Have you been thinking about going to The Great Wolf Lodge?
A new one opened last year near us in Southern California, we could not wait to go!! It was a Christmas present for our children last year, we had made reservations for opening day (not the official opening, but the first day open to guests.) We had such a great time, we have been 3 more times since. I guess we are Gold Members now. Which doesn’t really mean too much, except we get gold wrist bands each time, instead of colored ones. What it does mean is that I know a little bit about staying at a Great Wolf Lodge.
The Great Wolf Lodge (GWL for short) has 16 locations throughout the United States and Canada. The other closest ones to us are Washington State and Texas, so needless to say we were happy when they came to California. We have always gone to the Southern California GWL, located on Harbor Blvd, down the street from Disneyland, in the city of Garden Grove.
There are many different room types to choose from. They can sleep 4-8 guests depending on the room you choose. We have stayed in two different types, since we have a larger family, the basic rooms will not work for us. For this post I will talk about the Wolf Den room.
There really is so much to talk about with this place, but you know me… I like to list all of my tips. So here we go.
TOP 10 TIPS TO STAYING AT A GREAT WOLF LODGE
TIP 1: It’s not as expensive as you think… so GO!
A lot of people I know have sticker shock when they see the prices of the rooms. You have to remember that this is more than just a hotel, it’s a full waterpark as well. I looked into going to Soak City once with our family, by the time I added all the admissions and a cabana (we had a little one at the time and didn’t want to be out in the sun) it was over $300!! We would have only had one day too. At the GWL you can check in at 1:00 on the day of your arrival, spend the rest of the day at the waterpark, it is open till 9pm. It is an inside waterpark, so it is always warm! Then get up the next day and stay the entire day as well.
TIP 2: Look for a Groupon or Living Social deal
The Great Wolf Lodge, just like K1 Speed is always running specials on Groupon or Living Social. This time we are staying on a Living Social Deal that comes with a $50 dining credit with your stay. That means…. Dinner is FREE!! Just to be aware… the living social deal did not included taxes and fees, so when we went to check-in there was a $90 charge for that. I purchased a Wolf Den room that slept 6, came with 6 wristbands for the park, and the dining credit for $299. I found a promo deal online for an extra $20 off, so ended up paying $27 plus the $90 taxes and fees (just can’t escape that), so $369 total, but $50 still have the $50 dining credit.
$319 for a staycation with a family of 6 and two days at waterpark. I think that is a pretty good deal
Smaller rooms are less. We had a theme room with a separate little cabin inside with a bunk bed and TV. The rooms have a microwave, coffee maker, and a mini-refrigerator.
TIP 3: Sign up for their e-mails
Go onto the greatwolflodge.com website and sign up. We get lots of emails with different deals attached with them. We have used these deals in the past to stay, when we did not have a Groupon or Living Social deal.
Check carefully!!! The rates on their website will tell you how many people the base is for. That means if the room sleeps 6 or 7, the rate they are giving you is for only 4 wristbands, you then have to add $50 for every extra person you have in the room to have a wristband for the waterpark. So they deal could look good, but once you add the extra people it can be pricey. This is why I liked the Living Social deal ( it already came with the 6 wristbands). The prices they show do not include taxes and fees either.
The e-mails they send also keep you updated on different events they have throughout the year.
Tip 4: You only need one night
Since you get 2 days of water parking in your trip, you really only need to spend one night. I know people who have spent 2 and have said one night would have been enough. Believe it or not kids get tired of 3 days of slides and wave pools. Yes, there are other things to do there, MagiQuest, bowling, arcade, and others, but they come at a cost and really aren’t needed to have a great time. The waterpark and lobby activities will keep you more than busy.
Note: You can purchase a PawPass that includes these activities, if you are interested and it does cut down on the cost of the add-on activities.
TIP 5: Don’t pack a lot
You spend most of your day in your bathing suit. Then at night, they have a pajama party and story time in the lobby. Parents wear their PJ’s too. Then, the next day, you are back in your bathing suit!! So the need for packing a lot of different outfits is unnecessary
Tip 6: Have dinner at Hungry As the Wolf
Not only is it almost the title of a Duran Duran song, which I could like for that reason only, but I find it to be the most affordable restaurant there. You can get a large cheese pizza for $15.99 (totally reasonable!!). The pizza is actually good too!!! They also sell 2 liter bottles of soda for $5. Now, I realize that is more than in the grocery stores, but we are at a hotel, so what do you expect. I love the fact that they do this!! If your family can agree on one type of beverage, you can all share which is better than spending $2.50 per drink. They also offer yummy salads and bread sticks, as well as pasta. We eat here everytime, and sometimes have it for lunch the next day. Kids never really tire of pizza!!
Tip 7: Order a Tipping Bucket Sundae
This is a must for your stay. At the snack bar in the waterpark , they sell a sundae called The Tipping Bucket. It is $14.99, which I know is pricey.. but it is HUGE!!! It can easily feed a party of 6-8. It is vanilla soft serve ice cream, topped with brownie bites, chocolate chip cookies, gummy worms, gummy bears, whipped cream and sprinkles. The kids will LOVE it, as you are walking towards them with this monstrosity. This is also a tradition for us now when we go. You won’t regret it, and it will give you the sugar rush you need to keep going on more slides.
Tip 8: Take a picture with Wiley or one of the other characters
In the lobby you can usually find one of the characters at all times. Also, at the storytime at night one of the characters come out and will stay at the end for pictures. They have some great backdrop areas in the lobby to take pictures in front of, and they always turn out super cute. It is a must for documenting your stay there.
Tip 9: Don’t expect a nice view from your room
This is only for the Southern California location. The Lodge is located on a busy street. The property that it is located on is large, but the hotel and parking structure take up all of the room, so all the rooms face neighboring apartments, strip malls or a busy street with a view of a McDonalds. Don’t worry, you really are not in your room a lot anyways.
Tip 10: Go only if you want to have fun!!
This is not a relaxing type of getaway. It is a go, go, go sleep over. By the time you are done slip sliding away on the first day, it will be time to get dressed, grab dinner, and get ready for the storytime. It is a great family bonding vacation. Our family loves to swim together, and screaming altogether on the Howling Tornado are memories we will never forget.
We love it here and will defiantly be coming back again and again. So, get your wolf ears ready for a good time.