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Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale, and Ways to Save

Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale, and Ways to Save

Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale is the latest to join the Phoenix area! This chain of resorts also boasts a massive indoor waterpark, along with restaurants, arcades, and children’s activities. It’s always a perfect 84 degrees at the waterpark, making any time of year the best year to visit! We visited in early October, a week after the grand opening, and hope our insight will help you plan your stay at the Great Wolf Lodge. See the end of this post for ways to save!

The Rooms

There are three types of rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge:

  • The Standard Room includes two queen beds, a sleeper sofa, and full bath (sleeps 4-6).
  • The Wolf Den Suite includes a queen bed, a side room with bunk beds, a sleeper sofa, and a full bath (sleeps 4-6).
  • The Grizzly Bear Suite includes a king sized bed in a master bedroom, two queen beds in a separate bedroom, sleeper sofa, and one full bath/one half bath (sleeps (6-8).
  • All rooms include a mini fridge, hairdryer, coffee maker, and internet. And access to the waterpark! Kids 12 and under receive wolf ears at check-in, a fun little addition.
  • Prices vary, depending on a weekday or weekend stay, and room type chosen; $150/night to $350/night. They do offer specials! See more info under Ways to Save.

We opted for the Wolf Den Suite. The kids were in love with their bunk bed room! The little side window was especially fun. The bed and couch were comfortable, the room clean, and the mini fridge could definitely hold a couple meals worth of food and snacks. We had a nice view of the parking lot and mountains in the distance too. The Standard Room would have met our needs as well, but the themed kids room added to the experience.

The only negative we experienced was in accessing our room. Great Wolf Lodge advertised a 1pm check in to begin enjoying the waterpark, with rooms being ready at 4pm. We checked in at 2pm and were told we’d receive a text when our room was ready. 4:30pm rolled around and no text. We attempted to check on our room status around 5pm, but the check in line was long (not doing that with three kids), and calling only put us on hold for almost 10 min, never reaching any one. Finally at about 6:30pm, we were able to receive confirmation that our room was ready. We were hoping to utilize our room sooner for rest breaks, especially for the baby. Hopefully this wait issue is resolved soon because it’s terribly inconvenient. Otherwise, check out was via text and went smoothly (possibly because we did not incur any extra charges on our account).

The Waterpark

The waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge is truly phenomenal. We expected greatness, but were blown away by extensiveness of what’s included! Our kids had no idea where to start! They were all over for the first hour, exploring and getting a layout for the park. Note: wristbands are required to enter the waterpark, for adults and children. An employee will also briefly check all bags, and give another wristband to children according to height. This helps them (and lifeguards) easily know what slides they can  go on.
There are ten water experiences at the waterpark, and two outside:
  • Big Foot Pass and Chinook Cove – this pool has two sections, one with a fun obstacle course, and the other side with water basketball.
  • Slap Tail Pool – a wave pool, just listen for the wolf howl right before the waves start!
  • Crooked Creek – a lazy river that even little ones can enjoy with their parents.
  • Raccoon Lagoon – an outdoor pool with zero depth entry on one end, and two fountains. Lots of seating for soaking up sunshine!
  • Northwoods Springs – an oversized hot tub, also outdoors with a lovely veranda.
  • Talking Stick Treehouse – this can’t miss feature has five water slides, water toys, fountains and the signature bucket dump!
  • Whooping Hollow – a completely gated area for little ones, with a water table and splashpad, plus two mini water slides.
  • Alberta Falls, River Canyon Run, and Diamond Backdrop – three awesome raftslides that will leave you smiling!
  • Wolf Tail –  20 foot free fall tube slide

If this sounds like a lot, it is!! We loved how families can do just about anything together (some height restrictions do apply on the bigger waterslides). Our kids were so hesitant to try the basic water slides at the treehouse but were pros by the end of the visit! Same with the bigger raft slides. The lazy river was fun to just take a breather. And our daughter did the obstacle course over and over until she made it across in under 40 seconds.  There are lounge chairs scattered around the park, and five long rows by the wave pool. Grab a free towel from the rental shack and stake your claim as soon as you arrive. We sat in various places, there’s really not a bad seat in the house, though we did find the chairs by the lazy river a bit more relaxing noise wise.

There are restrooms on either side of the waterpark; the restrooms by the wave pool has a family changing room/bathroom and showers. And it may be hidden, but we didn’t see any changing tables in the stalls. (Use the family room, or bench in the changing rooms if needed.) There are two restaurants in the waterpark, Buckets Incredible Cravings and Taco Timbers, and well as the drinks only service from The Watering Hole. You’re welcome to purchase food from the other restaurants outside the waterpark and bring them in as well. Coolers and any other food or drinks are not allowed. That said, baby food or snacks for little children are fine, as well as water bottles. You can refill water bottles at the giant soft drink machine near the restaurants for free. Also there is a large gift shop in the lodge providing anything you might need for your stay.

Dining

There are eight different restaurants and fast food type eateries at Great Wolf Lodge, including a Ben and Jerry’s (the first ever in Arizona!) and a candy store! The variety is impressive. Even the pickiest kids will not lack for something appealing to eat.
The restaurants are:
  • Hungry as a Wolf – Italian style with pizza, pasta and salads.
  • Freshwoods Market – quick bites with drinks, premade sandwiches and salads and snacks.
  • Timbers Tacos – Tex-Mex style with tacos, nachos, salads, churros and more
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – everyone is familiar with this donuts and coffee chain!
  • Bucket’s Incredible Craveables – American style with hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and desserts.
  • Barnwood – one of the “fancier” dining options with appetizers, drinks and a carefully crafted lunch and dinner menu.
  • Campfire Kitchen – has it all, like kids favorites of Mac n cheese, a salad bar, and all you can eat breakfast.
  • The Watering Hole – inside the waterpark is this offering of mixed drinks, beers, soft drinks and smoothies.

We sampled food from Dunkin’, Timbers, Bucket’s and The Watering Hole. The street tacos were our favorite! The salad bar at the Campfire Kitchen will probably tempt us next time. We also had ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s, and the kids got a cup full of candy from the candy store, thanks to their Wolf Passes. Price wise, the majority of the places had decent prices. Barnwood’s menu seemed on the higher end of dinner budget for us; the breakfast buffet from Campfire sounded amazing, but not at $20/person. Overall, there’s a good variety for all families, and we recommend trying at least one restaurant during your stay.

Activities

There are free and must pay activities at Great Wolf Lodge! The free activities are evening storytime and character meet and greets. You can find the times for these when you check in. There also might be other free activities; we had free trick or treating during our stay, as well as a coloring table.
The other activities are pay as you go, or part of the pass purchase. There are three passes available: the Wolf Pass, the Paw Pass, and the Pup Pass. As the names suggest, these may appeal to different ages. You can find out more about the different passes here. Prices range from $49.99-$69.99 per pass. The main activities are:
  • MagiQuest – explore the lodge with a magical wand that reveals secrets and a quest.
  • Ten Paw Bowling Alley – cute mini bowling alley.
  • Howl in One Mini Golf – an 8 hole golf course.
  • Northern Lights Arcade – games for young and old.
  • Howler’s Peak Ropes Course – a three story epic ropes course with lots of variation.
  • Rustic Ridge Climbing Wall – basic climbing wall.
  • Oliver’s Mining Company – search for gems and little treasures.
  • Build a Bear Workshop – in this familiar store, children can make and take a new stuffed friend.

We opted for the Wolf Pass for both kids because the majority of the activities appealed to them. Out of the above list, they enjoyed the mini golf and bowling alley the most. Our oldest LOVED ropes course! She was a little scared but pushed through and said it was her favorite activity. The MagiQuest was more difficult than we anticipated and the kids lost interest. (Plus a few of the displays were not working.) The arcade was fun, but the prizes were average and the employees there were unenthusiastic.

Is the Wolf Pass worth the cost? Depends. For us, yes. It was nice to have a break from the waterpark to do other things during our stay. And paying per activity, even in adding a scoop of ice cream or candy treat, would have quickly passed the amount paid for the pass. That said, it is an extra cost to your stay. And you can absolutely have a wonderful time at Great Wolf Lodge without the pass! So consider what’s best for your family and stick to your budget. Maybe just choose one activity to enjoy too.

Ways to Save

It’s no secret that a stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, even, for a night, can be expensive.  It’s a great concept, an all in one resort, but may scare some families away with the price. Our total weekend cost was around $550, which included room, taxes and fees, two Wolf Passes, and food. We did utilize a coupon, and brought some of our own food and drinks. This is more than we normally spent on a family getaway BUT when you look at what all was included, it’s a decent deal for a family of four + baby!

We offer these suggestions of ways to save, hoping that even a few deals will allow every family a chance to have a howling good time!

  • Sign up for the newsletter! GWL frequently sends out coupon codes, with deals starting at $99/night. And yes, that includes access to the waterpark! Check the main website too for current deals.
  • There have been deals for other GWL resorts on Groupon. So check there! Just read the fine print carefully; some times with third party reservations, waterpark access is not included.
  • Stay Monday-Thursday vs Friday-Sunday. Just like any resort or hotel, weekdays are generally cheaper than weekends. If it fits your schedule, chose these days to enjoy the lodge. Same with advanced bookings, and off season bookings.
  • With your room booking, you get access to the waterpark starting at 1pm of the day of your arrival, and you’re welcome to stay until closing of the day you check out. So essentially you get two days of play with a one night stay! Just pack swim suits and a change of clothes separate from your other luggage, and you’re good to go.
  • You are welcome to bring your own food into GWL. Each room has a fridge. So easy breakfasts like cereal and milk or boiled eggs and bagels, fruit and the like could be obtained by nearby grocery stores. Sandwiches and chips are a perfect lunch. Bring a crockpot or instant pot for dinner! Coolers are welcome as well, just not in the waterpark.
  • The add-on activities at GWL are just that: add-on. Yes, your kids will see them multiple times as you walk from your room to the waterpark, but you can absolutely have an amazing stay without any extras. That said, if a couple of the activities are of interest, the Wolf Pass is good deal (some height restrictions may apply). It includes fun extras like a scoop of ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s, and a fill your own cup of bulk candy! There are also free activities, like story time, included in your stay; you should receive a list with these options at check in.
  • Lockers cost around $10/day. We felt perfectly safe leaving our phones and wallets in a bag at our chairs in the waterpark. This may not be for everyone, but this is a way to save.
  • Day passes to just the waterpark are available. Call the main number for details. Prices start at $70/person, towels not included.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, we’d say that Great Wolf Lodge is worth the visit. Yes, it can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to break the bank! Hopefully we offered some helpful ways to save, and convinced you that the amenities offered will give you memories that the family will remember forever.

Great Wolf Lodge
7333 N Pima Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
1-888-960-9653

Find more great activity ideas in Scottsdale to compliment your stay at Great Wolf Lodge – try the master list, or these favorite reviews.

Chris and Jana Tingom

We live in Scottsdale, AZ and have three children, ages 8, 4 and 10 months. They are full of energy, and so we're always looking for new things to do. Come join our family adventures!

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