This spring, we spent a long weekend in North Carolina, first in Asheville, then in Concord/Charlotte to visit Great Wolf Lodge. I know the trip was several months ago, but I have been really contemplating what I wanted to write here. Generally, I like to share only things I truly love here on The Mom Creative.
And while Great Wolf Lodge was fun (for our big kids), I don’t think it was worth the cost. (We had a media rate for our stay, so I am saying this even factoring in the reduced rate, which was comparable to what you find on Groupon for Great Wolf Lodge.) Though my big kids loved it and had a great time, I don’t know that we will go back.
I know, I know. Great Wolf Lodges are all over America, which would make you think they have to be amazing. In chatting with friends who have been, many agreed with us that it was a great place to visit one time. Only one person said they had gone multiple times and loved it. This is why I decided to write this post.
Because maybe you are considering Great Wolf Lodge or you have it on a family vacation “bucket list” of sorts. If so, I wouldn’t discourage the trip, but would say to consider the following before booking your trip:
Length of stay: We stayed for two nights, and in retrospect, felt that one would have been more than sufficient. On the day you check out, you can still use the facility for an entire day, so you still get two days of the water park without having to pay for two nights in the hotel. We treated Great Wolf Lodge like a destination, rather than an activity or excursion in the city we visited. If you think of it like an overnight excursion, that’s perfect.
Cost/quality of food: The food is VERY average and a bit pricey. Think pizza and subpar salads. Every room includes a mini refrigerator, so consider doing a grocery run or bringing food from home to cut down on costs.
Room: We stayed in one of the KidCabin suites, which have a separate sleep area for the kids. However, this area has no door and a window cutout, so while it provides a bit of privacy for the parents, it definitely is still part of the room. (Curtains on these cutouts would help A LOT!) Because of the openings, it very difficult to get the kids to sleep earlier than Matthew and me. (I had high hopes that it would work like a separate room.) The kids loved the bunk buds (of course), but it was definitely not worth the cost.
Time in waterpark: The waterpark is very fun, but it isn’t huge, so you should consider how much time you will likely spend inside the waterpark facility at the hotel. We went to Great Wolf Lodge with the expectations that we would spend A LOT of time in the waterpark. But we didn’t. Maybe a couple hours in the morning and an hour or two at night. (Tip: definitely go to the park first thing in the morning, as it is much less crowded.) That leaves A LOT of time to do other things, which all cost money and brings me to my next point.
Other activities available: Great Wolf Lodge offers a free story time and free kids yoga. It was very cute and a nice thing to do for 15-20 minutes. Other things to do like the game room, XD theater, Magiquest, mini golf etc. are all extra costs. It’s important to factor this in when budgeting for the trip.
Great Wolf Lodge is a great place to visit with kids, but is costly. It is important to really consider how many days you book to stay there. If you are going to be in a city with a Great Wolf Lodge, I recommend making it a part of your next vacation, but not building a vacation around it.
Have you been to a Great Wolf Lodge? What was your experience? Anything you would add to this post?