Dearest Great Wolf Lodge,
We had the grand opportunity to visit your fine establishment this weekend with our son, at the behest of my parents who bequeathed unto us an early Christmas present.
After spending some time at your hotel, might I suggest the following be posted at all entrances?
WARNING, All Ye Who Enter Here
You are now entering a post-apocalyptic level chaos. It is like Lord of the Flies, except that you’ve paid $350/night to be here and the food is better. Do not be dismayed at the children hanging from the ceilings or throwing things off the 20 foot treehouse. There will be children screaming and clomping up and down the hallways at all hours of the nights. Do not be surprised if they knock on your door at 3:17am to annoy you.
You might get hit in the stomach with a magic wand from a child on a magic quest or a toddler might stick their finger in the middle of your french toast on the buffet line. You cannot complain. This is all part of the “fun”.
When it is time to go to the water park, you will be funneled through the gift shop, of course, for those sucker parents whose children cannot resist the plastic baubles emblazoned with our company logo. When you enter, behold, a giant room filled to the brim with water slides and pools and the screams of 10,000 children.
You will find a row of cheap plastic seating upon which to rest your plastic bag full of clothing, since checkout is at 11:00 and all of your earthly possessions are currently locked in the trunk of your car, a mere 15 minute walk in the freezing cold November air.
You may be exhausted from the ghouls that haunted your hallways last night, but fear not, there is tons here to entertain and amaze your little ones. Behold, the Wave Pool of a Thousand Turds, where you will watch our staff handle someone pooping and bleeding (hopefully not the same person, or at the very least, not simultaneously) with professional ease. The lazy river that comes up to your knees, the basketball court with 50 children vying for 3 balls, the water tube slides that you must wait in line for, the waterpark bathrooms with wet toilet paper floors that will haunt your nightmares- these are all yours for the taking.
When you get hungry, you can visit our snack bar, where you will wait 30 minutes for three chicken strips and some french fries while your son literally climbs your body. You will get hummus and pita. Your husband will order a veggie dip. It will cost $48 and your child will tell you that his meal tastes like McDonalds, which he means as a compliment. You will wonder why food that took 10 times as long and costs 7 times more still tastes like McDonalds. We serve the food in brown paper because, of course, there are no tables and so we make it exceedingly difficult to balance all your food in your lap on your tiny plastic lawn chair. At some point, your son will dump ketchup all over himself and his towel and then try to fold his dirty water park towel over his food to preserve it. You will balk.
Your son will never want to leave. He wants to live here now. Sell the house! Sell the car! Let’s live here forever and ever. Whilst he’s listing all of the things that he would give up for just one more night here, you are opening and closing the flaps of your ears to see if you can remember what silence felt like, without the roar of 15 waterfalls and 286 children splashing each other (and, inevitably, you). You cannot remember. Silence is a stranger to you now.
Your sensory systems will be so overloaded that they will begin to shut down. You will attempt to take a nap, but it’s difficult since your knees are pressed into your chest in your tiny chair and a child just did a snot rocket onto the floor mere feet from where you are sitting. You now fear for your health and safety. You would get in the wave pool, but the lifeguards were suspiciously quick about cleaning up the poop and your germaphobic tendencies won’t allow you to re-enter the water. You close your eyes and try to wait it out.
At the end of the day, your son will want to do his very last water slide with you and you will oblige. While in line, you will be chatted up by a group of munchkins who have ridden this particular slide at least 14 times. While they are telling you about the slide, they will try to get in front of you in line. You are done with the Lord of the Flies and you assert your adult dominance nicely by reminding them that you were first. When it is your turn to do the slide, you will climb onto a raft with your family and be shoved down a dark tube that ends in a 10 foot drop.
Your son will be laughing.
Your husband will be laughing.
You, in a state of sheer exhaustion, will burst into tears….on a ride built for 7-year-olds
Tears are a fitting end to your stay at our humble palace.
In short, we generally find that the following is true: Parents will hate it here (or at the very least, barely tolerate it). Kids will love it here (and then they will sleep for a solid 12 hours afterwards, so then parents love it again).
Be ye warned.