How to Save Money at The Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX.
My family just got back from a vacation in Dallas, TX.
Originally, we were going to just stay with family but my cousin told me to check out The Great Wolf Lodge. The lodge looked like a lot of fun so we decided to stay a night or two and take some of my cousins’ kids along with us to enjoy the waterpark.
While online reviews are mixed, we had a great experience.
If you book without discounts and if you pay for a lot of items on-site, staying at the lodge is typically expensive. They really try to upsell you and your kids while there.
That said, there are a lot of ways to save on your stay. Here are a few things we did to save hundreds.
Book with a Groupon and/or use a Coupon Code
We got a 1 Night stay with 6 water park passes for $245 and then when there we extended due to our flight home being canceled due to weather for $115 for an additional next night. So, we got a few days of playing in the waterpark (you can play in the water park at 1 PM on the day of check-in and then stay until 8 PM after checkout). I LOVE this policy because, for a 1N stay, you get almost two full days in the waterpark—it’s awesome.
Coupon code or Groupon? After we left, we received a coupon code for up to 50% off our next stay so long as we booked within the week. The Groupon was still cheaper than this “Up to 50% off our next stay coupon” because the official website charges you more when you have more people staying. We had 6 staying as we have 4 kids so the website increased the price per night based on occupancy.
With Groupon, you get the flat/cheapest rate with the 6 passes even though you may have 1-6 people staying so it was the better deal overall.
Also, if you subscribe to Groupon emails and/or texts you often get coupon codes to use on top of the Groupon savings. I used a coupon code that gave us 10% off our booking when I booked for this stay.
The Great Wolf Lodge is often holding sales, sponsored on Groupon or similar travel deal sites, and often they offer coupon codes. I wouldn’t book without a discount of some kind since they are so readily available.
Tip- Weekdays and non-holiday times are cheaper and much less crowded.
Extend Your Stay When You Get There for BIG Savings
Our flight home was canceled due to the weather so, I called the front desk and asked how much our stay would be extended. They were able to offer me a rate of $100 night extended stay with $15 additional taxes and fees. They were offering that extended stay for multiple nights. We took them up for an extra night. So, we got to stay an additional night for $115 which was cheaper than the original Groupon.
This tip is likely going to be determined on occupancy, date of booking, etc. but I was surprised how much cheaper it was to extend our stay than book an extra night originally. This may be something to try out if you have the flexibility to do so.
Total for 2N and 3 days playing in the waterpark for us 6 was just about $360.00.
Don’t Connect Your Wristband to Your Credit Card
After reading many reviews, I decided it would be much, much safer not to connect our wristbands to our credit card. Many reviews mention how their wristbands were accidentally scanned or how their kids abused them and charged a lot on them, etc. To be safe, we choose not to connect our wristband to a CC.
Park in Free Parking
Most of the parking lot is dedicated to free parking at the Grapevine, TX location. However, since the best, the closest parking is for Vallet and Prefered Paid Parking at first it looked as if we’d have to pay.
We chose to walk an extra hundred feet to not pay.
Bring Your Own Food and/or Eat Out
I really couldn’t bring myself to pay $20+ per person per meal, especially because our kids are under 10 and rarely eat enough to justify a quarter of that in one sitting. At the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX the food costs about $20.00 per meal—depending on where you are eating.
You can make many meals that cost less than $2.00 a person and then go out for pickup or dine out for dinner to make it feel more like a vacation for much less than eating on-site.
There were no rules about bringing outside food into the rooms. So, we did just that.
We ate before checking in so that the kids could go straight to the water park and play.
For dinner, my husband went and picked up Dominos which ended up costing about $7.00 a person. To save even more, I bought gift cards through Costco for Domino’s when they were on sale for $75.00 for $100 worth. We ordered pizza, breadsticks, soda, etc. for 7 of us (we had a cousin along) for $50.00 out of pocket.
We brought in plastic bowls and spoons, cereal, and milk for breakfast which cost less than $1.00 a person per meal.
We had some fruit, veggies, and melted cheese on chips (microwave nachos) for one lunch. This cost less than $2.00 a person.
Then we got IN N’ Out burgers and shakes for dinner $35.00 for 6 people.
For the next day, we had granola, cereal, and fruit for breakfast again.
