Great Wolf Lodge resorts are scattered throughout the country in states like Massachusetts, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and more. Even Canada. Fortunately, we have one about 45 minutes from our home In Fitchburg, MA. This Christmas we decided that we were going to be gifting our three children experiences and not toys. Great Wolf Lodge was our immediate choice for a fun getaway! The best part of GWL is that it accommodates all ages! From the pools geared towards toddlers, to the large slides and everything else going on there, it was perfect.
As someone that has been to Great Wolf Lodge a few times, with children ages 2-11 (between the times that we have gone), I feel confident in my GWL skills to give you these great tips for going for your first time!
First of all, if you’ve beooked your trip to GWL, cheers to you! It was a wonderful decision! Between the swimming, playing, dancing, eating and everything in between, you can’t go wrong with Great Wolf Lodge. The first time that I took our three children (ages 2, 8 and 9), my husband was working so I went alone. On the way there I questioned my decision making taking on something so huge with 3 children (who love to scatter in three diferent directions). I was shockingly surprised to have never felt stressed during my time there with them. My little ones wanted to stay near the Cub Paw Pool and Fort Mackenzie while my older son was ready to take on Wolf Tail , and I felt completely at ease with him going down that and coming back.
Tip #1: Book During the Week. My first tip when planning your trip to GWL is to book on a weekday, if possible. Both times we stayed there we reserved the theme room. Much like any theme park, weekdays are always less busy. While we were there on Christmas Break it was sold out, though it never felt cramped. The wait for the slides was minimal and the pools never felt too crowded. We didn’t have to wait long for a table for dinner, nor anything else. The first time we went was a weekday during March or April (eek, can’t remember!) there was never a wait for anything. It was amazing! As far as which room to stay in, if it’s your first time and your children are old enough to understand the rooms, the theme rooms are awesome, I’d recommend staying in one. The cabin themed bunk room is pretty cool for young kids. There’s a separate telelvision in there as well and it’s separated from the “parent’s space”. If you’re looking for a cheaper priced room, the non themed rooms are also great. You don’t spend much time in the rooms anyway!
Tip #2: What to Pack. Our first visit to GWL we stayed one night, the second time we stayed two nights. Both amounts of time were great and we felt that we accomplished everything we wanted to during both of those timeframes. If youre staying overnight or even two days this are the things I’d make sure you packed!
- pajamas (fun ones if you have them! Story time with the characters is so fun and cute at ngiht time! Everyone shows up wearing pajamas and listens to a bedtime story in the lobby! Yes, even some parents have the matching jammies on-and it’s totally okay there! )
- enough swimsuits- I know we HATE to put on a wet, cold swimsuit to go back to the pool, so we pack extras!
- Swimsuit Cover ups for walking up and down the halls back to your room.
- A pool bag to bring down to the pool with you (for sippy cups, float, etc.)
- Sneakers- make sure kids (and parents!) that want to do the ropes course and climbing wall have sneakers or they won’t be able to do these activities! They are SO fun!
- Sandals, crocs, water shoes- whichever your family wears, bring them so you have something to walk to the pool in!
- Clothes for play time and dinner time- You need to be wearing shoes and shirt to eat in the restaurant so remember to pack some playtime clothing!
- Toiletries- Most rooms DO come with a bath tub so be sure to bring the bubbles or bath bombs!
- Toddler life vest
- Lotion! There is a small complimentary bottle of lotion that comes with the room, but with swimming all day in a chlorinated pool, youll want to moisturize that dried out skin!
Tip #3- Get the Passes. My older boys got the Wolf Passes which included: MagiQuest Wand (check out the next tip for more on this), a scoop of ice cream, 40 arcade points, one round of bowling, one serving of bulk candy, the Climbing Wall and Ropes Course ,a round of Mini Golf and a XD theater pass for one ride. Our daughter (almost 4 years old) got the Pup Pass. With that she got to do Build A Bear, a scoop of ice cream one serving of candy, one pair of goggles, and arcade points!) These passes basically include everything that you’re going to want to do while you’re there. Paying for all of this separately would cost much more. The kids wear the passes around their necks and items get checked off when they do them!
Tip #4- Save your wands! If you’ve been to GWL before and gotten the MagiQuest wand, make sure you bring it back! If you’ve gotten the Wolf Pass then they’ll be able to get something else in the store. If they didn’t complete all of the missions the first time, the second time they can pick right back up from where they started! This most recent trip we went on, both my boys completed the missions and got knighted and got special pins for becoming a Master Magi!
Tip #5 Bring all the snacks! We love the snacks at Buckets Incredible Craveables and the Lodge Wood Fired Grill for all of our meals, but the in between times it’s great to have some juice boxes for the room, maybe some cookies and chips upstairs in your room. The rooms come with a microwave so it’s always fun to pop a little popcorn at the end of the night and watch a movie before the kids crash! We’ve brought snacks for the room, Lunchables, (and snacks for myself because I was doing the keto diet)…though I did sneak a few of those French fries with cheese poolside. Not to mention the great bar available with amazing pina coladas and margaritas! Parent tip: add a splash of Baileys to your pina colada-you won’t be sorry.
Tip #6: Have you credit card set up to your wrist band. This was a major bonus for us, instead of carrying our wallets and cards around everywhere- they were safe in the safety box in our room! With the card linked to our bracelet we were able to use it as a room key, charge dinner and snacks to it, extra games in the arcade, drinks at the bar, basically anything we wanted! We did not do this our first trip there and I wish I had. It was nice to have one less thing to worry about losing while you’re swimming!
Tip #7: Get to the Pool Early!: Finding a table in the middle of the afternoon is fairly difficult on a busy weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. To make sure we got a good seat to leave our bags and towels at while we swam and to have a snack at, we woke up and went down to the pool at 8:30 when it opened to claim a table. We quickly ran to breakfast and back to swim and our things were still at our table!
Great Wolf Lodge was such an amazing family friendly trip that every member of our family enjoyed! It was amazing to unplug and leave the phones in the safe, get right into the pool with the kids and laugh and play together! The amount of activities there was just perfect and we spent the two days laughing down the water slides, riding the waves in the wave pool, checking out the XD theater, playing endless games, dancing, climbing and even enjoying the snow falling (inside!) during Story time! If you’re in driving distance to a Great Wolf Lodge, I’d highly recommend it. Fun for all ages!