Every once in a while I answer the phone even though the caller ID says “unknown”* and it’s someone who wants my opinion on a product or TV show or service and I say “How much are you going to pay me? Because I get paid for consumer reviews. Nothing? Then good day to you, sir. I said good day!” But today I am giving you reviews for free! Because that’s just how I am! Always eager to cram my opinion down someone’s throat. Well, not always eager to do it on the phone, apparently. Anyway.
Great Wolf Lodge
If you haven’t heard of it, the Great Wolf Lodge is a string of resorts/indoor waterparks scattered throughout the U.S., with one conveniently located in Grapevine, Texas. Okay, convenient is relative. I wish one were conveniently located closer to my in-laws. (Ha! Relative! In-laws! Get it?) The GWL features various types of rooms, an indoor andoutdoor water park, and other activities such as restaurants, arcades, spas (for adults and kids), etc.
GWL is completely self-contained – once you step inside, you never have to step outside until you check out. This is great if you’re craving some pool action during a cold part of the year. (Here in Mayberry there is a motel that advertises a “heated indoor pool” when the pool is, in fact, outside of the hotel in a separate enclosure. Which means you still have to go outside to get to the pool. Seems misleading to me. There is also a very nice hotel in Branson with the same issue. And no, they do not tell you when you make your reservation.) Of course, being a self-contained resort, everything (food, etc.) is a bit pricey.
Your room key is a swipeable wristband. This is unbelievably convenient and I wish Disneyworld would pick up on the idea. You can also assign charging privileges to your wristband, which means you can swipe it for snacks, souvenirs, tokens at the arcade, etc. Even some vending machines. Again, very convenient. Though after seeing kids run through the arcade swiping their wristbands for tokens again and again, I think I was wise not to give Boo this option.
The room options are numerous. Some rooms have a “kid cabin” or “kid cave” which is basically a room-within-a-room, complete with its own TV. We didn’t get one, but our room was comfortable and clean and included a mini fridge and microwave.
You are allowed to “pre-check-in” and use the waterpark before you actually get your room. You can also use it for the rest of the day you check out (we had planned to take advantage of this by checking out Saturday morning and leaving that afternoon, but we ended up leaving at o’dark thirty trying to beat bad weather). This means you can turn a one-night stay into a two-day stay, but it also means that at any time, the waterpark can be holding twice as many people as its room capacity. However, the pools never really seemed crowded, and there weren’t long waits for anything.
This place is huge. There are no photos on the website showing the entire exterior. Probably because you’d look at it and say “Holy crap, look at all of those rooms! It’s going to be super crowded.” Our hallway was approximately the length of three football fields, and we were on the far end.
The waterpark is not really all that spectacular. There is a wave pool, a shallow kiddie pool area, a “lazy river,” a large pool with an obstacle course and some things to climb on, some slides, and a large treehouse structure. That’s all. There was more outside, but it hadn’t opened for the season.
The water itself was a bit cold for me, but that was nothing compared to the fact that it burned my face and eyes like acid. Seriously. No one else in the family had this problem. I know I have sensitive skin, but I’ve never had issues with pool chemicals before.
Did I mention it’s expensive? We happened to be going at a peak time (and they kindly show a calendar on their website showing how much you’d save if you could go during a different week… oh, but this is your spring break? Well, sucks to be you, doesn’t it. Welcome to Double Price Week! Bwah ha ha ha ha!!!)
And I can’t discuss "the bad” without getting into The Stupid Game. I don’t remember what The Stupd Game is really called, but it’s some kind of Harry Potteresque thing that requires you to buy or rent a magic wand and then run all over the resort looking for clues (I wish I had taken a picture of the staircase labeled “Hidden Staircase”) and congregating in the lobby and hallways and getting in people’s way and running through the halls and generally making a nuisance of yourself. At one point, after Boo and I had laboriously maneuvered through crowds of oblivious gamers in the hallway, I said “Ugh! That stupid game!” A voice behind me said “Oh, please watch your language around the children!” Really? “Stupid” is watchable language? Lady, you’re lucky my kid was with me or I might have said much worse. I replied, over my shoulder, “Watch your children and keep them out of people’s way!” I mean, I’m all about kids having fun, but they are human beings. Not a pack of feral dogs. A little courtesy and respect for other guests is in order. Stupid lady. That's right, I said stupid. Lock up your children.
Alice in Wonderland
I completely lost interest in this movie once I heard it wasn’t the actual Alice story at all. Unfortunately, Boo did not. It turns out that it’s actually quite a dark and potentially upsetting movie. There is cruelty to people and animals, a child in a very frightening situation (brief but memorable), infidelity, death (including a moat full of floating decapitated heads), and it’s generally just not a good kid’s movie. Then why the hell are they advertising it all over The Disney Channel and Radio Disney? I find this completely inappropriate, to the point of being irresponsible. I can’t imagine taking a young child, who heard the actor playing the talking white rabbit interviewed on Radio Disney and thought this would be a fun movie, and letting him see someone cross a moat by walking on floating heads. Not cool. Also, it was just a boring movie. Sorry, Johnny Depp. You know I have the deepest love and respect for you. Maybe next time.
I started to put a review of Justin Bieber here, but that's more of a rant than a review, so I'll save it for next time...
*And it's a good time I did answer the unknown phone call once, since otherwise I would not have known my car had been stolen. But, again, that's another story for another time.