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Great Wolf Lodge still fun for teens and tweens

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This month, our family once again visited Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio. We are a pack that loves to travel, and with our roots in Beavercreek, the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason is an easy weekend trip to satisfy us until our next adventure abroad.

Our kids are older than when I first published my Tips for Saving Money at Great Wolf Lodge and What it's Like to Work at Great Wolf Lodge, so I thought I'd check in here with some of the changes that have been made... and some advice on taking teens and tweens to GWL.

First off, our service was great. I feel like, since we last visited Great Wolf Lodge, that there has been an effort to improve customer service. As regular Walt Disney World visitors, we know what an excellent guest experience feels like. Disney trains their ‘cast members’ rigorously to be the best in customer service. I’m happy to say that we felt some of that big-league guest treatment while at Great Wolf Lodge this month. Whatever management is doing here, it’s right on-target.

For older kids (mine are 10, 12 and 15), that maybe Great Wolf Lodge had lost it's luster. Our trip was a surprise for our kiddos, with the big reveal happening via a game of hangman on the freeway. I was a bit worried that they would think that they were too old for Great Wolf Lodge, and that the big surprise would be met with groans of disappointment. But as the kids finally guessed the last clue (it was 'Dazzle Rune', a ridiculous quirk of the MagiQuest game and long-standing theatrical display among our family), they were just as gleeful as our first visit in 2008.

Of course, I brought their MagiQuest wands, even though they were a bit dusty from disuse, and I wasn’t really sure if they still worked. MagiQuest wands can get expensive, though, so I decided to take my chances just in case the kids still had interest in the game... also, I love to play MagiQuest.

Turns out, the kids were into it more than ever, but not for the chance to transform themselves into wand-waving wizards. It was for the glory. In every guest room, kids can tune-in to the MagiQuest scoreboard channel. There, you’ll see the top player’s highest gold, points, and runes accumulated for the day, week, and even year. It became my oldest son’s mission to dethrone ‘Abe Lincolns Beard’, the current gold and rune champ (and username champ, if you ask me). My son chose the name ‘Steve Holt’ (an Arrested Development reference) and set out to be on everyone’s television screens.

The other two kids followed suit, and sibling rivalry ruled for hours as they collected runes and defeated dragons. They all liked it so much that, the day after we checked out, my husband took them back to Mason for an extra day of MagiQuesting before their wands expired. I’d say MagiQuest still has an appeal for the older kids… once motivated by thwarting each other's point records. Abe Lincoln's Beard never saw them coming.

In the waterpark, my kids went for the biggest and best of all the slides. While I’m content to sail slowly down the kiddie slides at the Fort Mackenzie play area, my kids went for the Hydroplunge watercoaster, the Triple Twist, and Coyote Cannon (lovingly dubbed the toilet bowl slide). My 15-year-old son actually fell out of his tube in the Triple Twist when the tube lurched up the side of one of it's crazy domes. He wasn’t injured beyond a bump on the head, but it did scare him away from riding the Triple Twist again. Ride at your own risk!

The Slap Tail Pond wave pool is a classic… even jaded teenagers love a good wave pool. While my husband enjoyed a father’s day pampering at Element’s Spa, the kids and I lounged in the wave pool until one of them actually fell asleep in their tube and an ever-watchful lifeguard checked to see if they were okay. Hey, those waves are pretty relaxing.

Late night, we enjoyed a family game of basketball at the Chinook Cove pool. This is a large pool that had a giant snake floating in the middle of it, which has since been removed. Our family used to spend hours knocking each other off of that snake, so we were disappointed to see that it was gone. I’m hoping there is a replacement on the way, because this is one feature that my older kids would have loved. The kids did enjoy the basketball, though, I would recommend heading over there with your teens and tweens for some friendly competition.

On dry land, we tried out the new Howl at the Moon Glow Golf (view my full review), and spent probably too much money at the Northern Lights Arcade. There was a new Cub Club feature in the lobby where my oldest son and I actually colored a picture together (we turned the Great Wolf Lodge characters into Star Wars elite). We even got a balloon pirate sword to harass his little brother with. Yes, the spirit of Great Wolf Lodge got my high-schooler to color and play with balloons. Vacation success.

All-in-all, I'd say that teens and tweens can find a lot to keep them busy at Great Wolf Lodge. Though a lot of the attractions are geared toward younger kids, it isn't hard to find the fun that goes beyond that first layer of kid's stuff.

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