One of my kids’ favorite places to go is Great Wolf Lodge, but it’s a pricey getaway. However, there are ways to save money at Great Wolf Lodge and make it affordable fun for your family.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that GWL isn’t as affordable as they say they are. It’s easy to drop a lot of money on a single visit; it’s easy to spend $1,000 or more on a short weekend getaway.
That’s not affordable, especially for families with more than one or two kids.
That doesn’t mean you have to skip experiencing GWL with your kids. You can save money while visiting Great Wolf Lodge and still have a great time with your kids.
Let’s dive into these money-saving tips!
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14 Ways to Save Money at Great Wolf Lodge
1. Book on Weeknight and Avoid Holidays
Weekends and holidays are notoriously busier than weekdays, and Great Wolf Lodge increases the price tag of the stay. They have a calendar that lets you see the price for each day, and you’ll notice the price ALWAYS increases at these times.
That’s because the demand is lower during the week. People have to work, and kids go to school. Lower demand leads to lower prices, but when people want to escape for the weekend, GWL increases the price.
That’s the same for any destination place.
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable if you have school-aged kids or don’t have a flexible work schedule. If that’s your case, try the next ways to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
2. Use Groupon to Score a Deal
We manage to escape away to GWL several times throughout the year because we use Groupon. My friend shared this secret to save money at Great Wolf Lodge, and I’m so glad she did!
Most of the time, you find deals for your local Great Wolf Lodge for up to 50% off certain days. If you have flexible dates, this is one of my favorite ways to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
3. Check Different Locations
Something I noticed is that some GWL locations are more expensive than others. Ones located in larger cities tend to cost more money than those in smaller areas.
Even if you have to drive a bit further to get to the cheaper resort, I bet you make up for it in the room costs.
4. Book One Night, Play for Two Days
Here’s another trick you need to know to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
Arrive early at GWL and pay to spend the day at the water park. I pack our bags with our bathing suits and supplies we need to play in a separate bag from the rest of our luggage.
The change rooms and bathrooms are all available early. Remember, people visit the water park without staying at the resort itself.
Then, when it’s check-in time, we go to our rooms, have dinner, and keep enjoying the lodge. We check out in the morning but pay to stay at the water park for the rest of the day.
5. Skip Out on the Packages
One of my friends calls GWL Vegas for kids, and it really is! Everywhere you go at the resort, your kids have something to see, do, or buy.
When you book your stay, you have the option to buy something called the Paw Pass, which they say will save you money on all the extra activities like the arcade and souvenirs.
However, those things are expensive even with the pass. Chances are it isn’t saving you any money.
6. Keep the Themed Rooms to Save Money
Another way to save money at Great Wolf Lodge is to skip the themed rooms.
Don’t get me wrong; the themed rooms are super fun, and we’ve booked them. However, if you want to stick to a budget, I suggest you skip the themes.
Always carefully compare the prices of all the rooms and what you get with each one. The whirlpool tubs are nice, but are you really going to use them? Are you going to flip on the fireplace?
7. Skip Lots of Add-On Activities
Our family loves the add-on activities like the arcade and bowling, but the waterpark is enough in itself. You don’t HAVE to add more unless you have it in your budget and feel the need to add it in.
Read about what the resort has to offer before going and decide before you arrive if you have money to devote to the extras. Consider comparing to other things outside of the resort – is the arcade there cheaper or more expensive than the one down the road?
8. Bring Things to Enjoy in Your Room
If you want to skip a lot of the extras, I suggest bringing some stuff to do in your room with your kids.
A portable DVD player and their favorite movies are one of the easiest things to do after a long day at the water park. I bet your kids doze off earlier than you expect!
If you have older kids, bring some board games or card games.
9. Don’t Skip The Free Activities
GWL offers free activities throughout your stay, so take advantage of them.
One of my kids’ favorite things to do is the Bedtime Story time. They wear their pajamas and head down for a story before they go to sleep. I suggest going down early to get a good seat because it’s one of their most popular activities!
Another one of the free activities is call Cub Club. The kids make crafts, play bingo, enjoy playhouses, and see different characters, depending on where you live.
Some GWL locations have separate areas for toddlers called Cubs’ Corner!
Our kids like Magi Quest, but it’s without a doubt pricey. If you decide this is something your kids enjoy, I suggest sharing wands with younger siblings.
Magi Quest is an interactive game that kids love, but smaller kids don’t enjoy it as much as older kids. They’ll get bored quickly, so have them share.
If you don’t have older kids to share the wands, consider borrowing wands from friends. Lots of destinations have Magi Quest locations, like Pigeon Forge, so it’s something you want to keep.
If you borrow wands, all you have to do is buy new names. Wands range from $16-32 each, so it saves you money, especially if you have several kids!
11. Bring Food for The Room
Each room, even the basic rooms, come with a small in-room fridge and a microwave. The restaurants and buffet located at Great Wolf Lodge are delicious but pricey, so I suggest bringing some food with you.
Bring fruit, cereal, snacks, chips, and other things to munch on throughout the day. Ideally, try doing one or two meals in the room. This will save you quite a deal of money at Great Wolf Lodge.
12. Pack Snacks for Play Time
Kids burn off calories while playing in the water, and the last thing you want to do is walk back and forth to your room to grab a bag of chips.
Even worse, you don’t want to buy the snacks and lunches available near the pool and water park areas. The food is so expensive; you’ll blow your budget in no time.
I pack tons of snacks for my kids to grab and enjoy while having fun at the resort.
13. Bring Your Own Drinks
If you don’t want to bring snacks, make sure you at least bring your own drinks. Soda, bottled water, and alcohol are nearly triple the price of buying them at your local grocery store.
Seriously, it’s wild how expensive these drinks cost when you visit a water park or resort.
The hotel rooms include a small fridge, so you can use them to store the drinks and keep them cold. We rotate and add more drinks as we drink them throughout our stay; it’s a simple way to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
14. Eat at Restaurants Locally
The restaurants at the water park will lead you to spend a small fortune for a basket of chicken fingers that your kids only eat two out of the four strips. You know exactly what I mean.
Instead, find the restaurants locally and head to those. Your kids will still get to enjoy eating out without the resort price.
Don’t think that your lower budget means you have to skip out on visiting GWL. No matter what your budget is, you can find ways to save money at Great Wolf Lodge and have a great time with your kids at this indoor water park resort!