Before Booking Your Great Wolf Lodge Vacation, Read This.
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Looking to plan a vacation?
If you’re looking for a fun, family vacation that everyone will enjoy, consider planning a trip to one of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts! Even better, they often offer deals to help you save.
Everyone is sure to enjoy the fun water park, as well as staying in a lodge filled with lots of activities for the whole family – including arcades, spas, fitness rooms, specialty restaurants, and children’s activity areas with yoga and bowling.
Before booking your trip and planning your stay, here are a few helpful tips on how to get the best deals, along with personal experiences/quotes from Hip2Save sidekicks!
1. Save BIG with package deals.
You can often find deals on Groupon, Zulily, and even on the Great Wolf Lodge website for huge savings! If you can book at least 60 days in advance, you can save up to 50% on a three or more night stay.
Keep in mind that additional taxes and fees may apply in order to provide additional services that are often charged individually by other resorts. This fee covers services such as wireless internet, self-parking, fitness center access, in-room coffee and two bottles of water, life jackets and towels in the water park, access to fax, wolf ears, local phone calls, and a concierge service.
“Booking early and booking during weekdays if possible saves the most money. Make sure to get on their mailing list as I have seen some of the best promotions come directly from them rather than Groupon, etc. We stayed for $99/night with one of their emails. We didn’t get a theme room but we did get the big family suite. I mean $99/night is what you’d pay at Holiday Inn, right?!”
2. Enjoy the water park for FREE on check-in day.
Consider driving to the resort in your swimsuits as you can gain access to the water park as early as 1 PM on the day of check-in and enjoy the water park until closing time on the day of check out (usually around 9 PM). You can check-in to your room starting at 4 PM and must check out by 11 AM on check-out day. That means you can essentially enjoy two full days in the water park for just a one-night stay!
If you plan on staying until the water park closes on your check-out day, be sure to be out of your room by 11 AM and store your luggage at the front desk or in your car. It would also be very helpful to pack a smaller bag with a change of clothes that you can take into the water park and store inside their lockers (available for rent). You can also use their showers and dryers inside the water park.
“We love that they let you check in early. Arrival was supposed to be 3 PM, but we arrived at 11 AM on a Monday and they got us right into a room. We got to spend most of the day at the park, plus you can stay at the water park all day after checkout, too.”
3. Don’t pack life jackets or beach towels.
Don’t bother packing extra beach or bath towels as both are provided by the water park. However, you may want to bring a swimsuit cover-up as the beach towels must stay in the water park area (and bath towels must stay in your suite).
Also, Coast Guard-approved life jackets are available in a variety of sizes so you won’t need to bring your own unless you want to (inflatables are also not allowed).
“Safety vests and towels are available for all guests with no limits! Seating in the water park is on a first come first serve basis. They also have an area for infants/younger kids to enjoy and parents are encouraged to go in and play with them. The indoor wave pool has 3 different settings, calm, medium (which was great for the kids to kick and float around), and a higher setting which was a bit much for 3 and 5 year olds on their own, even with puddle jumpers.”
4. Military & first responders get discounts.
Great Wolf Lodge offers a 30% off discount to all qualifying military and first responder families through their Howling Heroes program. Note that a valid ID must be presented at check-in and you must apply promo code HEROES at checkout when making an online reservation.
“Thank you Great Wolf Lodge for offering discounts for military and first responders!”
5. Know everything there is to do.
All resorts offer a variety of games, attractions, and activities for your family to enjoy during your stay. Be sure to ask for board games from the front desk as it is a great way to unwind whenever everyone is tired and just wanting to relax in your room.
You can explore the lodge playing MagiQuest or ShadowQuest (an interactive adventure game), get pampered at Scooops Kid Spa (or the Elements Spa Salon for adults and teens), play games at the Northern Lights Arcade, visit the Iron Horse Fitness Center (with cardio & weight training equipment, flat-screen TVs, and towel service), and even attend a nightly Story Time and lobby show in your PJs.
“There are lots of free things to do – activities like bingo, dancing with bubbles, etc. are going on in the lobby quite frequently. Lots of them are geared toward younger kids in the 3-6 range.”
6. Bring food & snacks from home.
You are welcome to bring your own coolers to Great Wolf Lodge but they are not allowed in the water park area. Since rooms do have microwaves and mini fridges, you can easily save money by having a supply of snacks and drinks in your room.
If you’d rather just eat at one of the on-site restaurants, one of the best options for feeding a hungry crew is to order a large 16″ pizza with toppings from Hungry as a Wolf, which costs around $14-$16, depending on your location. Bring a few 2-liter sodas with you to avoid paying for drinks and you’ll have a much more affordable dinner than eating at the restaurants.
