The Surprise: We decided to surprise the kids with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge for my daughter’s 8th birthday and were able to keep it under wraps pretty well. They really had no idea. We packed their bags for them, hid the suitcases in our trunk before they got in the car and just got in the car and started driving. I wasn’t quite sure the kids would even know where we were when we arrived because except the once in a while commercial I’ve seen on television for Great Wolf Lodge I don’t think they’ve ever seen any advertising for it and I’ve never really talked about it before. So when we arrived they were still pretty confused. I jumped out of the car and went to check in while my husband parked with the kids. It was great to see the looks on their faces as they entered the doors taking in every tiny little detail. Once I was done at the desk, which didn’t take long we led the kids to the back of the resort main floor where they were able to get a sneak peak of the fun awaiting them inside the water park portion of the resort through the big tall glass windows. Their little eyes instantly lit up and you’d have thought we had arrived at Disneyland! They couldn’t wait to go in.
Check-in: Simple, easy and quick- not what I expected because I had heard things about the long lines and up to 15 minutes per party for check-in (not the case in our situation). No wait time, I walked right up to the counter and it took about 5-7 minutes total for my check-in. We showed up at about 1:45 so maybe we missed the 1pm rush and when I did walk by the desk later that afternoon around 4pm (which is when rooms typically are supposed to be ready) there was more of a line up for check-in but it didn’t look too bad.
The Waterpark: Our room wasn’t quite ready, but we anticipated this as we were told that rooms typically weren’t ready until 4pm but that guests could check-in and start enjoying the resort amenities at 1pm. So we had packed a waterpark bag with our swimsuits. After adorning each family member with the wrist band they would wear the entire stay, which provided entrance to the water park attractions we proceeded to the second floor to gain access to all the fun that awaited us. As soon as we entered the water park I was instantly overwhelmed by a warm humid climate. (Great Wolf Lodge keeps it at a nice 84 degrees and the water at 82 degrees.) At first I will admit that I thought I might have trouble breathing in there, being seven months pregnant I sometimes get easily short of breath, but after a few minutes of adjusting I was fine (changing into my swimsuit really helped too because I wasn’t adorned with so many clothes weighing me down). Before we went to change the kids were measured and given special wrist bands indicating their height and what waterpark attractions they’d be able to enjoy. Both of my older girls got a wrist band that would allow them access to everything with no restrictions and my youngest who is definitely small for her age and only three years old was given a wrist band that had quite a few restrictions placed on it- but there were plenty of things for her to enjoy so we weren’t concerned. She wasn’t able to go on any of the big waterslides with inner tubes- which she was a little disappointed with at first because she LOVES inner tubes. I would have loved to see an indoor lazy river attraction but everything else was great.
One little problem we had is that they measured my daughter the 1st afternoon we got there when we went in and she was fully clothed and in shoes and they gave her a wrist band that would allow her to go on all the slides. She LOVED the big slides and went on them a ton that day. She kept that wristband on and the next day when we went back in she walked up the tall stairs to go down the big slide and they told her that she was too short and had to get a new wristband. I understand safety issues and such but she was only like less than an inch too short to use the slides and she had already spent an afternoon doing so. Not that I’d want them to make an exception for her and let her use them but I think the staff needs to be consistent about their measuring and if they are going to measure the kids as they come in before changing that they have them remove their shoes, especially if they are really close to the height restriction.
Favorite Waterpark Rides: Being pregnant we decided to bring my 16 year old sister along to help out and I’m glad we did because my older girls LOVED the Howlin’ Tornado- one of the most thrilling rides there that drops 6 stories- I chose not to ride this one being pregnant but the kids and my sister enjoyed it MANY times. I spent quite a bit of time with my three year old hanging out at the Cub Paw Pool where the maximum depth was 1’6” and they had this fun purple water slide that was perfect for her. She just kept going on it over and over and over again. Luckily Great Wolf Lodge does this great thing where every 10 minutes they have all the kids get out from that area to use the bathroom if needed and take a break, this was a nice way to break my daughter away from that little water slide and change up what we were doing. She also really enjoyed the Slap Tail Pond (wave pool) and Chinook Cove Activity Pool where she could swim around and splash to hear hearts content.
After a few hours of enjoying the waterpark we were informed by text to my husband’s phone that our room was ready and while we weren’t able to pull the kids away from all the fun, he did take a break and take all of our bags out of the car and up to our room for us to setup. We also setup balloons we had brought with us and the presents for my daughter’s birthday for a big surprise later. After about another half an hour the kids were getting a little tired and we convinced them that there was a fun surprise upstairs and were able to pull them away from all the water fun.
The Room: Showing the kids our room was like one surprise after another. With three adults and three kids we were able to stay in the KidCabin Suite (sleeps 6, max 7). This suite had one queen size bed for mom and dad and a sleeper couch for my sister and a miniature log cabin that doubled as the kids’ sleeping quarters that had a bunk bed, daybed and TV. (My sister actually ended up sleeping in there with the kids though because all the little ones wanted to snuggle together on the bunk bed and she took the day bed so we didn’t even need to use the pull out couch.) Honestly we didn’t spend very much time in our actual room because my kids just wanted to play in the water the entire time but it was nice to enjoy a little themed fun with our room and have plenty of space to stretch out and relax if we wanted too. In fact that KidCabin made a perfect sanctuary for the kids to escape to and watch their own television shows for a little bit at night while mom and dad got a break. Our room also include a microwave, mini fridge, main television for mom and dad to enjoy and a fireplace. The mini fridge option was great because we were able to bring some of our own snacks from home and water to save a little bit of money.
