Imagine sitting in a wheelchair two stories below a huge bucket of water. By huge, I mean a bucket that holds 1,000 gallons. Then you hear the tolling of a bell up above, indicating that the bucket is about to tip over…and dump those 1,000 gallons ON YOU.
It sounds a little scary, but it’s actually one of the most exhilarating experiences at the extraordinarily wheelchair accessible Great Wolf Lodge resort and indoor water park in Concord/Charlotte, NC! I had the chance to visit this awesome place for both kids and adults as part of a family road trip from Orlando to North Carolina. I had my mom and two sons with me (ages 9 and 7), and my best friend brought her two children (ages 11 and 9) for an overnight stay.
When we arrived from Raleigh around 1pm, the resort was very busy but I was able to find a wheelchair van parking spot very easily. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but I was able to check in and bypass the main line to use to lowered portion of the front desk designated for wheelchair users. We were given wristbands that served as both water park passes and room keys that were embedded as a chip! My best friend Erin’s room was ready, so we dropped off our things there, the kids changed into their swim clothes, and we headed to the water park!
To say it’s enormous is an understatement. It has several water slides, including two that use rafts, a wave pool, a large outdoor wading pool, a regular swimming pool with an obstacle course, and a huge splash pad area that’s two stories high. But the real treat for me was getting a personal tour of all the accessible features! GWL in Concord has several manual water wheelchairs that can be used in the zero-entry wave pool, the outdoor zero-entry wading pool, and the large splash pad. There is also a pool lift outside, and you can watch a video of me using the Great Wolf Lodge indoor pool lift. When it comes time to use the restroom or change, the locker rooms have accessible stalls and showers, and the separate family restroom in the water park area also has a roll-in shower.
There’s so much more for the kids at the GWL in addition to the water park, including MagiQuest, an outdoor ropes course, a bowling alley, an arcade, and story time. Our hotel room was fantastic, as it had a separate lodge-themed bunk bed area for the boys with their own TV and a large bathroom with a comfortable roll-in shower. The queen bed was too high for me to transfer into, but as soon as I mentioned this to the staff, they sent maintenance to remove the legs from the bed and lower it to a comfortable level. We enjoyed dinner at the sit-down restaurant and breakfast at the fantastic buffet, where it was very easy for me to reach all the offerings from my Pride Mobility Go Chair.
Easily the best and most notable feature of the GWL in Concord was the outstanding customer service. Every member of the staff we came across was so friendly and helpful, and in many cases anticipated our needs. The commitment to safety was very clear with an abundance of lifeguards who take their jobs very seriously. The commitment to guests with disabilities was also very clear, and the staff members who spoke with me were very eager to get my feedback in order to make any improvements to accessibility that were possible.
It can be very challenging to travel with kids as a wheelchair mom, so I can’t adequately tell you what an amazing experience it is to be in a place where you can experience so much with your children right next to you. The freedom of floating in a swimming pool and the thrill of getting splashed and rolling through squirting water really brings out the kid in you, and I’m so happy Great Wolf Lodge was able to provide me with that magical experience.
Would you like to visit Great Wolf Lodge? Please visit my accessible travel agency’s website, Spin the Globe / Travel, and I can help you get there!