A Great Wolf Lodge vacation is a top vacation wish for many families. What’s not to love; an indoor water park with thrilling slides, allergen-free restaurants, and games and activities for all ages. Even though everything you need for a memorable weekend is within the walls of the hotel, before our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, I had one big question. We were heading to Concord, NC on a sold out weekend, and we only had one night. How could we maximize our time and avoid the inevitable lines? Here are six things to know before heading to the Great Wolf Lodge.
- Great Wolf Lodge is an allergen-free zone. For people with nut or food allergies, this is huge. Rather than have parents worry about having guests wait for gluten free meals, or worrying about whether the nuts from a salad somehow got into the cookies, Great Wolf Lodge has decided to go allergen-free. As a friend of mine who has two nut allergic kids and two non-nut allergic kids said, this one step is a game changer.
- Maximize your swim time. Your hotel stay includes the Great Wolf Lodges signature indoor/outdoor water park. Even though you can’t check in until 4 pm, your water park tickets are good starting at 1 pm the day you check in and you’re allowed to stay as long as you like the day you check out. So pack a pool bag and use the lockers and showers on site to store your clothes and get the most out of your stay.
- Avoid the lines at the water slides. The busiest time at the water slides is mid-afternoon. If you want to just walk right on, visit in the evenings, when everyone else is water logged. But even during busy times, it’s not too bad. We visited on a sold out Friday night and our longest wait for the slides was 10-15 minutes.
- Let the Kids Run through the halls. Great Wolf Lodge is the only hotel I’ve visited that encourages kids to run through the halls (well may just walk with purpose rather than a full out run). Kids (and adults) can participate in a scavenger hunt game called MagiQuest. In the game, kids embark on quests and adventures to gain powers, reveal secrets, meet people and discover magical treasures. This magical world is located in the halls on three floors. If your kids weren’t worn out from swimming all day, squeeze the final bit of energy out of
My son LOVED ShadowQuest, a scavenger hunt type game through the hotel halls. Be prepared for all the extras you could buy.
them by making them take the stairs on their journey.
- Bring Your Wallet. Water park tickets are included in your stay, as well as some evening entertainment, but that’s about it. In addition to MagiQuest, there is also an arcade, a build-a-bear type stuffed animal store, Scoops Kids Spa, 4-D theatre, mini-bowling alley, mini-golf and a few other pay-to-play activities. If you’re on a budget, talk to your kids beforehand about what activities you will and will not do. Also, check out our post on How to Save Money on a Great Wolf Lodge Vacation.
- Where to Eat at Great Wolf Lodge. We sampled from several restaurants at the Concord Great Wolf Lodge and all of them were good. For breakfast, we ate at Loose Moose. I enjoyed my fresh omelet and the buffet, but the wait was long and we wanted to go to the water park. If I were to do it again, I’d bring something and eat breakfast in the room, or head to the Dunkin’ Donuts on site. Lunch was a cheap (relatively), easy meal at Hungry as a Wolf. We grabbed a pizza combo which included 2 liter bottle of soda, salad and bread sticks. The dough comes from New York, while the pepperoni’s are from Chicago. It was respectable pie. For dinner we splurged at Lodge Wood Fired Grill. The waiter was helpful with items appropriate for sharing, but we opted for grilled salmon (yum!) and the kids chicken fingers.