It is likely by now you know about Great Wolf Lodge, especially if you live within driving distance of one. We had heard all sorts of things about Great Wolf before travelling there for the first time almost 2 years ago. When we decided we wanted to go back this spring, we felt like experts. Let me share some of the things that you may not know about Great Wolf Lodge if you haven’t been there yet.
It is great for the little guys too
The first time we went to GWL we chose to leave our 1 year old at home with Grandma and take our older kids (then ages 2, 4, 6, 8). This year we made a similar choice and left our babies (4m and 1 year) at home and took just our older children. (*if you are confused, we are foster parents and have babies come and go*). It was the perfect opportunity for us to focus on our older kids and do some more ‘grown up’ activities. I am also recovering from a back injury, so I was not able to participate in the active portions of GWL, and that meant that Daddy was on slide duty with our little ones. HOWEVER, the little one’s have lots of options to keep them splashing. The Cub Paw Pool gives little ones some independence, with mom or dad close by. The Totem Towers are also smaller slides open to all ages that even little ones will love. My youngest was only 2 when he was climbing the stairs with his big brothers and I was meeting him at the bottom.
They don’t forget the Tweens
My oldest son is 10 and is very clear that he is a TWEEN. Honestly, he loved all the slides and the wave pool, but it came as no surprise that his favourite slide was the Howlin’ Tornado. He was also the only one of my kids to choose the slide. It is a wild slide only for those 48″ and above.
The Northern Lights Arcade was another hit for him. The arcade has games for all ages and my son loved to use his Paw Points to practice his motorcycle or car racing. You never know when that skill might come in handy.
Life jackets are provided
One of the most common questions my friends have asked me since I first travelled to Great Wolf was “do I have to bring my own life jacket to Great Wolf?”. The answer is “NO”. Great Wolf supplies life jackets of all sizes and also have “puddle jumpers” for toddlers. Considering we were travelling by car with 4 kids, space is limited. The last thing we want to do is to bring unnecessary supplies. This also means that if you leave the water park for a while, your child has a nice DRY life jacket waiting when you go back in. My threenager appreciated this.
Towels are also provided
As it is clear that space is an issue on our trips, not having to pack towels is HUGE. You also don’t need to take them from your room. There are plenty of clean towels on the pool deck waiting for you. I am not sure how they do it, but most of the time the towels are WARM too! I do however recommend a cover-up of some sort, as depending on where your room is, you may have to walk through the lobby to get to the water park. If you are not comfortable wandering around in a swim suit, bringing a cover up will help you feel more comfortable.
You can bring your own food
When travelling with a large family, eating out can end up being one of the most expensive parts of the trip. At Great Wolf, there is a small fridge in each room. We stopped on our way down and picked up cereal and milk, veggies and some crackers and cheese. We chose to purchase some food onsite and offsite, but supplement with 1-2 meals a day in our room. This kept our costs down. I also knew I did not want to take my kids to restaurants when they would rather have a quick bite and get back in the pool!
Food at Great Wolf Lodge is not expensive
I think one big misnomer about GWL is having to buy food. As I mentioned above, we bought groceries and ate some meals in our room. If you choose to eat all meals at Great Wolf Lodge, yes, your bill will add up. However, I found their prices quite reasonable. We ate at Hungry as a Wolf and fed our family of 6 with two large pizzas, which cost around $30. For us, eating out for $30 is very reasonable. Even fast food can add up to that amount quickly with 4 hungry boys! They also have Starbucks onsite, which was ESSENTIAL for this mom.
You will not regret buying a refillable cup
We found out late during our first trip about their refillable cup program. They have hundreds of Coke products available to select at Hungry as a Wolf and refills are also available at Buckets Incredible Craveables. My husband’s favourite combination was Vanilla Coke Zero. You can even fill it with your favourite Ice Drink at Bear Paw Sweets & Eats. Buy a cup for around $13 and refill it for your whole stay.
MagiQuest is a blast, but make sure you take good walking shoes
The first year we went we chose not to do MagiQuest. This year, our kids begged and begged until we finally gave it a chance. I am very glad we did. It was the most popular with our middle two boys, aged 5 and 8. They needed to have an adult, as they weren’t quite ready to participate in the Quests alone. My husband had a great time and got plenty of steps in with this activity. The cost of MagiQuest is about $15 and you also need to buy at least one wand. We allowed each of the two to get their own, although they could have shared too. Wands can be brought back trip after trip, although may need new batteries to be purchased occasionally. This activity takes a significant amount of time and I recommend staying at least 3 nights if you want to do this activity. However, we only stayed two. Once you have completed MagiQuest, there is also ShadowQuest and now CompassQuest.
Two nights is okay, three is better and four is awesome
Both times we went to Great Wolf Lodge, we were only able to stay for two nights. I do not feel like we missed out, or were cut short. If you only have two days, I still encourage you to take this trip. I think most likely 3 nights is the “sweet spot” and would have loved to have a little less pressure and more time to relax without feeling like we were going to miss something.
There are rooms for all sized families
It is rare that a hotel will have rooms that fit our large family. We originally requested a Family Suite. The Family Suite would have been the bare minimum that our family would have fit in. With my oldest having autism, sharing a bed and a room with younger siblings is a challenge, but he agrees that the struggle is worth it to go on such amazing trips. We were kindly upgraded by Great Wolf when they heard we were coming and wanted to write this post. We were thrilled to hear we would be in a Kid Kabin Suite. The little ones were so excited for the bunk beds. About a week before the trip we received an email asking if we wanted to be upgraded again for just $35 a night. We jumped on the chance to stay in the Majestic Bear Suite. We (mom and dad) had our own room with a King Sized bed and my oldest two boys even got their own queen sized beds. If you are bringing Grandma and Grandpa or Auntie and Uncle, this is also a great option. The eating area was perfect for us, we ate breakfast around the counter and in the evening, we played cards. Most rooms at Great Wolf sleep between 6-8.
If you are considering a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, I cannot recommend it enough. Our boys were the ideal ages and heights this trip with my youngest 42″ and second son just at the 48″ mark. This meant that they could all go with Dad on the slides and 3 out of the 4 could go down the slides alone and I could watch at the bottom.
Disclosure, I was invited by Great Wolf Lodge to stay with them at their media rate. All thoughts are my own.
Have you been to Great Wolf? Do you have a tip for our readers?
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