Water slides at Great Wolf Lodge

21 Tips for Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Kelly

The Great Wolf Lodge is a resort chain that is known for their indoor water park. What I especially appreciate about this is the fact that we could plan our trip and didn’t have to worry about the weather! Rain or shine, I knew that my family would have a great time! We recently visited and it was the perfect family-friendly getaway! I learned a lot of tips and tricks after our most recent stay. In this post, I’m sharing my 21 best tips for visiting the Great Wolf Lodge based on our experience after staying at the Grand Mound, Washington, location! I’m also sharing our room tour and review of the water park. At the end of this post, I also share lots more photos!

Tips for Visiting

1. Leave the beach towels at the water park

The resort provides beach towels for the water park. However, it’s important that you return the towels before you exit the water park area, otherwise you will be charged! The staff did let me exit with a towel on one occasion, but they did warn me that my room would be charged if I didn’t immediately return it. (I think they granted me an exception.) So, if you want to enter and exit the park with a beach towel, you have to bring your own. 

2. Bring a swimsuit cover-up or robe

I didn’t bring a swimsuit cover-up, and I wish I would have! I didn’t realize that we couldn’t leave the water park with a towel, and I didn’t want to walk through the entire hotel in just my bathing suit. For this reason, I think it’s a good idea to bring a swimsuit cover-up or a bath robe. It would have been nice to have just thrown it on and walked back to our room. You could also bring a change of clothes and change in the locker rooms inside the park, but it seemed like a hassle and I would have rather cleaned up in our own hotel room.

3. The indoor water park is very hot and humid

On the plus side, it’s really nice that the indoor water park is very warm. It’s kept at 84 degrees F. It was very comfortable to be in our swimsuits and start playing in the water. However, it was too hot for our baby to spend much time there. We didn’t plan on taking her swimming, and we quickly realized it was just too warm for her to hang out poolside with one of us. Instead, one of us took her back to the hotel room. If you have someone in your party that’s not planning on swimming, it might be too hot for them. 

Totem towers
These were the Totem Towers slides

4. Parking isn’t free

To park in the lot outside of the hotel, there was a daily parking fee. We paid $15 per day. It’s something to keep in mind while you budget for your trip!

5. Look for a discount

If you join their mailing list, you’ll find lots of promotions and deals. I regularly receive emails that offer up to 40% off hotel rooms. I’ve heard that GroupOn also offers some good deals too! I ended up purchasing our room for just $179, which I thought was a great deal since it included two days at the water park.

6. Make the most of the water park

By purchasing an overnight stay, we were allowed access to the water park as soon as it opened on the first day all the way up until it closed on the second day. To make the most of our time, we arrived early on the first day and played in the water park before check-in. We could have also stayed later the next day as well. 

7. Keep track of the time

There was no visible clock in the water park, so unless we went to the locker to check our phones, we didn’t have a way to keep track of the time. Because we would split up, it made it kind of hard to know when to meet up again for lunch, dinner, etc. If you have a waterproof watch, that might be a helpful thing to bring.

8. If you have kids, take note of their height

There are lots of different water slides at the Great Wolf Lodge, and some of them are only for bigger kids. I think it’s a good idea to measure your kids beforehand so you know what slides they can go on. It’s a good idea to set expectations ahead of time, instead of having a disappointed kid upon arrival. 

height sign for Great Wolf Lodge
Measure your kids before visiting!

9. Skip the cabana

There are cabanas available for rent inside the park. They offer reserved seating, a mini-fridge, etc. When I asked how much it would cost to rent one, I was told that they were $350. That was more than the price of our hotel room! I personally don’t think it would be worth it. If you were to split the cost with another family, then maybe it would be worthwhile, but we were able to find chairs by the pool.

Cabana at Great Wolf Lodge
The cabanas were pricey!

10. Get your wolf ears headbands

Each member of our party could get a wolf ears headband from the gift shop for free. Don’t forget to swing by to grab yours!

11. Beat the rush for breakfast

When we visited, we decided to purchase the buffet breakfast for an additional fee per person. We woke up a little early and had no trouble getting a table and dining right away. However, we noticed that a line started to form for breakfast around 9:30am. (At least on the day that we visited!) We were pleased with the options at the breakfast buffet. There were lots of things to choose from: frittata, donuts, cereals, bacon, sausage, hash browns, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, yogurt, grilled vegetables, fresh fruit, French toast, pancakes, muffins,  and more. 

Breakfast buffet at the lodge

12. Avoid the elevators at check-out time

When we were checking out, the elevators were absolutely packed. Without exaggerating, we waited at least 10 times for an elevator only to find out that each one was full and couldn’t fit our party or our luggage. I recommend bringing your luggage to the car well before the check-out time, because it was an absolute disaster. 

