Monday, August 10, 2009

Great Wolves I've Seen

Having now spent a few days at The Great Wolf Lodge -- easily one of the ten most appealing destinations of the Centralia-Great Mound metropolitan area -- I now insist that my house be outfitted with a gigantic indoor water slide and wave pool. I assume these are pretty expensive to construct and operate, so I'm going to need ideas about how to raise the necessary funds.

I would liken the Great Wolf Lodge experience to the cruise ship experience -- comparable food, extremely slow elevators, few clocks visible anywhere, and similar activities, albeit more targeted at kids. The business model seems to be to get people inside the lodge and then pluck them clean, dollar by dollar, by providing everything they need, want, or think they want, and making it oh-so-easy to charge the room for the running expenses.

Later on, mood swings permitting, I will post a few of the photos I took, but for now I'll note that the look and layout is an odd mix of the meretricious and the authentic. On the one hand, it looks like they're trying to make an ersatz Timberline Lodge: old-timey snow shoes and ski poles tacked to the walls, log cabin styling in the paneling and furnishings, and -- Timberline cannot be blamed for this -- some of the saddest and least convincing examples of the taxidermic arts on public display anywhere.

On the other hand, as you look around, you see that there is a lot of actual, honest to goodness wood and other recognizable building materials in the place -- the door to the bathroom in our suite, for example, was either solid wood or an extremely convincing simulation of solid wood, and either way, I commend the craftsmanship. The furniture throughout the place, in and out of the room, gave the same impression. The bed, plumbing fixtures, floor tiling, blankets, and window treatments showed similar quality. For a place so overloaded with kids of all ages, very little (if any) sound came through the walls, so I have to assume they've bothered to use some kind of old-fangled building material in the walls as well. This genuinely surprised me.

I would hesitate to call it a place of enduring cultural interest -- the animatronics cancel that out even if nothing else does -- but it's definitely fun and it seems to do what it sets out to do. My son wants to live there, and I miss the slides already.

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