I visited Great Wolf Lodge for the first time with my husband, and the $400-a-night stay was totally worth it

  • My husband and I visited Great Wolf Lodge, a family-friendly resort with an indoor water park.

  • We took part in on-site activities like bowling, laser tag, and an interactive quest with a wand.

  • From amazing food to unlimited water-park access, it was an enjoyable change from our usual getaway.

Great Wolf Lodge is a family-friendly hotel and water park with over 20 locations in the US. It operates similarly to an all-inclusive experience with on-site bars, shops, and restaurants.

My husband and I recently took a trip to the resort's Concord, North Carolina, location. It was our first time visiting, and we wondered how it would compare to our usual theme-park vacations at places like Disney World and Universal Orlando.

To get the full experience, we stayed for a weekend in a $400-a-night suite with the intention of never leaving the resort.

I was immediately impressed when we arrived.

Great Wolf Lodge lobby.
The Great Wolf Lodge lobby was an immersive environment.Carly Caramanna

The elaborately themed property instantly reminded me of my favorite Disney World hotels.

The lobby was filled with immersive, wilderness-inspired decor. There were even character mascots greeting guests and we could watch a show with animatronic characters.

Upon checking in, we were given a complimentary pair of wolf ears. This was a fun touch that I wasn't expecting.

We stayed in a nice suite with a king bed.

King bed suite in Great Wolf Lodge.
Our Great Wolf Lodge suite was larger than others I've stayed in.Carly Caramanna

The resort has a large range of room sizes, including uniquely themed suites that fit up to eight guests.

We were impressed by our $400-a-night suite's size. It included a king bed and even had a separate living-room area. The modern furnishings and forest theme further added to the escapism.

I've stayed at a lot of resorts across the country, and this one was significantly bigger than anything I've seen.

We couldn't wait to visit the indoor water park.

Water park at Great Wolf Lodge.
There were no lines at the indoor water park.Carly Caramanna

Although Great Wolf Lodge offers a day pass for the water park anyone can buy separately, full-service hotel guests have unlimited access — a perk that we looked forward to.

The water park, which is located steps from the hotel rooms, housed cozy seating, slides, interactive playscapes, a restaurant, bars, and more.


Fortunately, we didn't spend much time waiting in lines.

Indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge.
It was nice not having to wait in line for the waterslides.Carly Caramanna

By arriving right when the facility opened, we got to experience the attractions without lines. We loved the slides and the wave pool, which had wolf-howl sounds that ignited the waves.

Crowds poured in as the day went on, but we had no trouble finding seating.


We also spent time at the outdoor pool.

Outdoor pool at Great Wolf Lodge.
The outdoor pool was complemented by a poolside bar.Carly Caramanna

The outdoor activities included a large pool with a poolside bar. We spent a good amount of time enjoying the sunshine and cocktails.

I was surprised by the quick-service food at the pool.

Burger and fries with a water park in the background.
Although basic, the food by the pool was tasty.Carly Caramanna

The food at the water park was basic — chicken fingers and burgers — but delicious. Plus, the ordering process was seamless.

My husband and I split a cheeseburger for lunch, and it was delicious.

There were also some amazing sit-down restaurants.

Breakfast food from Great Wolf Lodge.
We loved the biscuits and gravy from the Loose Moose Cottage.Carly Caramanna

I was surprised by the number of dining options at the hotel. The offerings ranged from pizza and ice cream to full-service dining and bars.

We spent an evening at Lodge Wood Fired Grill, where we ordered cocktails and an amazing soft pretzel. For breakfast, we dined at the Loose Moose Cottage, a buffet that featured breakfast staples like biscuits and gravy.

Although we spent most of the day at the water park, we also took advantage of other activities on the property.

Bowling alley at Great Wolf Lodge.
The bowling alley was a nice touch at Great Wolf Lodge.Carly Caramanna

We spent most of our time around the water park but made sure to take advantage of other activities.

There were lots of fun options on the property like laser tag, mini golf, a ropes course, bowling, and an arcade.

I was also surprised by the resort's interactive game.

MagiQuest wands at Great Wolf Lodge.
MagiQuest was an interactive game that added a lot of fun to our experience.Carly Caramanna

MagiQuest — an interactive game that transforms the resort into a playing field — is a Great Wolf Lodge staple. But I didn't know what it was until I visited.


Participating in MagiQuest meant interactive opportunities were all around the lodge.

MagiQuest feature at Great Wolf Lodge.
I opened a chest by simply waving my wand at it.Carly Caramanna

The live-action, role-play concept is similar to a scavenger hunt but even better.

The game costs $17 and guests who buy a $20 to $25 wand with sensor technology can interact with set pieces around the common areas. There are special actions like opening a chest or fighting a dragon.


Since we were taking advantage of the on-site activities, we purchased a bundle pass.

Great Wolf Lodge's Paw Pass.
The Paw Pass saved us money in the long run.Carly Caramanna

Activities are available à la carte, but we ended up purchasing a bundle pass that saved us money in the long run.

The packages are available in three levels: Wolf Pass ($100), Paw Pass ($80), and Pup Pass ($60). We chose the mid-level Paw Pass option because it included most of the activities we were interested in, including MagicQuest, bowling, and mini golf.

There's also a dining pass available for those looking for an all-inclusive experience, but we opted to purchase food à la carte and share between the two of us.

I thought Great Wolf Lodge was a great weekend getaway, and I'd gladly go back.

Wolf mascot for Great Wolf Lodge.
Great Wolf Lodge is widely known as a family destination, but my husband and I had a blast.Carly Caramanna

In comparison to water parks I've visited across the US, this held up to some of the very best. I can definitely see myself coming back.

Although Great Wolf Lodge is largely known as a destination for families with kids, there was plenty for us to do as adults. I enjoyed the wilderness theme — it felt like a true vacation.

With everything under one roof, I also loved that we could stay put once we arrived. Unlike a traditional theme-park vacation, this required very little planning on our behalf, which was a bonus.

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