Great Wolf Lodge Tips: Ultimate Guide For Your Stay

Posted in Blog, Travel
Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park

Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park with hotel, restaurants, attractions, and more all in one place. 

Great Wolf Lodge boasts eighteen locations in the United States and Canada. With four more coming soon, it’s obvious that they are expanding rapidly.  

Whether this is your first time booking a trip or you are a seasoned lodger, we hope you find this guide helpful for your Great Wolf Lodge trip.

Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio sign at entrance

Great Wolf Lodge Hotel

What is the best age for Great Wolf Lodge?

All ages!! 

There are families, couples with no kids, and even groups of older people that enjoy the lodge and waterpark.  

Where can I find discounts?

Discount codes are your best friend when booking a Great Wolf Lodge stay. These can save you a lot of money. You are allowed to use different codes up until your stay begins, so if you find a better code after you book, call customer service and have them change the code. 

Each park has a “Deals” page where their current discount codes are listed. There are also many Facebook groups that people post codes in. My favorite is Great Wolf Lodge HOWLING FANS Discounts, Codes, Tips, and Tricks! GWL. Once you find a code, put your dates of stay and code into the Great Wolf Lodge website. If your stay is cheaper, call and have the new code applied. As far as we know, there is no limit to how many times you can change the code. Do you homeschool? Look for the homeschool discount codes! Groupon is also a great resource to check for discounts.

Great Wolf Lodge Hotel room with double beds

Are there discounts for heroes?

Great Wolf Lodge has the Howlin’ Heroes program that offers a discount to military (active, retired, and veteran), fire, emergency medical service personnel, doctors, nurses, 911 dispatchers, police, and correctional officers. The code is HEROES and you receive up to 25% off your stay. A valid ID is required at check-in. 

What is the cheapest time to book a stay?

Weekends, holidays, and summer are going to be the highest price times to book a stay. Weekdays throughout the school year are the lowest. The cheapest I have stayed at Mason/Cincinnati location is $99 a night (Standard Family Suite). The trip was Tuesday through Thursday the first week of May. I have heard others going as low as $89 a night.

Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio family suite with mini refrigerator and microwave

Can we enjoy the water park before check-in or after check-out?

Check-in is at 4 pm but you can enjoy the water park starting at 1 pm the first day of your stay. It’s recommended you pack a separate bag with a change of clothing and anything else you’ll need for the pool. Your luggage can stay in the car and there are lockers in the pool area for your small bags. You will need to stop by the front desk to get your wristbands to enter the pool area. Check-out is 11 am the last day of your stay but you can use the water park until closing. Following the same as check-in, you can take your luggage to your car and just take a small bag of essentials to the pool area. You can also look into late check out which lets you check out around 2 pm, instead of 11 am.

Do I check in at the lodge?

At the time of this post (May 2023), Great Wolf Lodge started rolling out Pre-Check through the app before your arrival. We tried to use this new system, but it seemed they were having some issues with it that day. Either way, check-in has always been a fast process for us. You will need the credit card you booked with, your driver’s license, and the members of your party to check in. Each person will get a band to get into the pool area. The front desk attendant will ask which bands need the room key feature and the charge feature. These are optional for each band.

Pre-Check kiosk at Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

How do people dress in the hotel?

Dress is very casual within the hotel, even at the restaurants. It is not uncommon for kids to be in their pajamas for night activities. I do recommend a coverup for your swimwear while walking through the hotel before and after the water park. Note: I was told by one of the workers that they will ask security to talk to you about covering up if you wear a thong bathing suit outside of the waterpark without a coverup.

Where do we get the free wolf ears?

We always get them from the checkout counter inside the Buckhorn Exchange (Mason/Cincinnati location). Don’t be afraid to inquire at the front desk or ask an employee if you are not sure where to get them. They also have more decorated wolf ears for sale in the shop.  

How many people can fit in one room?

Great Wolf Lodge offers rooms that can hold up to 8 people. It is a great place for large families to all be able to stay in one room.  

Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio Indoor Waterpark area

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

Do I need to bring towels?