Story Time: That night at 8pm the lodge offered a story time so the kids got their pj’s on and we went downstairs where they got to see a giant tree with animals come to life singing and dancing. Since it was January they still had a few of their Snowland perks going on and partway through the singing it started snowing all over the main floor of the resort. My three year old went nuts! She absolutely LOVED it! She was running around trying to catch all the snow, she was just in awe over it all. (We of course hadn’t seen any snow yet in Washington so I think that made it even more special.) Then someone that worked there came out and read the kids a story and afterwards we got in line to get our picture taken with Wiley Wolf- by that point my 6 and 8 year old wanted to go back up to the room but my 3 year old was loving every minute of it so we let her stay while the others went and got ready for bed.
Other Activities: There were so many other activity opportunities for the kids at Great Wolf Lodge and if we had stayed a few more days we definitely would have taken advantage of them but I seriously couldn’t pull my kids away from the waterpark. MagiQuest where the kids could purchase magic wands to unlock many different activities and fun surprises around the resort looked like quite a bit of fun. They also had an arcade and kids spa that I know my girls would have loved! Cub Club would have been the perfect place for my three year old while the older two were enjoying MagiQuest because they offered some fun hands on crafts, and cute souvenir opportunities. If you’re going to enjoy all of the “dry” activities Great Wolf Lodge has to offer I’d suggest getting a Paws Pass upon arrival. It will help save you about 25% off if you were to buy everything individually.
Paws Pass: $59.99 + tax
- One Color Your Own Item from Cub Club
- One Animal From Animal Land (Outfit Not Included)
- One Dippin’ Dots serving at Spirit Island Snack Shop
- One Souvenir Great Wolf Lodge Sipper Cup & Drink
- One MagiQuest Classic wand and game
- One small Great Wolf Lodge Kandy Kup from gift shop
- One Grand Mound collectible logo pink from gift shop
- One Small Glitter Tattoo
Dining Options: There are quite a few dining options available at Great Wolf Lodge. We decided to eat dinner at Camp Critter Bar & Grille. While the food was good, my kids decided they really didn’t want to eat after ordering their food, so while they got these great wolf ears with their meals that they loved their food went to waste. We definitely ended up spending a little more on dinner then we anticipated- it was a little over $100 for my husband, sister and I and the three kids, not too bad of a price but I honestly wish we had just take advantage of the in-room pizza deal they had for less than $30, which is what we’ll do next time. For breakfast the next morning we enjoyed the all you can eat buffet at The Loose Moose Cottage. I don’t know if my kids were just more hungry in the morning or if they just like breakfast food better but they loved the spread! This was definitely a really good deal. We added the breakfast package onto our room package for only $50 (our 3 year old was free to eat and my 16 year old sister was considered a child). There were definitely other places to buy snacks like the Bear Paw Sweets & Eats, Pizza Hut Express and the Spirit Island Snack Shop (that was actually located inside the waterpark area) but my kids were much too busy playing to want to stop for food and it helped that we brought a few of our own in our room. (They also have a Starbucks for those who might want a morning cup of coffee.)
Cute wolf ears that the girls got with their kids meals for dinner at Camp Critter Bar & Grille.
For my 8 year old daughter’s birthday they brought her a cupcake at dinner and sang to her.
The kids did eat some of the nachos we got for an appetizer so maybe they were just too full to eat their actual meals.
Overall Great Wolf Lodge was definitely a great place to take the family! I loved being able to go somewhere warm where we could enjoy swimming and the waterpark amenities without having to get on an airplane. Next time we’ll be staying a few more days so we can really enjoy everything because one night just wasn’t enough! My daughter had a great birthday and after dinner our first night got to enjoy some cupcakes we brought with us and open presents, but I think just being there and having fun was present enough for her! All three of the kids are already begging to go back!
Top Things to Know:
- The Waterpark opens at 1pm to guests checking in but rooms aren’t usually ready until 4pm- be sure to bring a separate packed bag with just your swimsuits in it.
- I would suggest checking in about 1:45pm or 4:30pm just to avoid the rush times.
- The Waterpark provides guests with towels so you don’t need to pack these.
- You can rent a locker for $10 a day and I would definitely suggest doing so to put all your stuff in because you aren’t going to want to have to go back to your room.
- The locker rooms didn’t provide that great of a space for changing so maybe change into your swimsuits in your room before you go down and wear a lightweight cover-up over top so you aren’t walking through the resort in just your suite. You can use the bathroom stalls to change if you want a little more privacy but I found them a bit cramped and difficult to do that in.
- Waterpark opens at 9am and closes at 9pm.
- There’s a great story time in the lobby for kids at 8pm where they can wear their pj’s.
- Purchase the Paws Pass if you’re planning on doing all the “dry” activities it will save you a good deal of money.
- Try and add on a meal to your package if you can to save money- I would suggest the all-you-can eat breakfast – it’s a great price and you get a good amount of food to fill you up for the day.
- Always check the Great Wolf Lodge Facebook page for specials and their website and be sure to sign up on their website to receive deals by email.
- Be sure to check the height restrictions for waterpark attractions on the Great Wolf Lodge Website before you go so you know what you’re kids will be able to enjoy.
- The waterpark provides life jackets – you don’t need to bring these. My two older girls are both pretty good swimmers but still liked the comfort of wearing the life jacket the entire time, as did my 3 year old.
Disclosure: I was provided with a room at The Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound, WA location for a discounted rate in exchange for my posting.