Six reasons to love Great Wolf Lodge (plus Great Wolf Lodge tips!)

Our family thinks the Great Wolf Lodge offers the perfect antidote to dreary winter and spring days, making it an ideal location for an easy family getaway! If you’re on the fence, we have six reasons to love this family-friendly resort chain, plus Great Wolf Lodge tips you need right now!

Read our full review of our experiences at the Grand Mound, WA Great Wolf Lodge location.

1. Great Wolf is the comfort food of family travel. At Pit Stops for Kids, we’re all about adventurous and educational travel. We advocate for getting kids out of their comfort zone, provide tips on how to make travel days run smoother, and offer reviews on off-the-beaten-path destinations like national parks and even yurt camping. That’s all well and good, but sometimes, you just want an easy getaway that’s all about the FUN. That’s what Great Wolf is: kid-friendly, parent-approved, no-brainer (or planner) FUN.

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2. Kids get their exercise! Until you’ve climbed four flights of stairs and back down again eight times in ten minutes while waving a wand at various wall fixtures, you haven’t had a true cardio workout. We loved Great Wolf’s MagiQuest game so much, our kids spent half their stay completing quests. The other half was spent swimming in the wave pool and climbing the stairs to the water slides!

Plus, Great Wolf Lodge locations include ‘dry’ areas, such as the ropes course at the New England location, perfect for kids less sure about the water play activities or those who just need to dry out (but don’t want to play the MagiQuest game…more on that in a minute). There’s also a fun laser course, which, instead of tag, is more of an obstacle course, where kids avoid brightly colored lasers. Channel your inner spy and try it out! Also on offer: mini golf, though be advised: you’ll need to pay extra for this activity.

We wish GWL (across the brand) would charge one room rate and make all activities all inclusive, but until that time, come prepared for some activity costs on-site.

3. Outside food and drinks are not only allowed, but encouraged. Hallelujah! Suites have both fridges and microwaves, making it easy to put together simple meals for your family. We always save money eating breakfast and snacks in our room. And outside food is permitted in the water park, too: go ahead and bring an entire cooler! To save money on lunch and stay hydrated all day, we bring in our own drinks.

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4. The staff is friendly and helpful! And I mean very helpful. Disney helpful. From check-in to check-out, ‘Pack Members’ are on-hand to answer questions, point guests in various directions, and promote safety both in the water park and out. The MagiQuest staff is especially courteous, especially, in our opinion, at the Grand Mound Washington location, always walking the four bottom floors ready to assist any kids who need a hint on the game. The water park’s life guards (at every location) seem to be everywhere; when my son fell and skinned his knee at the New England location, two were on-hand with a band-aid and a smile before I could even get out of the water.

5. Families are accommodated. Well, of course they’re accommodated, Great Wolf is a hotel, after all, but I of course mean this in the greater sense! I love the extra room (literally) Great Wolf suites provide, the options for families of five (and larger), and the fact that throughout the resort, there’s something for everyone. Young kids love the Clock Tower sing-along every evening and can get some much needed quiet time in the Cub Club, where there’s always crafts, toys, and games just for them. Older kids can have the run of Gr8Space (12 and up) and the Northern Lights Arcade. For moms (and girls, too), you can’t beat the full spa. (See a full list of activities by age.)

Arriving early? Don’t worry about your room not being ready; just check in, get your wrist bands (these serve as room key and water park pass), change into swim suits in the locker rooms, and hit the slides. Same goes for the day you leave: guests have full use of the resort (water park, MagiQuest, Gr8Space and more) until 9 pm the day of check out, allowing for nearly a full additional day of fun! Go ahead and stay all day, then put the kids in pajamas for the drive home!

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6. Water safety is Priority #1! As a family travel expert, I’ve experienced many family resorts with my kids, and can sum up Great Wolf Lodge’s water park safety measures in one word: impressive. During our recent stay at the Grand Mound location, we enjoyed the water park under the supervision of literally hundreds of lifeguards during our three days at the resort, and observed only professional, polite, and friendly interactions with guests. Guards manned (and womaned) their stations with diligence, rotated responsibilities on a frequent and regular schedule, and enforced rules with confidence.

I could list stats all day long, but offer a visual instead: count how many times a lifeguard passes in front of my camera as I take a 30 second video of my son.

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Now, as promised: Great Wolf Lodge Tips!

  • Book midweek or on non-holiday weekends to get those coveted ‘under $199/night’ deals. Yes, they still exist!
  • Skip the packages that include wands or meals…they’re usually ‘padded’ with fairly useless stuff like plush animals and water shoes (aka, things you weren’t intending to buy). Yeah, you won’t get away with not buying wands, but a la carte is the way to go here.
  • Don’t try to do it all at GWL: some kids will want to spend more time in the ‘dry’ play area than in the waterpark, and there’s rarely time for the laser game, dance party, creation station, themed rooms, bowling, mini golf, the ropes course, and MagiQuest.
  • Remember that no ‘lap sitting’ is allowed on the slides (so kids will have to muster their own courage and ride without a parent). Also, height restrictions are enforced, so prep your younger kids ahead of time, letting them know what they can and can’t ride.
  • U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets are permitted (and can be borrowed free of charge on-site), but no other floatation device or toy may be used in any part of the water park. Same goes for snorkels and flippers; leave them at home…it’s less to pack!
  • Consider eating off-site if the weather cooperates. Great Wolf Lodge dining is pretty cookie-cutter, and expensive to boot. We bring our own breakfast (easy to do thanks to fridges and microwaves) and eat outside the resort at least once during our stay. It’s a good way to see the light of day!

Do you have Great Wolf Lodge tips? Share them in the comments!

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

Comments

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Comments

  1. Wow! This looks like so much fun! I agree with you…it’s always nice to plan educational trips, but sometimes a trip to a place like this is much more relaxing.

  2. We haven’t been to a Great Wolf Lodge, but we have been to another indoor waterpark and had an absolute blast. Living in FL, I never thought that it was something we would do! We stopped at one as a pitstop on a two week road trip and it was one of our favorite parts!

  3. we just got back from great wolf lodge (traverse city) – it’s one of our VERY favorite places. great list!

  4. We recently took our sons to their first trip to Great Wolf. Awesome. They absolutely loved it. I was concerned, because my younger son is Autistic. The staff was super understanding and helpful. Can’t wait to go back. By the way, the Grand Mound location had a Pizza Hut express inside, and their prices were very reasonable.

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