No. The water park will have plenty of towels available for your family. No extra towels are needed.

Do we need to bring life jackets, floaties, or any other safety equipment?

No. These safety items are provided at the water park and are required for some ages.

Can we bring toys, pool noodles, floats, diving toys, etc.?

No. None of these items are allowed in the pool area for the comfort and safety of all guests. There will be plenty for everyone to do and these items will not be missed.

Can we bring goggles?

Yes. Goggles are allowed and are even included in some of the kid’s packages.

Anything else I should pack in our bag for the water park?

If you want to take some great pictures in the water park, I recommend getting a waterproof phone case.  

Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio lobby check in area

Great Wolf Lodge Restaurants

Note: These are the restaurant locations at the Mason/Cincinnati location. Some of them are available at other locations and some locations have restaurants not listed here.


This is a quick, pool-side restaurant with all the favorites. Burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries, salads, chicken tenders, nachos, dippin’ dots, smoothies, icees, and more. The prices are reflective of a resort/amusement park.

Hungry as a Wolf

A great place to feed the whole family for a little cheaper than the other on-site options. Pizza, salads, wings, and garlic bread are available. You can buy a whole pizza or pizza by the slice. They also offer some family deals with pizza, bread, salad, and 2-liter or pizza, wings, salad, and 2-liter.

Pepperoni pizza in box from Hungry as a Wolf Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

Grizzly Rob’s Bar

The adult spot to grab a drink while laying by the pool or after a long day at the water park.  

Loose Moose

Breakfast and dinner buffet. Not always open for dinner. Breakfast is average with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, crepe station, pancakes, waffles, bagels, muffins, etc. As of May 2023, the Mason location is $20 per adult and $10 per kid.


Just like outside Dunkin’ locations, the Great Wolf Lodge Dunkin’ stores have coffee, donuts, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, hash browns, and more. This is a great breakfast option for families looking to eat out. You can get a dozen donuts for a little over $14.

Fresh Woods Market-

This is like your hotel snack shop. They have snacks, dippin’ dots, drinks, salads, charcuterie items, and alcohol.

Lodge Wood Fired Grill

This is the more formal, sit-down restaurant. The dress is still casual but the food is more upscale. 

Kids can choose from chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, cheeseburger, spaghetti and meatballs, and grilled cheese for around $10. Adult selections include items like cheeseburgers, salmon, roasted chicken, steak, bbq spareribs, wings, lettuce wraps, soups, salad, and other options. Appetizers start at $8 and meals are up to around $37.

Cheeseburger and fries from Wood Fired Grill Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

Wood’s End Creamery

When you’re craving sweets, this is the best place to stop. They have ice cream, shakes, pop floats, smoothies, fudge, and other desserts. We always get the ice cream and it’s delicious.

Great Wolf Lodge Dining Tips

Looking to save money?

Bringing meals and snacks with you will save you a ton of money. Everything at Great Wolf Lodge is resort/amusement park priced. The rooms include a mini fridge and microwave.

Best restaurants for saving.

Dunkin’ is a great place to save money on breakfast. Grab a dozen donuts to feed multiple people. Hungry as a Wolf is a good option if you buy a whole pizza and share it with the family.

Can I use outside pizza delivery or other food delivery services?

Yes. Many people use these options to get better food for the same or less money. Some services will deliver to the room but others have you meet them in the lobby. Check with the service you use to see where they will deliver.

Great Wolf Lodge Attractions

Note: These are the attractions at the Mason/Cincinnati location.  Check your location to see what is available.

Ten Paw Alley

The bowling lanes are located within the Northern Lights Arcade. You will pay at the prize counter for the arcade and they will give you a coin to put in the bowling lane machine to start a game. One round of bowling is around $7 plus tax. The lanes are shorter, and the balls are smaller for the younger players. No bowling shoes are required.

Northern Lights Arcade

The arcade is huge with a ton of different games to play. You can purchase “Paw Points” to play the games at kiosks inside the arcade. I will note that you have to win a lot of tickets to get any good prizes. Some of the games give prizes and some don’t. If you plan to play in the arcade, I would plan to play for fun and not the prizes at the end.

