When it comes to family vacations, we’re up for anything. We like camping in the woods, exploring a new town, or taking a staycation with kids in our own city. We also love visiting resorts like Great Wolf Lodge. And when it comes to Great Wolf Lodge vacations, we’re always trying out new ways for how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
Our family doesn’t usually stay at resorts when we travel. But we love Great Wolf Lodge because of the magical quests that the kids can do while we’re there. It’s like stepping into an imaginary world for the kids! And the swimming activities help our family stay active while we travel.
If it weren’t for how expensive Great Wolf Lodge can be, we would go there all the time!
Fortunately, I’ve picked up a few tips over the years on how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge. These tips will help your family have a fun time at Great Wolf Lodge, without shelling out thousands of dollars on Great Wolf Lodge ticket prices.
This post was updated on June 27, 2021.
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A quick note about Great Wolf Lodge and sustainability
Great Wolf Lodge has over 17 locations throughout the United States. There is also a location in Canada. The oldest resort in the chain is located in Wisconsin Dells. It was built in 1998.
As a result of its size, the resort chain that treats over 8 million gallons of water per day. Yet they also have an initiative in place, called Project Green Wolf, that aims to make the resort more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
For travelers, practicing sustainable travel is so important to ensure that future generations of travelers can experience the world as much as we do today. So initiatives like Project Green Wolf are certainly commendable.
You can read more about Great Wolf Lodge’s sustainability initiatives here.
My top tips for how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge
Since my family is from Washington state, the resort we usually go to is located at Grand Mound, WA. We usually take a quick drive down from Seattle and only stay a night. But that is more than enough time to get our fill of water parks and resort activities.
One of the things I noticed about Great Wolf Lodge is that while it touts itself as an affordable family vacation destination, it can get pretty pricey pretty fast! You can easily spend $1,000 or more with just one visit.
Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeves on how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge whenever we visit, without sacrificing any of the fun. These tricks include tips on how to get Great Wolf Lodge discounts too.
If you’re planning a water park trip in the near future, here is my ultimate guide on how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
Take a look at these other money and budgeting tips for traveling with kids!
1. Sign up for online deals
Rooms at Great Wolf Lodge average $200-$400 a night. Some locations are even $500-$700 a night! I just don’t like dropping that much cash, even if it does come with some cute wolf den decor. Fortunately, I sign up for the Great Wolf Lodge mailing list. I get access to some great online deals that way.
For one of my past visits, I was able to cash in on Great Wolf Lodge specials that offered up to 50% off the listed rate, depending on the number of days you book.
Since we ended up booking one night, I only got around 15% off the listed rate, but that still saved me around $30! Signing up for the deals is easy, and if you miss out on of the Great Wolf Lodge coupon codes that day, you’ll most likely get another one in your inbox soon.
2. Look for Great Wolf Lodge coupon codes online
Another way to look for online deals is to look for online coupons. Hop onto Groupon or Living Social and search “Great Wolf Lodge.” You might just find an offer for the location you’re interested in. Some of the offers on the Great Wolf Groupon page can be for 50% or 60% off, when they offer them.
Coupon aggregator sites like RetailMeNot, Deals Plus, and Coupon Cabin all have Great Wolf Lodge coupon codes you can use for your visit. See what promos are currently being offered for your location.
Additionally, if you’re in the military (active, veteran, or retired) or a first responder, you can take advantage of Great Wolf Lodge specials like the Heroes discount.
3. Avoid weekend bookings
Like any park or resort, the weekend rates for rooms at Great Wolf Lodge are much higher than the weekday rates. If you can swing it with your schedule, try and plan for a visit during a week day rather than a weekend.
At the very least, try and come earlier in the weekend rather than later. For our visit, we chose to book a Friday night, with a check out on Saturday. Just by coming on a Friday versus a Saturday, we were able to save around $50!
