About halfway into this pregnancy, I thought, “Oh, we simply MUST take the children to the beach this summer!” I envisioned beautiful sunset photos, perhaps even some of me and my swollen, pregnant belly, surrounded by my kids building sandcastles. I bought them cute swimsuits and matching, personalized towels for their Easter baskets in anticipation.
We’ll just chalk that up to 2nd trimester delusions. The kind you get when you have that brief surge of energy and seemingly return to normalcy… right before the 3rd trimester squashes your dreams.
By the end of May, following a string of back-to-back-to-back travel for me, I was over it. No way was I getting my increasingly cumbersome middle section into a car and driving for more than 8 hours to get to the coast. And I certainly was not going to chase my kids up and down a sandy beach with no fences or gates to be found anywhere, all under the blazing sun. NOPE.
Time for plan B. I really did want the kids to experience a bit of a vacation this summer, and I wanted it to happen before baby gets here and we’re all forced to live in the house for a month or two while we wait out 100+ temps.
We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX (right outside of Dallas) last fall for just the day with day passes from the Boys & Girls Club fundraiser. (To my knowledge, this is the only time of the year you can get into GWL without staying overnight). The kids had a blast, and we knew that they’d have even more fun being just a smidge older, so the timing of going back a couple weeks ago worked out perfect.
A staycation was just what we needed.
We stayed for 2 nights, and got to play at the park for 3 days. It was just the right amount of time. There was no rush to do everything in one day, and we were able to go to the water park in 2 to 3 hour bursts and then return back to our room to recharge (or take naps) without feeling like we were missing out.
A lot of people have asked if I felt like Leyna was too young. She’s 2.5, and I think she had so much fun. She didn’t go on any of the big slides, but she had no desire to, either. She didn’t even want to go to the bigger kids play area (the one with the giant bucket that dumps on your head every so often… that was pretty much terrifying to her).
That said, there was plenty of fun to be had in the little kids play area. The little slides there were her absolute favorite. She probably went down them 30 or more times.
The wave pool was also a fun thing to do with both the kids, but only in small doses.
Kendall enjoyed hanging out in the little kids play area, mostly so he could practice snorkeling. But I think his favorite part was riding the big slides with daddy. He could ride all but two.
The one part of the park none of us really cared for was the lazy river. I’m not even sure if this is technically what GWL calls it, but let me just tell you, there is NOTHING “lazy” about it, and there is no way to ride it without coming out completely soaked. I wasn’t too fond of the middle-aged men on the platforms above us who found enjoyment in dumping buckets of water on Leyna and me as we went under. Leyna was already visibly upset by the falling water at that point, and I was just trying to get her to an exit. We stuck to the kids play area after that.
Then we headed out to the outside pool, and even though it was pretty hot outside, it was a nice escape from the chaos of the indoor water park. We were able to just relax, and it was much easier to keep an eye on the kids out there.
It may seem like it could get boring, being there for 3 days, but the good news is there’s much more to do beyond the water park. We spent a good amount of time in the arcade one afternoon.
Kendall and Scott managed to become Master Magis in the MagiQuest game. I don’t know exactly how that worked since I chose to nap or eat in our room (along with Leyna) while they played. I just know a wand was involved, and it was about the coolest thing ever for Kendall.
Maybe just a smidge cooler or as cool as the Kids Kamp suite we stayed in, which featured semi-private bunk-beds and a TV for the kids. Yeah, Leyna tried to climb onto the top bunk, and she succeeded a few times, but we knew to keep an eye on her, and when she was asleep, she was totally out on her bottom bunk.
We did bring a few snacks to keep in the room (there’s a mini-fridge and a microwave in each one), and I also brought some pink lemonade mix and water bottles to make our own drinks every day. This helped us through snack times, mostly. The food served there was, surprisingly, not bad and not overpriced, in my opinion. I mean, it wasn’t gourmet, but it was pretty good.
To give you an example, a large cheese pizza cost $11.99. A couple times, we ordered pizza and then took it to a table inside the water park and ate there. It was plenty for all of us (even when my sister got there to help out on day 2). There’s also a more traditional restaurant that I’d say has food and prices comparable to Applebees. We didn’t try out the buffet.
My one regret was we didn’t purchase a PawPass. Looking back, it would have been more than enough for both the kids to use, splitting up the different perks that it comes with. It could have paid for Kendall’s MagiQuest game and wand, and Leyna could have got a glitter tattoo, etc. Even without it, we managed to keep extra spending from getting out of control.
And maybe the question most of you have is: Was it hard to do while pregnant? I was 35 weeks at the time, and yeah… it was a butt kicking. Thankfully my sister came up on the 2nd day to help out. I really just stood in the little kids play area most of the time or sat on the edge. But even just walking back and forth to the room was exhausting. It was worth it, though.
I mean, since when are vacations/staycations with kids at all relaxing for parents? At least I knew going into it I’d need a 7 day nap when we got home.
If you’re looking for more helpful tips on how to plan a trip to Great Wolf Lodge and what to expect, I can’t say it any better than my friend Stephanie did. Her posts were what I referred to when getting ready for our trip. You can read them here: