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Before Booking Your Great Wolf Lodge Vacation, Read This.

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Great Wolf Lodge slide

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.

dad and son in tube in water slide

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.

great wolf lodge

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.

giant slide and pool and girl with life vest smiling

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.

girl hugging man in service uniform

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.

young girls getting pedicures

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.

great wolf lodge entertainment

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.

food containers and coolers packed with food

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.

A Hip2Save reader also suggested ordering pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut and having it delivered to the lobby and eating it there (can’t take to your room).

Pepperoni Pizza from dominos

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.

child with dragon backpack

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)

wolf pass at great wolf lodge

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.

great wolf candy company storefront

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.

great wolf lodge front

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.

great wolf lodge vacation wristband

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.

wristbands in a jar

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.

child wearing minnie mouse ears

If you’re planning your trip to Anaheim, CA, consider checking out their packages that will allow you to save on Disneyland Resort tickets, too.

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.

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!

family enjoying pizza at great wolf lodge

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.


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Join The Discussion

Comments 40

  1. teresalynn

    It is very pricey but fun! Definitely bring your own food! The restaurants are expensive and not worth it in my opinion! Tons of add-ons but my kids spent so much time swimming, they did not miss or care about the extras that were offered. 🙂

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks so much for the helpful suggestion!

  2. al3xandra1987

    We are going next week! Thanks for posting 🙂 I booked two nights for 263 total. It’s very reasonable if you book during the week!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How exciting! You’re very welcome! Have a wonderful time!

  3. Kimberly

    If you own life jackets, bring them. Even though GWL provides them, there is no guarantee the sizes you need won’t all be in use by other guests when you want them.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks a bunch for the tip, Kimberly! Good to know!

  4. Taylor S.

    Yes!!!! We just booked a Weds/Thurs in April for $99 and those coupons are great. Thank you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awesome! You’re SO welcome!

  5. Marie

    Any tips on bringing a baby under 1 years old? I have older kids as well, and since we can’t bring the little swim seat for him, I’m wondering the best way to make this work with a wet, slippery baby body 😂😂

    • Alaina

      Maybe a baby carrier so when he is tired you can carry him around but have free hands. I know I seen a few brands make mesh ones that are water friendly too if that’s a concern

    • Lo

      Infant life vest? Think they’re like $15 at walmart

  6. Alaina

    Last week I booked a Sunday-Tuesday next month for our family. We got one of the premium rooms for $150 a night(plus tax and the 29.99fee). Considering we are a family of eight and have to have two normal hotel rooms anywhere we go this was a great deal and the kids can have the water park too. It is after spring break and our kids will miss two days of school(I don’t have any high schoolers) but I think family time is just as valuable as school. Life is a balancing act. We can’t afford the prices when the kids are off school. I originally booked it with the heroes discount and later that day got an email with a code that made the rooms $10 cheaper. I did a quick chat with customer service and they priced matched it. I told my husband that $20 More we can spend on the kids. Everything helps.

  7. Mir

    Just a heads up, this is the chain that kicked a special needs child out of the swim area for splashing. Please be aware they are not needs friendly if you plan to bring someone with needs. -M

    • Sara

      They ARE needs friendly. I have a daughter with Down Syndrome and have NEVER had an issue with Great Wolf Lodge. I truly believe with that one being a brand new location that the staff needs to be retrained.

      • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

        Thanks for letting us know about your experience with your daughter at Great Wolf Lodge!

      • Vnorby

        Agreed! We are at a GWL right now and it has been awesome! I would also like to note that I noticed two employees in the pool area, one who has Down syndrome and another who is deaf. I would say GWL respects everyone!

    • Brenda

      I’d love to see some facts about this comment, Mir!

  8. mom of 4

    Which one is the closest to mobile Alabama and what would be the best deal for a family with 3 kids and 3 adults thanks in advance 😊

    • LaToya

      Check the one in LaGrange, GA. I’m originally from Mobile.

  9. Suzanne H

    We have never had a problem taking our pizza ordered from Domino’s to our room (we have done that twice). We just have to meet the delivery person in the lobby as they are not allowed past that point. Much cheaper than GWL food which is not good IMO but we love it otherwise!

  10. Doreen

    For anyone looking to vacation in Wisconsin Dells I would recommend checking out eBay for deals on the Wilderness Glacier Canyon resort. It is similar to GWL, but about half the cost when you go through eBay. I typically get a 3-4 BR presidential suite and spend less than 100/night waterpasses, en suite jacuzzi and full kitchen included.hth

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the tips, Doreen!

  11. SuzyHomemakerGoneBad

    Ditto on the pizza. We ordered no fewer than 3 pizzas throughout our stay, picked them up in the lobby, and took them up to our room with no issues at the Minnesota location.

  12. Kendall

    Why can you not take pizza to your room?

    • Angela

      Right?! That is bizarre!

  13. Tonik

    How can I access the coupons for my location? I’m not seeing any option to change it

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      You can click on the first link in the post and go to the main page. From there, you can pick your location.

