So you’ve finally booked your stay! Hooray! But now that you know you’re going, how do you make the most out of your Great Wolf Lodge stay? There’s no doubt with any vacation it can be tough to find the balance between feeling like you got your money’s worth and having time to relax. Luckily, we’ve had the chance to stay a few different times and I’m happy to share what tips and tricks we’ve found through a little trial and error that really worked during our visits to save both time & money.
We were given certain discounts and experiences during our last visit to Great Wolf Lodge in exchange for media coverage. All opinions remain our own. Please see the disclosure page for more information.
1. Plan To Arrive Early and Stay Late
Many times we only stay for one night, but at Great Wolf Lodge, that one evening feels like so much more! Although check-in time isn’t until 4:00 PM in most cases, you can usually use the water park as early as 1:00 PM. We will either wear our suits under our sweats to the hotel, or pack a separate bag to use until our room is ready and begin our splashtastic time as soon as we are able arrive.
Along with playing early, you also get extra time at the end of your stay. Check-out may be at 11:00 AM (or 2:00 PM if you elect for late check-out,) but the fun doesn’t have to end until 9:00 PM that night! This leads me to my next tip…
2. Book A Less Expensive Room & Splurge On A Cabana or Day Bed
I know how adorable those wolf-themed rooms are for your little cubs and I definitely recommend the experience, but when making choice on how to get the most for your money, I definitely pick these water park amenities.
Why is it worth it? For starters, if you’re like my family, you’ll spend the least amount of time in your room. It also saves you from having to rush down in the morning to secure a spot. The cabanas come with a refillable mug for each member of your party, a basket of towels (that the attendant will exchange for dry ones as you need,) a locker and a television. They also make a great spot to let the kids dry out for awhile, or if you have little ones that need a mid-day nap. You pay for the day, so you can also dry off to take a break and explore the adventure park or play MagiQuest and return when your ready for more wet and wild fun.
The family day beds aren’t quite as private and don’t offer as much, but are still a great reserved area and a place to gather as a family.
3. Plan Your Meals
I read a lot of trip reports that suggest bringing food in or ordering delivery, but I really don’t think this is the best advice. First, whether it be Disney, or Great Wolf Lodge or wherever–the food and snacks are part of the experience. I get that it can be expensive, but with a little planning it CAN be affordable.
Before your stay, see if they have any specials for their optional dining package. They sometimes run discounts and offer extra meal credits. If you don’t have a meal plan, check the online menus for each dining location to see where your family may like to dine.
While my family loves the buffet offerings at The Loose Moose Family Kitchen, but we aren’t big breakfast people, so for breakfast we head to Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s quick, we can take it into the water park with us and it’s very affordable.
Buckets Incredible Craveables can be a bit pricey at $10+ per adult combo meal, but the portions are huge. It’s easy to share a meal and add a side of fruits or veggies if you’re still hungry.
Another affordable option is Hungry as a Wolf. My husband loves this fresh made pizza and we can feed our family of five with pizza, salad and drinks for about $40. It’s a great dinner or lunch in between activities.
Last, and easily my favorite. Look for happy hour specials! At the Colorado Springs Great Wolf Lodge, both Barnwood (read about how much I love this place here) and The Outpost offer happy hour specials. Barnwood even has great priced appetizers during this time!
There’s also a refrigerator and microwave in the room so you can reheat any leftovers!
4. Take Advantage Of All The Free Activities
When you think about the price for a stay, it’s not just the room and water park you’re paying for. While there are activities that cost additional, there are also lots that are included in your room rate.
If your kids are early risers take them to Wake Up With Wiley and Friends. Morning activities included Yoga Tails, The Forest Friends Show, Wolf Walk and Wolfercise.
During the day you’ll find crafts, science experiments, art lessons, balloon animals, face painting and more.
As the sun goes down, the fun continues with pajama parties, story time, dance parties and even more fun.
Tip: There are even more activities to find during the special events such as Howl-oween or Snowland, so make sure to check the activities schedule when you check-in!
A Little Planning Goes A Long Way
Like any vacation or stay-cation, if you go in with no plan you’ll still have an amazing time, but if you make a plan you’ll have fun and save both time & money at Great Wolf Lodge.