You can’t bring food into the pool area but we ate protein bars and snacks for lunch until we checked out.
I also brought a few fun candies and treats that my kids love and that we don’t often eat such as Nerd Clusters, fruity Tootsie Rolls, Beunos Bites, etc. We had these for dessert and once and a while for a snack so that they felt like they had sweets and candies and didn’t beg me to pay $13.00 for a small cup of candy from the gift shop.
The rooms have microwaves and fridges (although our fridge was unplugged so make sure yours is plugged in and working before putting items in it).
Prepare Your Kids Well for the Upsells.
The Great Wolf Lodge marketers are geniuses! You get free wolf ears—but you can only get them by walking into the gift store and passing all the candy, stuffed animals, toys, etc.
Everywhere you turn, there are signs for the ropes course, Magiquest, Build-a-Bear stuffies, etc.
The kids that get the Paws Passes have huge necklaces they are wearing so other kids see they are wearing something ‘special’. The kids that are doing Magi-Quest have their magic wands out on every floor in the lodge going on the Magi-Quest.
To get to and from the rooms to the water park you have to walk through the gift shop, arcade, and treat bar. They know how to make money—that is for sure.
So, I just told my kids. We are coming to the water park and that’s it. We are paying for the waterpark and that’s what we are doing.
If you want to, you can spend your money on additional things but we are here for the waterpark. At one point in the trip, I was going to pay for the one-time experience on the ropes course ($20.00 per kid) but ultimately we decided not to. Maybe next time.
This leads me to the next pointers.
If we come back this is what we’d do differently.
Borrow a Magi-Quest Wand
Since I’m into fantasy stories, etc. the Magi-Quest was a temptation for me to pay for.
However, at $45.00 a kid, that was just too much.
I read that you can ask around and borrow a friend’s wands or buy used wands and bring them along to avoid the $15-$20 wand charge for Magi Quest.
Hopefully, there is a next time; if there is, we will bring wands with us.
Have Kids Earn Money for Certain Experiences.
Next time, I’ll have my kids work and earn one extra experience BEFORE we arrive…like the ropes course or the Build-A-Bear wolf pup or whatever they are willing to make money for.
Are the Kids Experience Passes Worth it?
It depends on what you are going to do. If you are going to do 2 or 3 things included on the Wolf Passes, consider just getting the pass. Ala Carte options only save if you are going to do only one, maybe two things that are offered on the kids’ bundle deals. So, I’d just look at the prices on both and see which is the cheapest.
Have your kids decide between extra options.
I asked my kids to choose between a night at the lodge or a day at Six Flags since they cost the same (Six Flags was having a discount deal through Sam’s Club).
This goes for just about anything when dealing with kids, however, it really works for saving money, by giving them a choice between two options that cost similar amounts and letting them decide what you do. Giving them the option not only makes you the good guy, they feel empowered to use their freedom of choice.
This wouldn’t work if half of the kids want one thing and the other half want another, but if they can agree, it will give them the feeling that they are deciding the itinerary—plus, it saves you money.
My daughter REALLY wanted to go to The Great Wolf Lodge and my son liked both options so he was okay with choosing The Great Wolf Lodge as well. So that’s what we did.
Next time we go somewhere near a Great Wolf Lodge and there is a coupon or Groupon making it an affordable stay, I’ll do the same and ask them to decide between two options that cost the about the same.
Hit the water slides later in the evening.
Saving time often saves money. During the early morning and after 6 PM the water slide lines were so much faster than in the middle of that day that it really was the best time to ride.
During the busiest times, we spent time in the toddler pools, hot tubs, wave pool, and in lazy river.
We rode slide after waterslide when the lines were moving very quickly. I LOVED the waterslides. They were all so fun and different. The tornado was my favorite—especially in the evening when the slide was dark.
Bring what you’ll need that isn’t offered for free
ear or nose plugs
Take advantage of the Free Perks
Free Pack n’ Plays
Free Life Jackets
Free Wolf Ears headband
Free Kids activities around the lodge (there is a schedule at the concierge desk).
Free TV stations including a kids’ Great Wolf Lodge station.
Free Beach towels that you can exchange for dry warm ones—multiple times a day if desired.
Free Parking in specific areas of the parking lot.
I hope this helps you save on your Great Wolf Lodge vacation. I know we had a wonderful and affordable time!
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