This last weekend we went on the “South” leg of our series of mini trips and visited Great Wolf Lodge in Washington State. This was actually our second trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We visited for the first time back in May and had a great time. When we returned we received an email with a code for 30% off another stay plus a $30 resort credit if we booked another stay before the end of the year. Well, it was too good of an offer to pass up and since November is usually a pretty wet and cold month here in British Columbia, we decided it would be a great time to go.
We hit the road in the morning and with the plan of arriving at the hotel at about 1pm. That almost worked. Since we had been there once before, I made the mistake of assuming I’d remember which exit to take to get there. That didn’t go so well. Our first glimpse of the lodge was from the freeway as we zoomed past at 70 mph. And of course this was the one stretch of the I5 where it’s six miles to the next exit. So, we made a rather long and annoying loop down to the next exit and back. So if you ever go to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound Washington, just remember the number 88. That’s the exit you want. There’s not a whole lot to see in the six miles after that exit.
But, anyway, we arrived at about 1:30 and it turned out that our detour didn’t matter that much since our room wasn’t ready anyway. You’re allowed to use the water park after 1pm on your arrival day, so I guess we could’ve dug out the swimsuits and headed in, but we didn’t feel like changing and getting wet without access to our room, so we decided to check out the other big attraction at the resort, the Magiquest game.
Now, if you’ve ever been to a Great Wolf Lodge location, it’s pretty hard to miss the kids running all over the place, waving wands at screens, crystals and treasure chests, going up and down stairs and slamming doors all hours of the day and evening. I had assumed that at age four and five, my kids wouldn’t be interested in playing the game when we went last spring, but I had underestimated the influence of hundreds of kids with wands and fun looking interactive features scattered all over the hotel. The had started asking for wands of their own as soon as we got there and we had placated them by saying that “next time” we’d try the game.
Well, this trip was next time, and I have to admit, I was quite curious about how it all would work. My son ended up choosing to not get a wand. Well, actually, we stopped at the Lego Store on the way down and he decided he’d rather have a new set than a wand. It actually worked out well for us since one wand and one game for the family was about right for the age the kids are now.
Here’s how it works; you go to the Magiquest shop in the main lobby and pick out a wand. Each wand is between $15.99 and $17.99 with the cool and/or sparkly ones that the kids go for first being the most expensive, of course. You can also choose a “topper” for your wand that give you extra powers such as healing, wisdom, dragon fighting, etc. for about $16 each as well. These aren’t necessary to play the basic game so we skipped them for now.
Then, in order to activate the wand, you need to purchase a game. We chose the Magiquest game, which cost $14.99. We were given a booklet that explains the rules and shows the ten quests you need to complete to collect “runes”. Once all ten are collected you can choose a quest, such as defeating a dragon or rescuing some pixies and you use the runes you collected to complete the quest. The staff were really good about explaining the rules to clueless folks like me and told us that the Magiquest game usually took 4-6 hours total to complete.
Besides Magiquest, you can also choose Shadowquest for 14.99 or Compass Quest for 15.99. This made it a bit confusing at the beginning since there are elements from all three games mixed together and scattered all over the hotel, but eventually we got the hang of it. To start each quest, we needed to go to a screen or portal, point the wand at the screen and choose a new quest. A wizard would give you a list of the things you needed to collect to complete the quest and off you’d go.
Each quest had 5-8 things to find and you’d collect them by pointing your wand at the picture, chest, crystal, etc. When you had all the things on the list, you’d visit another screen, point the wand at it and receive a message. We ended up completing five of the ten quests on our game with about two hours of playing time, but we were told that the game would be saved on the wand and we could bring it back to complete the game the next time we visited.
So was it worth it? Well, $32 was a lot to spend for a plastic wand and a couple of hours of waving it around. I’m glad we only got the one wand. If we had bought wands for both kids we would’ve had to have purchased two games and that would have been a bit pointless. As it was, my four year old son was quite happy to wave his sister’s wand around a bit and make a few things light up without having one of his own.
At nearly six, my daughter did seem to enjoy playing, but she wasn’t old enough to read the booklet or follow the clues on her own. My husband and I were the ones who did most of the playing, with her just waving the wand where we told her to. It was a fun family activity, though, even if the parents were the ones doing most of it.
But for older kids it looked like an amazing activity. Everywhere you looked there were groups of older kids running around and playing the games. There were a lot of kids playing as a team and it was neat to see how older kids stopped to help my daughter on several occasions. It was a bit crowded in some areas and we had to wait a few times to get our turn at a station, but for the most part the activity seemed to be fairly well spread out.
Overall, I’m glad we had a chance to try out the Magiquest game at Great Wolf Lodge. The wand makes a great souvenir and I’m hoping that we can return to finish the game sometime in the future. For kids who love gaming, it would be a great enhancement to an already great family vacation.