Great Wolf Lodge: Tips for Large Families
The first thing I did when Ben and Adalia booked tickets for their visit was book two rooms at Great Wolf Lodge. For the uninitiated, Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel resort with an indoor water park. The Grand Mound location is just three hours from our house and makes the perfect large family getaway. When Tilly and Jared booked their tickets months later, I immediately booked another room. This was going to be an amazing large family adventure.
This was our third trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We went the first time in 2010 (more photos of that trip here) and the second in 2012(more photos of our 2012 trip here). Needless to say, we are huge fans.
In a strange twist of irony, we booked the tickets because Adalia really wanted to take Ben to Great Wolf Lodge…and he had to change his tickets and come a week later than planned due to his booming Ferrier business. So, we went without Ben and had a great time anyway (sorry, Ben).
We booked three rooms. A room for the boys, a room for the girls, and a room for the newlyweds (Tilly and Jared). We all hung out together for breakfast and dinner. If you haven’t packed 15 people into a single hotel room for pizza, I’m not sure you even know what fun is.
Percy is clearly just one of the tribe. He saw a stack of pizza boxes and attempted to help himself. The downside of so many aunts and uncles is, you don’t get away with anything because someone is always watching.
Apollo, Percival, and Adalia watching The Office and waiting for pizza.
When you’re pregnant you get to eat pizza in bed with absolutely no guilt or judgment. And clearly, Tilly was enjoying herself.
He’s a little cheeky sometimes…
Percy loved the giant Christmas tree in the lobby.
Aunty Jubilee and Percy.
Aunty Claire (Ben’s sister) and Percy.
Great Wolf Lodge Tips for Large Families
Don’t Bring Life Jackets
You do not need to bring life jackets (the waterpark is well-stocked with them).
Don’t Bring Towels
Towels are provided in the water park. Just be aware that there is a $15 per towel charge to your room if they are not returned.
The Great Wolf Lodge makes it simple to plan your trip. They have links to all the activities as well as pricing. They list the menus of their various restaurants as well so there should be no surprises.
Great Wolf Lodge is not just a water park. It also has a spa, gift shop, Starbucks, arcade, story time, dance parties, a couple of restaurants, and more. We go to Great Wolf Lodge because our entire family loves to swim. For us, the attraction is the water park. Okay, except for Jubilee. (For her, the attraction is Starbucks and the gift shop.)
The first time we went we told our children we were there for the water park. We did attend some of the free events (such as story time) but the kids knew we wouldn’t be going to the arcade or buying “magic” wands.
Because of our large family, when we go to Great Wolf Lodge, we have to book 2-3 of the biggest rooms they have. This can get expensive. In order to save money, we end up taking at least some of our food along with us. In the past, we have taken a rice cooker and crockpot and had our dinner cooking while we swam! This time, I wanted to keep it simple and make it a vacation for me as well as the kids. We ended up taking our breakfast (granola, yogurt, and muffins), plenty of snacks (granola bars, fruit snacks, apples, and chips). Chuck and I budgeted to order pizza the night we stayed there and we ended up buying lunch on the second day as well.
Know Your Check-in and Check-out times.
Great Wolf Lodge allows you to access the water park at 1 pm (even before your room is ready) and for the rest of the day after you check out. We chose to pack up and load the van before heading to the water park in the morning. That way no one had to rush back to pack up rooms to be out in time.
Be sure and bring swim diapers if you have a baby. You may also want to pack a swimsuit cover up or robe for going from your room to the water park. Great Wolf Lodge has a swim essentials store if you forget anything, but it is always nice to be prepared ahead of time.
I hope these tips are helpful, and if I’ve missed anything, be sure and add it in the comments!