Adventures at Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, Ontario

32aWhen we left Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls, we had to literally peel my son’s fingers off of the door as he kicked and screamed. Needless, to say, he LOVED every minute and never wanted to leave. This was our first visit, and I want to share with you what we learned, what we loved and why we’ll be returning again as soon as possible!

To Paw Pass or Not to Paw Pass?

For first-timers I highly recommend the Paw Pass!  For $64.99 plus tax per kid, you get:

  • One MagiQuest game
  • One MagiQuest classic wand or classic topper
  • One quarter pound of fudge
  • One animal from our Great Wolf Stuffing Station (outfit not included)
  • One 5×7 Paw Prints water park action photo
  • 20 Paw Points and game card for Northern Lights Arcade
  • One gift at Scooops Kid Spa
  • Two games of bowling at Ten Paw Alley or one game at Wacky Wilderness Mini Golf
  • Two Great Wolf Kids activities in Cub Club
  • One pair of wolf ears

We did everything on the list except for the activities at the Cub Club.  The kids loved getting their wolf ears, their stuffed wolf (just like at Build-A-Bear), and their wands for the MagiQuest. I upgraded the Paw Prints photo for about $6 we got a printed picture of our family going over the Falls in a barrel. We have very few family pictures and I appreciate the kitsch of this souvenir.

Meal Plan or Bring Your Own?

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Dinner Buffet

Our package included the meal plan and I loved the breakfast and dinner buffets. There were lots of choices and my picky eaters were all happy. Niagara Wine samples came to the table (SCORE!) and as it was my daughter’s birthday, she received a special dessert and a birthday song from wait staff ending with a wolf howl! So fun!

Check out the video of the birthday song: Great Wolf Lodge Birthday Surprise

Lunch choices were ‘okay’. We could choose from a pizza slice, chips and pop; or a hot dog or burger w/fries and a pop.  Not as awesome as the buffet, but it was quick enough and let us get back to the more important task of enjoying the water park.

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Kitchenette

Next time I will consider bringing more food and possibly not getting the meal plan, it is certainly possible to make do without it, but I also really enjoyed the buffets!

The room had a mini-fridge and microwave oven, coffee maker and sink, so we could definitely have made do while in our room. No microwave popcorn is allowed to be popped in the hotel rooms – there are big warning labels on the microwave ovens. I brought snacks, chips, candy, and bottled water for the room.

Standard, Themed, or Premium Room?

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KidCabin TV bunk bed and single bed

Our room was a themed KidCabin Suite. The kids enjoyed the bunk bed room of their own. My son loved sleeping in the top bunk. My daughter turned 13 on the trip and found the beds very uncomfortable. Next time I would double a mattress for her (they were thinner than a standard mattress) and there were three beds in the suite and only two kids.

We would have been just as happy in a standard “Family Fireplace Suite” as we all really enjoyed the fireplace and would pay a little more for that perk (we visited in January and it was so nice to warm up by the fire and also to dry our towels). My daughter would’ve been more comfortable in a regular bed and would happily share with her brother.

If you have no budget, consider a premium suite. I’d love to try the loft fireplace suite. This would be great to book at Christmas as the room holds up to 8 people and Santa can bring presents to the fireplace! Some of the premium rooms come with dedicated parking right outside your suite so it is easier to load/unload.

The Waterpark!

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Massive Water Park – so much to do!

We have been to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark in Niagara Falls twice thanks to Autism Ontario attending in the Winter and were rather disappointed both times. My kids are not thrill seekers and they only enjoyed the wave pool there and unfortunately as the day progresses the water park gets colder and colder as patrons go outside to the heated outdoor space letting cold air continually blast into the water park.

We were pleasantly surprised with Great Wolf Lodge as the temperature was nice and warm and stayed warm the whole time we were there. The water park had smaller water slides for young kids or ‘chickens’ like my two. They loved the lazy river (I think half of our day was spent in the lazy river)! The wave pool was a hit and they also loved the smaller swimming pool with basketball nets around the sides. It was easy to access self serve life vests. Heated towels were available and there were lockers for rent. On our second day, we remained at the water park after checking out from our hotel room, so we rented a locker. The locker was about $20 and when we returned our key we had the option to receive the key back or pick a wolf stuffed animal (my daughter chose the wolf).

