We recently visited the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington with a close friend and her daughter. If you’re not familiar with Great Wolf, they advertise as “America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts.” They have 14 locations throughout the United States and one in Canada. In the Pacific Northwest, which has a reputation for rain and clouds, Great Wolf Lodge offers the opportunity to enjoy water activities all year long.
The resort is located approximately 67 miles south of Seattle/Tacoma Airport. If you’re thinking of making a visit here, know that it’s going to be a drive. If you’re traveling south during the week, it’s probably best to leave before noon, or 1PM at the latest. Most traffic heads north during the morning commute and the afternoon commute tends to start around 2PM or 3PM. When you’re leaving, follow the same rules. Either leave early or leave late because the traffic heading north through Olympia and Tacoma is awful.
Arrival and Check-in
After sitting in the car for about two hours due to a major accident just south of the resort, we were so glad to finally arrive. The parking lot was pretty full but it’s a large lot and although we parked a little ways from the main entrance, the walk wasn’t too bad. The check-in area was packed. The line wasn’t long, but all of the available check-in agents were assisting other guests. With most families having more than one child in tow, you can imagine how much of a cluster it was. Check-in time starts at 4PM and you can access the waterpark immediately. Check-out is at 11AM but you can still access the park for the entire day. You’ll get wristbands, which double as your room key, so park employees know you’re a guest/you’ve paid to play. For us, adults received orange wristbands and the kids had blue.
We had a standard two-queen bedroom (with sofa bed) that can fit up to six people. The first four occupants are included in the rate and each additional occupant costs $50. This gives the additional occupant(s) access to the waterparks. I let the moms and kids take the beds while I took the sofa bed. It was so uncomfortable. My head sloped toward the inside of the couch. I could feel the springs and the frame through the “mattress.” The frame squeaked every time I moved around. Despite all that, I still managed to sleep. I must have been really tired. The sofa bed area is pretty spacious. I’d recommend bringing an air mattress versus the sofa bed.
Other amenities of the room include a microwave and a fridge. The TV was surprisingly small at only 27″. I guess you’re not really there to watch TV though.
As far as I could tell, there is only one set of three elevators to access all of the guest rooms. There were a few occasions where we had to wait for several minutes so we decided to just take the stairs. The elevators are positioned at the end of the hall so depending on your room number, you could have quite a trek to your room.
The main attraction is the indoor water park. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of it because I didn’t bring my phone with me to go swimming. And then on the way out, my daughter went poo so I got distracted by cleaning her up. The main park has a wave pool, a kiddie section, water slides, and some basketball hoops setup inside a shallow pool. There are also complimentary life vests and puddle jumpers located throughout the park.
While the resort advertises the shower and changing facilities inside the water park, they’re pretty small. In the men’s room, there were only three showers with no place to really stash your stuff. There was also a small locker area. Locker sizes range from small, large, to jumbo. If I remember correctly, the cost is $10, $15, and $20, respectively.
In addition to the water park, there’s an arcade and an adventure game called MagiQuest. You purchase a wand for around $35 and set off on an adventure around the resort. There are tons of stations situated in the hallways and stairwells that you stop at and wave the wand. I didn’t play it but kids and tweens were running around throughout the resort with these things.
After we finished dinner, there was a big dance party out in the main lobby. They had a few employees leading the dance and all of the kids were in the middle of a big circle, which was made up of all of the parents.
There were a handful of dining options available here but we stuck to the Loose Moose Cottage buffet for both dinner and breakfast for the one-night stay. If you’re just looking to grab something and go, there’s a Starbucks as well. The kids were free for both meals and the adults cost $19.99 and $14.99 for dinner and breakfast, respectively. The food was alright. Nothing to get too excited about. If you’re just looking to stuff yourself so you can head out to the water park without having to stop for food anytime soon, then the breakfast buffet is a good deal. Inside the water park there were a couple of places to grab your standard lunch fare, like hot dogs and burgers. These are located in the lower level near the kiddie pool area. Table seating is limited so you have to get there early to save those spots.
At dinner, my daughter was trying to climb up on to a chair. Somehow she slipped, fell and hit her head. An employee was nearby and she flagged down a manager immediately. She then went to go get an ice bag. Within a couple of minutes, an onsite medic was at our table to check her out. We worried about a concussion and the medic said she wasn’t showing any signs. She was alert, knew where she was, and could carry on a conversation. He gave us a couple of ice packs and told us to monitor her to make sure she didn’t start to feel dizzy or dazed. I was really impressed by the response time and action by the staff. It made me feel safe.
Quite a few reviews on TripAdvisor say the facilities are run down. I didn’t really notice anything. Our room was clean and in good condition, aside from the sofa bed. The fridge and microwave worked the way they were supposed to.
It’s a pretty expensive experience. They do have Groupons and other specials that you can use to find a better deal though. On the Great Wolf website, the room we had often sells for about $250/night. Consider that is the base/standard room and you can probably guess that the themed suites cost significantly more.
Based on our experience, you really need at least two nights here to get the full experience. We didn’t arrive until after 4PM and then we tried to squeeze in some water time before dinner. But you can’t have dinner until after you shower and change. By then, the buffet almost closed. The next morning you don’t have much time to play and then get showered and changed before you have to check-out at 11AM. Who really wants to check-out, lug their stuff to the car, carry a change of clothes back to the park, and then clean up in those tiny showers? That sounds like a huge hassle to me. We asked about late check-out and were given 30 minutes extra at no cost. Other than that, I think it was $55 to extend check-out until early afternoon.