4. Get a Great Wolf Lodge day pass
Many of the Great Wolf Lodge locations offer a Great Wolf Lodge day pass for families who don’t want to stay the night, but still want access to the park. There’s a limited number of passes available each day, and you’re not able to bring coolers or outside food when you’re using a Great Wolf Lodge day pass.
You can purchase a full day pass, which gives you access to the indoor water park from open to close (10 am – 8 pm). Or you can purchase a half day pass, which gives you access from 4pm to close.
If you’re wondering, “well, how much is a Great Wolf Lodge day pass, anyway? Is it really that much cheaper?” My answer is yes!
The cost of a Great Wolf Lodge day pass is a fraction of the cost of booking a room at the resort. However, the actual Great Wolf Lodge day pass cost depends on the location.
5. Go in the off season
Since Great Wolf Lodge’s main claim to fame is their indoor water park, the winter months are peak season for the resort. To save some money, I suggest scheduling a visit during off-peak times, like the fall or spring.
You’ll usually find that Great Wolf Lodge ticket prices are much cheaper from mid-January to early March. Mid-April to mid-May, and mid-September to mid-November will also have lower rates than other months.
If you’re a homeschooling or worldschooling family, you’ll likely have flexibility in your schedule to book a visit during these times. But if your kids are in traditional schools, you may need get get creative with your scheduling.
We usually visit in early fall, when the weather is just beginning to turn cold. Doing that, we were able to save around $100 from what we would have paid for a visit during the winter months.
6. Bring your own food
Resort food can get quite pricey, even at Great Wolf Lodge. Fortunately, all the rooms come equipped with mini fridges and microwaves. While we do enjoy eating meals at Great Wolf Lodge, we end up bring along some of our own food too, including food for dinner.
When you’re putting together your packing list for Great Wolf Lodge, remember to include a collapsible travel cooler too. Taking along a collapsible travel cooler filled with food works great because when you’ve eaten everything, you can just fold up the cooler!
Shop for a travel cooler on Amazon using one of the links below:
OlarHike Collapsible and Insulated Cooler Bag
Lifewit Collapsible 32-Can Insulated Cooler Bag
CleverMade Collapsible and Insulated Cooler Bag
Remember that you’re also able to leave the resort and return any time during your stay. So if the resort you’re visiting is near some inexpensive restaurants, you have a lot more options to save money at Great Wolf Lodge.
After an afternoon of playing at the water park, it’s nice to relax and veg out in front of the television with some warmed up home-cooked meals. Eating our own food helps save us at least $20.
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7. Split your meals
Even though we often bring our own food, we also like experiencing some of the dining options at Great Wolf Lodge. One way we save money on our meals is by splitting them.
In general, for our family of four, this either means my husband and I share an entree while the kids each get a kids meal, or we order two or three entrees and eat the food family style.
When we did this at our last trip to Great Wolf Lodge, we were able to save around $50, including potential tax and tip!
8. Skip out on the packages
Great Wolf Lodge is like Vegas for kids. Everywhere you turn, you’re bombarded with games, souvenirs, lights, sounds, and everything in between. There are toppers you can add to your wand, there are additional quests you can buy, a spa geared for kids, and even an arcade.
One of the packages that Great Wolf Lodge tries to sell you is the Paw Pass, which they tout as having the potential of saving you up to 40% of what you’d pay for the additional activities and souvenirs. But quite honestly, if you’re only staying for a night, all of those extra activities and souvenirs is just sensory overload.
I suggest limiting the extras to one or two things, and purchasing them a la carte. For example, games for the MagiQuest Great Wolf Lodge cost $13.99 per game. That is a fraction of what a Paw Pass costs.
We chose to opt out of the extras except for the MagiQuest cost, and by doing this, we saved at least $80. At check in, each kid gets a pair of wolf ears anyway. And in my opinion, that’s enough souvenirs for our family.
