The Great Wolf Lodge is one of 5 major indoor waterpark hotels in Wisconsin Dells. It has a huge waterpark and plenty of activities designed with kids in mind. We had a blast! Sometimes certain details can be hard to find on the website. Isn’t it easier to talk to someone who has been there? Here is what we learned on our trip that may make your trip planning a bit easier. I’ve included a bunch of details that I wished I had known before coming.
The waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells has activities appropriate for a wide range of ages from fenced-in baby areas to the adrenaline-pumping Howlin’ Tornado. While the whole park is connected, it is divided into three main rooms. Towels are located right inside the entrance and you have to use your wristband to check them out. You get only one per person so you may want to bring your own. They also have different sizes of life jackets available to use for free. The website does a decent job of describing the water features however sometimes it was hard to find out if the “minimum height” was the true minimum height or if that was the minimum height to ride without an adult. Also, not all the photos on the website are from the Wisconsin Dells Great Wolf Lodge, so there are sometimes some differences.
Access to the waterpark is included for all hotel guests. You can enter the waterpark as early as 1 pm on the day of arrival. You can stay in the park until closing on the day of your departure. They sell individual day passes for $40-$100 depending on the day and time.
Waterpark-the Main Room
The main room hosts the lazy river which they call Crooked Creek. Single and double tubes are available. My kids always have fun with these. There is a tube water slide, Look Out Mountain, that empties into the lazy river. The minimum height to go without an adult is 42″. If kids are less than 42″ they can ride in a double tube with an adult as long as they are big enough to sit in the front. I watched two kids both right at 42″ try to ride themselves and while the lifeguard tried to help, they just weren’t big enough to stay upright in the tube and ended up having to wait for an adult.
Next to the lazy river is a Frog Bog Log Walk which was popular with my 5 years who was 42″ tall. He had a great time navigating across. His brother is only 37″ and he wasn’t tall enough to grab the ropes so he had to crawl across and didn’t enjoy that as much.
One of our favorite parts of the Great Wolf Lodge was Whooping Hallow. It includes five slides designed for those under 52″ and the sign at the park says those over 52″ are not allowed. No lap riding is allowed. The slides are gentle and short and end in a pool with various depths with the deepest being around 2’6″.
There are two hot tubs, one designed for adults only which actually did appear for adults only. There is also a pool equipped with basketball hoops. There are two additional slides, listed on the website as MineShaft. These are both completely enclosed slides that are dark and fast but the website shows them as open. I tried them out once but they were surprisingly scary and clearly not for my kids’ age group. They did not have a minimum height.
Waterpark-Fort Mckenzie and the Tornado
Near the kid-friendly hot tub is a very short walkway that goes past some locker rooms, a changing room, and a bar and leads to another large room of the waterpark. The main attraction here is Fort Mackenzie, a huge climbing structure with plenty of steps, bridges, and water cannons to explore for the kids. At the top there are two open water slides called Totem Towers. There is no minimum but lap riding is not allowed so kids need to be able to slide down by themselves. The bottom of this slide flattens out rather than ending into a pool which makes it more kid-friendly. If your kids aren’t ready to go down the slide, there are still plenty of places to explore and ways to get wet. This includes a big bucket that dumps periodically.
If you are looking for thrills, check out Howlin’ Tornado, minimum height is 48″ and that is regardless of adult supervision. This is a multi-person tube ride that shoots you down a steep tunnel and into a huge funnel where you slide back and forth before being spit into a short and fast water slide to the bottom. My husband was watching our kids and since they don’t accept solo riders, a Dad with two middle schoolers kindly allowed me to join them. It was so much fun and certainly gets your heart pumping!
The final area in this room is designed for the littlest park goers. It is fenced in and has a small slide, water geysers, a small 4 inch deep pool, and plenty of places to explore. While it was designed for the youngest set, my 3 and 5 year old did enjoy spending some time here, probably partly because they had so much freedom from us with the fence and shallow water.
The Waterpark-Wave Pool Room and more
The final section of the park has the entrance in the back of the main room. On the way to this section you will pass an a la carte food cart with grab and go food such as chips, fruit, and sandwiches. You also pass a small “essentials” store with swim suits, water diapers, towels, goggles and other helpful things that you may have forgotten to pack.
The wave pool is generously sized for an indoor wave pool called the Slap Tail Pond. You know the waves are coming when you hear the howling of a pack of wolves! The waves start and stop every 5 minutes. The deep section of the wave pool is still shallow enough for most adults to touch but as with most wave pools, the waves can feel strong for new or hesitant swimmers.
To the left of the wave pool is another kids’ section-the Cub Paw Pool. It has several jet ski toys complete with a sprayer. The deep end is 18″ and in includes several small slides.
