Last week I shared my review of the Great Wolf Lodge and promised some tips for your next trip to the family resort.  Just to remind you that my review and tips are based on our trip to the New England resort, but I’m told that all locations are generally similar.

Real Family Tips GWL 2

Here are my tips to help you enjoy your stay:

Bring your own food.  Each room has a dorm-sized fridge (no freezer), a microwave, and a coffee pot.  Use them.  As much as possible.  Food at the lodge is very expensive and not that healthy.  A little juice box sized milk is $3!  My grocery list for our next trip would include milk, fruit, breakfast cereal, sandwich makings, snacks, paper plates, and plasticware.


In addition to bringing your own food, make reservations when you want to go to a restaurant.  The Lodge is the only restaurant at the resort and it fills up quickly.  Unless you’re going to eat outside of typical hours, get a reservation to avoid long waits with hungry kids.

Do your research.  Know what’s included and what you’re going to pay for.  Initially we thought we wouldn’t play any arcade games because Miss O’s only 4, but the lodge is designed so that you have to walk through the arcade to get from the Howlin’ Timbers Play Park to the grand lobby.  It’s also where the take out food is.

The arcade and the play park are pay-to-play areas of the resort.  You have to pay (cash or credit, no wrist bands) for a card with a certain amount of points on it.  Most games and rides are a certain number of points, but some are charged in dollars per person.

That said…

Set a budget and stick to it.  The wristbands and complicated pricing, not to mention “vacation prices” for everything can quickly add up.  Don’t fall into the “it’s vacation, so it doesn’t count” trap.  For 3 of us a typical dinner was $50-60, Miss O’s wand was $18 (if we’d purchased a Magi game package that would be $30-60 more), pay-to-play games were about $10 a day (mostly for Miss O).

And don’t forget to calculate other costs for your trip.  Gas and other travel expenses, pet boarding or care, food along the way, etc.

Do whatever you can to help your kids sleep.  Bring loveys, blankies, pillows, or melatonin (my personal favorite).  Beyond the usual strangeness of hotel rooms, Great Wolf is a busy, noisy place.  All the sounds and activity can easily keep a little one up through nap and late at night.  See my previous post on Making a Hotel Room Homey for Kids for more great tips and ideas.

Wolf Den

Drink lots of water.  This is so easy to forget and I didn’t see a single water fountain (that’s bubbler for my northern New England friends) in the entire resort.  Bring water with you or make quick trips back to the room to use the bathroom and hydrate.