Everything You Need to Know About Great Wolf Lodge

This month is especially important to us because it is Military Family Appreciation Month. Military Family Appreciation Month is dedicated to recognizing military families and all of the sacrifices they make for our country. It is especially hard for military wives but even harder for military kids when they have families who serve. Every day, we get up and support our service members and stand by them during deployments, long trainings, and just the craziness of military life in general. That is why it was so important for me to take my family to celebrate military family appreciation month during Veterans Day weekend at one of the best family waterparks in the world, Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee, Illinois.

Great Wolf Lodge has a total of 19 locations across the US and Canada, and there is something to do for everyone in your family, including the little ones in diapers. Great Wolf Lodge features water parks, family fun attractions, dining and of course shopping

What to Pack

For our mini vacation at Great Wolf Lodge we brought all of the things we would normally bring on a vacation except we didn’t have to pack our car with any towels, life jackets, or any other pool items. (Thank goodness for no extra packing!) 

Things to Do

There are so many things to do at Great Wolf Lodge. The day we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge we decided to check out the water park because we we’re dying for some warm air and nice warm water. It was nice going from the freezing cold outside into the warm of the water park. We chose to explore the dry lands the next day and then head back to the water park after checking out all of the attractions that Great Wolf Lodge had to offer.

Water Park

Double Whirlwind – There’s double the thrills on this exciting new slide. Grab your pack, board your raft, and whirl through two vortexes before splashing into the landing pool.

Alberta Falls – Four stories of exhilarating, fast-water fun take you through swiftly banking turns and steep pitches in our tandem tube ride. The perfect take on a trip for two, the Alberta Falls water slide takes you right outside the building and back in again before your final drop into the plunge pool.

Coyote Cannon – Get ready for a 40-foot drop into a water-jet-fueled vortex. Four stories in just a few seconds is fun! Once you roar into the whirling basin, you’re in for who-knows-how-many trips around the center before spinning on your way to a perfect splash landing.

River Canyon Run – Gather your Wolf Pack together for the twisting, gliding, raft-riding adventure of your life! River Canyon Run sends you careening through the dipping, bending curves of a river of fun, and you’ll want to come back for more of this water slide action: guaranteed!

Fort Mackenzie – Explore all the levels splash-crazy fun in the best water fort treehouse you’ve ever seen. Delight in the interactive water toys and kid-activated splash features. Escape via the Totem Tower body slides to start all over again. And listen for the bell; when it rings, the gigantic bucket on top is ready to tip!

Slap Tail Pond – Surf’s up! Catch a wave and splash and play as the swells sweep in from the five-foot deep end to the zero-depth-entry shallows. Wave pools are a fun family vacation favorite for kids of all ages. The rollers flow in every five minutes to lift and transport you on the surge of the ocean’s tide.

Whooping Hollow – Itty-bitty wolf pups unite! This play pool is filled with perfectly sized water slides your little ones will adore. Gentle slopes and tiny dips and turns make these the go-to attractions for the “under 52 inches” set.

Cub Paw Pool – Geysers and a zero-depth entry welcome you to a terrific territory for tykes and toddlers. The perfect water park splash for your kids, Cub Paw Pool offers tiny kiddie slides and rainbow colored jet skis with water cannons on your way to the 18-inch “deep” end.

Crooked Creek – Need a break from the slides? Grab a tube and float your way around Crooked Creek.

Chinook Cove – Swim, laugh and splash all day with basketball play. Let your imagination run wild as you practice your hook shots, free throws and rebounds. Everybody loves water basketball, so you’re sure to go into overtime in this pool of family fun.

Totem Towers – Escape Fort Mackenzie! The Totem Towers water slides are the perfect way to fly the coop once you’ve reached the top of our water fort treehouse. Blast off on your own or race a friend to the finish line. Then you can start all over again!

Attractions

Howl in One Mini Golf – No family vacation would be complete without a round of miniature golf! Reserve your tee time for 9 holes of interactive play with plenty of sand traps, tricky shots, giant animals and ball-eating fish. It’s challenging enough for more skilled players and easy enough for putters of all ages.

Rustic Ridge Climbing Wall – Take fun to new heights! Rustic Ridge offers a 21-ft. climbing challenge for every age and skill level. Our staff will outfit you with a safety harness and provide friendly tips on making it to the “summit”.

MagiQuest –  MagiQuest turns Great Wolf Lodge into a live-action game where you’re the star. 

Ten Paw Alley – Enjoy bowling for toddlers, teens and tall ones alike! Shorter lanes and smaller bowling balls make this a perfect way to spend time together as a family whether you’re trying for a perfect 300-game or simply playing for fun.

