At Foss Swim School, they recognize that learning to swim is a life-saving skill, especially for vacationing families. The Foss program is structured to teach the fundamentals that lead to independence in the water.* Parents of a Foss student can feel confident knowing their child has been taught the basics of water safety and are building skills towards becoming a strong, safe and confident swimmer.
* Swim instruction does not replace parental supervision. Please remain vigilant when enjoying the water with your family.
Spring break is approaching, and you and the family may be longing for a family-friendly, spring break get away. Sometimes planning a spring break vacation can be overwhelming, but when my family needed a fun and quick, low-stress getaway, a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells was just the ticket. We went over Columbus Day weekend for a break from the daily grind a few years back, and my kids are still begging for a return trip. The memories we made are forever engrained as a highlight of their young lives.
Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells is a gigantic indoor water park resort with Northwoods-themed accommodations perfect for kids of all ages, and plenty of family-friendly, focused fun. As soon as you enter the resort, you find the Northwoods themed Grand Lobby, featuring the Great Clock Tower. There are live animated shows throughout the day, especially appropriate to entertain your little vacationers. There are also bedtime stories hosted here each night.
The accommodations at the resort vary, and are all targeted to families, including themed “Wolf Den” suites with unique bunk bed and play spaces. My kids were crazy about the Wolf Den bunk beds with their own TV equipped with a video game console. Something like that would never fly at our house, but it was a special treat for our vacation. It also allowed us parents some down time on the other side of the wall, to watch TV and relax in the rest of the room while the kids plugged in and snuggled down in their own, private “Wolf Den.”
But let’s get to the real reason to go to the Great Wolf Lodge, the water park! The water park is huge, with warm, 84-degree water to greet you. We found the water park to be perfect for our kids, at the time who were four and six. Most of the slides were friendly for smaller kids, and we found only a few thrill slides that they were not big enough to ride. There is no lap riding allowed, but many slides require smaller guests to ride with an adult in a double tube if they are between 42 and 48 inches tall. The slides are fun, with enough speed and thrills for the whole family to enjoy, without fearing losing your bathing suit or freaking out the kids too much. There were lifeguards everywhere, and they seemed to be very attentive. While it’s always your duty to be vigilant at the water park supervising your children, the lifeguards attentiveness did give me an added layer of assurance of the safety of the water park.
Our two favorite slides were Lookout Mountain and Whirly Bird Run. Lookout Mountain is a four-story, open slide that twists and turns through a mountain setting. Whirly Bird Run is an enclosed tube slide with super-fast twists and turns that plunge you at the end. For taller riders looking for extra excitement, the Howling Tornado is amazing. It’s a four-person raft ride that has you swirling around the walls of a huge tube before dropping down into the funnel. Riders must be 48 inches tall (no exceptions) and able to hold on.
For your littlest family members, there are plenty of water park areas that are perfect as well. The Mineshaft slide is gentle enough for toddlers, with a supervising adult nearby. The Hawk’s Beak is a water play area separated from the rest of the water park that is dedicated for water park guests under 52 inches tall. Raccoon lagoon is zero-depth area full of tiny slides and water cannons. My kids love this, just beware–sometimes you may get sprayed or splashed when you aren’t expecting it.
In addition to the enormous water park, Great Wolf Lodge has attractions and activities including MagiQuest, an arcade, a scavenger hunt, Elements adult spa and Scoops, a kid’s spa. We didn’t have a chance to check out the spa (regretfully), but we did enjoy a scavenger hunt around the hotel. Since we went in October, it was Halloween-themed, and my kids wore their costumes.
Most of my kids LOVED the MagiQuest attraction, it was a happy surprise, because we didn’t know anything about it when we booked our stay. MagiQuest is an interactive experience where you use a magic wand (an additional purchase, which can be used on future visits) to complete adventures by solving clues through a three-story adventure land, all the while finding fairies and fighting dragons. My son was six at the time, and he was enthralled with figuring out the clues and completing the adventure. My four-year-old daughter didn’t really understand what was going on, but was kept busy going up and down the three-story slides and looking at all the interactive displays.
We went back to the MagiQuest area three times during our two-night stay at the lodge; the kids couldn’t get enough, and it was a nice break when we started to feel water logged. My only advice is that you will be walking a lot, especially if chasing a younger child who goes up and down multiple levels to ride the multi-story tube slides. It can be a challenge to keep track of where they end up, but it’s not too big, and you can usually track them down quickly. The MagiQuest attraction is attached to the Great Wolf lodge, so you can go back and continue the quest without ever leaving the resort.
The layout and the themes of the resort are very family-friendly. We didn’t eat much on site, but the food looked like standard family fare. The staff was super helpful and courteous, our room was clean, and the weekend overall was a smashing success. My kids beg us to go back to the Great Wolf Lodge, which I take as an ultimate sign of a happy family weekend, and we are already busy trying to find a free weekend that we could surprise them with a visit. Great Wolf Lodge seems especially geared towards families with younger children, due to the variety of accessible water park rides, the story times with characters, and the general resort atmosphere. The resort offers reasonable rates for large rooms with the water park included and it’s only about a three-hour drive from Lake County.
Foss Swim School offers a year-round program that is session-based by season and includes Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions. Each session offers Weekly Swim Lessons, 4-Week Progress-Builder Swim Camps® and/or 2-Week Progress-Builder® Swim Camps. Each option is designed to give families, instructors, and most importantly, your swimmer a definable time to focus on swimming. Seasonal sessions are more effective than continuous programs and deliver predictable, quality results. Spring session starts on March 13th, registration is now open!
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