My family has has the opportunity to visit Great Wolf Lodge New England a couple of times. It has become one of our favorite winter getaways because it is so close yet it feels like a tropical vacation when you are sipping Piña coladas in the water park… although…it’s a shock to the system to walk back out to 25 degree weather!
Here are some tips and tricks to planning a great trip without breaking the bank…
1. Be on the look out for deals.
There are always different promotions going on. Just go to their website and click on “Special Offers.” If you need assistance, just call the reservations line and they will help you navigate. If you sign up for their e-newsletter, specials will be emailed to you. Groupon almost always has a deal going on. Read through them to find what works for you.
2. Avoid booking during their peak times.
Their busiest days are Friday-Sunday. If you can visit during the week, you will save a lot of money and avoid big crowds. We saved over $200 by going Sunday-Monday instead of the weekend and the boys only missed one day of school to do it. The water park is included with the room charge. Use of the water park is exclusive for registered guests. If you have a friend or relative that wants to visit you while you are there, they can purchase a companion pass for $50.
3. Themed rooms
It is 100% worth it to get a themed room. It is our favorite part. My kids could sit in their little wolf den all day and be happy. They have their own separate sleeping area with bunk beds and their own tv. Seriously- they think it’s the coolest. There are two different themes: the wolf den and the kid cabin. The wolf den looks like a stone cave and the kid cabin looks like a log cabin. The kid cabins have three beds whereas the wolf den has one set of bunk beds. In my opinion, the kid cabin wasn’t anything too special and we much prefer the wolf dens.
4. Room location
Most of the themed rooms are located in the Howlin’ Timbers Play Park. I was afraid of how loud it would be in there at night and you have to walk really far to get to your room. We ended up upgrading our room to a wolf den king suite for $40 more and it was totally worth it. The room had an entire extra bedroom with a king sized bed which really came in handy so we could put the baby down in a separate area without anyone disturbing her. With 5 of us in a room, we really liked the extra square footage for the kids to run around.
Also- these larger suites are located in the main lodge so it’s a much better location. We have stayed in room 404 at the Fitchburg location twice and just love it. We were even given an opportunity to upgrade our room for half the price via an email we received a few days before we arrived.
5. Utilize pre-check in
Checking in online the day of arrival will save you time and you will get an email notification when your room is ready. You still have to stand in line to get your bracelets so arrive as early as possible. The bracelets are similar to Disney’s Magic Bands- they act as your room key and you can make purchases with them. It’s so convenient to not have to carry anything around with you while you are there.
You can use the water park as early as 1:00 so we arrived at 12:30. Our room was actually ready so we dumped our bags and we headed straight to the water park. Just a half hour later, the check-in line was out the door and it stayed that way all afternoon. Normally, rooms are not guaranteed until 4:00 in which case, you would have to leave your bags in the car. We dressed the kids in their bathing suits just in case that happened.
Bring as much as you can to save money. My SIL brings a toaster to make nuggets in her room and we have seen people carrying in crock pots. The food is expensive and mediocre. At the pizza place called Hungry as a Wolf, a sub is $15. My husband and I both had salads for dinner and we spent $35 just on us. If you do eat there, I would recommend the pizza. They no longer deliver to your room, but you can order it over the phone and go down to pick it up. There are two places to have a sit down meal but since our kids don’t sit still, we prefer to be in the room.
For breakfast, there is a buffet that costs $15 per person. We head to the Dunkin’ Doughnuts for bagels and coffee and eat in the room. If you have a child with a birthday, the wolf ear headband will get him/her a free doughnut. It’s so genius for them to have a Dunks in the lobby, but everyone there agrees and the line is usually a mile long. It moves pretty quickly though. For the rest of the day, I just pack loads of snacks and bring water bottles we can refill.
7. Avoid the arcade to save money
The games are really expensive and you will literally hemorrhage money there. I put money on a card for my boys and they blew through $20 in 5 minutes. We much prefer playing games like miniature golf or bowling that we can all do together. These activities still cost money but they are not expensive.
8. Save your wand
Magiquest is similar to a scavenger hunt that leads kids around the lodge looking for clues. They have to point their wand which sets off a reaction (a dragon roars or a treasure box open). They kids have a lot of fun with it. You have to purchase a wand and a game which costs about $30 for the package. The game can take 3-6 hours so if you plan to partake, start right away so you have the time. Keep your wand so you can use them on your next visit. That way you only have to pay $15 for the game. Wands will work at any Great Wolf Lodge location.
9. Participate in the free activities
There is always something going on. Just look out the schedule when you check in. The morning starts off with yoga, the forest friends show and an educational wolf walk around the grand lobby. At noon, there is craft time, face painting and balloon twisting. Each night ends with a pajama dance party and story time. There are also character appearances throughout the day.
You will get an email from Great Wolf 48 hours before check in. If you scroll to the bottom, there is a place that says coupons. You can click and print them for your visit.
11. Consider purchasing a Paw Pass
If you know you will participate in certain activities, a paw pass will give you a discount on some of their biggest attractions. There are three different levels starting at $39.99 and include things such as a build a bear teddy bear, candy cup, magiquest, arcade cards, etc.
My kids were all about the Build a Bear Workshop this year. Each bear costs about $25, so it would have been worth it for us to get the pass.
12. Howling Heroes
Great Wolf likes to thank our local hero’s by offering them 30% off the best available rate. That includes active military, veterans, fire, police and EMS.
13. Be ready to book your next trip
A day after your stay, you will receive an email offering you 50% off a night stay if you book within the next week. If you can plan in advance, that is a great savings.
We love the atmosphere at the lodge. It feels like one giant slumber party. As soon as we are done at the water park, we put on pajamas and wander around to the different games and activities there. Then it’s time to order a pizza and have family movie night. Bring a game of twister to keep things interesting!
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