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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge is popular with guests.
Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge is popular with guests.
Lots of sweet, family moments on site.
Lots of sweet, family moments on site.
The real gingerbread house is amazing.
The real gingerbread house is amazing.
Santa arrives in the rain by reindeer.
Santa arrives in the rain by reindeer.
Plenty of holiday entertainment with mechanical people and animals.
Plenty of holiday entertainment with mechanical people and animals.
Mail a letter to Santa and receive a response.
Mail a letter to Santa and receive a response.
Decadently delicious hot chocolate.
Decadently delicious hot chocolate.
The lobby sparkles with thousands of lights.
The lobby sparkles with thousands of lights.
The rest of the water park gets in the spirit, too.
The rest of the water park gets in the spirit, too.
Great Wolf Lodge is Native American themed.
Great Wolf Lodge is Native American themed.
The bar and restaurant offers a fun, Up North-y environment.
The bar and restaurant offers a fun, Up North-y environment.
The slide offerings range from mellow to thrilling.
The slide offerings range from mellow to thrilling.
The wave pool gets pretty wild.
The wave pool gets pretty wild.
Adult beverages make excellent water park survival devices.
Adult beverages make excellent water park survival devices.

Great Wolf Lodge offers great holiday escape

This weekend my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells to witness the opening of Snowland, located in the water park's lobby throughout the month of December and stuffed with holiday entertainment and events.

This weekend's inaugural events included the lighting of a 24-foot Christmas tree, the ribbon-cutting of the life-sized gingerbread house, the arrival of Santa via real reindeer, a holiday chorus, storytelling and "snow" periodically falling inside the lobby.

The gingerbread house impressed us the most. It's made from 100 pounds of gingerbread, 200 pounds of frosting, 300 Pop Tarts, 40 pounds of sprinkles and 75 pounds of candy.

For $20 over the cost of the meal, up to six guests can dine inside the gingerbread house. The $20 goes to the Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Santa will return to Snowland on Saturday, Dec. 8, 15 and 22 between 5 and 7 p.m.

Snowland will also host a magical knights dance and pixie party on Saturday, Dec. 22; a frosted holiday cookie party on Sunday, Dec. 23 and a snowball dance party on New Year's Eve.

We found Great Wolf Lodge – which has three water park areas – to offer a wide range of water thrills, from a very relaxing lazy river to the howling tornado which scared the sugarplums out of us the first time we went down it. (And then we proceeded to go on it about a half dozen more times.)

Whether we were partaking in holiday-related activities or not, the warm, festive vibe resonated throughout our stay. It's a really fun time of year to visit and we hope to make it a family tradition.

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