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Great Wolf Lodge Family Tips – Your Guide to Plan an Unforgettable Trip with Kids

Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park and climbing structure with toddler section and splash pads

Are you and your family in need of a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? If you’re looking for a memorable weekend (or weekday) adventure that promises a perfect blend of excitement and relaxation, consider heading to the Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound in Centralia! Located just a short drive from Seattle, this enchanting indoor water park and resort offers an array of family-friendly activities that will keep everyone smiling from ear to ear. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with some essential tips to ensure your weekend trip to Great Wolf Lodge is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

Enjoy a 360 view of Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

Did you know, Great Wolf Lodge is actually the largest family of indoor water park resorts across North America? Pretty cool, right? If you’re planning a visit to any of their locations, we’ve got some helpful tips for you!

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Plan Ahead, And Find Great Deals

Before you embark on your journey to Great Wolf Lodge, it’s essential to plan ahead. Check the lodge’s website for available dates that work for you and make reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons. This way, you can ensure you get the accommodation and activities you desire. We found booking a trip during the week or a single night, Sunday to Monday trip was the best combo for us. 

Great Wolf Lodge is routinely on discount sites such as Groupon, or booking early can save families a lot on the Great Wolf Lodge site, so keep an eye out for their special promotions. 

If you or someone you know serves in the military or as a fire, EMS, police, or correctional officer, you’re in luck! Great Wolf Lodge has a fantastic program called “Howling Heroes” that offers a special discount just for you. Head on over to their website to check it out and see how you can save on your next visit.

How Long Should We Stay?

Great Wolf Lodge offer so many awesome kid friendly activities from arcades, MagicQuest, and of course their awesome indoor water park! We personally found that even by staying for just one night, we were able to have a blast, especially with our check in early tip below!

And depending on the time of year you go, there might be even more activities to do, such as in the summer with their outdoor climbing structure.

Check in Early!

As a friendly reminder, guests can access the water park starting at 1pm on the day of check-in (sometimes even earlier, ask the front desk) until closing time on the day of check-out. This is an excellent opportunity for families to maximize their time at the park. Another tip to make the check-in experience even smoother, we recommend checking in early on the official Great Wolf Lodge app. Once checked in, you can enjoy the indoor water park and hotel amenities, even before your room is ready by getting your wristband at the front desk. And if you opt for a late check-out, you can have even more fun in the water before heading home (we did this so we could take a late shower before heading out)!

Pro Tip: Great Wolf Lodge provides these nice luggage carts, free of charge, because we all know that having a toddler means having a ton of stuff.

Should I Upgrade My Room?

Great Wolf Lodge has some awesome rooms and upgrades available for you and your family to enjoy. They have regular family suites, Northwoods-themed suites, kids-themed suites, and even spacious premium “bear” suites that can fit up to eight people!

The Wolf Den and Kid Cabin suites are absolutely adorable. Not only are they themed, but your kiddos will have their very own space to stretch out and play. Just a heads up, these rooms have a partial separation between the kids and adult sleeping areas, so depending on the age of your little ones, it could be a great feature. On our last trip, we opted for the Wolf Den Suite because our kids are obsessed with bunk beds – they don’t have one at home, so it was a special treat for them.

Of course, you’ll probably be spending most of your time checking out the water park and all the activities the hotel has to offer, so the room might not be your top priority. Regardless of which room you ultimately choose, they all include water park access for all occupants, hurray! Have a blast at Great Wolf Lodge! 

Get Your Free Wolf Ears!

We wanted to remind you about a fun little surprise waiting for you at check-in (and sometimes located at their shop). They have complimentary wolf ears for the kids to wear around the lodge, and they look absolutely adorable in them! They’ll fit right in with the cozy, rustic atmosphere. Plus, it’s the perfect chance to snap some cute photos. So don’t miss out on this complimentary perk and grab some wolf ears as soon as you check-in.

Celebrate a Birthday at Great Wolf Lodge

If you’re looking to give your child a memorable birthday, Great Wolf Lodge has got you covered. They offer a range of birthday packages that include everything from room decorations and activities to yummy birthday cakes. You can invite your child’s favorite people to join in on the fun and enjoy access to their fantastic indoor water park and other activities. And if you’re looking for a more low-key celebration, you can always opt for a quieter party in your own suite. Kids are also given special “birthday wolf ears” to wear and feel extra special while they’re there. Sounds like a blast, right?

Visit Great Wolf Lodge during the Holidays

Great Wolf Lodge is where you want to be during the holidays! You and your pack will absolutely howl with delight during our seasonal events. 

