Great Wolf Lodge is an incredible spot for a family-friendly vacation. They have locations all across the United States, and the majority of the activities are indoors. This makes Great Wolf Lodge the perfect place to visit during the colder winter months or a rainy day! My family had the honor of being invited to Great Wolf Lodge, Charlotte North Carolina location this past November. We just got back and my kids are already begging to go back to this waterpark resort!
I’m sure you are wondering, is it expensive? What do I bring? What do they have to do? What are the rooms like? Do they have amenities for the adults? Can my little ones enjoy it too? I have all the answers to the questions floating around in your head. Here are my Great Wolf Lodge tips, 10 Things to Know Before you Visit!
1.Wait for a Discount
This resort is fun but can be pricey if you are planning for a long weekend or a week long stay. The charges for extra fun and food can add up quick. I highly recommend waiting and booking with a coupon or deal so you can make the most of your stay. As a rule, you can always save 25% if you book two nights or more at any Great Wolf Lodge location. You can also save up to 50% if you book 60 days or more in advance! You will want to book early. These resorts are big and you’ll want to plan out all your fun far in advance. If you are in the military, there are many military discounts that they offer, be sure to call and check. I know a military family that got received a 30% off across the board! It never hurts to ask. I stayed at the Charlotte resort the weekend before Thanksgiving, the front desk told me that there were many Holiday discounts if you book between December and February.
2.Visit around a Holiday
Great Wolf Lodge loves to decorate for any holiday! New Years, Valentines, Fourth of July, Easter, or Christmas – you will find the Lobby decked out and picturesque. When we visited, they were just setting up for Christmas! What a treat to see the decorations, there were snowflakes and Christmas bows everywhere. Closer to Christmas they also have a Santa’s workshop set up with themed Lobby activities to get you in the Holiday spirit. Visiting during the off season months is a ton of fun too, but I think you will get more out of the experience when you book around a celebration!
Aside from the waterpark extravaganza, there are a ton of dry activities as well! There is a resort wide scavenger hunt adventure, an arcade, bowling alley, ropes course, arts & crafts area, mini golf, and more! The only thing is, all of these cost extra. The only attraction that is included in your stay in the giant water park (Which was enough for us!) But maybe you are staying longer and want some variety in your resort entertainment! You should invest in the “Paw Pass”. There are a few different options for these bundle entertainment packages, but I recommend you get the full Paw Pass which includes 2 scavenger hunt games, a magic wand or belt, a free cup of candy at the Candy shop, a single scoop of Bear Paw Ice Cream, and a $5 loaded Arcade game card. This package will give you a taste of everything without going too crazy over budget. While you are booking the hotel nights, book your packages in advance so you can include them in any possible discounts.
4.Know what to Pack & What to leave at home
One of the things I generally dislike about travel is lugging around a bunch of suitcases. The more I travel, the less I seem to pack. Minimalist packing is the name of the game, check out my post on how to pack for a family. If you are planning on a Great Wolf Lodge vacation here are the Do’s and the Don’t of packing!
DO PACK for Great Wolf Lodge:
- Waterproof phone case. You will want a photo or two of your family having fun in the water. Be sure you protect your phone because everything is wet at the water park.
- Bathing suit cover ups (the water park is warm but the rest of the resort is WELL air conditioned. You will want to cover up your wet bathing suit as you dash to your next activity.
- A pool bag. You will want to bring along water, goggles, your phone, diapers, etc in a bag. You can also use the bag to reserve your lounge chair by the pool (Which fill up quickly by the way, you will want to get to the pool early and nab a spot. The whole water park opens at 9am everyday.)
DON’T PACK for Great Wolf Lodge:
- Towels. They provide towels as you enter the water park. Be sure to return them before leaving the water park area.
- Floaties for the little ones. They also provide flotation safety devices at the entrance.
- Sun protection. The whole water park is INDOORS! So no need for a hat, rash guard, sunglasses or sunscreen!
5.Bring your Food or Know the Food options
First off, I want to let you all know that Great Wolf Lodge is 100% nut free – resort wide! Every resort location varies in restaurants and food options. At the Charlotte location, there were 4 restaurants, a dunking donuts and a candy shop/ bakery. You won’t go hungry at Great Wolf Lodge.
Lodge Wood Fire Grill is the most “upscale” of the restaurants. It is open for Lunch and Dinner. They feature a menu full of steaks cooked on an open fire, seafood, burgers, ribs along with a kids menu of the same kind of thing. There are also tiki-inspired cocktails that other guests were raving about. See the full menu HERE.
The Loose Moose Cottage is a buffet style restaurant. It is open for Breakfast and Dinner, it is $15 for ages 11 and up and $10 for kids 4-10. The atmosphere is very low key. The menu changes seasonally, to see the current end click HERE.
Hungry as a Wolf is a quick service counter. It is open 11am-10pm. Here they serve to-go Pizzas, Salads, Pastas, and snacks. This will be your most economical choice at the resort. And everyone loves pizza, right?
