We visited the new Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, GA last weekend. It was actually our first time at a Great Wolf Lodge. We have a number of friends that have visited the Great Wolf Lodge near Charlotte, NC and had good things to say about it, but although the kids have wanted to go forever, for some reason we had just never made it. So when I heard about the new Great Wolf Lodge opening up just an hour south of Atlanta in LaGrange, I was excited. There are currently 17 Great Wolf Lodge locations across the US and Canada with another slated to open soon near Scottsdale, AZ.
I didn’t tell the kids we were going and secretly packed and loaded the car the night before while they were sleeping. We got on the road and all I told them was that we were going somewhere and it was going to be a surprise. They of course tried to guess and named about every single place around the city that they like to hang out. That was fun…for the first 15 minutes :). When we finally arrived and they saw the Great Wolf Lodge sign, they didn’t quite know what to think until I said that was where we were going. Then the screams and the “are you for real” started. As you might imagine they were thrilled!!
Let me start off by saying, and this won’t be surprising, Great Wolf Lodge is set up to take as much of your money as they can. In addition to the main attraction indoor water park, there is an apparel store, a candy store, a Creation Station (think build-a-bear), an arcade, a bowling alley, restaurants and other attractions to grab your child’s attention at every turn and bring forth the “please mommy” we all know and hate love.
Driving up to the resort, it looked huge from the outside. This location also has a conference center which may have added to the large footprint of the resort. I have not been to other Great Wolf locations so can’t really compare, but it definitely had the wow factor driving up. Upon check-in each child gets a pair of wolf ears. Nice touch! We were also fortunate to run into friends upon arrival so that made the trip all the more fun.
So, for those that have never been to Great Wolf Lodge or my Georgia friends that haven’t yet made it to the new LaGrange location, here is my review of Great Wolf Lodge LaGrange, GA.
The Water Park
The water park is the main attraction at Great Wolf Lodge and I have only heard good things about other locations so I had high expectations going in. Upon first entering the water park my first thought was “is this it?” My kids on the other hand were like “wow!”. It’s for the kids anyway so me being underwhelmed at first sight isn’t important. It turns out, it was a great mix of activities for the kids and just big enough for them to not get bored quickly, but not too big that I felt overwhelmed trying to keep track of the 3 of them by myself. One of the main reasons it looks somewhat small is because the main parts of all the big slides are outside of the building and for the most part can’t be seen from inside the water park. Being contained to somewhat of a smaller space worked in my favor. There are 5 ‘big’ slides, a toddler area with a couple of small slides, a large fort treehouse play area with several slides, a lazy river, wave pool, stump balance crossing, a basketball area, and a regular outdoor swimming pool. The water park is perfect for ages 12 and under. It might be a little less entertaining for the 13+ crowd.
The favorite of my 10-year-old was the slide my kids dubbed ‘The Dropper’. The official name is ‘Wolf Tail’, but they have no idea of that. From the moment they saw it, it was ‘The Dropper’. The official description has words like ‘floor drops out’ and ’nearly vertical, 20-foot free fall’. I didn’t personally ride it because well…me and sudden drops no longer mix, but all three of my kids rode it and my 10-year-old could absolutely not get enough of it. Great Wolf, you have a winner with that one!
And because my boys love basketball so much, the basketball area was another hit. Nothing like a little water hooping. One thing that can often happen at activities like this is that there aren’t enough balls to go around. Fortunately, this was not the case. There were plenty of balls in the water for everyone in the area to be constantly active and shooting the ball.
My 6- and 8-year-olds enjoyed the lazy river and Fort Mackenzie treehouse area with the different water shooting options and huge water bucket dump. We all enjoyed the two family slides and did multiple runs on both. Be forewarned, if you are even a little out of shape, the treks up the steps to get to the slides are no joke. Don’t worry about exercising while there because you WILL get your steps in. Let’s just say my calves were sore for a couple days after leaving Great Wolf Lodge.
There was plenty of seating all around the water park which I appreciated. And importantly, there were plenty of lifeguards on duty. Even though my kids can swim and I personally try to keep an eye on them, I felt good about their safety as all of the life guards seemed attentive.
I was pleasantly surprised at the cost of food at Great Wolf Lodge. I guess they figure by the time they’ve gotten you for the room and activities, they should just keep the price of food reasonable. We had dinner in the waterpark at Buckets Incredible Craveables and spent $37.99. This included 3 cheeseburgers, an order of chicken fingers, 3 orders of fries and 3 drinks (you add on fries and a drink for $3.69 to any entrée). I thought this was fairly reasonable considering we were a captive audience. And it didn’t taste too bad to boot.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Campfire Kitchen which is somewhat like a buffet, but with a couple of key differences…you can only go through once and there were people actually serving the main hot dishes. This cost $48 for 4. It wasn’t bad overall, but the main things my kids love for breakfast, pancakes and waffles, were not good. They looked dry and cold and that was confirmed when my soon took one bite and didn’t touch them again. Fortunately, the other items such as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese grits and fruit were all very good so everyone left satisfied.