Celebrate Halloween for the whole month of October at Great Wolf Lodge! Dress up in your best costumes and join for Howl-O-Ween festivities from October 1st through 31st. From monster dance parties to trick or treating, it’s a howling good time!

During Snowland, enjoy a cozy night’s sleep in a Wolf Den with a lit-up Christmas tree and snow falling in the lobby. Who said a water park isn’t fun during the winter! Don’t miss out on splashing around at one of the largest indoor water parks!

Starting the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Great Wolf Lodge turns into a winter wonderland. The lobby is transformed with Christmas decorations, and winter howl-i-day story times, dance parties, and other special events. Your little ones will be amazed by the nightly snowfall in the grand lobby — it’s a unique experience that will warm their hearts. Make plans to visit this season for festivities that the whole pack will love!

Bring your own Breakfast

Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect spot for families looking for a fun adventure! The rooms come equipped with a mini fridge and microwave for your convenience. Want to save some money and time? Consider bringing your own breakfast staples like oatmeal, yogurt, cereal and milk. 

If not, at least in the Washington location, there is a Starbucks located right inside the resort in the lobby, so you can get your caffeine fix and food before heading out to explore. Have a blast!

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What Should I Pack?

Hey there! We’re so excited that you’re getting ready for your trip to Great Wolf Lodge! We thought we’d share some packing tips to help you prepare for your adventure.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about bringing towels as they’re provided for you at the lodge. And safety is their top priority, so life jackets are available throughout the indoor water park for kids and adults.

The belly rules the mind! Bring along some snacks to save a little money, but keep in mind, outside food isn’t allowed inside the water park, so keep these in your room.

Here are some of our top picks for our packing list to Great Wolf Lodge. We hope these tips help you have an amazing time at Great Wolf Lodge! 

While the indoor park is kept at a warm 84 degrees, staying hydrated is important, so make sure to bring reusable water bottles for you and your family.

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If you plan on enjoying all of the resort activities and meals, a bathing suit cover up or beach towel can make transitioning between locations easy. Speaking from experience, its cold walking from the water park back to our room!

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Water friendly shoes:  Crocs and Native shoes are great to take the kids from the hotel room to the water and back again. 

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Goggles for those who don’t like water in their eyes. Great Wolf Lodge has a nice wave pool, and other swimming sections where these came in handy.

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A waterproof phone case is great for taking pictures and staying in touch with family while in the pools.

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For more action type videos, consider a GoPro, these are small and waterproof. We took ours down the slides with us to capture those first time giggles from our 5 year old.

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If you need some peace and quiet while the kids play, or the kids need a quick show to relax, headphones can provide a nice escape from the noisy water park. We love these Pure Sound Noise Cancelling Headphones for our kids, great on the airplane too.

Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Plus Volume Limited On-Ear Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones

Experience peace and clear audio with the PuroQuiet-Active Noise Cancelling Headphones. These headphones come equipped with an ANC switch that effectively reduces daily noise and background sounds by up to 22 dB, providing a quieter environment without the need to raise the volume to unsafe levels.

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Finally, we recommend packing a pool bag to make it easy to visit the water park as soon as you check in and stay until closing on check-out day.

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Enjoy the Water Park! And a Cabana?

The heart of the Great Wolf Lodge experience is the indoor water park, filled with thrilling water slides, wave pools and a nice toddler section. As your kids enter the water park, a lifeguard will measure their height and give them a colored wristband, indicating which rides they can go on. 

You’ll want to arrive early to secure a prime spot, as chairs and tables go fast. Make a splash and plan to spend most of your first day enjoying the water features. There’s so much to explore, from short and sweet slides for the little ones to thrilling tube slides for the more adventurous. Some parks even have a pool with water basketball and an obstacle course! And don’t forget, they have adult beverages for parents who want to relax a little. Or kiddie drinks that glow with gummy worms!

Splurge on a Cabana

And if you want to make your visit extra special, consider getting a cabana to rest and eat your lunch or dinner. It might be a little pricey depending on the day, but definitely worth it if you have a big group, especially on those busy days.  Plus, grandma and grandpa will appreciate it for a quiet escape to rest, drink water (be sure to hydrate!), and watch television. Check out our Cabana with pool views from Great Wolf Lodge Great Mound (in Washington) in this picture, we loved it.

Each day’s rental includes comfy chairs and a table for six, a fully stocked fridge with refreshing bottled water, and you don’t have to stand in any lines for food and beverage service – they’re on call! Plus, fresh towels, a TV for your down time, ceiling fans to keep you cool, and the peace of mind of a safe for your valuables. And best of all, your cabana is easily accessible all day (rentals are by the day). Make your day by the pool extra special!

Pro tip: divide your group according to age groups, so everyone can enjoy the water features that suit their interests.

