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 ).  

Pay it Forward – Adventures With Jennpup – Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada Ticket Giveaway

I’m gearing up for Spring! Time for some new adventures. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto is hosting an Autism Friendly event on the evening of Sunday, April 19th via Autism Ontario. Our entire family is able to attend Ripley’s Aquarium for free (free tickets sold out very quickly).

“Autism Ontario invites children with autism and their families to enjoy a sensory friendly evening at Ripley’s Aquarium! Sound will be lowered, lights will be raised, and a quiet room will be available for individuals who need a break from the excitement.” Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

I am happy to share that Ripley’s Aquarium proudly accepts the Easter Seals Access 2 Entertainment card so children and adults with disabilities can use this card to bring a support worker for free with their paid admission. Information on this program can be found here: http://easterseals.ca/english/access-2-entertainment-card

We’ve never been to Ripley’s Aquarium and we are really looking forward to it!  I’ll be sure and add pics and a review to the blog.
ripleys

This kindness means I have two tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium to give away! This is a “Pay it Forward” contest. If you win, please pass on a kindness of your choosing to someone else. I love entering contests and am really happy to have the chance to host one for a change!

One winner will be selected and must reply within 48 hours. Contest closes April 25, 2015. The winner will receive 2 tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto which expire May 30, 2015, transportation and expenses not included, just two tickets! This contest is open to Ontario, but best suited to someone in the GTA, who is able to use them prior to the expiry date. Please check Ripley’s calendar when planning your visit for their hours and any early special event closures.

Enter by clicking on the “Entry-Form” link below and following the steps – Good Luck!  You can enter every day by tweeting via the entry form:

Entry-Form

Be sure and click on the words Entry-Form above or here! 🙂

Thank you!

Love,  Jennpup

PS – Here’s another contest from Metroland Durham Region giving away 4 tickets to Ripley’s, Enter Here!

Walk Off The Earth, Shores of Erie International Wine Festival 2014

So I definitely pulled off Operation #BestMomEver!

Delphine read the note in her lunchbox and cried – and on the 3 hour drive she said “You spoil me”.  It has been so wonderful to provide a Summer of memories with very little cost thanks to all of the many ‘wins’. Those words were great to hear, and she is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known – she deserves a little spoiling every now and again.WOTE

We arrived at the shuttle bus parking lot around 5:30pm and we were the first car to park. The bus driver (Joyce!) was so lovely!  I hope she wasn’t working the next night in that freak storm that shut down the festival
On the Bus
Off to the Festival, T-shirt purchased and changed, ready to see the AMAZING Crissi Cochrane.  She was FABULOUS and of course we picked up her new CD “Little Sway” 🙂 

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Then we purchased some yummy food!  Sobeys was selling a fantastic fruit/cheese/cracker spread to go along with the wine I did not get to drink!  Mom duty called. The festival had their big 10th Anniversary official opening with “Oh Canada” and “The Star Spangled Banner” (see photos in the Flickr photostream of everyone standing at attention)!  They released balloons and it was all very lovely. The team behind the festival have done a great job of growing this into a “MUST VISIT” event.
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Then who do we see getting out of a van to the right of the stage?  Walk Off The Earth!!  I grab Delphine and we run over to snap some pics. Pretty soon after, we notice that Sarah and Taylor are meeting fans at the security gate so we run over for a quick meet-and-greet.  I am now able to RELAX as the main mission of the night has been accomplished! My little girl got to meet her heroes! 🙂 @SarahBlackwood1 and @WalkOffTaylor. Sarah loved her T-shirt, and “Beard Guy” loved her fuchsia highlights. 😉

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Now my next mission is securing a front and centre standing spot for the main event!  I encourage Delphine to sit in our lawn chairs and rest – she is going to need all of her energy to make it to the end 🙂
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Finally, it is time for the second opener, Vancouver’s Bed of Stars. Beautiful singing reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright and Thom Yorke!  We loved it.  But the Stars turned into rain and we were getting lightly rained on during the show…  I remembered my hat and my Agnes Scott College blanket.  Delphine stayed dry wrapped up and I kept my glasses from getting wet with my sun hat. 🙂