The one thing I wish they would change though is the rule that you are only allowed to go through the line once. So much food is being wasted. I was advised by no less than 3 restaurant employees to get any and everything I think I or the kids might want since we can’t come back through. I assume this is the same message they are giving everyone. I think they would save food if they let people go back through at least once. That way people wouldn’t get way more than they are likely to eat ‘just in case’ they want more.
We didn’t try the other restaurants, but I looked at the menus and pricing seemed similar to the two restaurants we did try.
I decided to purchase the Paw Pass for $39.99 for each child because it included the MagiQuest game, some arcade tokens and a couple of other treats. Besides the waterpark, I had heard so much about the MagiQuest activity prior to going to Great Wolf Lodge, and knew that alone would cost near that price so figured we would come out a little better with the pass. I’m gonna be honest here, even after my kids got wands and played it, I still don’t really get MagiQuest. All I know is they loved running around pointing their wand at various things and hearing that sound that let them know that it worked and they earned a point. I think its points, but who knows. Anyhow, they loved MagiQuest.
The Paw pass we purchased also came with 20 paw points (~$5 value) to the Northern Lights arcade. This only gets you 2-4 games as each game/turn is 4+ points, with the average being 8 points. I refuse to spend a boatload of money in arcades for prizes that are generally unattainable unless you have spent 20X said prizes’ value before you get enough points for it so the kids played their few games, got enough points for a couple pieces of candy and we were out of there without much fuss. The other things included in the $39.99 Paw Pass are a cup of candy from the candy store and a scoop of ice cream from the on-site Ben & Jerry’s.
Great Wolf Lodge Atlanta/Lagrange also has mini-golf, rock climbing, bowling, mining and a ropes course. We didn’t do these activities, but they are included in the $54.99 Wolf Pass. If you are planning to do at least 2 of these activities, upgrading to the Wolf Pass is worth it as the cost for the individual activities was around $8 each. If we had been staying another day, I would have likely sprung for this pass.
Daily Activities and Programming
In addition to the water park and attractions, Great Wolf also has various activities planned around the lodge each day. My daughter really wanted to do yoga so we attended Yoga Tails first thing in the morning before breakfast. I thought it was super cute and they got to take pictures with the Great Wolf mascot himself right after.
Another activity we attended was the glow party. I was a little irritated by this one. Several employees had mentioned it throughout the day how once it’s dark, weather permitting, there would be a glow party on the lawn with music. I expected some glowing decorations or maybe a few glow sticks. Well there was in fact a party, but the glowing was all courtesy of glow swords or glow wands that were for purchase from a cart (a cart you had no choice but to walk past to get to the main ‘party’ area. Despite the pleading from the kids, I did not purchase any glow paraphenalia. They fortunately weren’t the only ones without something glowing and we still had a good time dancing to a few songs but… NOT COOL GREAT WOLF LODGE! They should have at least given a heads up on the programming sheet or something so we could have decided whether we wanted to attend if they were not providing any ‘glow’.
Other activities we saw or heard about around the lodge included character drawing class, a walk around the lodge and storytime. All seemed super cute for the targeted age groups.
Overall we had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge and will undoubtedly be back. For such a short ride, it will be a perfect weekend getaway to help combat the winter blues once it cools down. Here are my top 5 tips for planning your trip to Great Wolf Lodge.
- DO book ahead and check the Great Wolf Lodge website for discount codes and at lodge coupons. Great Wolf Lodge offers the best discount when purchasing at least 60 days ahead. If you know your schedule pretty well, this is a great way to save money. In addition to this general discount, Great Wolf Lodge also has coupons on the website so check those out and print them before you head there. Check out my post on Money Saving Travel Tips for more on planning ahead and other ways to save on travel. And speaking of saving money…
- DO take advantage of the ability to play before and after checkout. This essentially gives you 2 full days of play at the resort for the cost of 1 night instead of paying for 2 nights and leaving right after breakfast the day of check out. On your check out day you can stay until the park closes. This is a great way to save money during popular times when the nightly rate is higher. While many stay more than one night and we may stay longer in the future, the fact that my kids didn’t complain about leaving by the time it was time for us to go was my cue that this worked well for us.
- DO pack a cooler with lunch, water and/or a few snacks to take to the waterpark if you are looking to save a little money. While we had 2 meals at lodge restaurants, I packed a cooler with a light lunch to have while at the waterpark the second day. As of the time of this writing there are no rules against this (at the Lagrange location) and while most people there were buying lunch, there were a few other families that also had a packed lunch.
- DO purchase an attraction pass for the kids if you plan to do anything other than the water park. Based on the individual prices of the activities, the Pup Pass ($39.99), Paw Pass ($39.99) or Wolf Pass ($54.99) are a good value. MagiQuest alone is about $40.
- DO get up early and into the waterpark to ensure you get time before it gets crowded. My kids were at the door when it opened at 9 am and went on slides non-stop with zero lines from 9am until about 10am when the late sleepers started to arrive.