“We never eat there because the food is too pricey. We always bring a huge bag of breakfast foods, snacks, sandwich fixings, etc. And we eat out for dinner. So much cheaper.”
7. Save over 30% by buying kids passes.
If your kids want to do extra activities around the resort that cost money, such as MagiQuest or ShadowQuest, playing arcade games or Moon Glow Golf, getting candy/treats, an Oliver’s Mining Co. Experience, consider getting a Paw Pass!
The Paw Pass is priced around $59.99 (may vary by location) and includes:
- Choice of MagiQuest or ShadowQuest game
- Choice of classic or colored wand, standard topper or Magi belt
- One Paw Points arcade / attractions card (20 points)
- One 12 oz. candy cup
- One single scoop of ice cream from Bear Paw Sweets
- One round of Howl at the Moon Glow Golf
- Oliver’s Mining Co. Experience (1 bag of gems)
The Wolf Pass is priced around $89.99 (may vary by location) and includes:
- One MagiQuest game
- One Compass Quest game, classic wand, standard topper, or Magi belt
- One serving of select bulk candy from Great Wolf Candy Company
- One $5.00 Paw Points game card at Northern Lights arcade
- One scoop of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop
- One round at Howl In One mini golf
- One game of bowling at our fun-sized Ten Paw Alley
- One admission to Moonstone Mine at Oliver’s Mining Co.
- One Build-A-Bear animal (outfit not included)
- One Leather Treaty name bracelet
The Pup Pass is priced around $44.99 (may vary by location) and includes the following:
- One Furry Friend from Build-A-Bear Workshop (outfit not included)
- 20 Paw Points at Northern Lights arcade
- One serving of select bulk candy from Great Wolf Candy Company
- One scoop of ice cream from Bear Paw Sweets & Eats
- One pair of select Great Wolf Lodge swim goggles
“We opted for the Paw Pass because the kids were dying to do the MagiQuest. If given the opportunity, my kids that are seven and eight would spend more time doing the MagiQuest than they would the water park. It is seriously their favorite thing. They had so much fun trying to decipher the clues and complete each mission.”
8. Print coupons and save while you’re there.
If you’re planning to purchase items in the shops and/or take advantage of their services and entertainment options, be sure to print these coupons before heading to Great Wolf Lodge. To find coupons for your region, just click on your location and add “/coupons” to the end of the URL.
“They have extras to add on – kids salon for mani/pedi, arcades, fun souvenir stores, etc. that are decently priced, especially with their coupons!”
9. Know when to avoid the crowds.
To avoid crowds, hit the water park right when it opens (usually 9 AM or 10 AM during certain seasons) and an hour before it closes (usually closes at 9 PM or 10 PM during certain seasons). The lines at the water park are usually the longest in the middle of the day, especially for popular water slides, so try to go on as many rides as you can during non-peak hours.
10. Guard your wristbands.
The Great Wolf Lodge wristband is an important part of your lodge stay as it acts as your room key and payment method, valid to use anywhere in the lodge during your stay. When you check-in, your credit card information is added to your wristband, so you’ll want to be sure and guard it carefully.
If you don’t want your kids having access to your credit card, be sure to mention this at check-in and they will get a different color wristband that will deny them access to your credit card. Whenever you leave the resort, it’s a good idea to cut or shred the wristbands so no one can access your information.
Also, if your wristband is too long, a Pack Member at the resort will clip off the tail to make it less irritating for you. Plus, in the past, wristband snips have been saved by each department and then entered in the “Great Wolf Tail Competition”.
Each little tail is collected, saved, and put in a large container as part of a monthly, spirited contest across all resort areas. The challenge is to see which department is a “cut above the rest”, and how many guests had their wristbands sized to perfection. Pretty cool!
“I loved that they had a specific wristband color based on height. This way kids that are too small for taller rides are not allowed for safety reasons.”
11. Going to California? Pair your trip with Disneyland.
For instance, you can save up to $500 on your stay at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim, CA and they’ll bundle in Disneyland Resort tickets. Plus, Great Wolf Lodge also provides a shuttle to and from Disneyland for its guests.
12. Take advantage of a free Shutterfly photo book.
As one of Great Wolf Lodge’s partners, Shutterfly offers guests a promo code for a FREE 20-page 8×8 hardcover Photo Book ($29.99 value)! Whenever you get to your room, look for a Shutterfly promotional card near a sample photo book with a unique promo code to redeem your offer.
“We love Shutterfly Photo Books, so this was a great and frugal way to cherish all the fun memories we had at Great Wolf Lodge!”
13. Have food allergies? No worries!
If you or a family member has food allergies, you may be happy to know that Great Wolf Lodge takes food allergies very seriously and will do everything to accommodate your needs. The resort’s chef will personally come out and talk with you and discuss your needs for a gluten-free menu.