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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Great Wolf Lodge--Kansas City

I was at a function yesterday and some folks were talking about visiting Great Wolf Lodge. That conversation prompted me to write about our stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. We were there over the long Thanksgiving week-end, just last year.

With 12 locations national wide, there is probably a Great Wolf Lodge near you. We drove a little less than 4 hours to reach the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, which is near the race track and Legends shopping and dining district.

What will first grab you is the decor of the 3 story lobby atrium as you enter. You are confronted with a large staircase and and a large clock with stuffed animals from the forest making a unique display. Windows of the 3 story atrium give you a sneak peek at the water park on the other side. The large fireplace is across from the check-in desk and helps anchor the lobby. The lobby is home to many activities.

One activity the lobby is home for happens each night at 8:00 pm. It is the Clock Tower Show and Story Time. Kids gather round in their jammies, slippers, and blankets in front of clock surrounded by animatronic wildlife and foliage. As soon as the clock lights up with the sign of the wolf, as shown in the photo above, it is time for the Clock Tower Show. The animals come to life, along with the trees. They sing, dance, and tell a story about the importance of working together to accomplish goals.
The Clock Tower Show is also shown at 8:00 am each day, but with a Wolf Walk following instead of Story Time. During the Wolf Walk, a staff member from the Cub Club talks about the different animals portrayed in the lobby and the kids make an origami wolf.

Wylie the Wolf sometimes makes an appearance after Story Time.
When the Clock Tower Show is over (about 15 minutes) it is Story Time. A staff member from the Cub Club brings a book and the kids all gather round. This is a nightly tradition at Great Wolf Lodge and shouldn't be missed.
OK, there's always a caveat. If your kids are too big for Story Time, hit the water park at this time. The water park is typically open until 9:00 or 10:00 pm, so when all the little kids are at the Clock Tower Show, it is great time to ride the slides in the water park.

There are comfy seats for the adults during the Clock Tower Show, too.

Now for the water park! We were there in November, so we only used the indoor water park. (There is also an outdoor water park accessible during the summer.) Our room was on the lower level or water park level, so we had easy access.
There is the multi-story structure for climbing, sliding, spraying, and being dumped on by a large water bucket. Thank goodness the bell rings the warning, as that is when the Williams family men head right for the dumping spot to get drenched!

These are the two slides that come from the multi-story climbing and sliding structure.

Then there are the BIG slides! We rode all 3 of them. The new Triple Twist wasn't being built or open yet, so we had the 3 BIG slides. Check out the conveyor belt that takes the tubes up to the top of the slides! The husband and boy had their tube flip over while riding on one of the slides. It dumped them off the tube and the husband hung onto the tube and the boy the rest of the way down. They were both laughing at the thrill!

In addition to the multi-story water feature and slides, there is also a little kid area with a small slide, zero depth entry, and water sprays. There is also a pool for bigger kids and adults with a basketball hoop, lillypad like water feature for climbing across, and swimming in general. There is also a "river" to float in on tubes. There are two spas or hot tubs. One is for the entire family and the other is adults only.
There is a snack shop located just inside the water park which features Pizza Hut pizzas and other simple menu items. Tables are available inside the water park.

On the same level of the resort, there is Scoops Spa which features many spa services and amenities, a token arcade which issues tickets for prizes, and a small shop to purchase anything you might need for your water park experience. I was amazed by the selection and the PRICE of the swimsuits in the store, so I asked if they sold many swimsuits. I was told "yes," that folks come to Great Wolf Lodge and don't plan to swim so they don't bring their swimsuit. Once they see the water park, they get enthused and want to swim. Voila, a sale. Also on the lower level is the Cub Club. Our room was just down the hall from the Cub Club and the laundry room.

More about the Cub Club: When we first walked by the boy was so excited as he envisioned it similar to the kids' club on the Disney ships. It wasn't. While it looked inviting, each activity required an extra charge. Paint this, make this, color this. . . all for extra money. There were no real toys to play with.
We did purchase a wolf cub package, if memory serves. For about $50, we got arcade tokens, 10% off purchases at the shops, one craft in the Cub Club, a MagiQuest wand and game, and a make your own Great Wolf Lodge stuffed animal (think Build-a-Bear goes National Forest). It was a good deal, and we ended up coloring a t-shirt at the Cub Club. Again, a bit disappointing as the sizes and designed were limited. I thought that was a bit poor planning due to the holiday week-end. While the Cub Club staff was great at Story Time and the Wolf Walk, I wasn't impressed with their service in the club and indicated my disappointment on an on-line survey we received following our stay.

One of the more pleasant surprises of our stay, was MagiQuest. Participants purchase a wand (we got one as a part of our wolf pack), and a game. The game activation lasts for 3 days, I believe. Participants then choose their MagiQuest quest from a selection and get clues and points by activating various items throughout the lodge. For example, you can point at a stuffed wolf with your wand and make it howl or move. The art work comes alive as do statues and other items throughout the lodge. The goal is to collect clues and points and advance to next levels in the game. The game is "on" from 9:00 am -10:00 pm, but the wand still works to make magic happen when the game is turned off. The boy was able to make the lights sparkle and animals come to life in the restaurant using the wand.
Here it comes. . . you knew I was going to get it in here somewhere. . . a Disney connection. . . In learning about Disney's new ship the Dream, it sounds as if something similar to MagiQuest will be available to guests. There is already talk about quests and art work springing to life, etc. Here's my speculation. . . Karl Holz, the new president of Disney Cruise Line has been and is also the president of Adventures By Disney. There has already been a change on the cruise line to calling excursions "Port Adventures." Disney Cruise Line is offering special Port Adventures that are similar to Adventures by Disney tour items on its Mediterranean cruises this summer and next. Also, Great Wolf Lodge is an overnight stay on the Spirit of American Adventures By Disney tour. So, I am not surprised to see the MagiQuest like technology coming to the ships.
We took our MagiQuest wand home with a special topper and it ready to be reactivated during our next Great Wolf Lodge stay.

Continuing with the theme of the great outdoors, the main dining restaurant carries that theme to its table settings which look like tents. We added the breakfast option to our stay at the time we made our reservation. Food was served buffet style.

Hint and Tips for making your stay at Great Wolf Lodge even more wild:
  • If you are thinking about a stay at Great Wolf Lodge, go to their web-site and register your e-mail. You will receive special offers for significantly discounted stays.
  • If you are breakfast people, add the breakfast option to your reservation. It is a money saver.
  • Bring food. Each room has a refrigerator and microwave. Take advantage by bringing items with you or shopping for items during your stay. We would head back to our room for a snack rather than pay for a pizza, etc.
  • Make a date to view the Clock Tower Show at least once and take in Story Time.
  • MagiQuest. I wish we had found it the first day. It took us a while to discover it.
  • The Wolf Cub package is worth it and can be purchased ahead of time when you make your reservation. It is a significant savings. Now, I hope they add a special package for returnees, as we don't need another MagiQuest wand. We'll see. . .
  • Bring your swimsuit. It's a water park. You are going to swim. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you won't and then end up paying extreme prices for a swimsuit at the lodge in November. Just pack one or two or three and plan to wear it! No one is looking. . . just wear it and have fun!
  • While we planned other activities for our stay in Kansas City (more about those later), know that Great Wolf Lodge is in itself a destination. You could stay there for days without leaving and have a grand time. I pictured us being there during a winter storm and being quite content. We weren't there during a winter storm, but you get the idea. It is as if you have gone to some remote location. . . if you want it that way.
  • Have fun!

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