, I will add more later along with editing and pictures. TTFN!

Never did get around to adding more pictures.  I wanted to say we went again at 2 & 7, 3 & 8 and I am updating this on July 12 from Great Wolf Lodge and ages 4 & 9.  I want to brag that the 4 year old went down the Howling Wolf slide with me today!  We have graduated from the toddler area. SCARY!  She was so brave.  We still love it here, and they sleep so peacefully.  I'm staring at my sleeping beauties now. :)

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