Behind the Cub Paw Pool is the Mountain Edge Raceway-a group of mat slides. Two of them are light enough that you can see where you are going, the other two are really dark. The minimum height is 42″ and kids have to be able to ride alone and keep themselves in position on the mats. These were faster than I expected and the adults in our party had a blast! The final ride is Alberta Falls-a tandem tub slide with a big drop! Minimum height to ride is 42″ and minimum height to ride without an adult is 48″.
The Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells was well-kept and comfortable. There are a lot of different room options so you can pick what works best for your family or traveling group. Some of the rooms fit up to 16 people! When you make reservations you get to see a map of the room which is great. We don’t use a pack’n’play user anymore but when we did it was always nice to see the layout of the room ahead of time.
Prices really vary based on season, type of room, and day of the week. Prices are much more affordable on the weekdays! I know this is usually a given but I was surprised at the difference. Sometimes the rooms were 2-3x more expensive on the weekend. If you go to the website and check the Deals and Special Offers section you can see places to save a couple of bucks. The deals vary but you can often save pretty significant amounts (30-50%) by booking well in advance, booking more than 3 nights, or reserving during a special promotion. You can also get deals as a AAA, or AARP member, or a first responder.
The whole resort is “cashless”. A nice benefit of this is that you can link your credit card to the adult wristbands which allows you to buy things throughout the resort without having to bring your wallet. This is especially handy at the waterpark where there never seems to be a great way to keep your wallet safe!
We stayed in the Wolf Den Suite which was only $160 on a Sunday night in January with a promotion from the deals page. It included a queen bed, a pull-out sofa, and bunk beds which our kids loved. The bunk beds are up against the wall which made it safer for my 3-year-old who isn’t as experienced with beds without railings. The bunk beds were open to the rest of the room but felt a bit secluded and special for the kids. There was a separate TV in their bunk area. Our room had a mini fridge and a microwave. The room was clean and despite the number of children in the hotel, I didn’t hear a lot of noise from the hall or other rooms. Generally, the best place for more information about the rooms was either the reservation page or the FAQ page.
The staff at check-in was more friendly than I would have expected. They offered to accommodate preferences for which floor of the hotel we wanted to be on and were able to answer any questions I had.
As a hotel resort focused on kids, the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells has hourly activities in the main lobby. These vary from morning yoga and bedtime stories to an animate clock tower show and arts and craft time. The easiest way to find the schedule of events on the day when you will be there is to download the app. We went to story time but it was a bit too active for us that close to bedtime. The clock tower show was fun to see but not essential if you have a lot of other things going on. It lasts 10-15 minutes.
At check-in, each kid is provided with a headband with wolf ears. It was a fun way for the kids to feel special. In Wisconsin Dells, the wolf ears are picked up at the store in the main lobby. They also sell typical souvenirs such as clothes, magnets, toys, and snacks.
Magiquest was a ton of fun though definitely not what we expected from the website. I was under the impression that it was an interactive quest throughout the entire Great Wolf Lodge but in Wisconsin Dells, it is almost exclusively contained to an attached building. It’s actually like a giant indoor play area where you can wave your wand at paintings, decor, and treasure chests to get coins and find clues to help you complete your quest.
The wands, which are reusable, are sold at a small store near the entrance. There is a basic wand that they keep in a back corner and two different levels of more intricate wands to pick from in the store. Wands cot between $20-$25 depending on which you get. If your kids are young like my guys once you buy the wands you are set. You enter the Magiquest area to see a huge three-story tree. There are rope nets that allow you to climb to the 2nd and 3rd stories where you find several huge slides that bring you quickly to the bottom. Within the quest building, there are trampolines to jump around on as well. It feels a bit like a maze and there are lots of things to wave your want at.
If your kids are a little older, you will want to buy a game for $17 in addition to your wand. Each game comes with a booklet that lets you know more about your goal. Collect all your items and then battle the dragon to win the quest. While the Magiquest is designed for kids 7 years to 13 years, our younger kids had a blast running around. I also saw adults enjoying completing their own quests.
Magiquest-Tips and Tricks
If you don’t like the idea of climbing the nets, you can use the stairs. If you aren’t keen on the idea of climbing the nets, then I recommend you think twice before taking the slides down as well. The bottom of the slides flattens out which prevents any kids from getting launched off the end. It also makes it hard to climb out as an adult! You end up having to get on all fours and crawl which at its best gets old and at its worse could be very challenging to the unsuspecting adult.
Bring something to drink, the kids do a lot of running around! There is a sign saying “No Shoes” on the top of the slides so I recommend wearing socks rather than sandals.
You do not need to be a guest of the hotel to play here or complete the quests. Once you have the wand you are always welcome back but if you want to actively participate in a quest then you will have to pay again.