The Northern Lights Arcade – The Northern Lights Arcade is packed with incredible games to challenge and entertain the entire family. Lights, action, and energy fill the arcade with excitement as you’re surrounded by the newest and best games, and great prizes, too. 

Howlers Peak Rope Course – Take your family on an invigorating aerial adventure that will have you balancing on ropes, crossing bridges and climbing through obstacles: all from the safety of a climbing harness! Our ropes course offers high-flying fun that will elevate your family vacation to a whole new level. 

Build -A- Bear Workshop – Your favorite Great Wolf Kids character comes to life right before your eyes at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Choose a friend-for-life, take your pick of outfits, colorful costumes, and accessories, then watch in awe as your plush toy gets filled.

Where To Eat

Campfire Kitchen – Great Illinois breakfasts flourish with farm fresh eggs, applewood smoked bacon, signature wolf waffles, and organic yogurts, granolas, fresh fruits, and berries. Dinner entrées are inspired by world cuisine. Along with fresh market salads, fish and seafood from sustainable markets, you’ll find a simply splendorous variety of desserts.

Barnwood – Open for lunch and dinner, Barnwood offers all the best in small, shareable plates and craft cocktails in a fully themed rustic setting.

Hungry As A Wolf – Everybody loves pizza, and take-out pizza doesn’t get any better than this! Crowd pleasers like Brooklyn style, hand-stretched pizza, savory Italian and meatball Parmesan sandwiches, garlic cheese bread and freshly made salads fill the menu.

Timbers – Explore a full menu of mouthwatering premium burgers, hearty sandwiches, and fresh salads and vegetables. The variety of dishes is sure to please every member in your pack.

The Watering Hole – Be sure to stop by this friendly oasis, during your adventure in our 84-degree water park. The Watering Hole offers refreshing soft drinks, iced tea, blended drinks and an extensive roster of ice cold beers.

The Outpost – You can work up a powerful thirst in the Great Wolf Adventure Park. So in between scaling the climbing wall and games of family bowling, be sure to stop by The Outpost, conveniently located within the park, for the very best in craft beers, signature cocktails or even a refreshing iced tea.

Ben & Jerry’s 

Dunkin’ Donuts 

Shopping

If you love shopping like me, then you are going to love Great Wolf Lodge. There was so much to shop for! I found so many great things at the Buckhorn Exchange Gift ShopGreat Wolf Candy CompanyPaddle Bay Outfitters, and of course, the MagiQuest Marketplace. I think it is so important to shop during your vacations because it allows you to find the perfect souvenirs to remember your trip with. 

Tips for Your Trip

  • Save some time and money and purchase the Paw Pass, Wolf Pass or Pup Pass which allows your kiddos to do all of the fun activities at Great Wolf Lodge
  • Add a credit card on file when you check-in so that you can use your wrist band to buy things you may want when you’re walking around. It is so convenient. You don’t have to worry about carrying a wallet everywhere you go. 
  • Take advantage of the Starbucks on the property and get some much-needed caffeine in your system to keep up with the kids as they run around.
  • It gets busy, so get up bright and early and hit up the hot spots early. 
  • If you have two or more kids, check out the KidKamp Suites. The KidKamp Suites have bunk beds and are equipped with a television for the kids to stay entertained just in case you need some downtime.
  • If you or your child has any food allergies or sensitivities, Great Wolf Lodge actually will accommodate and avoid any allergens. Just email or call the property before arrival to make arrangements! 
  • Utilize the late checkout on your last day. The late checkout is at 2 pm, but you can stay to play until 7 pm. 
  • Look for discounts when booking your stay. Although staying at Great Wolf Lodge is very affordable, it is always great when you can save some money. Great Wolf Lodge always has offers available to help make your stay more affordable. 
  •  Great Wolf Lodge also offers a discount to all military, fire, emergency medical service personnel, police, and correctional officers through their Howling Heroes program!
  • Consider celebrating your child’s birthday at Great Wolf Lodge. A variety of birthday packages are available that include room decorations, party activities, and birthday cakes. Kids visiting the lodge will get special “birthday wolf ears.”
  • Guests can gain access to the water park as early as 1 pm on the day of check-in and enjoy the water park until closing time on the day of check out. This feature allows families to maximize their water park experience. 
  • Although there are several activities on-site that have an associated cost, there are plenty of free activities already included in your stay. Kids will have so much fun participating in the dance parties, storytimes, lobby crafts, board game afternoons, morning parent & me yoga, “nature” walks through the property, and character meet and greets. A full schedule is given to you at check-in. 

 Disclosure: My family received a complimentary stay at Great Wolf Lodge however all opinions are my own.  

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