As a family with two young kids, we’re always looking for fun ways to travel on a budget. With limited vacation time and limited money, we look for how we can squeeze in quick trips and make fun memories without breaking the bank. One of the best overnights we’ve enjoyed in the last few years was a stay at Great Wolf Lodge.
We’ve been talking about going back ever since. However, our limited travel budget means we have to be strategic about the hotels and activities we choose. Luckily, I’ve found some easy ways to save money on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge!
Our overnight stay gave us some insight on how to have a great time without spending more than the cost of the room. With the waterpark entrance fee included, you can really save big at this fun-filled resort!
Great Wolf Lodge is such a cool place for both kids and adults, especially if you enjoy swimming, waterslides, or even just kicking back in the lazy river. They’ve got so much at the resort to keep you busy, you’ll never be bored!
Whether you’ve got a trip planned already or are just starting to think about it, these tips can help you cut costs:
Booking Your Trip to Great Wolf Lodge
Avoid holidays and school breaks
If you really want to know how to save money at Great Wolf Lodge, it starts when you book your trip. For the best deal, don’t try to plan your trip over Spring Break or Winter Break. Seeing the room rates at those times had me nearly passing out! It makes sense- everyone is trying to enjoy the time off with kids, and Great Wolf Lodge is a perfect place to do so. However, you will pay a premium during these weeks.
I’ve also looked up prices for dates when my daughter has off of school and found that they tend to be much higher. We live less than 2 hours from our closest Wolf Lodge, but many of the schools must be on similar schedules.
If you’re comfortable taking your child out of school for a day, you’ll probably get a much more affordable room rate on a random date.
How to Save Money at Great Wolf Lodge by Staying During the Week
Much like any other hotel, rooms rates at Great Wolf Lodge tend to be cheaper during the week. If you can avoid going on the weekend, you’ll save. Check Groupon and sign up for the resort’s email list so that you can view the rate calendar and choose the cheapest dates to book.
Wait for sales
Great Wolf Lodge runs a lot of special sales throughout the year. This is, in my opinion, the best time to take advantage of a deal. I’ve received offers for room rates as low as $89.99. Since there are taxes and fees to consider, this brings the total cost to less than $150 a night for our family of 4. That’s a really great deal!
Before you book, be sure to check out Groupon. Great Wolf Lodge Groupon deals can be the best option for a tight budget. There are so many great deals on different room types!
Some of the offers on Groupon are even better than the ones I receive via email. If you’re planning a last minute trip, always check Groupon first.
If you can be flexible with your dates, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the cheapest rates. When I do a search, I always look for the cheapest nights to stay and see if those will work for us first.
Rather than going into the planning process with a very specific date in mind, it helps to look at the options for an entire month or two.
How to Save at Great Wolf Lodge on Food & Dining
Once you’ve got your dates nailed down, it’s time to think about food & dining. I’ll admit, the food prices at the Wolf Lodge dining options left me with sticker shock! We’re talking upwards of $20 per person for the dinner buffet. I get that they have to make money, but that’s just way beyond what we can afford to spend.
If you book your stay through Great Wolf Lodge’s website, you’re offered the option of adding a dining plan for each person in your party. There are options for breakfast and dinner. There are several restaurant/fast food style eateries at the lodge, depending on which property you’re staying at.
However, you do have to be prepared to spend. To save money, you might consider leaving the resort and finding a nearby restaurant to grab a bite to eat.
As any parent knows, snacks are a must on every trip! Be sure to bring plenty of your kid’s favorites so that they aren’t complaining in between meals. You’ll have a refrigerator in your room so you can store cold items like yogurt, small milk bottles, juice pouches, etc.
I would recommend bringing breakfast to keep the morning meal cost-effective and easy. Rather than going to the breakfast buffet, we stopped by the Starbucks located in the lobby and grabbed some coffees and scones. Still a splurge, but much cheaper than dining at the restaurant buffet.
For the kids, definitely bring an easy to pack and prep breakfast that you can make and eat right in the room, like oatmeal or cereal. You have a mini fridge and a microwave to take advantage of, so something quick and filling is the way to go.
Use the mini-fridge
Rooms come equipped with a mini-fridge, making it so easy to bring snacks, small bites to eat, and drinks. Pack a small cooler and bring milk for breakfast, water bottles, yogurt, etc.
Traveling with a baby can be extra stressful, especially if you aren’t sure what to expect when you arrive at a hotel or resort. Luckily Great Wolf Lodge is designed for families with young kids, so they’ve got this covered. When we visited, our son was still drinking bottles, so the fridge and microwave came in handy.
Plan meals ahead
Before we arrived, we weren’t sure what we’d do for meals. That was a mistake. We tried to grab a pizza from the fast serve area, but it was really packed the night that we were there, and there weren’t any tables for us to sit at.
As we got hungrier and grumpier, we decided to just spring for the dinner buffet. We definitely should have planned ahead.
We ended up at being seated at the crowded dinner buffet, and at over $20 per person, it felt like a big expense. A restaurant meal would have been much cheaper.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we even ate enough to justify the cost. I really wished that we had known what to expect as far as dining options so that we could have been prepared.
Decide what you’ll do ahead of time so that you don’t cave and go for the most convenient (and pricey!) option.
How to Save at Great Wolf Lodge on Fun & Entertainment
Wolf Lodge offers a lot of fun extras that kids can enjoy, like mini golf, bowling, spa sessions, and more. As you might imagine, these extras are going to cost you! The good news? You do not need to spend extra to entertain the little ones.
Skip the extras
My advice? Skip the extras and save your money if you’re only doing 1 or 2 nights. We were so busy from the moment that we arrived, we simply didn’t have time to do any of the extras anyway. Once we checked in, we headed to our rooms to change for the water park.
We spent several hours there swimming and relaxing before heading back to our room to shower and get ready for dinner. After dinner, we stopped into the arcade and spent a few dollars on games. By the time we had finished up there, we were all ready to hit the hay.
The exception is here is if you’re planning to stay for several days. Then you may want to consider adding on other activities to keep the kids entertained. However, if you’re going to be enjoying the water park, you’ll probably find there isn’t a whole lot of time left for other things.
Bottom Line on How to Save Money at Great Wolf Lodge
If you’re a budget-travel family like we are, these tips & tricks can come in really handy. Great Wolf Lodge really is an awesome value since you get the daily water park passes plus the stay included in the room rate.
All of the extras and the food and dining options can add up, but those aren’t essential for an amazing time. If you’re going for an overnight stay or just a few nights, make the most of what’s included to save cash. You can always splurge for extras on a future trip.