Texas still steals my heart every time we go back to visit. Even though I haven’t lived in Texas since I was 19, I still say that I’m “going home” when we head west. As we drive along the long highways, it all feels so familiar and peaceful. (Kind of like eating your favorite comfort food but with a lot less calories). The heat is unbearable and the humidity makes my curly hair stand on end, but I still cherish each moment when we visit. I even get that rush of adrenaline as we get closer and closer to the Texas border (although that might be because I’m so excited to get off the bumpy Louisiana roads!).
This trip we scooped up Joe’s sister Tina and her two boys and took the whole family to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas. What an experience! It is basically a casino type environment for children. I am in awe of whoever came up with this concept – this person was/is brilliant! Not only did Great Wolf Lodge figure out how to get parents to gravitate to their establishment in droves (even in a struggling economy) but they figured out how to monetize stair wells. Yes, I did just say “stair wells”. First the rooms are not inexpensive – our room slept 8 of us and was basically $800 a night for a two bedroom/two bath tiny hotel room. I should disclose that I am quite biased towards the vacation rental experience versus a hotel so forking out this kind of cash for such a small space that didn’t even have a kitchen was quite difficult! The kids absolutely loved it though and that’s what mattered. But to get back to the genius of it all…
After forking out a mortgage payment for one night, you venture downstairs and make a small car payment to purchase “wands” for the kids to play the MagiQuest. This is basically an interactive game and core genius factor of the hotel where after purchasing the wands the kids run up and down the stairwells on adventures and quests where they wave the wand at treasure chests for message and fairy’s for affirmation/hints. Did I mention that being the insanely protective parents that we are …. we ran up and down the stairs with them? Once again, to be sure that I disclose the truth and only the truth – I only lasted about an hour in the stair well each day and then gave my protective instincts a backseat to my exhausted legs. The stair wells are not air conditioned and there are dozens of children running up and down. If this blog had scratch and sniff you’d be running for the febreeze! (And we paid for this and the kids loved it! Genius!)
Next, we trekked with all four children into the indoor water park. It was enormous and kept the kids happy for hours on end. None of the adults in our group had the courage to join the kids on any of the slides but mostly because all of us are germaphobes. Even the thick odor of chlorine couldn’t get us in the water but we found a comfy table and chairs to lounge at while the kids ran from one ride to the next. Once again, the brilliance of whomever thought up this 9th wonder of the world was apparent in the fact that there was quite a well stocked bar located towards the back of the indoor water park.
A well stocked arcade and a spa specifically designed for young ladies were right outside the indoor water park and lured our children like a porch light on Halloween.
All in all this will definitely be a memory maker for the children who are fast asleep and recovering from their adventures, but our wallets will forever be scarred by the experience. The casino’s could learn a lot by visiting one of these places!