10 Tips for Making the Most of Great Wolf Lodge

There’s nothing that will get my kids more excited than a weekend away. Don’t get me wrong, we love it too. We know our kids will be so incredibly happy and in turn, making us happy parents. Any trip though, in planning, can quickly overwhelm any parent. With my 4 kids, it’s not just getting them there, but all the coordination beforehand and forethought for things to happen on our trip. For instance, who knew my oldest wouldn’t be able to get out of his baseball and basketball that weekend… OOPS! Well, that didn’t stop the rest of us from going away that’s for sure. While we’ve been to several of the indoor waterparks in our area, Great Wolf Lodge was the park to our Disney, and you know this family is crazy about Disney. It was all the kids could talk about in the weeks leading up to our trip. Even my little one, 4 years old, was excited about nothing more than just going away, feeding off of his older siblings excitement.

Having done the indoor waterpark weekend trips a few times, we already knew the questions that needed to be asked and answered. Here are our 10 tips for surviving a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains.

  1. If you can, arrive by 1 pm to take full advantage of the water park on check-in (at 4 pm) day, between this and the full day at check-out, I call that a bonus! But if you can’t swing it, like my kids who couldn’t miss any bit of school, it’s okay too! We didn’t do anything waterpark related on our first day, as I’ve said before and will say again, Great Wolf Lodge is so much more than an indoor waterpark and there was plenty to keep them busy well through the night.
  2. The best room to be had is on the 4th floor at either end of the hallway if you have a little one that still naps, a kid who is a light sleeper or you just like a bit of peace and quiet yourself. It will minimalize noise and the sounds of running children up and down the hallways – think all day and all night thanks to all the adventure games. This does mean a bit more walking from the main elevator but there are multiple staircases throughout the lodge, and really it’s not that far. We only utilized the main elevator when we arrived and at departure to haul all our luggage.
  3. We stayed in a family suite which was perfect for our family with 2 queen beds and a pullout sofa in the semi-private living area but the themed room is definitely worth it and actually, the most bang for the buck if you book at least 60 days in advance. While my kids had no qualms over the family suite, they did wonder aloud several times why we weren’t in a cabin room with the bunk bed (who told them!).
  4. You have a FRIDGE and a MICROWAVE in your room! It is a family resort after all! We brought water, juice and allergy-friendly snacks for the kids which kept them appropriately filled until the designated meal times and this frugal family’s wallet intact.
  5. Invest in the MagiQuest game (or Clubhouse Crew Adventure for your little one under 5). It’s worth every penny and will keep your children occupied for hours! See my review here: http://momconfessionals.com/2017/05/great-wolf-lodge-extras-worth-the-money/
  6. Don’t be afraid to leave the lodge. As 2 of my children have severe food allergies, they usually have a very limited selection of food at the resort despite the staff’s very accommodating attempts to please their palate. Part of their trip excitement is the many fast food chains they will visit along the way. Just a few miles away are plenty of food options like Sonic, Wendy’s or even Desaki’s Hibachi Grill which we loved our last visit to the Poconos. There’s even a nice outlet for shopping just down the road.
  7. DON’T BRING:
    • Towels, they’ve got plenty in your room and in the waterpark.
    • Life-jackets, floaties or other inflatable toys. There are plenty of life-jackets available throughout the park.
  8. DO BRING:
    • Socks and sneakers if your child wants to tackle Howlers Peak Rope Course. Another well worth it add on, even I had so much fun overcoming my fears and tackling the rope course with a few zip lines thrown in.
    • Cover-up or robe for leaving the waterpark. You cannot take the towels provided beyond the doors.
    • Toiletries – they do provide a small selection, but not enough for your family. Asking for more has always irked and inconvenienced me. Usually, we discover we don’t have enough as we’re showering and a call for more can take some time. Although not required, having been children of working immigrant parents, we tip for everything including bringing us missing items, sometimes as much as I could have purchased my own full-size version.
    • Waterproof camera/phone case = Flying Tiger or Amazon has some cheap ones at $3-$5. I use one a trip and toss when done.
  9. If it’s your first time at Great Wolf Lodge, make your stay at least 2 nights to get the full experience. With other indoor waterpark experiences, I’ve always erred on the 1 night/2 day stay being plenty, but Great Wolf Lodge is so much more than just an indoor waterpark. Splurge for the extra night and you won’t regret it. There’s no low season at Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains as you can imagine thanks to their weatherproof indoor waterpark, but the ever slightest dip occurs in September and mid-May.
  10. Make that departure day last. Your park passes work until closing (9 pm at the time of our trip) the evening of your departure date. Standard check out is at 11 am but LATE CHECK-OUT until 2 pm can be purchased for $59.99.  For some families like myself, this was worth every cent and just the right amount of time. It gave the kids just enough time at the waterpark and time for clean up and showering while the parents packed up and load the car. We then had a light lunch on the property and let them finish their MagiQuest or Clubhouse Crew Adventure game, while we purchased some souvenirs, squeezed in a few complimentary activities like balloon making and a dance party before we hit the road. If $60 is a bit steep for just 3 more hours, you can load up your car first thing in the morning and purchase a standard, large or jumbo locker for the day ($15, $20 and $25 respectively) and utilize the showers onsite (to the right of the entrance past the Bear Essentials shop) with the provided toiletries before you leave. What I loved most about this is the 6 large size curtain partitioned showers which gave privacy to families, unlike the communal shower at another indoor waterpark facility and also allowed you to stay at the waterpark for much longer if that’s what your children prefer.  Pack 2 bags, one for the park and one to change in afterward.

As with any trip, if your kid has asthma like my son does or any other medical condition, make sure you bring their medications. Not exclusive to Great Wolf at all, but in the past, the warm indoor 84-degree temperature and chlorine eventually catches up with them. A visit to the First Aid center will have you seeing many kids with asthma exacerbations. Nothing is worse than cutting into your vacation time getting a prescription filled or worse a visit to the ER.

Don’t forget to grab the valuable Shutterfly Photo Book card in your room before you leave which gets you a FREE 20-page 8×8 Great Wolf Lodge photobook filled with all your photos from your trip. It’s an awesome way to preserve those memories forever!

One of my favorite things to highlight is their Howling Heroes discount, which can save you up to 30% off, exclusive to military (active and retired), fire, emergency medical service personnel, police and correctional officers. Must present valid ID at check in for promotion to apply.

{ disclosure: We were guests of Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains as part of their Media Weekend. Incidentals and Travel were not covered. Pricing quoted in the post are verified as of May 1, 2017. As always, all opinions expressed here are our very own. }