How many visits to Great Wolf Lodge does it take to be considered a pro? Like the wise owl who crunches the Tootsie Pop, the World May Never Know, but I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my amateur ranking and now I’ve got some great money and time saving tips to pass on to you!
Since Great Wolf Lodge first opened in Grapevine in 2007, the 9th of their chain resort hotels, we’ve visited many times with our family and in groups. My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop even stayed there one weekend. On our most recent visit, we were invited to a birthday party for one of my son’s friends who was celebrating his 10th birthday! His mom booked the room through Groupon, and spent just a little more than a 2 hour birthday party place!
Since Great Wolf Lodge lets you arrive as early as 1pm to use the waterpark, we took the boys out of school early, all 7 of them! They were thrilled when we walked in to find the entire hotel decorated for Halloween! While we didn’t expect to be able to check in to the room until 4pm, the hotel texted about 30 minutes after we arrived that the room was ready!
Tip #1: Take Advantage of the early arrival time, and you can stay all day the day of your departure, even though check out is at 11am. Late Check out at 2pm is available for about $50, but you can just stow your belongings in your car!
Tip #2: GWL has a big parking lot out front, and parking is FREE! While they offer valet, just grab a close parking spot and then go snag one of these cool luggage carts!
Tip #3: While you have a frig in your room, bring an ice chest to keep drinks for the kids, and avoid the high prices at the concession stands!
Tip #4: When you check in, ask for your kids their wolf ears! Wolf ears are complimentary to all guest! If you’re celebrating a birthday, ask for the special birthday ears!
Tip #5 When you check in, your room key is put on your GWL wristband, which is required to enter the waterpark. They will ask you how many of your wristbands you want with keys. If your kids are old enough to go around GWL alone, I suggest you get them a key! I played a serious game of tag with 2 boys, who needed in the room and wouldn’t wait for me.
TIP #6 You will also be asked how many of the wristbands you would like to have charging privileges. Um, slow the horse and ONLY give these to the adults. My friend had surprise at check out after giving her kids that privilege!
TIP #6 Request a room on a lower level floor, so you can use the stairs if the elevator is too crowded during peak times, like check out!
Tip #7 Ask about signing up for Text Alerts, which gives you reminders and some daily deals on food, etc.
When booking your room, you can choose from a regular hotel room, or a themed room, and I think the themed rooms are definitely worth the extra money!
The Wolf Den Suite, pictured above, offers a bunk bed in a cute, faux rock cave, along with it’s own TV! Having 2 tvs in the room is a huge plus for us, if only for early in the morning so the kids can sleep a little later and my husband and I can watch the news on the tv by our bed. The Wolf Den Suite sleeps 4.
Kid Cabin Suite
As a family of 5, we’ve always stayed in a Kid Cabin Suite! The rustic, cabin-styled room offers a bunk bed and an additional twin, all tucked together with their own TV! There is also a sleeper sofa in the room.
If you have very young children, the Whirlpool Room is a MUST! They can have their own waterpark right in the room! A sleeper sofa allows for up to 4 guest!
Tip #8: One complementary roll-a-way bed can be brought up to your room. Be sure and request the bed when you make your reservation, and when you confirm your reservation before you go! The hotel also offers complementary Pack-N-Plays.
Now that you’ve seen the hotel images, here’s what our room looked like after 7 boys piled in!
In less than a minute the boys were settled in and watching tv!
A FEW tips when making your reservations:
Tip #9: Make as far out as possible, rates go up quite a bit the closer you are to your dates. By booking at least 60 days in advance, you can save up to 40%.
Tip #10 Check Groupon. GWL often runs deals on Groupon, but beware of black out dates.
Tip #11 Become a Great Wolf Lodge Member! It’s FREE, and you get a PROMO code to save 15%. Click HERE to join.
Tip #12: Make your reservation over the phone, and ask about current promotions, upgrades and discounts!
Tip #13: Continue to check rates after booking, and if they offer a promotion at a lower rate, call and ask for it!
Howling Heroes! Active and Retired military and First Responders, including Dispatchers and Correctional Officers, can get up to 30% off the Best Available Rates year round! Click HERE for more information and a PROMO code.
I’ll re-emphasize here the need to arrive early! The waterpark closes at 8pm, which means you may not even get wet if you arrive later!
TIp #14 Dinner time is one of the slowest times at the waterpark, with shorter lines, etc. Try to eat a snack and late dinner!
While the waterpark is only open to hotel guest, you can purchase a day pass at check-in. We needed two during our stay, and they were $50 each. When we had a grandparent go with us, who didn’t intend to use the waterpark, we were able to save that fee.
NO outside food or drink is allowed in the waterpark.
The waterpark includes a huge play structure, slides, a wave pool and a lazy river, as well as a large splash area for younger children! There are also 2 hot tubs, one for families and an adult-only hot tub.
The park offers complementary life jackets, and sells swim diapers, too.
There are complementary towels in the waterpark, but you can’t take them out of the park. Bring your own towel, and a cover up for the walk back to your room.
We love the wave pool, that is 5′ at the deep end, and has waves every 10 minutes.
If you get hungry, there is a concession-area with food and a bar with drinks, all of which can be charged to your room with your wristband, another reason to carefully consider letting the kids have one! There are plenty of tables around the park for a quick lunch, outside food and drinks are not allowed!
