Disclosure: We received a media rate for the two nights, and paid for our own meals and activities.
My family enjoys taking a family road trip each year right after Christmas, and this year, we decided to head over to the Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania (located in the Pocono Mountains, not too far from the NY border). Although this location is definitely more convenient for those living in PA, NY, and NJ, it wasn’t too bad for us to drive to. From our home west of Boston, it took about 5 hours to drive to the Great Wolf Lodge Poconos. (Note – there’s now a Great Wolf Lodge New England that is closer to my home).
Review: Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania, A Poconos Indoor Water Park
The Great Wolf Lodge is a chain with locations throughout North America in the United States and Canada. I visited the Williamsburg, Virginia location last year when on the Virginia Family Fun and Food media trip, and knew my kids would love it. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically very busy, and the lodge was completely occupied while we were there. I thought the hotel did a great job of managing the crowds well though – we never felt overcrowded or cramped.
When you first arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, you have the option to either self park or valet for an additional fee. We arrived during the start of a snow storm, so it was definitely busy at the front of the hotel. We didn’t require luggage assistance, but it was available. Although we were there before check-in time, our suite was ready, so we were able to get to our room right away.
Upon check-in, you can choose to purchase the bundled packages if you want to do anything beyond the water park (which is included in the room rate). I added the Paw Pass for each of my kids, which cost about $65 each and included a MagiQuest wand, activation of the wand, tokens for the arcade, a candy cup from the gift shop, a game of bowling, a plush toy with outfit, and Story Explorers. Although we may not have done all of these things without the pass, it was definitely a great deal.
Because it was snowing when we arrived, we didn’t even consider leaving the lodge for dinner. Usually, there is both an a la carte and buffet option for dinner, however, because it was so crowded, they were only offering the buffet. I didn’t read great things about the buffet online, but we were pleasantly surprised. There were lots of great options – including some food that the kids really enjoyed.
Attractions at the Great Wolf Lodge Pennsylvania
Obviously, the indoor water park is the big draw here, and it doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s clean, well staffed, and lots of fun for kids of all ages. Mine weren’t able to go on all of the water slides (they are both under 48 inches), but were able to go on several of the larger slides with us and on all of the smaller slides alone. There’s also a lazy river, a wave pool, a splash structure, and an activity pool (with basketball hoops). The whole water park is heated to 84 degrees at all times, and the water is nice and warm. A snack counter, bar, and store are all open to guests of the water park, and you could easily spend the entire day just at the water park. However, to visit the water park, you must be a guest of the hotel.
My kids also really enjoyed MagiQuest, which is an interactive game at resort. To play, you purchase a wand and pay for activation, then head to the electronic trees to sign up for a quest. Most of the game takes place over four wings located across two floors of the hotel, and while we played we saw kids of all ages – from about 4 to 18. My kids were obsessed with the game and wanted to stay longer at the hotel just so they could continue playing.
We also played Story Explorers, which is similar to MagiQuest but geared to younger kids. My kids enjoyed following the story, and loved the little personalized books they got at the end, but it’s definitely more appropriate for younger guests. The Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania also has an arcade, indoor mini golf, mini bowling alley, and a kids’ spa.
In the evenings, the Great Wolf Lodge offers a pajama story time in the lobby by the clock tower. First, the clock tower animatric characters tell a story, then a Great Wolf Lodge staff member reads a story to the children. The hotel also offers Wolf Walks, where kids are given a tour of the hotel and educated about wolfs.
Food at the Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania
The Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania offers a Starbucks, two restaurants, a snack bar (in the water park), a pizza takeout window, and a sweets shop, all onsite. We ate all of our meals there, and while it isn’t the cheapest option, it’s definitely the most convenient. I was thrilled to have the full service Starbucks available for my morning beverage (you can also brew your own in-room coffee).
The Rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania
There are over 400 suites at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos, which several different sizes and styles. We had a standard family suite, which included two queen beds, a pull-out couch, refrigerator, and microwave – all in one room. There are some really cool suites too – like the Wolf Den, which includes a little cabin in the main room for the kids to sleep in. There’s a small table in the room too, so there definitely is room if you choose to order the takeout pizza.
You can also read this post to learn more about what to bring to the Great Wolf Lodge.