  14. Chris

    We’ve been and had a blast. Like others mentioned, things can add up, so budget accordingly. We brought a cooler and things for sandwiches and snacks. Also, we ordered delivery for dinner, which saved a few bucks as well.

    The resort sent a check in email or text I believe a day or two before our trip asking what time we were arriving. I put 11am. Low and behold we get a text at 10:00am saying our room was ready and we could check in. So like one of the tips above mentioned, we were able to avoid the crowds and utilize the swim areas on our first day!

  15. Tonik

    I’m not able to find the coupons for my location. Where can I find coupons after I go to the location I want? Thanks

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Once I found my location, I scrolled to the bottom of the page and they had some specials listed. If you don’t see them on their site, you could check Groupon.

  16. Noelle Collins

    We have a newer one in Gurnee/Chicago IL area. We were so disappointed last June when we went that they did not have microwaves in the rooms, as my kids have food allergies, and we usually bring food along to heat up. Just an FYI for other food allergy parents, maybe call ahead to be sure they have microwaves in the rooms at all of the resorts. It sounds like this is a great deal though. Maybe we’ll have to try visiting again.

  17. Lisa

    My friend said she brought her air fryer along & made food that way as well!

  18. Rn404

    I was able to book a room during the week using the leap day $29 deal…my son and I are going..he will miss 1.5 days of school but it’s worth it. They are too pricey during normal break time
    We are going to Ga location which is an hour from ne in ATLANTA

  19. shop4mybabies

    we absolutely love their breakfast buffet but hated their dinner options. luckily our location has an amazing burger place just outside the parking lot. we always have fun though I admit a bit more fun when the kids were a bit younger. my daughter is about to turn 21 and her bestie and their boyfriends are going to great wolf lodge to celebrate because they aren’t party people

  20. Christine

    Can anyone tell me the path to the coupons? I’ve looked all over the site and can’t fine them. We’re going soon and it would be a nice cost saver! Thanks!

  21. Can't sanitize pools

    We were so excited to jump on this for leap day, but the company refuses to refund or postpone due to Coronavuris being in the area. We lost alot of money due to the horrible customer service here. Hopefully they’ll do right and change their stance before our date.

    • SavingsMama

      Oh wow! Sorry to hear of your experience. I just mentioned that coronavirus shutdown in my comment. They need to refund you and hopefully if enough people fuss, they will do something. We are going through a lot of closed centers, no membership extensions, no rescheduling…Hoping everyone comes out of this healthy and financially OK.

  22. Brit

    Before you plan your next Great Wolf vacation..check if the coronavirus shutdown has affected your location. I mean, Disney is closed!

    • snezhinka

      Good point! not exactly the right time to plan a vacation.

  23. Karen R Jones

    We are currently staying at Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, Ga. I had never even heard about Great Wolf Lodge until about 3 months ago–so I wasn’t sure about what to expect. Yes—we had to reschedule our trip due to coronavirus from May to June. I must admit I was a bit nervous about coming—I would like to tell you, as a healthcare worker even I have been pleasantly surprised! Even before we arrived we were contacted by email to tell us about the changes to the Lodge due to the virus. On line (or App) check in prior to arriving, along with a health form. No Cash–all transactions are by Credit/Debit Card. The check in process was seamless-greeted at our car by a team member. We received our arm bands at the check in desk inside. From the time you enter you are see signage regarding the new “normal” due to the virus. All team members are wearing masks, most are wearing gloves and EVERYONE has a spray bottle of sanitizer and they are using it!!! There are mobile hand sanitizer stations and when you approach the elevator bank the signs tell you–one family per elevator. In the water park the team members remind people to stay 6 feet apart. Room service is different. You are given a phone number (text) to call for room supplies–towels, extra sheet sets, trash bags etc…Just let them know what you need and they bring it to your door. Less contact but you still get everything you need. Now–the breakfast buffet? I was wondering how in the world? Well–Great Wolf Lodge has found a way to provide an amazing breakfast with all the choices and give it to you in a very safe manner! The selection is outstanding–and the process is so safe–you tell the team member what you want and they place it on a plate while wearing masks and gloves and pass the plate down the selection line–and then put it on a surface where you pick it up and put it on your tray. There are many items that are wrapped individually. I was very impressed with the process, selection and the safety. The lodge itself is very clean and lots of space to walk without without feeling you are in a crowd. The room is very spacious and we have been very comfortable.
    Also—drive into LaGrange and go to the Medicine Cabinet-205 Vernon Street. Super cute gift shoppe but the best is the Soda Shoppe inside the store—Old Fashioned Ice Cream Concoctions-made fresh–We had a Banana Split with 3 different kinds of ice cream-Caramel white mocca, Cookies and Creme and Strawberry—drizzled in caramel, hot fudge and fresh strawberries–topped with whipped creme and cherries of course!! You just have to get it!
    Have fun-We are 🙂

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