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GREAT WATER FUN AT GREAT WOLF

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by Judy Antell

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Weather maybe, but trends don’t usually arrive here from the Midwest. The New York area finally has, however, what has long been popular in the middle of the country — a giant indoor waterpark. Great Wolf Lodge, in Scotrun, in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, has 11 water slides, a huge water playground, a water coaster, and a wave pool. Some of the huge slides burst through the building, which contains 401 rooms; it is thrilling in winter to whip through warm water outside; the only indications that you have ‘left the building’ are the cold walls, and the dark.

But anyone who has shivered through an early summer day at a water park knows that the northeast season for these venues is limited, and Great Wolf’s temperature-controlled environment would be welcome on extremely hot days, too, or in the rain. And no worries about getting a sunburn.

Great Wolf, which opened in October, has daily ‘wolf walks’, where kids learn about animals, touch animal skins and make origami wolves. The centerpiece of the huge lobby is a Clock Tower, with an animatronic show twice each evening; there is also pajama story time.

The resort has a small fitness center, and an Aveda Spa offering massage, facials, and manicures (but no hydrotherapy). If your kids tire of the water attractions, there is an arcade, where my older kids were able to play two hours of games and win a lot of prizes, for only $5. You never have to go outside — you can eat all your meals at Great Wolf, which has a buffet breakfast and snack bar, a Pizza Hut and its own Starbucks, and a snack bar inside the water park. There is an outdoor playground on site.

But there is much to explore in the area. In winter, of course, there is skiing, snowboarding and tubing at Camelback, Jack Frost and Shawnee; and in summer, Camelback transforms into Camelbeach, a giant waterpark. Other area attractions include Bushkill Falls, with hiking, mini golf and paddleboats; rafting on the Delaware with Kittatinny Canoes; or biking at the Lehigh Gorge rail-trail. If horseback riding is your thing, there are three stables nearby. There is also a giant outlet mall, The Crossings Premium Outlet, which had my teen daughters salivating.

Great Wolf is very noisy and crowded — it has been sold out almost since it opened, and unless you get to the waterpark when it opens, at 8:30am, forget about a lounge, or even a chair; we had to wait almost an hour for breakfast. And though the hotel has ‘hibernation hours’ where halls are supposed to be quiet, the walls are thin, and we could hear the baby next door crying all night. Some of the rooms have cute décor, like interior cabins with bunk beds and lots of wood. Most of the ‘suites’ don’t have separate rooms, so when one person wants to sleep, everyone has to be quiet.

Or you can leave one adult behind and sneak out for another spin on the lazy river.

—Great Wolf Lodge rates range from $279-$519/night. Only guests can use the waterpark. All rooms have microwaves and refrigerators. (800) 768-WOLF; www.greatwolflodge.com. —For more information on nearby attractions, call (800) POCONOS or go to www.800poconos.com


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