This week my family stayed at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City for 1 night. It's a hotel that has a variety of kid activities like laser tag and some sort of magic wand game you can pay for, but mainly, a nice-sized indoor water park that's open year round and seems to serve as a local oasis for Midwestern families. There's an outdoor pool too, which obviously was not open during our stay.

Overall, we had a great time! Our toddler recently turned 2, and she enjoyed the splash pads of last summer, but she has changed so much since we were last in a pool, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We mostly stayed in the little kids pool area (max depth of 2 feet or so), but made a few forays into a deeper pool where we held her, or the lazy river thing which was fun but not really a lazy experience with the need to keep the kiddo floating, too! (There are life jackets in various sizes available to grab for free/as you need them throughout the park area.) There were some big slides we didn't go on at all, and one of those things where it's a giant structure you can walk on with some slides on it and other things spraying water, where a big bucket dumps water on the whole thing every 5 minutes. My kid was fascinated by the bucket dumping and we spent a good amount of time in the kiddie pool watching & waiting for the bucket to drop water, but we didn't really go on the big structure.

There were a couple slides in the baby pool area, and my kid was able to do them! We've been doing a lot of sliding at parks lately, but I wasn't sure if she'd even be allowed on the water slides or if she'd be able to manage them. But she did so good! At first one of us walked her up the stairs to them, but by the end, she was able to walk up, wait her turn, and slide down to be caught at the bottom all by herself. (As long as there was a parent at bottom to catch, and someone to yell "WALK! SLOW!" over and over while she walked to the stairs.)

# Pricing Tip

Hot tip for Great Wolf Lodge, open up the rate chart thing on their site if you're going to book, because the price fluctuates from like $90/night mid-week at certain times, to $500+ for a room on some weekends. You can use the water park all day the day of check-in (after the 10:00am open) and all day on check-out day,. It's a steal for the cheap end of the price range - as cheap or cheaper than many hotels we'd otherwise get in Kansas City, and with water park access!

# Bathroom Situation

The website encourages you to drive to the park in your swimsuits for ease of swimming before check-in, so I wasn't sure if we'd need to change in the car or what after our 3 hour drive. However, there were bathrooms in the hallway outside the water park that we used to finish changing when we arrived, and there are more bathrooms inside the water park. There was one gender neutral restroom in the hallway and one in the water park. The one in the water park has a shower and toilet, just like the gendered bathrooms in the park do.

# Lockers

They give the adults (or probably big kids, if you want that) a bracelet that is connected to your credit card on file so you can order poolside food or drinks without your wallet, and the bracelet also serves as your room key. We had a big bag of our dry clothes that we took to the pool, so we paid for a big locker to fit them. I wish I had known to try to pack less stuff/bring a smaller bag poolside, so I could have paid less for a smaller locker. Or even, to avoid paying for a locker at all, strategize a bit more about a parent doing a run to/from the car to take our bag, and bring just the bare minimum into the park.

# Food

When I was booking the room, I was asked if I wanted to get a $50 credit for the dining options for $45. I decided I did, but in hindsight, would not do that next time. I was a bit disappointed by the food options they had overall - the poolside snacks weren't super enticing and there were few options. The breakfast buffet was decent but pricy ($20 per adult, $10 for kids under 3, 3 and under free), and we might have chosen to go somewhere else if we hadn't already paid for the dining credit we still needed to use. There were alcohol options poolside that I was intrigued by but didn't end up going for, as well as some fun-seeming mocktails and juice drinks for the no-alcohol set.

# Flexibility

We initially were planning to check out by the normal time (11am) and stow our clothes in the car or a locker before heading home. But my wife ended up having an important video call right at 11 that she needed privacy for. We could have added on a 2pm late checkout for $50, but when I texted the stay assistant (supposedly named Willow, though I suspect that is the catch-all name for a persona that sometimes has a real person named something else on the other end and sometimes doesn't) about it, they arranged with housekeeping that we could stay in our room til noon with no extra charge. Neat!!

# Other Activities

There was some kind of Magic Quest activity that had kids running around the hotel with light-up wands pointing at various objects that would do stuff when the wand was pointed at them. We didn't do it, but we did watch an older kid demonstrate it a few times and that was neat enough. A friend with an early elementary-aged kid said her kid was very into the wand game thing. There were also crafts in the lobby at certain times, and a morning kids' yoga session in the lobby: both free.

# Overall

We had a great time on our trip and would definitely go back! I probably wouldn't pay $500 for a single night there, but it definitely felt worth it for the price we paid. (And I learned some stuff about how to spend even less next time we go.)

Stay tuned for another post on some fun shopping excursions we had during our brief Kansas City trip!

Webmentions: 4 Likes

2 Replies

Neblib Neblib

@cassey thanks for publishing your experience, it's a place I've been wanting to look into and it's always good to hear real reviews. source

Tyler Mumford Tyler Mumford

@cassey Awesome! Our family went to Great Wolf Lodge in Manteca, CA last year, and we had a similar experience. The water park is fantastic, and our kids talk about it often. I’m pretty sure we’ll go back a few times. source

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