Family life

Our family Quest at Great Wolf Lodge

Tracy and her family test out MagiQuest, a medieval romp through the Niagara Falls family resort

By Tracy Chappell
Our family Quest at Great Wolf Lodge

Anna gets some pre-game advice before she begins MagiQuest

I wrote about our mini-holiday at Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, back in November. This past weekend they invited us to join their media launch of their new interactive game MagiQuest — the first of its kind in Canada. We received a fancy wand and medieval instructions in the mail so we were especially excited to make the trek back to the Falls to check out the latest offering from Great Wolf Lodge.
When we got there, we spent a couple of hours in the water park. Avery is only big enough to go on one of the big slides called The Wooly Mammoth, which lets you go down together on a four-person raft. Usually she is tucked up in my armpit, but this time she was tucked in Sean’s and I got to watch her face turn from giddy grin for the first half of the ride to sheer terror the last half. At the end when I asked her if she had fun, she exclaimed “Yes!” Regardless, that was the end of the big slides for her. However she did have a blast in the wave pool and was far more adventurous on the kiddie slides this time around. Anna, as always, was a water-loving maniac.
Then duty called, and we ventured to the dinner planned for the event, served by lovely costumed lords and ladies who played their roles to the hilt. Wands and guides (The Ancient Book of Wisdom) were distributed and we were off on our MagiQuest adventure.
In a nutshell, you have a certain quest (there are eight in all) and you have to find different magical items around the Lodge and cast your wand at them. Some are paintings that speak, treasure boxes that open and gems that glow. The technology of the wand records your progress throughout the Lodge until you’ve discovered all of the items needed to finish your specific quest.
I’m not going to lie — at first it was a little confusing. Many of us were wandering around muttering “Do you know what you’re doing?” But I blame this more on our lack of preparation before setting off to start the game. It was busy (I’m not used to going there on a weekend!), and I was just trying to keep track of the kids with Haley O while Sean did a speed-read through the guide and led the way. Luckily, the staff of medieval characters also wanders around to help in the journey.
The concept of MagiQuest is very cool, and the technology is impressive. Anna had a great time just walking around and making the walls light up and paintings talk. I’d say the game works well even at this basic level for kids Anna’s age probably up to 10, but we wondered if it could have had clever elements for older kids, like clues to figure out, or rewards (like game tokens) to earn. We might have missed this part. According to the guide, there is a lot more to this game than we were able to explore in the time we spent (and that stuff was probably over our kids’ heads anyway) — things like earning magical powers and gold to buy spells, as you climb the ranks to become Master Magi.
I think MagiQuest adds an opportunity for a fun, unique adventure at a resort that already has lots to offer families (it’s especially great for kids who have outgrown the nightly storytime). Plus, the wand is yours forever, so you can bring it every time and continue your quests — you can even buy an online version to continue the game at home. My understanding is all you need is the basic wand to play MagiQuest, but of course the gift shop has a slew of embellishments for the wand, costumes and lots more…. Be careful!
I'd be remiss if I didn't add one thing that really, really bothered me on our MagiQuest journey, especially considering my post last week on kids and self-confidence. One of the pictures the kids could cast at on the wall was a copy of Edward Robert Hughes' Midsummer Eve, a beautiful mystical picture with a woman featured prominently. If you can believe it, when a wand is cast at it, the woman speaks and says a line that includes, "Do I look fat in this?" Honestly, Haley and I couldn't believe our ears and tried to steer our kids away as fast as we could! Such a misguided message to include in a game for kids, Great Wolf Lodge — can you change it?

This article was originally published on Jan 24, 2012

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