Pro tip: Remember to plan ahead with your kiddos and choose a meeting place just in case they get separated with all the fun going on.

Pro tip: Bring a robe or beach towel so you don’t freeze walking from the water park back to your room. You’re not allowed to take the towels you check out from the water park.

Pro tip: Bring a spare swimsuit. No one likes climbing into wet, cold swimwear the next day. There’s a clothesline over the bathtub, but your suits won’t dry quickly enough for the next days activities. 

Baby and Toddler Friendly Water Park!

We were excited to have our little ones at Cub Paw Pool! The zero-entry water play is perfect for the young ones, and there are plenty of splash pads and water features for them to enjoy too. We also loved the shallow section of the wave pool, it almost felt like we were in Hawaii again. But remember, like most pools, babies are required to wear swim diapers in the pools, so be sure to pack a few extra.

A Little Freedom For Your Teens

Family vacations with teens and tweens can be a bit challenging. But no need to worry, Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect place to give them a little bit of freedom they deserve, while still keeping them safe and secure.

Great Wolf Lodge has such a handy system (pun intended), no more digging through bags and handing key cards, here everything is done right from your wristband! And here’s a little insider tip – if you want your, now big, kiddos to have access to the room key or charging privileges on their wristband, just make sure to ask for it at check-in.

MagiQuest Adventures

Apart from its amazing water park, there are plenty of other activities available for everyone to enjoy. One of the most popular is MagiQuest, an interactive adventure that allows you to explore the resort while wielding a magic wand and completing quests. What’s even better, is that you only have to buy your wand once and you can use it every time you come back! 

My children absolutely loved playing MagiQuest, we tried the game on our last day before heading home. One hour didn’t get us far, but they sure had fun! Completing the entire series of games, however, can take up to 9 hours, which is a testament to just how much fun Great Wolf Lodge is!

Pro Tip: For young ones, buy the wands without the game, two-year olds don’t know the difference and still have a blast waving their wand and following their older siblings.

Buy a Bundled Pass (Wolf, Paw, or Pup Pass)

Looking for even more fun during your stay? Check out their bundled passes! These passes are jam-packed with activities for the whole family, and can include MagiQuest wands and games, arcade credits, Build a Bear, Mining bag from Oliver’s Mining Co., and even sweet treats like candy and ice cream. 

We know how stressful it can be when your little ones are eager to explore everything, which is why we recommend taking a look at our passes online before you arrive to see which activities you plan on doing.
There are several options to choose from, the Wolf Pass for families who want to do it all, the Paw Pass for those interested in a few activities, and the Pup Pass for families with young children, there’s something for everyone!

Please note that getting these passes are optional, as you can always pay onsite to do just one or two of these activities if you choose. We skipped the passes and choose MagiQuest on our last visit!

Take Advantage Their Free Activities

 Did you know Great Wolf Lodge offers plenty of free activities for you and your family to enjoy? 

From dance parties to storytimes, board games to craft activities in the lobby, and even parent & me yoga, they have a full schedule of events that you can check out on the app or pick up at check-in.

Hope you have a great time!

How Is the Food at Great Wolf Lodge?

Great Wolf Lodge has an amazing variety of on-site restaurants where you can satisfy your hunger pangs. We had dinner at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill and it was simply amazing (although a little pricey)! They cater to all kinds of dietary restrictions and even have a kid-friendly menu. Make sure to inform the staff if you are celebrating a birthday, and they will make it extra special with a peppy birthday song and a free cupcake.

Great news for pizza fans, the resort offers pizza box recycling and has an affordable pizza restaurant called Hungry Like a Wolf. And that’s not all! Bear Paw Sweets & Eats has a wide variety of treats like crepes and ice cream, while The Loose Moose Family Kitchen has a buffet with tons of options. Plus, all food on-site is available for takeout and can even be enjoyed in the water park.

However, if you want to save some money on food, we recommend you pack some of your own food from home. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All rooms are equipped with coffee makers, mini-refrigerators, and microwaves. So, packing snacks, drinks, and simple breakfasts is a breeze! You can even bring a cooler through the lobby and into your room, just note that outside food is not allowed in the water park. Enjoy your stay!

Visit the Water Park Without a Night's Stay

Have you heard the great news? Great Wolf Lodge now offers Day Passes for their indoor waterpark at resorts across the country! Now you can enjoy a fun full (or half) day at the waterpark without having to stay overnight. Plus, if you have kiddos two and under, they get in for free! Just remember to purchase your passes online at least one day before your visit. So, what are you waiting for? Plan ahead, grab your passes, and get ready for a splashing good time! For more details or to book your visit, be sure to check out the Great Wolf Lodge website.

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