Great Wolf Lodge, Bloomington, MN
Service: 1 out of 5
Cleanliness: 3 out of 5
Food: 3 out of 5
Amenities: 5 out of 5
Location: 3 out of 5
Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, MN, located down the street from the Mall of America, is a family oriented resort featuring an indoor water park and a wide variety of kid's activities. If it's too cold outside to swim in a backyard pool, but the kids still need to be worn out for a while, this is your place. If you're looking for a quiet, peaceful, luxurious experience, this is the exact opposite.
We stayed the night of Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019. It was the height of spring break with a lot of kids out of school, and that defiantly made the hotel busier.
Check out my video review below and my detailed review and pictures after.
This is why you're staying here. Everything else is secondary. Great Wolf Lodge is known for their indoor waterparks, and that's the main attraction. Their water park has 3 large inner tube ridden water slides, a body slide, a family raft slide, wave pool, kids water play park, sports pools, and a lazy river. Defiantly enough to keep the kids busy for hours. There were many, many pool chairs and tables with chairs around the bar area in the center.
Outside of the water park area, there were a variety of dry activities to keep the kids going. On the first and second floors there is an arcade, rock climbing wall, gold panning stream, ropes corse, bowling alley, and a Magic Quest wand game that takes you on an adventure through the public areas.
The hotel also offers a schedule of additional activities such as nightly story time, character greetings, and arts and crafts.
When we entered the lobby, we were greeted by a line of people waiting to check in. Desk agents were at the far corners of the desk, with no one in the center. Our agent said very little while getting us registered. When I asked to change my credit card on the reservation, she asked if she could just use the card on file because it was easier. She gave us our wristbands (keys) and sent us on our way with no directions on how to find our room or an elevator. She did give my niece a cute wolf ear head band, but every kid got those.
For dinner, we ordered food from their counter service pizza and wings restaurant. I called ahead from the room to place my order. On my first attempt, the phone rang for a few minutes, went to a recorded message, then hung up. On second attempt, I got a live person who asked to put me on hold, then placed the phone on the counter, allowing me to listen to her finish an order and deliver food to someone. When she picked up the phone, she took my order then said my food would be ready in 5 minutes. I went down to the restaurant soon after and let the woman behind the counter (who was also the person taking the orders) know I was there and my room number. She said "Oh, good, you came down. I forgot to write down your order or room number, but I figured you would be down soon". When was my food was finished (about 10 minutes later) they swore it wasn't mine. (I was the only one waiting). After some discussion, they agreed it was my food and I was on my way.
In the water park, the woman working the towel hut was OVER EVERYTHING! She argued with people about how many towels they had, she blamed her co-workers for not toweling correctly, she looked upset when anyone asked for or returned a towel, and overall seemed to hate her life. To make things more fun, there was also a small gift shop next to the towel hut that she was in charge of too. She refused to take her change out of her cash bag, and everyone was paying cash. Each time she had to make change, it took a few minutes for her to dig through her cash bag to find what she needed. The cash register had an unused cash drawer.
There were a few service bright spots that kept them from getting a zero.
The bar tender at the bar in the center of the water park was very polite and did his best to start a conversation over the deafening roar of the water park.
At the Ben and Jerry's, the women working the ice cream counter did a great job being polite and holding their composure with some indecisive customers and weird requests, including a mom that didn't want the pre packaged pint of ice cream they had on the shelf, she wanted a new pint hand packed so she could watch the ice cream go in the bucket.
For being a family resort, it was cleaner than expected.
Our room had little things here and there that needed attention. There was scotch tape on the living room wall, probably from party decorations. There were red cool aid stains on the carpet near the bunk bed, and there were brown spots on the bathroom wall.
In the public area, the staff did their best to contain the ever expanding chaos. Were the kids activities perfectly clean? No. But I think they did the best they could given how busy the hotel was. They tried.
We ate at "Hungry as the Wolf," which serves pizza, pasta, salad, and wings, "Buckets," which serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries, Ben & Jerry's for ice creme. and Dunkin Donuts in the morning. They also had a table service restaurant off the lobby that served breakfast and dinner and offered a buffet on select days. Overall, everything was about what you expect from restaurants focused on kid food.
At Hungry as the Wolf, we order a pepperoni pizza, chicken wings, and a family caesar salad. The hotel has no room service food, but you can call your order in advance, which we did. This ultimately didn't matter as they didn't start our order until I got to the counter. Our pizza was decent, with large pepperonis. The chicken wings were just that. Plain oven baked chicken wings. No options for any sauce or flavor on them, but we did have a choice of ranch or hot sauce to dip them in. They were out of family sized salads, so they gave us two regular salads. The lettuce was crisp, the salad was good.
Our Buckets hamburger, hot dog, and fries were fine. Nothing special, but not bad. They do have crinkle fries, which was a plus.
Ben & Jerry's and Dunkin' Donuts were pretty standard and straight forward, offering exactly what you would expect from each.
The lodge is located between the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and the Mall of America. It offers a shuttle to neither and it's not close enough to walk to anything other than a few nearby hotels. It's a quick drive to Ikea or the Mall of America and about a 20 minute drive to downtown Minneapolis. It's closest Minneapolis Light Rail station is at the Mall of America. There aren't any restaurants to walk to from the hotel, but there's plenty at the mall to chose from when you get tired of pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs at the lodge.
In the end, Great Wolf Lodge delivered on it's promise to have a lot to do for kids, but didn't really come through with the amenities you would expect from a standard resort. If you need a place to keep the kids busy while Mommy and Daddy soak or have a drink, this is the hotel for you. If you want a quiet, relaxing, upscale resort, head over to the JW Marriott at the Mall of America. You can see it from the lodge.