13. Take note of the menus

Most of the food available on the property wasn’t particularly healthy. If you have a special diet or if you’re trying to eat more healthy, I recommend dining reservations at one of the sit-down restaurants or bringing your own food. Most of the options included burgers, pizza, pasta, and ice cream from the quick-service counters. (We really enjoyed the pizza… it was better than expected!)

Kids menu
This is a photo of the kids menu at the restaurant

14. Check your room location

Although we really liked our room, we did not like its location. Is right next to one of the restaurants and at the front of a busy hallway. Because quiet time wasn’t until 11pm, it was super noisy at bedtime. Next time we’ll ask to stay further from the busiest areas.

15. Bring scissors

Each person in our party received a color-coded bracelet that allowed entry into the water park. (It also let the life guards know which waterslides we could ride based on the height requirements.) If you don’t want to sleep with the bracelet on, bring some scissors

16. Enjoy all the activities

There were tons of free activities that were included in our stay. We enjoyed morning yoga, photo opportunities with characters, BINGO, bubbles, etc. During the evening, there was a glow stick dance party.

Yoga at the lodge
This was the yoga set-up

17. Plan for MagiQuest

MagiQuest is a scavenger-hunt type game where you play games at stations located throughout the resort. To play, you need to purchase a magic wand and game time. For children 5 and under, there’s also a Mini Magi Mode option. Each station takes about 15-30 minutes to complete, although with your purchase you have unlimited play during your stay. We didn’t do the MagiQuest game because we did other activities, but we heard from other parents that it’s quite a time commitment. If you decide to purchase the wand, make sure that you have enough time to play the game.

This is where you could buy the MagiQuest gear

18. The arcade is expensive

We purchased an arcade pass and then we also put extra money on the card. We quickly realized that the arcade games were very expensive. (Some of them were as much as $4 per play!) We had a blast, so it was worth it for us, but it’s something you might want to consider when budgeting for your trip. Overall we were really pleased with the arcade game selection. There were lots of fun games to choose from. Our daughter especially liked the mini carousel.

Arcade at Great Wolf Lodge

19. Download the app

When you check-in, make sure to download the free app. The app will show you all the activities for the day, that way you won’t miss anything fun!

20. Beat the crowds

We timed our trip for a weekday in March. The resort was pretty quiet and we didn’t have to wait in long lines for the waterslides. If you can visit on a weekday instead of a weekend, we highly recommend it. It was worth it for us!

21. Enjoy the extra paid experiences

In addition to MagiQuest, there’s also the Howler’s Peak outdoor ropes course, Oliver’s Mining (where you can fill a bag of gems), Build-a-Bear Workshop, and the Moonstone Mine (a mirror maze). We only stayed one night during our trip, so we didn’t have time to do these extra activities. We’d definitely like to come back and play some more!

Ropes Course
Here’s a photo of the ropes course

Our Review of the Water Park

The Great Wolf Lodge in Washington State contains a 56,000-square-foot indoor water park. Our daughter was over 42″ tall, so she got to play in Fort Mackenzie. (This is where we spent most of our time!) The fort has lots of fun water activities and squirt guns. We were completely drenched as we tried to make our way through the fort. If you have a sensitive little kid that doesn’t want to get splashed, there really wasn’t a path to the top that didn’t include all the water splashing.

Fort Mackenzie
We had a lot of fun at Fort Mackenzie!

Our favorite thing to do at Fort Mackenzie was to slide down the two Totem Tower water slides. What I liked about these slides was that they didn’t empty into a pool. Our daughter, who’s still learning to swim, didn’t have to exit in a pool. This was great because kids weren’t allowed to sit on adults’ laps and go down the slides.

We also really enjoyed the wave pool at Slap Tail Pond. We spent a lot of time jumping in the waves!

Wave Pool
We also really enjoyed the wave pool

There were also some fun areas for little kids, including Whooping Hollow and the Cub Paw Pool.

We didn’t do the bigger slides on this trip, including the Howlin’ Tornado, Alberta Falls, or the River Canyon

water slides at Great Wolf Lodge

We really liked the “water playground” at Chinook Cove. There were lots of basketball hoops set up in that pool. Big Foot Pass also looked really cool, because kids could try to climb the nets without falling in the water.

Chinook Cove
Lots of basketball hoops at Chinook Cove

Room Tour: Luxury King Suite

We stayed in the Luxury King Suite. We had a king-sized bed, a sleeper sofa, a mini-fridge, and a full bath. The room was very spacious, and there was lots of space to spread out. We’re sharing our photos below:

More Photos From Our Trip

We’ve also included some more photos of the property and amenities below.


We had a great time at the Great Wolf Lodge! It kept our family very busy, and we barely scratched the surface regarding the resort’s activities. Our daughter has been talking about this trip for a long time, and we’ll definitely be coming back. We recommend spending one or two nights to complete the activities. With one night at the resort, we were able to enjoy the water park and the arcade. If we had a second night, we’d be able to do the MagiQuest game and some other activities. We hope this post helps you plan your own trip!

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Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!