Wolf, Pup, or Paw Passes
When you make your reservations at the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, you are given the option of getting a pass for the kiddos. I knew we wouldn’t have time for everything so we went without the passes. We ended up only getting the Magiquest wand so that worked out for us.
|Pup $60||Paw $60||Wolf $80|
|A small candy cup||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|A scoop of ice cream||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|$5 at the arcade||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Build a Bear (no outfit)||Yes||NO||Yes|
|Great Wolf Goggles||Yes||NO||Yes|
|One Magiquest Game||NO||Yes||Yes|
|Wand, topper, or belt||NO||Yes||Yes|
Food at Great Wolf Lodge
If you don’t want to leave Great Wolf Lodge for food, there are several options. As stated previously, the water parks sell some basic food and snacks a la carte style. In addition, they sell burgers and french fry-type meals. In the main lodge, there is a sit-down restaurant called Lodge Wood Fire Grill. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner with American-style entrees.
In addition to the Grill they have Hungry As A Wolf and Bear Paw. Both of these are in the same storefront and they sell to-go pizzas and salads as well as coffee, cookies, muffins, and ice cream. The pizza was decent and took about 25 minutes when we ordered on a Sunday evening. Unfortunately delivery isn’t an option but it isn’t a far walk from anywhere in the hotel. If you download the app, ordering food is super easy. I downloaded it while planning and found it nice to have access to the menu and prices as well.
Food in Wisconsin Dells
There are also plenty of other places to eat in Wisconsin Dells if you are willing to leave the Great Wolf Lodge. For breakfast, I would recommend Denny’s Diner-this is different than the chain breakfast joint of a very similar name-Denny’s. For coffee, I recommend Bella Goose-it has a great atmosphere and also a beautiful view of the damn.
To grab a quick bite I recommend Hot Dog Avenue or Mac’s for macaroni and cheese with a ton of topping options. My favorite place with the kids is Buffalo Phils. The food is fairly mediocre but it gets delivered by a model trai! In addition to the trains, there is a huge lego city to admire while waiting so it is always a hit with the kids. Buffalo Phils is close to Great Wolf and is attached to Knuckleheads arcade and trampoline park. There is a moderate-sized arcade in Great Wolf itself but Knuckleheads is huge. In addition to arcade games you can find a mini rollercoaster, rides for kids and the young at heart, a ropes course, go-karts, laser tag, and more.
To find awesome milkshakes check out B-Lux, their burgers aren’t bad either but they don’t have a ton of seasoning. For pizza and a flight of beer, try MooseJaw. For a super fun atmosphere try the Grateful Shed. It has fun decor including a bus for extra seating that hangs from the ceiling. If you have kids, I would go earlier in the day. It looks like it could turn into quite the bar atmosphere in the evening.
Nearby State Parks
Do you want to get away from the crowds for a minute? Would you like to experience the natural beauty that first made Wisconsin Dells a tourist destination? There are two beautiful state parks within 15 minutes of the Great Wolf Lodge!
Mirror Lake is the larger of the two and is less than 5 minutes away! It is a large park covering over 2,000 acres! There is a calm lake with picturesque shorelines. The park has something for everyone and features camping, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and swimming. For a short but scenic hikes we love Echo Rock and Pulpit Rock trails which are both less than a mile and have cool rock features/overlooks. There are lots of options for longer hikes as well.
If you want a smaller and less busy park instead, Rocky Arbor State Park is less than 15 minutes away and is just as beautiful. It features a single hiking trail which is about a 1-mile round trip. it takes you past some of the rocky ledges where the park gets its name. There is a playground right next to the parking lot. We are nature-loving Wisconsinites and find the park enjoyable in the winter as well as the summer.
We tend to go to the indoor water parks in the winter but there are still other activities to do. As animal lovers, one of our all time favorites was the the VIP tour at Timbavati Wildlife Park! There were so many hands on experiences! If your kids loved Magiquest, head downtown and try Wizard Quest. More downtown fun includes Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and some old time photo booths. For a fun and interactive way to explore science, check out the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory. If you prefer magic over science check out the Rick Wilcox Show-a live magic show with rave reviews.
Wisconsin Dells has so many options for a trip with family! We have explored a number of different options and would rate the Great Wolf Lodge at the top of the list for a group with kids. The water park had plenty to do but didn’t feel overwhelming. The rooms were well thought out and there are different options to get discounted prices. Finally, the Magiquest was a ton of fun just for our young kids to run around, I can’t wait to go back when they can complete the quests! What other helpful information would you add?
3 thoughts on “Everything you Need to know about the Great Wolf Lodge-Wisconsin Dells”
Thx for all the info
Thank you for a detailed review! We are going to GWL in the Dells in April. It will be our first time and we are sooo excited! (My boys are 11 & 7.) Did you go to the dance party? If so, should I pack bubble wands and glow sticks? Thanks!
How fun! I’m sure you’re kids are so excited! My guys are a little you get so we did not get a chance to hit up the dance party. I don’t think you can go wrong with bubble sticks and glow sticks though!