By Rhonda C. Munoz
Packing the family up in the car for a trip to Grandma’s house can be a challenge, and she lives only ninety minutes away. If I am being honest, a trip to the grocery store with kids in tow can turn my naturally brown hair a lovely shade of silver. To say that I was a bit wary when it came to undertaking the five-hour trip to Grapevine is an understatement.
I have thought about a trip to Great Wolf Lodge off and on for years but always shied away due to the price. I see $250.00 per night for a room and quickly move on to the next idea, having dismissed it on price alone. It just wasn’t in the budget once I factored in all of the other expenses that go along with a family vacation. I did some research and really broke down what you get for your hard-earned money. I was pleasantly surprised by my discovery and decided to take a gamble on a weekend trip. Great Wolf Lodge, here we come!
It only took a few hours on the property to decide that we will most definitely return to Great Wolf Lodge. Since I am a budget-minded gal, I made some notes to help make our return visit more cost effective. I know that most of you like to save a buck or two when you can, so I thought I would share my findings with you. First and foremost, you need to think of Great Wolf Lodge as your destination, not part of a vacation. My family of four had enough to do for several days, and the variety of activities kept both my five year old and my eleven year old from getting bored.
One of my favorite aspects of Great Wolf Lodge is that it is only open for paying hotel guests. The water park and other activities are not available to the general public, the only exception being the patrons paying for a birthday party package on the property.
Booking Your Room
Here’s the low-down on saving the most when booking your room. Sign up to become a Great Wolf Lodge member to receive email specials and promotions. You can also save thirty to fifty percent by booking your vacation at least sixty days in advance or if you are flexible with your travel dates. Be sure you spend some time on the Great Wolf Lodge website. Try your travel dates with each promo code available. I put in three different promo codes and got three different prices. A little extra time spent here can add up to significant savings in the end. I saved $240 by sorting through the promo codes offered. While there are several different types of rooms to choose from, the Family Cabin is the standard room. Unless you are bringing along the grandparents or another family, this room should suit all of your needs. There are larger rooms with separate bedrooms and multiple bathrooms to accommodate up to eight guests. Great Wolf Lodge offers themed Kids Cabins with a separate “tent” area for kids to sleep. While the themed cabins are fun, I personally prefer to save my money. By the end of the night, my kids were so exhausted that they literally collapsed on the bed. We truly only used our room to shower and sleep and did not spend enough time in the room to warrant the additional cost for a novelty cabin.
You can save 30% off your Great Wolf Lodge stay by enjoying its Howl-O-Ween special during the month of October.”
There’s no trick to this treat. For the entire month of October the Great Wolf Lodge resort transforms into a spooktacularly fun time for your family and friends. Enjoy the Lodge’s indoor waterpark, adventure games, and year-round amenities per usual, in addition to all a fantastic suite of Howl-O-Ween™ happenings—like the Trick-or-Treat Trail, Nightly Costume Parade, and Monster Bash Dance Party. So grab your little ghouls and goblins, and your bathing suits too, and trek on over to the Great Wolf Lodge for an awesome Howl-O-Ween!
Feeding Your Family
Conveniently, each guest room has a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker, which leads us to super saving tip number two. Utilizing these in-room amenities will leave a substantial amount of money in your pocket. Don’t get me wrong, food at the Lodge is tasty. However, it is also costly. Buckets Incredible Craveables is the most economical eatery we enjoyed. It is located inside the water park and has reasonably priced burgers and hotdogs. Hungry As A Wolf serves pizza and pasta for the family to take back to their room. Our 16” pizza cost about $17.00 and was large enough to feed our family twice. While the pizza was delicious, the wait time was rather long. On our return visit, I will pre-order our pizza for a specific time and pick it up later to avoid wasting time in line.