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The rain meant an extra long delay before Walk Off The Earth could safely start the show, but at least the rain ended.  We enjoyed watching @WOTECrew set up – having no idea we were watching some very talented performers!  Walk Off The Earth put on an astoundingly brilliant show. Rock ‘n Roll posing, mosh pit jumping, circus style tossing of instruments across the stage, beautiful harmonies and stellar musicianship – and @WOTECrew played and sang beautifully, too (more pics of the whole event and the @WOTECrew in this Walk Off The Earth Flickr Album)!  What an incredible gift to give my daughter – seeing these masters at work!
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Definitely won the title of #BestMomEver!

Thank you so much to the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival!  You gave us a once in a lifetime experience!

Love, 

Jennpup

 

Today I get to be the #BestMomEver!

On the first day of school, I put a note in my 10 year old daughter’s lunchbox. It was a “To Do List” with wishes for a great first day and encouraged her to reach out to new/shy/sad children. On the second day it was more of a quick “I love you and I’m so proud of you” kind of note.

We went to “Meet the Teacher” night last night and I asked her if she was enjoying getting the notes from me. She said she really liked the first one, but the second one – not so much. I asked her if she’d keeping reading them or just ignore them and she said she’d keep reading them so long as they were more like the one she got the first day (BURN!). She wanted me to make her another “To Do List”. 

I also lied to her. I told her that today I’d be picking her up early so she could go to the dentist, so the dentist could try again to get X-Rays taken (she was uncooperative when we tried a month ago). 

Here’s today’s note:

WOTE

 

I wish I could be a fly on the wall. She will be totally freaking out. “WOTE” is her absolute favourite band “Walk Off The Earth” – I have been dreaming of being able to take her to see them for awhile now.  Fortunately I won tickets from the Shores of Erie Wine Festival‘s Twitter contest so today I get to be the “Best Mom Ever”. I also love Walk Off The Earth and can hardly contain my excitement, I have no idea how I’ve managed to keep this secret! 

Be kind to one another (and yourself),

-Jennpup

Bingemans Big Splash

On my Summer “Big Bucket” List was a trip to Bingemans Big Splash.  Earlier in the Summer my daughter and I visited King’s Island Amusement Park and enjoyed their wave pool so much that I started looking for local wave pools to try out!
bigsplash

Local radio station Country 106.7 had a contest to win tickets to their Bingemans Big Splash “Country Splash Down” event day in July and we won a family four pass!

That day was rainy and just as the kids were in their suits and ready to swim, the skies opened up and the pool was closed! We got dressed and headed inside to watch the kids play on the climber and slides. My son with Autism did not understand why we couldn’t swim and he was very upset, but the climber and slides calmed him down and he had  a lot of fun.  

Soon, the rain ended and the sun peeked through, but we still didn’t get to do too much swimming that day.

Later in the Summer, I won 4 passes from 91.5 The Beat radio (they have a fantastic call in contest tied to their Top 9 at Noon). I tried for about 2 weeks and finally got through and won the 4 splash park passes  and a family pass to African Lion Safari (stay tuned for that review in a few weeks). 

We picked one of the forecasted hot and sunny days in August to return to Bingemans Big Splash.

No rain this time, and the day was just beautiful. My daughter is timid about rides, so we didn’t go on any of the big slides, but by the end of the day she was happy to slide in the Bucket area.

Both kids had the best time. My son really enjoyed the bubble pool to the side of the wave pool.  Later in the afternoon it started to get super crowded and we headed home with lots of happy memories!

For more information, visit Bingemans Big Splash!

Please check out my Bingemans Big Splash Flickr album.

-Jennpup