I just spent a few days with the family at Great Wolf Lodge. Swimming was amazing, with the slides and the waves. The arcade room felt like Las Vegas. The ropes course was a huge hit, as was the Wolf Den room with bunk beds and a private space for the kids. It was also pretty fun to see grown adults walk around with plush wolf ear headbands all day.
But on to the most important thing, the food. And for those of you who say you don’t go to a place like Great Wolf Lodge for what they have to eat, I say that you must have been born into a different family, because eating (and eating well) is a constant source of conversation in ours.
Resort: Great Wolf Lodge
Location: 150 Great Wolf Dr, Fitchburg, MA
Three stars ★★★
Review: Unfortunately I have lots of complaints about the food and service from the perspective of a celiac. In addition, I lost an entire afternoon (3 hours) to sleep while my family enjoyed the water park, as fatigue is one of my chief side effects of being glutenized.
We started off well, with Chef Jonathan being super accommodating with food choices and making us feel very “safe” about what we were eating. That was the first night.
On the second day, somehow menu items that had been offered by the chef the night before were no longer options until we pressed for them. Simple things, like gluten free mac & cheese. We were also told, once they finally agreed to make it, that it would take a half hour, not the 15 minutes we were quoted the night before. Have you ever sat with an 8-year-old a half hour at dinner to wait for her meal? Feels like days. She ended up going to the room to watch TV while we took it to go, because she couldn’t take it anymore at the table, after being exhausted from swimming.
The kids’ chicken tenders were gluten free with a dedicated fryer, which was great, but they came out overcooked and spicy, so my daughter wouldn’t eat them. In addition, the Brussel sprouts I ordered the first night straight off the menu came out with a different preparation the second night. I ordered them again because they seemed to be an antidote to the rest of the menu – greens keep my digestive tract in good order, let’s just say that – but the second time they were covered with a sauce that can only be described as “trying to make Brussel sprouts taste like candy.”
On the last day, I ordered a salad at lunch. Straight off the menu, but I mentioned (as they told me I should when I had called ahead) that I needed it made separate, not the simple gluten free preparation but “safe for celiac”. The waiter was at a loss to understand, and when the chef came he promised me one salad but then served another. I was not sure at that point if either salad was actually prepared properly, and I was very glad it was our last meal there. This was after I had already lost an afternoon to sleep, and I was hoping not to lose another one.
Then I asked the chef for a cheese quesadilla for my daughter, since the earlier chef had offered one. I was told they only had flour tortillas and hard shell corn, nothing for corn tortilla-prepared quesadillas. I asked what else my daughter could eat and was told mac & cheese (which she’d had twice), chicken tenders (which she had ordered and refused due to spiciness) and hamburgers (which she doesn’t like). Finally we ended up suggesting grilled cheese, remembering again that the earlier chef had offered it, and they made her grilled cheese. It was very disconcerting that the gluten free experience differed widely depending on “which chef you got” when you ordered.
On the plus side, there was a fridge in the room, so maybe next time (if there is one) I will do my best to minimize my restaurant contact or skip the food offerings altogether.
Kids: The only reason to go.
Note: Post updated on August 29, 2015. Great Wolf Lodge receives three of five stars on my new point system, which I have reflected in the post.