If you are looking for a holiday getaway with the kids, Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge has it going on. I was invited to stay at the Great Wolf Lodge New England this past weekend to participate in their “Snowland” festivities. From the minute we walked in the door and were greeted by the roaring fire and the lobby twinkling with lights from the many decorated trees and snowflakes dangling from the ceiling, we were in the holiday mood.
Snowland runs from late November through early January each year and is more than just holiday theming throughout the resort. There are numerous ways to surprise and delight the kids including dining in a life-size gingerbread house, milk and cookie deliveries from Wiley the Wolf, festive Snowland activities, and the specially decorated Snowland Suites. As if MagiQuest, Howlin’ Timbers Play Park, and its massive waterpark weren’t enough to keep kids happy! While we celebrated Hannah’s 11th birthday at the Great Wolf Lodge, this time we had a whole different “howliday” experience.
Note: Our visit was hosted by the Great Wolf Lodge for purposes of this review.
At each resort, a limited number of Queen Deluxe Suites have been set aside as “Snowland Suites.” These suites have gotten a holiday makeover. When we opened our door, it was a “wow” moment to see the white tree glowing with its lights and blue decorations in the corner.
As we stepped inside, more details revealed themselves, from the snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, the snowflake blankets on the bed, to the pictures covered in holiday wrapping paper. In the bathroom we found more snowflakes, greenery and lights along the mirror, and even a special snowflake shower curtain. One of our favorite features was the greenery and lights wrapped along the headboard, making for a perfect nightlight.
On the bed waiting for us was a super cozy Snowland throw blanket and a picture book called “Unique as a Snowflake.” At first we thought they were just for us to enjoy in the suite, but when we saw we could take them home, a struggle emerged for rights to the snuggly blanket.
Another surprise came later with a knock on the door and what to our wondering eyes did appear, but Wiley the Wolf (with no reindeer.) But, he did bring us some milk and cookies for a bedtime snack and was sweet enough to pose for some pictures by the tree.
(Pro tip: call ahead to schedule a delivery time or have the kids wait by the fireplace at check in when you arrange your delivery time so you don’t spoil the surprise.)
My only disappointment was that the Snowland Suites are only available in the Queen Deluxe rooms. We had so much fun in our Junior Cabin Suite last time, where the kids enjoyed having their own separate space, that the Queen Deluxe felt a little tight with the four of us plus the tree. We could have still pulled out the sofa bed if we needed to, but it would have taken some maneuvering.
Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge
Even if you don’t book a special Snowland suite, there is still plenty of holiday theming to enjoy throughout the resort. In the lobby, there were decorated trees, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, and the life-sized gingerbread house. At certain times in the day, they also handed out free hot chocolate at the hot chocolate “truck.”
Younger kids enjoy many of the special activities like the Polar Wolf Walk, a snowflake craft, cookie decorating (we enjoyed the free samples), and a Peep Scavenger hunt throughout the lodge to find hidden Santa peeps. Kids can also participate in North Pole University by completing tasks on the NPU course card to receive a SnowplowMA and Special Edition Rowdy the Reindeer trading card.
There were also Character Appearances from Wiley and Violet, the Great Forest Friends Show, animal balloons, Yoga Tails, story time, crafts, and photos with Santa. Each night we saw tons of kids in the lobby in their PJs for story time or the Forest Friends show. And at the end, a special surprise — snow! It was more like snow flurries than a blizzard but it was fun to see the kids’ faces as the “flakes” started falling from the ceiling.
Dining in the Gingerbread House
In the middle of the lobby is a life-size gingerbread house. You can make reservations online through Yelp to dine inside for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You definitely want to do this well in advance of your visit!
The menu is the same as the Lodge Wood Fired Grill, but you will pay an additional $10 donation on top of your order, which benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The house fits up to six people and is cozy inside, with its own small tree and a home-like atmosphere. That is, if your home is covered in candy!
The food at the Great Wolf Lodge was definitely better than we expected. Not exactly Michelin star, but a step above a chain restaurant for the most part. I learned that the Great Wolf Lodge New England has a new Food & Beverage Director who has made significant changes over the last few months.
Buffets are available in the Lodge Wood Fired Grill for breakfast and dinner, and offered a better deal than ordering off the menu. The girls loved the wolf paw pancakes (and the whipped cream and fruit toppings) for breakfast. I thought the chopped barbecue chicken salad was delicious for lunch and the dinner buffet was very satisfying.
Pro tip: the rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge have a fridge and microwave and many families bring a cooler of food and drinks to have at least a meal or two in the room (or heat up leftovers.) Just keep in mind that you can’t bring outside food into the waterpark, so you will have to go up to your room for a “picnic.” The hotel does give you two bottles of water per day, but I’d recommend bringing some of your own because water bottles are $3.00 each.
Scooops Kid Spa
This time we also got to try out the Scooops Kid Spa. Hannah and her friend Sydney were both treated to manicures and pedicures. When we arrived, they were offered cozy robes and got to choose the scent of the scrub and lotion used … vanilla, chocolate or strawberry … and apparently their choice should reflect their personalities.
The girls were pampered and treated like princesses. I really appreciated how they took the time to teach the girls about nail care too (I even learned a thing or two!) They took home their two nail polish colors, their nail files, and a voucher for a free scoop of ice cream at Bear Paw Sweets & Eats.
Pro tip: Book your appointment as soon as you arrive. If visiting on a weekend or during a school holiday break, consider calling ahead to schedule an appointment.
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park & Howlin’ Timbers
Of course the main attraction for the Great Wolf Lodge is the indoor waterpark. They can really accommodate all ages, but I asked the girls what age they thought would be best and they said from five to fifteen. To go on the larger slides, you need to be at least 48 inches tall, but there are plenty of play areas for smaller kids and life jackets for the Wolf Tail wave pool.
Hannah and her friend just love the Howlin’ Tornado (especially at night.) But even though they are twelve, they can’t wait to go back again. Of course you can’t spend all your time in the water park but there is no worry about getting bored. Even with a two night stay, we still didn’t have enough time to fit everything in.
The Howlin’ Timbers play park has changed since our last visit. They have added the Rustic Ridge climbing walls, Oliver’s Mining Company (where you “mine” for gems), and a Frog Hopper ride. You can now buy a Paw Pass, to cover some of these attractions. I was bummed to learn that the Howlers Peak Ropes Course was no longer free though.
A visit to the Great Wolf Lodge can definitely add up, but a visit for Snowland can be a fun holiday present.
Kim from Stuffed Suitcase (my podcast co-host), stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington last weekend. We interviewed our girls together to get their reactions — listen to what they had to say below and read her review of Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound.
Vacation Mavens podcast: