Is Great Wolf Lodge Worth It?

Home > Destinations > United States > Is Great Wolf Lodge Worth It?

Is Great Wolf Lodge Worth It?

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Your neighbors raved about it. Your kids’ cousins loved it. Your sister-in-law is planning a spring break trip there. And, it’s probably within driving distance of your home. So why haven’t you been to Great Wolf Lodge yet? Wondering if this much-talked-about indoor waterpark experience is all it’s hyped to be? Is Great Wolf Lodge worth it? Here’s a primer – you decide.


What Is Great Wolf Lodge?

It’s the largest collection of indoor water part resorts in North America, with 17 locations in the across the continent. The expansive waterpark offers kids of all ages (and adults!) water slides, pools, a wave pool, water playground areas and a hot tub for adults and a hot tub for families. There are activity pools with basketball hoops, a lazy river and the favorite Fort Mackenzie, a four-story climbable play structure with spray cannons and slides – and a huge bucket in the center that spills water on everyone below it every few minutes. There’s plenty of fun out of the water, too. Kids can play the MagiQuest game, an exclusive mystical interactive adventure game, hang out at the arcade, customize a wolf stuffed animal, play mini golf and even try the ropes course (depending on your chosen Great Wolf Lodge location).


How Much Is a Waterpark Day Pass at Great Wolf Lodge?

All of the Great Wolf Lodge locations in the US now offer a day pass option for those who cannot or choose not to spend the night at the resort.  These passes start at $50 per person and offer access all day to the waterpark facilities. You can purchase the day passes online (they are not available for purchase at the resort) – and kids two and youngers are free when accompanied by an adult day-pass holder.


How Much Does It Cost to Stay at Great Wolf Lodge?

If you prefer to stay overnight at Great Wolf Lodge, instead of purchasing a day pass, you’ll find that – like airplane tickets – the room rates vary depending on when you go. Each of the locations offers special discounts and package deals – midweek is often less expensive than the weekend, school vacations weeks are generally pricier, etc. Play around with your search and be flexible.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

How Long Should I Stay at Great Wolf Lodge?

The most frequent stay is one day and two nights. With early check-in and late checkout so that you can maximize your included waterpark access time, this is plenty to avoid sensory overload  (the waterpark area can be very noisy and quite frenetic at times!).


What Room Should I Choose at Great Wolf Lodge?

Choose from several accommodation styles and themed rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge locations, depending on your budget. There are standard hotel rooms, camping- and cabin-themed suites with bunk beds and multi-bedroom suites. For example, standard family suites fit 4-6 guests, themed Wolf Den suites fit 4-6 guests, themed Kids Cabin suites fit 5-7 guests and Grand Bear Suites fit 6-8 guests.


Should I Purchase a Day Pass or Stay Overnight at Great Wolf Lodge?

For one parent and a couple of kiddos on a weekday in the winter, the day pass program may be the best deal. For larger families, buying all those day passes may add up to the price of a Great Wolf hotel room or suite, which includes the waterpark passes. Plus, when you spend the night, you have access to the waterpark starting at 1 PM on check-in day until closing on check-out day, so you can really maximize your time. It depends on your family size and your timing.


Are life jackets provided at Great Wolf Lodge?

Yes, Great Wolf Lodge provides US Coast Guard-approved life jackets, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Where Are the Great Wolf Lodge Locations?

Great Wolf Lodge resorts can be found in 17 locations across North America. These include locations in Anaheim and San Francisco; Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Bloomington and Chicago, Illinois; Sandusky and Cincinnati, Ohio, Colorado Springs; Washington State; Grapevine, Texas; Kansas City; Minneapolis; Boston; Niagara Falls, Canada; the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania; Scottsdale, Arizona; Traverse City, Michigan; Wisconsin Dells; Williamsburg, Virginia.


What Is the Largest Great Wolf Lodge Location?

We’ll give you two choices here for largest Great Wolf Lodge location. The very biggest is the Great Wolf Lodge Garden Grove in California (121,000 square feet), followed by the Great Wolf Lodge Niagara Falls (Canada side, 103,000 square feet).  Signature attractions at the Garden Grove location include the Howlin’ Tornado, where four passengers ride together in cloverleaf tubes, the River Canyon Run, where families can ride together in a large, enclosed slide, the Wolf Tail, for brave visitors who enter a launchpad and wait for the trap door floor to open beneath then, and the Wolf Rider Wipeout, for those who want to ride the surf on a boogie board.


Resort features at the Great Wolf Lodge Garden Grove are similar to the other properties (though not all resorts offer all features). The California property offers a huge arcade, several restaurants, a fitness center, an Aveda Concept Spa (and Scooops Kid Spa for tweens), the Howly Wood XD Theater (a 3D-motion simulator ride), blacklight mini golf, a bowling alley and laser tag.


What Safety Precautions Does Great Wolf Lodge Have for COVID-19?

As part of the reopening (and remaining open) plan, Great Wolf Lodge is requiring face coverings over nose and mouth for all guests ages 5 and up. These masks should be worn in all public areas of the resort except while dining, in the waterpark (while maintaining six feet of physical distance) and while engaged in waterpark attractions. There are plexiglass barriers throughout the resorts, where there is visitor/staff interaction. Hand sanitizing stations and/or disinfectant wipes are available throughout the resorts.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Is Great Wolf Lodge Clean?

Great Wolf Lodge locations take their cleanliness seriously. They ensure a CleanPLUS Experience and have partnered with Proctor & Gamble experts who review the cleaning and sanitization operations throughout the resorts. High-touch areas are clean and disinfected frequently, hospital-grade disinfectant wipes and products are used in all rooms and public areas, laundry is done with Tide Professional and all dishware and cutlery is cleaned and sanitized with an EPA-approved professional dish detergent.


What Else Can I Do Besides Play at the Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge?

There are several other activities in addition to the indoor waterpark attractions at Great Wolf Lodge locations. Here’s a sampling (not every attraction is available at every location):


  • MagiQuest Game: Families can explore the lodge through this live-action game through the fantastical realm of Vellara with their special MagiQuest wand. Load the wand with magic powers, then set off for a few minutes at a time during your stay or play for the whole day. Kids can take their wands home with them and bring them back on their next trip to Great Wolf Lodge. The littlest kids can have fun, too, by opening magical treasure chests with their MagiQuest wand.

  • Go Bowling. Bowl on shorter lanes and with smaller bowling balls perfect for tiny hands. It’s about having fun and not getting the perfect score. You don’t even need bowling shoes!

  • Hit the Arcade. Play all your favorite arcades games as a kid – with your kids! The Northern Lights Arcade is open 24 hours and the more you play, the more you win. Paw Points don’t expire, so kids can bring their playing card back for more fun on their next visit.

  • Stuff a Stuffy. Watch as your kiddo’s favorite Great Wolf Kids character stuffy is filled with plush stuffing and outfitted in costumes and accessories they choose themselves.

  • Play mini golf. Challenge your family to 18 holes of all-ages miniature golf complete with ball-eating fish and giant animals scattered throughout the course.

  • Brave the Ropes Course. Tackle the Howlers Peak Ropes Course for high-flying fun – there’s a smaller structure for kids under 48 inches tall. Those 48 inches and taller must be accompanied by an adult on the main ropes course.

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

Where Can I Eat at Great Wolf Lodge?

Outside food is prohibited at Great Wolf Lodge, but don’t fret – there are countless options for every meal of the day, plus snacks and desserts. Read on to whet your appetite:


  • Dine All Day at the Antler Shanty. Breakfast and dinner buffets fill up the family before water-park fun and satisfy hearty appetites at day’s end. Don’t miss the signature wolf-shaped waffles!

  • Dig into Pizza. Grab your family and friends and order hand-stretched pizza, chicken parmesan sandwiches, garlic cheese bread and salads during the day.

  • Grab Lunch at the Grill. At Camp Critter Bar and Grille, you can enjoy a refreshing craft beer with in-house smoked wings, lodge-made signature sandwiches, salads, and more.

  • Have a Poolside Picnic. Don’t want to leave the pool? Order from Buckets Incredible Craveables and have a poolside lunch of burgers, sandwiches, salads – top it off with the Tipping Bucket sundae, a treat for the whole family with ice cream, cookies and brownies, hot fudge sauce and whipped cream.

  • Kick Off the Day with Coffee and Pastries. Start the day right with freshly brewed coffee and breakfast treats from Bear Claw Café (or come back later for signature desserts and lodge-crafted fudge).
Photo Credit : Shutterstock

What’s the Best Age to Visit Great Wolf Lodge?

The optimal age group for enjoying all that a Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark has to offer is 7 to 13, but older kids and toddlers, too, can still have fun! With everything from magical quest games to arcades to spa treatments for teens to ropes courses, there really is something for everyone.


What Are the Best Tips for Booking a Great Wolf Lodge Vacation? 


  1. Look for Discounts.
  2. If you do your research before a Great Wolf Lodge waterpark vacation, you can save quite a bit. They’re a regular Groupon offering, particularly during the off season, and the Great Wolf Lodge website itself has a fair number of packaged and special offerings. Book early and if you’re a military member, firefighter, EMS personnel, police or correctional officer, you can receive a discount through the Howling Heroes program.


    1. Consider Upgrading to a Bigger Room
    2. You might need just one room for your family, but your kids will adore you even more if you consider upgrading to a Wolf Den or Kid Cabin suite – these cool accommodations come with a separate pace for kids to spread out, complete with cute bunk beds and YouTube-enable TVs. You can even ask for a fort-building kit to be delivered to your room.


      1. Celebrate a Special Event at Great Wolf Lodge
      2. Say Happy Birthday, or even Merry Christmas, at Great Wolf Lodge. The resort offers a variety of celebration packages, complete with room decorations, activities and treats. Consider a cabana rental in the waterpark area to make it a more intimate event.


        1. Don’t Pack These Items.
        2. You won’t need towels (they’re fluffy and free at the park), flotation devices, sunscreen, sunglasses or hats.


          1. But, Do Pack These Items.
          2. You’ll be glad you packed bathing suit coverups, for moving about the resort from the waterpark area to other resort activities and dining outlets, sneakers for the ropes course, snacks for in your room (they’re not allowed in the waterpark area), a waterproof phone case, headphones (the waterpark area is noisy, so if you want to read while the kids play, you’ll appreciate having brought these), and a swim/pool bag for all your swimming essentials on check-in and checkout day.


            1. Speaking of Checking In and Out …
            2. Take advantage of early check-in and late checkout at all Great Wolf Lodge locations. You can arrive and get into the park at 1 PM on your check-in day, but come early because this is no secret and there’s often a line to get in. The lodge has anticipated this popular check-in time and there are usually lobby activities (think story time, crafts, bingo) that will entertain the kids while one parent stands in line. Plan to stay as late as possible on checkout day – you’re allowed waterpark access until closing time.


              1. Consider Purchasing an Activity Bundle
              2. Resort guests receive indoor waterpark admission free with their stay, but we guarantee the kids are going to beg for the dry-land activities, too. Instead of paying for everything a la cart, consider a Pup Pass, Paw Pass or Wolf Pass that bundles activities. There are several free activities that take place at various times throughout the day and night, as well, including family yoga, dance parties, an evening story time, crafts and more.

Get Our Best Stuff First.

Sign up for our newsletters.

Don’t Forget
Your U.S. Passport

and Travel Visas