Buckets Incredible Craveables is a “fast food” joint location right inside the water park. It is open till 8pm, so you can grab lunch or early dinner poolside! The menu consists of burgers & fries, sandwiches, salads and desserts. I hear they are famous for dessert called “The Tipping Bucket”. It’s a giant bowl of ice cream topped with cookies, brownies, candies, syrups, sprinkles and whipped cream. It sounds like something you would need to share with the whole family! Click to see the full menu HERE.
The Dunkin Donuts has a standard menu that you can find at any location outside the resort. But the best thing about this locations Dunkin, is that it is open at 6am. Everything else opens 9am or later! My family and I are early risers, it was nice to have something open at 6am where we could grab a coffee and a croissant.
There is a large mini fridge in each family suite and a microwave. You can save some money by bringing your own food and eating in your room instead of the 4 restaurants I mentioned.
6.There is an Early Check in Feature
Usual check in is at 4pm – which is usual for any hotel. But, they allow you to “check in” early at 1pm on check-in day! You can have access to the resort and water park at 1pm and they will let you know when your room is ready! Mine was ready at 2:30pm when I check in! The best part of checking in, is the free wolf ears that they give to each member of your party! Each member will also get a plastic wrist band that will give you access to the water park, it is your room key for “keyless entry” and also as a charging method that connects to your credit card (this option is handy so you don’t have to lug your wallet around!)
Remember that these resorts are massive! If you are in the water park it is also VERY loud. It’s easy to loose track of your little ones or get separated from your pack (wolf pun, get it!). Always have a designated meeting spot when you separate. For example, when I took Walter to the splash pad area and Alex took Daisy to the big water slides, we decided to meet back at a certain table after 15 mins. There is a big clock posted on the wall by the entrance, in case you aren’t wearing a water proof watch. I also want to stress that even though there are plenty of lifeguards doing their job, it is no substitute for watching your child. Even shallow water can be dangerous so put your phone, book, magazine down and keep two eyes on your little ones.
8. Water Park & Fun on Dry Land
This water park is HUGE! Each location carries slightly but there is something for everyone. There are long chairs by a few big windows for those who still want some sunlight and a quiet place to relax. There are splash pads and shallow play areas for infants and toddlers. There is a wave pool that never stops! This is great for older kids and teens. There is a pool with an obstacle course and basketball hoops, a big playground with 2 medium sized slides that even toddlers can slide down! Of course there are 3 major big slides for the older kids. Those slides are higher, longer, and much faster! There are height requirements for some activities. As you enter, there should be an attendant that measures each kid, they will receive a colored bracelet according to their height. Each attraction will have a sign that tells your which color bracelets are allowed to ride that ride! It’s very helpful! Honestly, my kids are like fish and could spend 2-3 hours at a time just playing in the water! This kind of place was perfect for us.
I do want to mention that there are Big Cabanas for rental inside the water park if you need a private place to retreat or want to have a little private party.
I also highly suggest that you, leave the water park! Yes, I said it! I know this is a water park resort, but there are a few others things to try on dry land! There are two interactive resort wide scavenger hunts/advantures. You follow the clues and find the interactive screens and props throughout the hotel. You wave a magic wand and complete missions. Mnay of the tweens and teens seemed to enjoy these games. If you want some fresh air, there is a huge ropes course and a mini golf course outside! Inside, there’s an arcade on the first floor if you are into games and winning prizes! At the Charlotte location there is a mini bowling alley that is extremely kid friendly. “Cub Club” is a small arts and crafts play area where the little ones can get out of the chlorine water and have some quieter fun. Now, all of these attractions cost extra, so be sure to buy the Paw Pass if you want to be doing the dry activities.
If you aren’t into spending a lot of extra money, there are a few free activities happening throughout the resort. Throughout the day there are Lobby activities going on. There are character meet and greets, an animatronic Clock Tower Show, Bingo, Trivia sessions, a PJ party and Bedtime Story read in the Lobby! Be sure to ask the front desk for a schedule of events!
9.Adult areas and Beverages
Great Wolf Lodge does boast itself as a family friendly resort. But there are a few amenities that are really for the grown ups. There is a small Gym with a few weights, treadmills and elliptical machines. It was clean, had a large television and a water cooler. IT was located far from the action, so it was thankfully a quiet place to retreat.
There is a very tiny “Spa”. Elements Spa & Salon offers massages, nail services and waxing. It is a basically a massage room (that offers 4 types of massages ranging from $60-$110) and a beauty product gift shop. If you need a quieter space, just walk around the Spa gift shop.
The bar at Lodge Wood Fire grill is the place to go for a drink or two. Maybe grandma or auntie want to watch the kids for a while, and you can sneak down with your significant other for a quick “cheers”
At this location they offered a very popular and “adult only” feature called the Wine Down. It’s a sweet way to wind down the evening. Perhaps your little ones are exhausted from a whole day at the water park and are sleeping peacefully by 8pm. Now it’s mommy and daddy turn to relax. Great Wolf Lodge offers a package where you a few sweet and savory treat that perfectly pair with a delicious bottle of wine. And the best part? They delivery to you and you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own suite!
*My family and I were received a complimentary stay / ,media rate at this resort. We are appreciative of their hospitality, but all opinions are my own.