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Bonus – they have a Swimsuit “Dryer” – spin cycle that gets most of the wet out!

One night or more?

For the budget conscious, you can get a lot of fun out of a one night stay.  If your room is not ready at your 1pm check in time, you can access the water park already!  And you have water park privileges for your check out day as well, so you can stay as long as the water park is open! My hope next time is that we book at least 2 nights as there is so much fun to be had and it would have been a more relaxed pace for squeezing in all of the fun activities.

The Happiest Place in Canada?

30We used to save up for Disney, the happiest place on earth for me and so many others – but now, in less than 2 hours with no border crossing, our family has found our new ‘happiest place’ and it’s IN CANADA. To celebrate #Canada150 a lot of bloggers are urging Canadians to make Canadian destinations a priority this year, so we will definitely be spending our vacation dollars in Canada and as often as possible, at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Check out all of my Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls videos on YouTube here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8kbJAZWbYm80uhs7pibCfBAW1eXnuG_w

Ready to book?

NEW!!  Enter to WIN here, ends May 24 2017: 
http://blog.parentlifenetwork.com/great-wolf-lodge-for-the-kid-in-all-of-us/

Discounts here:

Great Wolf Lodge Official Website Deals: https://www.greatwolf.com/niagara/deals

Entertain Kids on a Dime posts monthly deals, here are the APRIL 2017 ones:
http://entertainkidsonadime.com/2017/04/05/great-wolf-lodge-april-deals/  

cropped-access-2-logo-2014-eng-tageline-e1402684890727Special Needs Families! Did you know your Easter Seals Access 2 Entertainment card gets you a discount to Great Wolf Lodge? Scroll to the very bottom: http://www.access2card.ca/onattractions/

This Review is not an #Ad. It is my own opinion based on a stay my partner WON from CHYM-FM in Kitchener (Thank you for making me the #BestMomEver ).  

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Afternoon Tea at the Royal York – Review

We recently enjoyed a wonderful stay at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. One of the highlights for me was Afternoon Tea at the Library Bar with my 11 year old daughter, Delphine.

What shall we order?

I prepped Delphine ahead of time, showing her the traditional menu (she is a very picky eater, but I encouraged her to try the traditional tea).  We talked about manners and the tradition of High Tea.  Originally, I had made a reservation for four, later I called to change it, since I decided against bringing my son. He is only 5 and not quite ready for fine china.

When we arrived to check in for our reservation, we were still listed as a party of four. One of the things I LOVED about our experience at The Royal York is the high quality customer service focus of all of the staff. They welcomed the opportunity to be gracious about the error and remarked at how much more comfortable we would be in our table for four as a twosome.

We received the traditional menu, but to my surprise our attendant told my daughter there were kid-friendly options available such as ‘bubblegum tea’, ‘hot chocolate’ and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or grilled cheese sandwiches. Delphine wanted to try the traditional tea first, knowing she could order something else if necessary.

Delphine picked the apple tea and I ordered the jasmine. The apple tea was delicious and definitely child friendly.  We enjoyed waiting for the tea to steep and pouring it into the beautiful china.

For Mother’s Day, Delphine asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted a handmade card and that I would enter it into the Rogers Daytime Channel 20 Instagram Mother’s Day contest.  Her card won and we received a one night’s stay for a family of four at the Royal York, passes to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and Afternoon Tea! Talk about a wonderful Mother’s Day gift!

The Fairmont Royal York had noted us as contest winners for our Afternoon Tea reservation. Our attendant surprised us with sparkling wine for me and ginger ale for Delphine and congratulated us on our win. I toasted Delphine and thanked her for the beautiful Mother’s Day gift she won for us!

I had visited the Royal York Afternoon Tea many years ago with my mother and grandmother and I was really looking forward to the scones and clotted cream!  It wasn’t long before this beautiful spread arrived!  Everything was exquisite, of course!

For fun, I tried the scones two different ways!  Cream on top (Cornish style), and cream on the bottom (Devonshire method).  The verdict? Delicious either way!