Definitely plan to enjoy the breakfast or dinner buffet at The Loose Moose Cottage. These buffets are packed with a wide variety of mouthwatering dishes sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. However, the price for our family of four to enjoy the dinner buffet was about $80.00, and breakfast was around $60.00. These meals can really add up if you indulge daily. When you book your room, there is a list of package deals you can add to your stay. If you plan to eat on the property, consider taking advantage of any dining package that is offered here. On return trips to Great Wolf Lodge, I will bring along grocery items to make sandwiches, microwavable mac-n-cheese and soups, and lots of extra snacks and drinks. There are two complimentary bottles of water in the refrigerator, but when a 20-ounce bottle of soda costs $3.50, you need to come prepared.
If you are worried about where to get your morning coffee, I have a tip for that too. As I mentioned, each room is equipped with a coffee maker. While this option is available to you, I have a thing about in-room coffee makers. I am not a fan. While I spend time working through my hotel-room-coffee- maker hang-up, you can get your java fix at the Starbucks located on the second floor. Be prepared, you can expect to pay about a dollar more per cup for your favorite Starbucks beverage. Keep a little more money in your pocket by satisfying your coffee craving from the coffee cart set up every morning in the lobby. They serve an assortment of donuts for $1.50 and a steaming cup of Joe for only a couple of bucks. Now that your coffee addiction has been accommodated, let’s fill your day with fun activities.
Great Wolf Lodge offers several activities that are included in the price of your stay. Take advantage of the pre-planned events available daily, especially for your younger children that may need a break from some of the more exciting attractions. Things like story time, The Great Clock Tower Show, Cub Club, and Lunch Time Lineup are a great way for the little ones to relax a bit and maybe get their picture taken with one of the Great Wolf Lodge characters. The PJ Party before bed is also loads of fun. Of course, the water park is a must during your visit. Because the park is not open to the public, all of the slides are easily enjoyable with minimal wait time. The wave pool was not over crowded, and finding a chair to take a break in was an easy task. Life jackets and puddle jumpers are made available, the life guards are attentive and plentiful, and the park itself is well laid out and efficiently run. Oh, and the slides are fast and fun! It is one of the best waterparks I have visited.
Next on the list is the ropes, course. Both of my kids really enjoyed this activity, and I think it is worth the extra money. The Lodge offers a one-time climb and unlimited option. Unless ropes courses are your thing and you just love them, one climb should be enough, since it not a timed activity. Once you are up there, you can weave your way through the course as many times as you choose. My daughter enjoyed the larger of the two courses, while my son enjoyed the smaller course where I was able to walk along with him. Lots of smiles on this attraction! The Arcade was also a hit with both of my kids, especially my son. Several of the games give you prizes instantly, which is fantastic to a five year old. I liked the fact that the tickets were generously dispensed from the machines, and the prizes cost a reasonable amount of tickets to purchase.
The big family hit was the MagiQuest. This was, hands down, our favorite attraction and well worth the extra cash, for sure. Step one in this game is to buy your wand and choose your Magi name. One thing to remember is that your wand is also a souvenir that goes home with you. Keep it, and when you return the ANY Great Wolf Lodge property, you can bring it with you and continue your quest. With wand in hand, you will follow the clues provided to you in the Ancient Book of Wisdom. Secretly, I think MagiQuest is Great Wolf Lodge’s covert way of getting its guest to exercise, as the “quest” takes you up and down the “hidden” stairwells. Seriously, guests of all ages were climbing up and down the stairs and moving through certain parts of the hallways and special rooms, waving wands and solving riddles and clues. Once we started, we were hooked and can’t wait to return to continue on our quest to slay the dragon and be knighted a Master Magi. My husband and I both agree that the smiles and fun this activity provided made up for any extra expense.
Great Wolf Lodge provided our family with a fantastic weekend adventure filled with fun, laughter, and memories. There is much fun to be had here, and you can do it while saving a little money, too. Spending extra time planning out your visit will certainly pay off in the end if you take advantage of the promo codes and special packages offered on the website and emails. We will return to Great Wolf Lodge, and next time, we will add another day or two to our stay. The property was clean, the staff was friendly, and the attention paid to the children has made us repeat customers.