9. Borrow wands from friends
Besides having water parks to play around in, Great Wolf Lodge is also full of other fun attractions, including an interactive game called MagiQuest that takes you throughout the whole resort. We love this aspect of the park. It helps encourage imaginative play in our kids.
With the aid of wands, players complete activities in a scavenger-hunt style quest. The wands can make various objects around the lodge come to life, and it gives the kids something fun to do after they’re done with swimming.
A tip that a friend of mine gave me before we went to Great Wolf Lodge was to borrow wands from a family who had already gone. I have to say, this is quite a genius tip! New wands range from $16-$23 dollars, so with our borrowed wands, we were able to save at least $32! All we needed to do was purchase new games in order to activate the wands.
If you have friends that enjoy visiting Great Wolf Lodge, see if they’re up for loaning their wands to your kids.
10. Save money at Great Wolf Lodge by only booking one night
While a stay at Great Wolf Lodge can be entertaining for kids, there really is no need to stay longer than one night. Your kids will get their fill of swimming at the water park after a few hours. After that, they can enjoy the MagiQuest game.
But once they’re bored with both those activities, there is little other options besides watching movies in your hotel room. Many of the other activities, like the arcade, ropes course, or the build-a-bear workshop, cost extra money. We usually skip out on those activities and head back to our room when the kids get tired. Sometimes we’ll bring along a travel card game.
Buy some of our favorite card games on Amazon now to take with you on your trip to Great Wolf Lodge:
If your Great Wolf Lodge stay is part of a larger family vacation, book just one night at Great Wolf Lodge, and then spend the rest of your time at a more affordable hotel. The Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, for example, is close to plenty of affordable family-friendly lodging options!
11. Come early, leave late to save money at Great Wolf Lodge
One of the best tips for how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge is to come early and stay late. The Great Wolf Lodge check in policy gives you access to the water park as early as 1 pm. So even though check-in is around 4 pm, you can still enjoy a few of hours of water play before actually going to your room.
Another great thing is that after you check out, you still have access to the water park all the way until the park closes for that day. The Great Wolf Lodge check out time is 11 am. But once checked out, you can put your luggage in the car and go back to the resort to enjoy the water park.
So essentially, you get one extra day of fun! We always take advantage of this, and arrived early and left late.
When we stay at Great Wolf Lodge, we don’t usually make it to closing the next day. The kids usually get tuckered out by late-afternoon the next day. But that’s still well after check-out time. Doing that saves us $200 or more!
Explore other fun indoor activities you can do with kids when you travel!
Plan ahead to save money at Great Wolf Lodge
Using these tricks can save you a lot of money at the resort. During our last stay, we were able to save over $500 on our trip to Great Wolf Lodge.
It takes planning ahead, a bit of research, and some self-restraint. You especially need to have the ability to say no to your kids when they beg you for extra souvenirs! But trust me, you’ll still be able to have a great time while staying within your budget.
Have you been to Great Wolf Lodge? Share your tips for how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge in the comments below!
Love waterplay? Take a look at these water activities you can do in Seattle.
10 Family Friendly Water Activities in Seattle
Is a trip to Great Wolf Lodge the kick-off to a big family adventure? Use my family gap year guide, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! as your tool to planning that grand journey!
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I’ve never been to Great Wolf Lodge yet! That’s amazing how much money you saved-I heard it can get a little spendy. Awesome!
Thanks, Terumi! I was really making a conscious effort not to spend a lot of money. It really does get a bit pricey, if you’re not careful.
This sounds like a fun trip! I have always wanted to take my daughter but the cost of rooms tends to get me planning other vacations for less of a cost. I will have to give this strategy a try!
I hope you guys make it out there. It’s worth a visit, at least once. Let me know if any of my tips worked for you!
This looks like so much fun! My kids are grown…and we never made it there when they were small…these are great tips though!!
all the best,
Thanks Valerie! You know, it’s never too late to go. We’re all kids at heart, right? 😉