Niagara Falls, Canada (Great Wolf Lodge)

This may just be a classic example of, “well, what did you think it was going to be like!?!”  I say this because GWL is exactly what they say it will be:  wet, wild, exhausting.  Who is “they"?  Anyone else that has been!  Ask around about GWL and most parents will provide the same short response, “kids loved it, I couldn’t do more than 1-2 nights because it was so loud and frenetic that I was pulling on my ears.”  

The marquee experience of GWL is of course the self contained large indoor water park and heck, it is fun.  In fact you would have to have some kind of genetic fun defect to not be able to have fun in this wonder of water parks.  In general, there is no escaping the in your face fun of this place.  Even at check-in they manage to have interactive display for the kids.  But then what it makes it fun also begins to grate on you, greatly I might add, after just a short period of time.  I must admit that our son is easily overwhelmed by these types of environments and I am too for that matter (back to genetics again) and that of course this does color these comments.   The animatronics are fun, for the first few hours.  The waterpark is okay for a morning or afternoon.  The food is tolerable, barely, if you are only there for 1-2 meals.  But I would venture to say that after just one night here, and I really mean just 1 night, that many would feel like us and be oh-so-ready to scram.

And then there is the endless upselling.  They have a large arcade.  They will sell you a meal plan.  There is a ‘laser quest’ game for the kids to play you’ll need to purchase a wand for an not insignificant additional fee.  Hard to escape the gift shop.  And I would add that the rooms are not cheap.  For what you pay for a room here you would also pay for a room at a resonably upscale hotel (think $500/night for us).  The rooms are themed and fun I suppose but I would have thought that for this find of money that there would be a little something more there for mom and dad vis-a-vis the level of appointment. 

My only solice in all of this?  Well, you can actually have a gin & tonic in the waterpark while the kids run around in the wavepool.  Call me a simpleton but I thought that was pretty neat.   

So you’ll not be surprised to know that I am truly perplexed by the value play here.  Niagara Falls has another indoor waterpark that is almost as expansive (minus the gin & tonic factor however) and with many of the widely available accomodation packages is substantially cheaper than GWL.  Add to that the fact that the other waterpark is centrally located amongst a myriad of Niagara Falls attractions, versus GWL’s more on the edge of town location, and you can see that GWL becomes a hard sell.

One thing I will say aboiut GWL, they have excellent staff.  I was imprressed by the staff member's ability to make people feel special.  Clearly management has nailed it when it comes to training them to an almost Disney level of professionalism and pride.  

We wouldn’t say it was a rip-off but rather that we struggle to understand why people would pay soooo much money to be bombarded with animatronics, water cannons, cold chicken fingers and runny ic cream sunday bars?  


© Paul-Sarah 2013