Ultimately, Delphine was not won over by the traditional fare, so it was the Royal York’s children’s menu to the rescue. She ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and it even arrived with the most adorable bottle of ketchup you’ve ever seen!

Check out more photos on the Adventures With Jennpup Facebook page (and please give us a ‘like’ while you’re at it).

If you will be visiting in the summer, be sure and check out the rooftop tour:

During Summer months, tea time includes a chance to explore the hotel’s famous rooftop herb garden 14 stories above ground. Starting Saturday June 20 until Labour Day weekend, rooftop tours will depart from the foyer outside Library Bar at 2pm and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. – The Fairmont Royal York

The Royal York currently offers the “F-Scape to Toronto Package” which includes:

  • One Night Accommodation in a newly renovated Fairmont Luxury Room
  • Afternoon Tea For Two at Library Bar
  • In-Room “Rooftop” Amenity – Honey Jars for Two
  • Rooftop Tour for Two

Unfortunately, our weekend in Toronto was quite rainy, so we did not take the rooftop tour. But, we enjoyed the proximity of the Royal York to the “Skywalk” and were able to stay dry while walking to Ripley’s Aquarium.

If you get the chance, take a Mother/Daughter trip to Toronto! Catch a show (we enjoyed Kinky Boots) and don’t miss the Afternoon Tea!

Thank you Rogers Daytime and the Fairmont Royal York!  We hope to return again.

❤ Jennpup ❤

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Adventure Review!

My 5 year old has Autism. He is the loveliest, happiest little guy – and he lights up our lives. He teaches us so much every day about how to enjoy life – and he brings out the best in his big sister!

Autism Ontario puts together some wonderful programs for families to attend. It is so nice to go to an event knowing the staff are expecting kids who don’t necessarily behave or react the same as ‘neurotypicals’. 🙂  Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada partnered with Autism Ontario for their first “Sensory Friendly” evening on Sunday, April 19th.  We registered and received a 4pm-5pm entry time.

We arrived right around 4pm – just as the Blue Jay’s game was letting out.  Ripley’s Aquarium is right under the CN Tower and right next to Rogers Centre.

Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto

This meant there was a LOT of parking suddenly becoming available.  We parked at a lot just off of Bremner Boulevard – the rate was about $24 for the ‘day’. We could have saved by parking elsewhere, one resource I looked at before heading out was this: http://toronto.bestparking.com/destinations/cn-tower-parking/   But in the end, I just wanted to be close by and we didn’t have to pay for our Ripley’s Admission so it seemed ‘worth it’.

After checking in, we visited the washrooms. My son is on a potty training routine and the toilets at Ripley’s were ‘auto flush’ which scared him – so no successes while we were there. Both kids loved the initial fish tanks that were around to explore.  My son tried to count the fish in one tank (over 1,000 – not sure he can count quite that high yet, so we moved on).

Counting Fish!

So much for the kids to see and do!

One of the first really cool things we saw – reminded us we were at a RIPLEY’s – inventor of the “Believe it or Not” series – check out this YouTube video I found!  Fleshy Sea Pens!

There’s lots to see and explore! Eventually you get to the amazing shark tanks! A conveyor belt keeps the crowd flowing, but gives lots of time to see everything! You are fully immersed in the aquarium – it was really cool! Currently, Ripley’s is running a #SharkSelfie contest until June 26, 2015 – so we were certain to take lots of selfies for our weekly entry! 🙂

Jennpup #SharkSelfie

After the Shark tank, there was so much for the kids to do and explore!  There were snack bars, slides, horseshoe crabs to touch and sharks to pet. My favourite area was “Planet Jellies” – truly an out of this world experience!

ripleys filmstrip

The kids had a blast and it wouldn’t be complete without an “Exit Thru the GiftShop” – my 11 year old picked a stuffy Jellyfish to hang from her ceiling. It will definitely remind us of a great day!

ripleys filmstrip 2

I hope you get the chance to check it out soon! 🙂

Love,

Jennpup

P.S. Want to try to win tickets?
This contest from DurhamRegion.com ends May 3rd, 2015 – enter here.
ParentSource.ca has a contest to win Ripley’s Passes and another for a CN Tower experience ending April 30th, 2015 – check out their current contests here!  Good luck!