Another trip to the Lodge, another blog post to commemorate it! I've shared my other posts with friends, to give an idea of what The Great Wolf Lodge is like. So, I figured it was time to put an easy little list of things that I've learned and what works well for us when we visit.
- Book early and only with coupons. If you've never visited, they always have a new customer deal and others listed on their website. We got a new customer discount on our first visit. After that, we are on the mailing list and get emailed great deals. Also, keep an eye out for Groupons/Living Socials and book midweek if you can. It was so nice to go on a Thursday, instead of a Saturday this time around! Less expensive AND less crowded.
- When booking, prepay for the breakfast buffet. If you are a family of 4, they have a great deal for a breakfast voucher for only $40. This is a great savings and includes your drinks. We've done this for each stay, because we are DOWN with the buffet and it's an easy was to save nearly $20.
- Keep your eye out for a link to coupons in reservation confirmation emails. We used at least one for our tradition of buying souvenirs for the kids and another for MagiQuest.
- Eat an early lunch, or lunch in the car ride there, and bring a separate pool bag to easily stow in the lockers. On our last trip, we weren't able to check into our rooms right away and we just brought bathing suits, goggles, a few small toiletries, and shower shoes/flip flops (a must for all the walking around in bathing suits) in a small bag. That way, we were able to head straight to the pool to start enjoying the water park right at 1pm.
- When checking in, it doesn't hurt to ask for a room on a higher floor and away from the elevator. Specifically, you'd want floor 6 or higher in Grand Mound, due to all the MagiQuest shenanigans. Plus the views with balconies were pretty nice!
- Bring goggles and have everyone wear them around their neck so as not to lose them. If your kids are anything like mine, swimming in the wave pool gets the most attention and it saves a major red eye situation.
- DON'T BRING life vests/floaties, or towels. They have plenty!
- Tips on slides: the big ones (Howlin' Tornado and River Canyon Run) are cool but over really fast. Also, the Tornado can be SCARY and may involve tears (mine) the first time around. The ones where you carry your own inner tube up the stairs (Alberta Falls) are WAY more fun, have shorter lines and seem to last longer.
- Bring big bottles of water to keep in the room fridge. You need to hydrate with all the activity and water is way expensive at the lodge.
- Go during October for Howl-o-Ween! This was an unexpected perk, as I was just trying to plan a trip over an school in-service day. Trick or treating was a FANTASTIC distraction to get the kids out of the water, which is normally like pulling teeth.
- When you do pull the kids away from the water park, get them showered in the locker rooms regardless of whether you checked into your room. I take my daughter and my husband takes my son and we get them showered up before going back to the room. Saves time and the adults can take turns showering in the room while the kids enjoy the OMG BUNKBEDS and some time with their Kindles. Speaking of...
- If your kids play Minecraft, it automatically connects to the free Wifi and they can play in the 'worlds' of other guests at the resort. I'm fine with this and my boy actually sparked up conversations with other kids and had a lot of fun building and seeing new stuff.
- Go off site for dinner! Specifically, if you're in Grand Mound, go to McMenamins! They have great food for the adults and kids.
- Get a Mai Tai for the clock tower show. You might need one by the end of the day and they are DELICIOUS. Really, you can get your drink on any time of day at The Great Wolf Lodge...
- If your kids are a bit older (6ish plus), you really don't need to stick around for the story hour. It's usually really crowded and hard for them to hear anyway. We spend the after dinner time picking out souvenirs and spending a little time in the arcade.
- If you play MagiQuest, definitely plan for at least an hour or more of time to complete quests. We swim on the first day and then do quests on the second day before heading home, and the kids are a-OK with that!
- If you bought a MagiQuest game on a previous visit, but didn't finish, ask if they can extend the time. We still have at least one quest left over after two visits - so extend the game if you can. It's worth asking, and luckily, they added time for us without charging us.
- Ask for help if you need it! The folks at the MagiQuest store will be more than happy to help, especially if you've exhausted all avenues and they'll usually give you a tip or two on the final challenges (as shown above).
- Wands only light up things around the resort if you've paid for a game. This was a new and SAD development, as my five year old is not really at the age to play MagiQuest. Yet she has a wand and used it on previous visits to light up all the fun stuff around the resort. No longer. Womp. She was pretty upset about it, so I guess we'll pony up for a game next time - whether she plays it through or not.
That's all I can think of for now, and I hope it's helpful! If you've visited and have other tips to share, I'd LOVE to hear them.