When you come back after a night you feel like you were gone a week! That is how I feel after visiting Great Wolf Lodge! Having visited several times I wanted to share stories, tips and hacks all in one place for you!
We will be staying again this month and I will be live and have some follow up photos and postings so stay tuned all month!
Our May 2019 Birthday Experience
Several weeks ago, Anthony came to me and asked if he could have an experience for his 11th birthday in May.
He said “…I have a lot of stuff and every year I have a big party with all of my friends. This year I just want to take a few friends to Great Wolf Lodge instead of presents or a big party…. I just want the experience…”
So at age 11 he gets that experience. We have a room that allows 6 people so my son, husband and I leaves 3 friends Anthony can invite and he immediately knew which 3 friends. Now I had the task of talking other children’s parents to trust me with their child for 2 days at the busy water park. They know us and trust us so there are 4 boys anxiously waiting for their fun weekend.
Booking your stay
When I am planning a Great Wold Lodge trip the first place I look is Groupon. Often times Groupon has great deals on packages. No luck?
Head to the website and make sure you are on their email list so you get notified of special rates. The best time to go is a weekday because it is cheaper and sometimes a little quieter. The weekends will always cost more, but so far I have gone during school year times so I don’t stay on weekdays.
When you are looking at rooms you will notice it may say – sleeps 4 or #. But, make sure you check the bottom of the description because the maximum occupancy is typically higher meaning that’s how many bracelets you can get per room. I have a room with 2 beds that says sleeps 4, however it has a sleeper sofa and in the description says that sleeps 2 and maximum guests allowed states 6! Everyone needs a bracelet to get into the water park and they do check everyone every time!
What is included with your room
When you book your room you get standard room amenities and your bracelet into the water park. Unless, there are perks or packages that came with your stay, a room means sleep and water park only. It also means you can participate in a few ‘free’ entertainment like story time/games at night downstairs and some venues have morning wake up shows.
When you enter Great Wold Lodge you will see so many extra things to do. There are kids running around with wands playing a scavenger game, there are arcades, gift shops, restaurants, Build A Bear and our GWL has an outdoor ropes course, indoor mini golf, mining station, ice cream parlor, candy store, buffet and restaurant (and a Starbucks too)! Those are all an extra cost, but I will tell you below the best way to afford them all!
When you stay at Great Wolf Lodge your room is guaranteed by 4pm and checkout is 11am, but……
On the day of arrival you can check in at 1pm, get your wristbands (those bands also double as your room key to scan) and enjoy the park. Once your room is ready you will get a text with your room number and someone can run to the car, grab the luggage and head up. No need to wait until after 4pm to start playing or to stand back in line at the lobby. When you check out by 11 you have no room access but are able to stay through closing (hours vary).
Packing for Great Wolf Lodge
Above I told you that you can check in at 1pm and start playing, but you may not have your room for a few more hours. Here is where how you pack will save you so much frustration.
First, you can bring your own food (meals) and a cooler. We also have ordered Pizza (our Dominoes delivers to the lobby) and they do not mind at GWL! You are free to eat how you wish just as in any hotel.
Here is how I pack:
- Suitcase (for pajamas, toiletries, next day clothing)
- Water bag. This is what you will grab to have with you because you have no room yet. In this bag you will want small snacks, diapering essentials, goggles, wipes, swimwear, phone charger and swim vests (anything you need on hand for a day at an indoor ‘park’. The parking lots are huge and you could get stuck parking a ways out so have a bag to grab and take because going back and forth will be a huge pain!
- Have the kids fed a lunch before arriving! Trust me-they walk inside and absorb so much energy you will never get them to stop and eat, so have them fed a lunch! Bring a snack or 2 in your park bag. They’ll work an appetite up by dinner.
- Cooler. The food isn’t cheap at GWL but is very convenient and you get tired fast! So, if money is no issue and you’d rather have the convenience all of your meals can be covered with great variety just fine inside. However, you can bring anything you need and because your food can sit in the car waiting for a room make sure you have plenty of ice on your cold foods. I typically bring sandwich makings for next day lunch, fruit and donuts for morning, order pizza for dinner. I have even had friends bring a crock pot, throw food like mac n cheese and let it cook and it is ready by dinner time.
- Have the kids dressed to swim. The changing areas are hectic and you only want to carry around so much. Before leaving home and after some lunch, get them in swim clothes and flip flops then leave for GWL.
Once you get the text that your room is ready they have plenty of carts to grab and go get all of your other stuff for the room!
Avoid being Nickel and Dimed
Earlier I told you there is plenty of other fun indoor activities that all cost extra. Here is the best way to experience it because the kids WILL have to walk by all these games and venues between the water park and room so be prepared!
Wolf, Pup and Paw Passes
As a guest you have passes available to purchase that bundle the ‘other’ activities into one savings. The Wolf Pass is the largest pass with access to about every attraction. The Pup Passes and Paw Passes have several attractions and you can choose the one that best fits your child’s age. Typically the Paw Pass is great for the older child/tween and the Pup Pass will have the little kiddie events included. Activities included depends on location and season. Typically they run around $44-$59 and if you were to do the math on what is included it is a huge savings!
I love using the passes because it is a great way to give your kids a limit. My son could spend hours in the arcade or beg for multiple scoops of ice cream and candy cups. With a pass there is arcade credit and he gets a scoop of ice cream and candy and it is at a limit. They know this and typically just move on to the next activity on the pass when money or items are used up.
There are also ‘unseen’ add-ons available. Such add-ons for an extra fee include birthday packages (sign on room door, party supplies, food, cake, balloons).
Packages for Mom and Dad such as a Wine Down Service. Salon packages (most locations have a kids salon too with packages available).
There is a Milk and Cookies package too where a character delivers to the room for time with the children.
Ask about your locations add-ons or visit their packages online.
New this Summer
This summer there is an all-new daily escape called Summer Camp-In. In just a few weeks (runs around May 24-September 2), families can expect the following brand new programming:
- Trailblazer Challenge: Campers can win bragging rights by participating in different arts and crafts projects such as friendship bracelet making and rubber ducky decorating, as well as interactive games including family trivia and corn hole challenges
- S’mores: A special s’mores dessert bar will be featured, served up by the resort’s very own culinary experts — s’moreliers
- Pool parties: Complete with DJs, refreshments, limbo, rubber duck races, corn hole toss and a conga line
- Camp Themed Guestrooms: Everything from pennant bunting and yellow gingham bed scarves to actual in-room tents and campfire lanterns
- Campfire Ceremony: Wind down with family by a cracking fire with singing, face painting, s’mores, story-swapping, character shows and Story Time. Complete with a DJ-led dance party under the stars, guest can linger longer in the summer
- Character Breakfast: Think camp counselor-led songs and dances and napkin twirling complete with Wiley and friends circulating throughout the breakfast for photos and autographs
- BBQ: Mouthwatering BBQ anchors dinner menus at the resort’s main restaurant
I think that is all I can give you for now! Stay tuned as we visit and post more experiences from the Grand Mound, Wa location (not in time for Summer Camp to start sadly).