You can run up to your room to grab something to eat. Remember to bring a swim cover up and flip flops to avoid be chilly, or needing to change.
The outside waterpark is only open during the summer. During summer, it seems like you’re missing out going any other time of the year, but the indoor water park sure is nice during the other 9 months of the year!
The indoor/outdoor hot tub is a huge winner with us! It’s the Family hot tub, and it’s kept a little cooler than the adult-only one.
They do rent lockers in the waterpark, but they are expensive!
Tip #15 I didn’t even think to bring my Master Lock that we used all summer at the waterpark, but this is a GREAT tool for saving locker money! I bought mine on Amazon for about $20, the cost of a locker! It’s large enough for your keys and phone, and maybe some cash! Click HERE to read my review, and a link to how to purchase your own! Just to let you know, I am an Amazon Affiliate Partner, and I do make a percentage off the purchase of each of these bought through my site.
Cabanas are available for rental, too. I think the price for a day in the cabana was around $150.00. They come with a mini-frig, tv and safe.
Vacations are a GREAT time to learn about budgets! As a Mom, the best advice I can give to save money is setting up clear expectations. Sit down and agree that you are only budgeting so much for this trip, and tell them their option, such as MagiQuest, Ropes Course, Laser Tag, Scooops Spa and the Arcade. If your kids are old enough, give them the cash and let them budget it themselves! Just remember to be firm when they run out 15 minutes after you arrive.
There are a ton of FREE activities at GWL. Click HERE for a complete list!
We didn’t do the ropes course, but since my son saw it all the kids want to go back and try it!
Magiquest is a role-playing, scavenger hunt-type game, where you purchase a wand, and search each themed-hallway floor for different clues! You can point your wand and it will speak to you!
Tip #16 You’ll need a wand. Wands can be used more than once, and it will save you a lot if you can borrow one from a friend! Nothing is stored in the wand, and they are reset each time you use them, so no worries! I looked for a “used” wand online, but most used wands sell for as much as the new ones, about $18.00. Still, it’s worth a shot, especially if you are buying for more than one kiddo.
Tip #17 Share the Wand! When you activate your wand to begin playing, there is a one-time fee per wand. My kids have always shared a wand, and one of the highlights was coming up with a magical “team” name on the drive there! It was a good way to avoid them each wanting their own wand!
There are also wand toppers you can purchase, which are as much as the wands themselves. While each topper does have extra powers, they aren’t a necessity.
The kids love running up and down the stairs to each floor, and all the clues are hidden near the stairs and elevators, not passing any rooms.
Each evening, GWL does a pajama storytime with cute, costume character in the Main Lobby. You’ll want to bring pajamas and your camera!
Since it was Halloween, they also offered a cute costume parade, trick-or-treating and even a Monster Mash Dance Party!
Tip #18 After you make your reservation, you will be sent an email with different packages, including Dining Packages. If you’re considering dining at the hotel, you can save quite a bit on a package over buying on site.
The Loose Moose Cottage
I enjoyed their breakfast buffet, which had made to order omelets and a large assortment of food! At $2.79 each, skip the sodas and just order water. Remember, you can pack sodas in your ice chest that’s waiting in your room.
Other Dining Options at the Resort:
The Lodge Wood Fired Grill has a menu and kids meal options.
Hungry as a Wolf has pizzas. A large will run you about $15.
Bear Paw Eats and Sweets has ice cream, candy and more!
A Starbucks is located off the lobby, next to the Gift Shop.
Tip #19 Bring your own food or have something delivered
Dominoes Pizza just a short drive down the road, as well as a Chicken Express and several other fast food restaurants. Historic Downtown Grapevine and Grapevine Mills Mall also have many food options, and both are filled with fun things to do!
The Grapevine Target doesn’t have a food section, but there is a Walmart Supercenter, Tom Thumb and Kroger all within a 5 mile drive.
Great Wolf Lodge offers shuttle service within a 5-mile radius of the the hotel (including Downtown Grapevine and Grapevine Mills Mall.) The fee for this shuttle service is $5 per person. For a trip to the DFW airport, the fee is $10 per person. Children under 8 ride free.
You can purchase a card to use on the arcade games.
Tip #20 Skip the Gift Shop and save on souvenir money! Bring 2 quarters and a penny to make a keep-sake penny! My son loves collecting these, and we’ve bought several little books to hold them all!
Scooops Kid Spa
No money saving tips here, except do this last to keep the nails looking good after you leave!
Elements Spa for adults is located away from the happy laughter of all the children, and mandatory if you have someone to watch your kids for you!
Things To Do in Grapevine
We spent a fun evening on the Night Watchman Ghost Tour in Downtown Grapevine! Click HERE to read more.
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad makes fun excursions into the Fort Worth Stockyards, as well as a Wine Train, and special Christmas and Halloween trains! Click HERE to read more.
Hall’s Pumpkin Patch is always a favorite, with lots of pumpkins, a corn maze and a terrific hayride! Click HERE to read more!
Esperanza’s Restaurante Mexicano and Big Fish Seafood Grill in Downtown Grapevine are two of our favorites! Rainforest Cafe in Grapevine Mills Mall is always my kid’s top pick!
Great Wolf Lodge
100 Great Wolf Dr, Grapevine
Click HERE to visit their website.
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