By Lyla Gleason
Having an only child can be tough for a water park getaway so we started a tradition of bringing along my daughter’s “vacation brother.” Last year we went to Sesame Place and this summer we headed off on a close-to home getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, NY.
I knew the kids would love the non-stop activities and I was hopeful the moms would have some time to relax. Lucky for us, I was right. Great Wolf makes things super easy with waterproof room key wristbands (yes, they also charge things to the room), plenty of luggage carts and an easy to navigate layout. The kids put on their complimentary wolf ears at check-in and we were ready for fun.
There are several Great Wolf Lodge locations around the country and each one varies a bit but today I’m sharing:
Top 10 tips for visiting Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, PA.
1) Allow ample time to explore the indoor waterpark.
Great Wolf Lodge’s indoor park is the main attraction here so you’ll want to explore all the waterslides (ranging from single tubes to rafts), pools and hot tubs, lazy river and splash areas. My daughter especially enjoyed the wave pool, rope climbing lily pad area and the many water slides.
There are activities for tots to teens and lots of seating areas and tables where you can leave your things while you are in the water. The waterpark seems large at first, but after one lap you’ll have the layout down. Children 48″ and taller will be able to ride most slides and life jackets are provided for young children.
2) If weather permits, don’t miss the outdoor pool area.
The outdoor pool is large with a zero-entry shallow end and plenty of seating. Since my daughter and her friend are good swimmers, they were able to happily swim around while the moms enjoyed frozen drinks under the shaded bar area. Win-win.
We ate lunch here as well and enjoyed prompt service and surprisingly good food (fish tacos, chicken wings and fries for the win).
Best of all, you can enjoy complimentary marshmallow toasting at the end of the day.
3) The Howlers Peak Ropes Course is awesome for kids of all ages.
The large outdoor ropes course was a big hit with our adventurous kids and I loved that they could go at their own paces. Watching their confidence grow with each crossed path and high-flying slide was amazing. Helpful staff members are available to assist when necessary and everyone is safely attached to a climbing harness.
The main course is for kids (and adults) 48 inches or taller and a smaller ground level course is available for young children. Be sure to bring sneakers or crocs along for this.
4) Magiquest is a must!
MagiQuest was definitely the highlight of our trip for the kids. This interactive scavenger hunt combines computer screen stations, enchanted paintings, talking animals, and several fairies, who, when your wand is pointed at them, will offer clues. The game costs $14.99 and the wands range from $17-$45 depending on the topper. Completing the entire series of games can take days so be sure to agree on time limits in advance. I loved watching kids help each other in the hallways as they searched for clues and swapped status updates. The wands can be reused so be sure to bring them if you visit another Great Wolf Lodge.
5) Check out the Indoor Activities.
From the 24-hour Northern Lights Arcade, Howly Wood XD Theater rollercoaster, to Ten Paw Alley and Howl at The Moon Glow Golf and the Creation Station, kids can participate in many indoor activities.
Some of these are more hidden than others so be sure to look around or ask directions if you get lost. Check out the Paw Pass if you plan to plan to do several of these paid activities.
6) Save time for Pampering.
All that swimming can get exhausting so if you can, plan some time for pampering. There are spas for grown-ups and children with a wide array of services. Elements™ Spa Salon is a full-service adult spa with a Zen-like atmosphere offering massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. Scooops® Kid Spa specializes in manicures and pedicures for children 12 and under. The pricing is on the expensive side but if you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion, this is a great place to indulge. Reservations are recommended.
7) Don’t miss the free entertainment!
From storytime with the Great Wolf characters to dance parties, games, yoga, walks and arts and crafts, there are many free activities offered for kids of all ages. Be sure to bring your camera for the character appearances.
8) Be sure to pack right.
Depending on the time of year, you won’t need much more than swimsuits, cover-ups, water shoes and goggles. Towels and life jackets are provided and shorts and t-shirt are the norm for clothing around the resort. Leave your fancy clothing home unless you plan to go off property. A waterproof camera, iPhone cover, personal safe and these water park necessities are always good to bring along. Sunscreen and hats are only necessary if you are visiting in summer. The indoor waterpark is kept at a warm 84-degrees so don’t overdress.
9) Use the resort facilities and waterpark after check-out.
Guests at Great Wolf Lodge check out at 11am but can use all the facilities for the remainder of the day. Store your suitcases in the car and rent a locker for the day if you have time. Pack a pool bag with swim items and a dry bag with a change of clothing to wear home.
10) Choose your room carefully.
Great Wolf Lodge offers a wide range of suites to fit all families and budgets. Standard Family Suites feature two queen beds and a full-size sleeper sofa making them a great choice for families of 4-6.
Other suites feature themed kids sleeping areas with bunk beds, a queen bed and sofa sleeper and other room amenities include fireplaces, Whirlpools and private master bedrooms. We were upgraded to a spacious Majestic Bear Suite which featured a large breakfast bar and patio overlooking the pool. Check out the room floorplans before you book. Each suite at Great Wolf Lodge includes a microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker, hairdryer, iron and ironing board. I recommend bringing along easy to make breakfast items as well as beverages and snacks.
Have you visited a Great Wolf Lodge? Tell me below in the comments.
We received reduced pricing on our accommodations for review purposes but all opinions are my own. If you don’t want to miss a post, subscribe to Globetrotting Mommy for daily updates!