Great Wolf Lodge

My family just got back from a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. I’ve had a few people ask me about it, so I thought I’d just write a review because … well, why not? I don’t want to do laundry, so I’ll do this 🙂

Great Wolf Lodge is a water park with a hotel, or a hotel attached to a water park. However you need to spin it. This was our 4th time staying at a Lodge between going to the Grapevine, Texas location and the Grand Mound, WA location.

This trip included myself, my husband, our 5 and 9 year old, and his 17 and 18 yr old daughters. Our 9 year old has sensory challenges and has ADHD, everyone else is able to run wild with no issue.

The Facts:
You don’t pay extra for the water park, but they will try to get you to spend in many many other areas
Life jackets are provided and come in a huge array of sizes (they are not required, but I would say they are highly recommended) – this was especially reinforced when a tube flipped over with my non-swimmer 5 yr old into the big landing pool on a big slide
Outside floaties/vests are not permitted, but you may bring your own goggles
There is something for everyone
It is very low key as far as dress code requirements throughout the hotel
Someone will puke or poop in a pool and shut it down at least once during your visit
Aside from the slides, there are various pools to play in – wave pool/activity pool with basketball, lily pads, obstacle course

You can’t check in until 4, but you CAN begin using the water park at 1pm.
Upon checkout, you checkout by 11am, but you have all day access to the water park
The water park has a locker/bathroom/shower area. (We paid $15 for a medium sized locker which you have unlimited access to via a keypad)
The floors in the bathroom are VERY slippery. My daughter has fallen at least once each time we’ve visited
The water park is open 9-9
Seating is semi-limited, so snag a chaise or chair asap and put down shoes or something other than a towel to reserve it
The water park is VERY loud. Extremely loud.

See that bucket dumping water? It’s every 3-5 mins, and every time it dumps people scream. You have been warned. And yes, while you are in line for the slides on that structure, depending on where you are in line, it will dump on you and the kids. (NOT a high point for my kids)

There is an arcade & mini golf range that are extra, but a nice change from water/swimming/water/sliding/water activity

The room you need to reserve is dependent on how many in your party. We have booked the Kid Cabin when we have all the kids. This is a nook with 1 bunk bed and 1 full bed with a table and a mounted TV. There is also a queen size bed and pull out sofa. Their website is very informative and obvious with the pics of rooms.

The lobby has a creepy antiquated animatronic show 3x/day. My daughter liked it, my son was weirded out by it, but the howling wolves saved it for him. I could definitely see a Horror Film being made secretly about these characters. Depending on the time of year, there might be a dance party after story time and i’d say it’s a great way to end the day and finalize the exhaustion you are hoping for by the time you limp up to the room. You would think all day at a water park would tire your kids out… and it does… you just have to convince them to close their eyes for longer than 5 seconds in the vicinity of a bed and you are golden! Sidenote: if you are taking a range of ages, perhaps bring your own nightlight. We had a “too dark!” situation that was kind of a pain.

Wear shoes to the water park. If you are overweight and under-supported like I am, walking non-stop on the poolside type rough floor and pools will kill your feet. I wore padded flip flops just to give my feet a rest from time to time between pools/looking for kids/meeting up with parts of our party/snack stand.

There is alcohol! Hallelujah!

Don’t pay extra for the wand game the hotel pushes. It’s way overpriced, and the tricks you get are really anti-climactic. It’s a cute idea, but they don’t spend any time or money updating, dusting, oiling the surprises. I told my kids, “Sit still long enough near a wand stop and you’ll get to see the surprise, or just follow a kid around, sit back & watch”.

Kids literally run around all over the lobby waving wands, stabbing wands into the air, and jumping in front of you if you are near a wand stop. 95% of the experience is out for everyone to see.

There is a Starbucks on premises, but it’s slow. And everyone is in line to order for a party of people.

Now for my personal experience: As mentioned before, I have a sensory-challenged ADHD kid. From our first ever stay at a GWL he refused to go on the mid-level slide despite it being completely age appropriate. At the time, we didn’t have a diagnosis and this made it all the more frustrating. Between the crowd, the massive bucket-dump at seemingly random times, and the experience of never having been on a water slide, he stubbornly refused and caused many a scene.

However, there are PLENTY of other things for these kiddos to do. The kiddie play area is plenty big, plenty packed, with plenty of activities for a range of kids. You just have to ignore the amount of swim diaper ratio to amount of water. Between that and the lack of line for the bathroom, you don’t even want to think about it.

The chlorine and chemicals will burn your eyeballs even if you never dip a toe into the water

The Texas location has a lazy river the WA location does not have. This was a big downer considering my bigger kid does not like the slides. Texas is a newer hotel also, so it’s cleaner and more ‘crisp’.

The convenience of walking from a water park straight to your room is genius. No cars, no driving, no changing needed. Also, the water park is hiked up to about 85 degrees. After a few hours in the water it can seem cold, so cover ups were appreciated.

If you can get a deal or Groupon to visit, it’s completely worth it. If not, I would wait for something to come up before booking a visit. The full price per night charge to me isn’t worth the stay for all the extras you still have to pay for. No meals are included with your stay to my knowledge and the locations I’ve been to are not built near anything convenient to leave the hotel to do.

Hopefully this is a helpful post of information. We got back today and i’m still a little chemical cloudy from our trip, so hopefully it was concise and consistent. Thanks for stopping by, and please leave a comment with your experience, if you agree or disagree.


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