Northern Lights Arcade Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

Howl at the Moon Glow Golf

The cost for mini golf is $7 per person, per game. It is 9 holes of glow-in-the-dark golf. To play, you will need to pay and receive a club and ball from the arcade prize counter. I thought the picture of this place looked so cool but after seeing it, it looks like they took two rooms and converted them into a mini golf area. It’s very small and usually always empty.  

Howl at the Moon Golf Inside Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio Glow-in-the-dark mini golf course
Glow in the dark mini golf inside Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

Oliver’s Mining Sluice

This is located in the hotel shop (Buckhorn Exchange). A single bag (3lbs.) is around $12.99 and a family bag (10lbs.) is around $34.99. You get to sluice and keep any gems you find. We have never done this activity and it is never active while we are there. Unless you are super into sluicing or you get it in one of the packages, I would skip this activity.

Build-A-Bear Workshop

The shop has several characters to choose from starting at $34.99. Clothing ranges from $7 to $16.  Pick your character, stuff it with the stuffing machine, dress them (optional), and take them home with you.

Entrance to Build-A-Bear Workshop in Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio


MagiQuest is a super popular attraction that allows your kids to follow clues, complete quests, and slay monsters.  

To start, you will need to purchase a wand ranging from approximately $20-$25 plus the game which is around $17. Wand toppers are extra and cost an additional $18-$20. There is a bundle with a wand and game for around $34.99.  

Light up wand with eyeball topper for MagiQuest game at Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

If you have more than one child, especially if one is young, you can buy each a wand but only one game. They can still wave their wand at each quest stop but only one child is playing the quests.

Wands and games carry over from one stay to the next. So, if you do not finish the entire quest chain, you can continue where you left off the next time you stay. The wands can also be reused. The only thing you have to pay for is the game time (around $17).  

Quest book for MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio

Quests are given in a book so children will need to be able to read to complete the quests. 

  • Younger guests may need an adult’s help to read and complete the quests.  
  • At the Mason/Cincinnati location, quests are located throughout the second, third, and fourth floors. There is a lot of walking involved in completing the quests.
  • Older guests can complete more advanced quests called Shadow Quest and Compass Quest.  
  • Some adults play MagiQuest on their own so it can be for any age. It is recommended for kids at least 6+ since there is reading involved.   

Great Wolf Lodge Passes/Packages/Extras

Should I buy the Wolf, Paw, or Pup Pass?

I think this depends on a few things. A lot of people say first-time guests should consider a pass so they can sample all that Great Wolf Lodge has to offer. We have never bought the passes or thought they were worth it. I think the best thing is to think about what your family wants to do during your stay and price each thing individually. Then look at the passes and see if it’s a better deal to do a package.

Dining Packages:

Are they worth it? Again, I think this depends on your family and the location you are staying at. At the Mason/Cincinnati location, I don’t think the packages are worth it. I can save a lot more by dining freely instead of under a package.  I also don’t think the food quality is great at this location.

Birthday Packages

There are different birthday packages to choose from if your little one is celebrating at the lodge. Packages range from decorations, balloons, arcade credits, etc. to pizza, cake, decorations, and more.


Many people enjoy having a private space to keep all their things, eat, hang out, etc. A private cabana is the perfect place for this. It’s great if you have small children that won’t spend as much time in the water as older kids. These require you to call for pricing and booking.    

Great Wolf Lodge Free Activities

The free activities offered at Great Wolf Lodge can keep you busy all day when you are not in the water park. They offer activities for the kids like yoga, crafts, dance parties, storytime, and more. Check the activity calendar on the Great Wolf Lodge app or the activity calendar on screens around the lobby of the hotel. The kids enjoy these activities, especially the dance parties.

Kids and adults sitting on the floor in the lobby of Great Wolf Lodge Mason Ohio listening to a story

Have you been to any of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts? Which is your favorite? Do you think I missed anything on this list that needs to be added?

Book your stay!

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