Have you heard of the Great Wolf Lodge or been to one? I just started hearing about Great Wolf Lodge in the past year or so, but it is the largest family of indoor water parks resort hotels. There are 17 locations, and we went to the Pocono Mountains, PA location, even though there is one closer in Massachusetts. We decided to go to the one 3 hours away versus a little over an hour because we were meeting family coming from Philadelphia.
Just for context, we have an almost 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter and then met our nephew (10 years old) and niece (8 years old). Overall, I heard good things about the place, but wanted to experience it for myself.
- Free waterpark with your stay (not an extra charge), the day you check in you can go at 1 pm (before your room) and stay after your check out
- Wrist band key for access to room, water park and can charge to it (so be careful not to lose the wrist band)
- No chasing kids with sunscreen since you are inside the whole time
- So many things besides water that kids can do, biggest arcade, ropes course (our location it was outside, so we didn’t use it, but drove by it and it looked great for better weather) and kids story time/activities.
- Bring food from the outside into the water area
- Great winter activity without flying
- Kids could go on all water slides, except 2 because of height restrictions (our niece and nephew were tall enough for all)
- Not crowded, the longest wait we had was maybe 8 minutes for a bigger slide
- Provided towels and life jackets for kids and could exchange whenever they got wet or you took a break
- Pricey stay for 2 nights because we went on a weekend and a holiday weekend at that
- You can’t check in until 4 pm, unless you pay more
- Paw passes are extra money which include a cup of candy, arcade credit, a game, ice cream etc. We decided to not do that, but our kids wanted candy so spent $12 on a cup that they split. We also bought $50 at the arcade, so might be worth it if you have a little bit older kids
- Lots of stairs and sometimes you need to carry a tube plus your child, not handicap accessible
- Not great food options, unless you like fried food for all meals
- You only need like 1 or 2 nights stay max, you can get a half day of the water park in the first day before check-in then a full day and then another full day if you stay 2 nights.
- Look for a Groupon or living social deal for great wolf lodge. It was very pricey for us on a holiday weekend and so if you go during the week and use a coupon it would be much more affordable.
- We got a family suite, which was perfect for us. There was a half wall that we were able to put Grace in the pack and play behind so she couldn’t see us and get her nap in or earlier bedtime. We were on the same floor as the water park, arcade and food so that was easy and nice.
- If you want to stay in
a cheaper room, I would invest if one of these slumberpods.
They are amazing and help block out light and “seeing” you at night if your
- Bring headphones for your older child to hook up to their iPad and they can relax once younger child goes to sleep or take them to arcade to play for a few extra minutes. These are the ones we have for George.
- Get there before check-in and leave luggage in car, I would pack a small bag with just the bathing suits and stuff you want to use the first day since you have access to the park before you actually get you room. We didn’t leave luggage in car, so John went into the water park and I stayed back with luggage, they don’t have a luggage check, which is annoying.
- Water park entry:
- One person from your party should get to the water park 15 minutes before it opens at 9 am in the morning so you can walk in and grab a table for your snacks, towels and a meeting place. The park closes at 8 pm so you can probably go 3 times in a day and tire everyone out.
- Don’t spend extra money on a cabana, we almost did, but it wasn’t worth it because it wasn’t busy, and we got two tables next to each other for our larger party
- Breakfast: We did the breakfast buffet in the hotel one morning because kids under 3 were free and so both our kids were free and then the adults were $15. The food was decent, but our kids didn’t eat much. There was also a Dunkin’ Donuts in the location we went to the other morning, which was way cheaper for us as a family.
- Lunch: Had lunch one day and ate at the pizza place in the great wolf lodge and the “café” in the swim area, with had chicken fingers, fries and burger type food. It was fine for one lunch but wouldn’t have wanted that more than 1 time.
- Dinner: We left the Great Wolf Lodge the first night and went to a hibachi restaurant 2 miles down the road to keep kids entertained and have a better meal. There was a shuttle to the restaurant, which we didn’t know, but it was easy enough to get in and out of the hotel. The other night we also did another restaurant nearby, it was a family friendly brewery and just looked up some stuff while we were there with reviews.
- Snacks/Dessert: We brought a ton of our own snacks (goldfish, apple sauce, crackers, chips, etc.) and I would recommend water bottles and drinks for the kids. We got ben and jerry’s ice cream one night, which was really yummy and a nice treat.
What I packed:
- Minimum of 2 bathing suits for everyone since they get wet and you will want to take a break to dry off and go back to the room to relax.
- Body and face lotion, like this! From being in water with a lot of chlorine your skin gets so dry and will want to lotion each time you change
- Comfy clothes! You don’t need anything fancy since you will be changing quite a bit, I wish I brought more comfy clothes for me, but brought enough for the kids.
Things I wished I packed:
- I saw people with a water case, like this one, for their phones. I took pictures and wanted to get a hold of family members when we got separated but kept having to leave my phone at the table so it wouldn’t get soaked or I would drop it.
- Something warm for the kids to wear if we were eating a snack in the water park area, like this robe or towel. Even though it was 80 degrees the kids were shivering a little from going in and out.
- Water shoes/sandals for everyone. We ended up going barefoot…eekk…but I thought of this last minute and my kid’s feet grew since last year, but this is what I would have purchased.
I think this is an awesome place for families with kids itching to get away in the cold weather. You need to be on your toes, and it exhausts the kids as much as the parents. We had a blast on the slides and rides, and they keep it as safe as possible. I would go back again and hope that my pros/cons and tips help you if you are looking!