Disclosure: I’ve received media rates and complimentary stays at several Great Wolf Lodge locations throughout the years. All opinions are my own.
We love staying at the Great Wolf Lodge. With a consistent indoor water park temperature of 84 degrees, it’s a fabulous place to visit with kids, regardless of the season. Our family always loves visiting the water park when staying at the Great Wolf Lodge, but there are lots of other great activities to enjoy there as well.
Thinking of visiting one of the Great Wolf Lodge locations in the United States or Canada? This guide to staying at the Great Wolf Lodge should help you prepare for your visit.
Guide to Staying at the Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge Locations
There are currently 17 Great Wolf Lodge locations, including one in Niagara Falls, Canada (the remainder are in the United States). The resort is definitely expanding, so if there isn’t one that is convenient for you, there may be one in the works. Check their website for details of new locations.
Our family’s first visit to a Great Wolf Lodge was to the Great Wolf Lodge Pennsylvania, which was the closest location to us at the time. But now, the more recently opened Great Wolf Lodge New England is much more convenient to us in Massachusetts.
Here are the current locations:
Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina
Cincinnati/ Mason, OH
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Grand Mound, Washington
Kansas City, Kansas
Niagara Falls, Canada
Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Traverse City, Michigan
Wisconsin Dells, WI
This location is currently planned to open within the next 18 months:
Scottsdale/Salt River, Arizona
How Long Do You Need to Stay at the Great Wolf Lodge?
Guests staying at one of the 17 Great Wolf Lodge locations have access to the water park (starting at 1pm) on their arrival day and all day on their departure day (as well as any days in between). Because of that, many families find that they can stay just one night and still get their fill of the water park.
We usually stay two nights, because we also enjoy some of the other activities that the Great Wolf Lodge offers. If you do plan to start your family vacation right at 1pm, it’s a good idea to pack a small bag with swimsuits and other essentials that you can bring to the water park. You may not be able to access your room before check-in time.
Pack swimsuits and other essentials separately, and you can use the locker room at the hotel to change into them. Or, wear your swimsuits under your clothes.
Wondering what to bring with you on your trip? You can see our Great Wolf Lodge packing list here with all of the essentials you will need to have.
Day Passes at the Great Wolf Lodge
In the past, you had to be a guest of the resort to use the water park (unless you were attending a birthday party, or had a guest pass that was purchased by someone staying at the resort). So you had to plan to stay at least overnight to go to the water park.
However, now, the Great Wolf Lodge is offering day passes. These can be purchased separately, so you won’t have to stay at a Great Wolf Lodge location to be able to visit the water park.
Day passes can be purchased online or by calling. They include admission to the water park, as well as life jackets for the day. Guests under 2 are free. Lockers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and you’ll be able to purchase towels or bring your own.
Outside food isn’t permitted at the water park, but you’ll be able to buy food there.
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
The water park is obviously the highlight of any Great Wolf Lodge stay, and with good reason. There’s so much to do, and you could definitely spend all day there. Each location has a slightly different water park, but you can expect to find a good mix of slides – including some for younger kids and some more thrill-type slides.
Each water park features a signature giant bucket that dumps water on a regular interval. Chairs and lifejackets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the park offers towels (but they must be kept in the water park area and cannot be brought back to your room). The water parks also offer snack bars, so you can get some lunch and don’t have to leave and return to eat.
Great Wolf Lodge Activities
In addition to the water park, the Great Wolf Lodge offers a variety of other activities. Activities vary by resort. My kids’ favorite is MagiQuest, an interactive game where kids use a wand (purchased separately) to complete quests located throughout the resort.
In addition to the MagiQuest wand, you’ll also need to pay to activate the game for the wand each time you want to play. We’ve saved our wands from our first visit and bring them back each time so we only need to pay to activate the game. There are also some special accessories and “power-ups” you can purchase for your wand.
Although each resort is different, you’ll also find some other activities at the resort, like a ropes course, mini-golf, bowling, an arcade, and a kids’ spa. These are all offered at an additional fee, although you can purchase a Paw Pass package deal when you check-in. There’s also a storytime each night, as well as scheduled activities with the Great Wolf Lodge mascots.
Paw Pass offering vary by location, and include different activities depending on what the specific Great Wolf Lodge location offers. If you plan on doing most of these activities, it can be a great deal. Prices vary depending on what is included, and you can use the Paw Pass over your whole stay.
Great Wolf Lodge Rooms
Although you won’t spend a lot of time in your Great Wolf Lodge hotel room, they are still a great size for a family. Standard rooms include one or two queen beds, a table, a couch, a microwave, and a refrigerator. Of course, the rooms do vary a bit by location.
There are also some really fun room options, including themed rooms with a Wolf Den or Kids’ Cabin and premium rooms with lofts. Definitely check with your specific Great Wolf Lodge, however, as room options and amenities may vary.
Great Wolf Lodge Restaurants
Each Great Wolf Lodge location offers a different selection of restaurants. In my experience, the restaurants range from slightly upscale (but still casual) to takeout pizza. There’s usually an ice cream shop, a coffee shop (in the Poconos, it’s a Starbucks and in New England, it’s a Dunkin Donuts), and a pizza place.
Depending on when you visit, you may find long lines for these restaurants, so it’s always best to go earlier or later than the traditional dinner time. Because the Great Wolf Lodge isn’t all-inclusive resort, you can definitely also leave the resort for meals. We never have, however, because the food there is pretty good, and my kids never want to leave the building.
Great Wolf Lodge Holiday Events
Great Wolf Lodge Deals and Discounts
A stay at the Great Wolf Lodge isn’t cheap, but you will occasionally find some deals and discounts. I’d recommend signing up for their mailing list because you’ll occasionally receive notification of sales and/or coupons.
You can also save money by packing some of your own food, and purchasing one of the Paw Passes if you plan to do a number of activities. If your kids have already bought a wand for MagiQuest, definitely bring it rather than purchase a new one.