If you haven’t been to a Great Wolf Lodge, you have probably heard of them. With 11 resorts in the United States and another in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Great Wolf Resorts is the largest indoor waterpark resort chain. The Great Wolf Lodge New England in Fitchburg, MA opened in 2014, offering over 100,000 square feet of entertainment and lodging space.
Like its sister properties, the Great Wolf Lodge New England offers an abundance of family fun – from a 68,000 square foot indoor waterpark to the brand’s first and only indoor Howlin’ Timbers Play Park, boasting over 16,000 square feet of entertainment complete with a multi-level ropes course and indoor miniature golf.
When my daughter requested a getaway with a friend for her eleventh birthday, I knew this would be the right place to go. I expected typical hotel rooms, but when I looked online, I found that the Great Wolf Lodge New England offers 406 guest suites that can accommodate at least five people and some can accommodate up to 11 people! Suddenly our birthday getaway expanded to a birthday party at the Great Wolf Lodge.
Guests can choose from several suite styles, including the kid-themed Wolf Den, and KidCabin suites, which feature bunk beds; as well as never-before-seen suite styles, including the Majestic KidCabin and the Grizzly Wolf Dens. The Majestic KidCabin sleeps 11 and includes two bathrooms, a separate king bedroom, two queen beds and a themed cabin for kids, complete with a daybed and a set of bunk beds. The Grizzly Wolf Den sleeps ten people and has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room area and a themed Wolf Den, complete with bunk beds.
I wasn’t prepared to chaperone that many kids so we picked a KidCabin Suite, which slept six in a pullout loveseat, queen bed, and a KidCabin with bunk beds and a twin bed in a cozy, semi-private log cabin “room within a room.” The girls were so excited on the car ride up debating which waterslides they were going on and who was going to sleep where. By the time we checked in and got our wolf ears (including special ones for the birthday girl), they were howling with excitement. The girls just loved the kitschy lodge décor and couldn’t get enough of their KidCabin.
But as fun as it was, the room couldn’t contain them for long. Soon we were off to the waterpark. The waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge New England is divided into two sections, connected by a hallway. It makes it a little tough to keep track of a group but luckily the girls were old enough to pair up and split up on their own.
One section contains some of the Great Wolf’s signature waterslides including the thrilling six-story funnel slide, Howlin’ Tornado; the multi-passenger raft slide River Canyon Run; and the Slap Tail Pond wave pool. On the other side you’ll find more waterslides, an indoor-outdoor hot tub, the Crooked Creek lazy river, and Fort Mackenzie – a multi-level interactive tree house with a water-tipping bucket.
One of the nice things about the Great Wolf Lodge is that you can start using the waterpark from 1pm on your day of arrival, even if your room isn’t ready yet. This means that even with just an overnight stay, you can get plenty of time to enjoy the waterslides. Judging by all the smiles I saw from the girls in our group, the waterpark is a huge hit, even for those that started off a little timid.
If you can’t get your kids to leave the waterpark, there is a Buckets snack bar in the waterpark that offers burgers, salads, smoothies, hot dogs, mac and cheese and other snacks, as well as a bar. We had lunch there on our second day and although the mac and cheese is listed as a side, it is huge – large enough to fill even our most voracious of appetites.
I eventually did pull them out in time for dinner at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill. The Great Wolf Lodge caters to families with young children (I didn’t seem many teens there), so the attractions and restaurants do close fairly early (most by 9 or 9:30 pm), so be prepared. Our dinner at the Lodge was fine, although a bit overpriced for the quality. If you have time, I’m sure you’d do better leaving the resort for a restaurant nearby, but for us, it was worth staying on property to maximize our time enjoying all the entertainment features of the resort. The breakfast buffet at the Lodge was a little better, with an omelet station, waffles, bacon, sausage, cereal, fruit, and pastries.
After dinner and the following morning we spent time exploring the resort’s other attractions including MagiQuest, a live-action, interactive game where kids use wands to battle dragons and save pixies; the Northern Lights Arcade (hard to avoid since you have to walk through it to get from the main lodge to the water park); the Lazer Frenzy maze game; and Howler’s Peak ropes course.
Next time, maybe we will also check out some of the other activities like the Scooops Kid Spa for ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures; Ten Paw Alley mini bowling; or minigolf. Families with younger kids might also like the daily kids’ activities; The Great Clock Tower Show; and evening Story Time by the fireplace – a Great Wolf Lodge tradition that brings everyone together in the Grand Lobby each night.
Another great benefit of celebrating a birthday at the Great Wolf Lodge is the wristband for unlimited ice cream at the Bear Paw Sweets & Eats confectionery café. Another big hit!
I’ll admit that I’m not much of a waterpark person and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Great Wolf Lodge New England but we had an amazing time. There is so much to do and the kids loved every minute. Watching the joy on their faces made every penny worthwhile.
Tip: Groupon and Zulily often offer special deals on various Great Wolf Lodge properties so check before you book. Sometimes they aren’t much cheaper than booking direct online but they may include extra perks like a dining credit.