Tips for Great Wolf Lodge and Niagara Falls

Complement your waterpark fun with Niagara Parks—it's a weekend full of fun for everyone!

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If you’ve never heard of Great Wolf Lodge, you’re either new to this parenting thing or have been living without electronics since the ‘70s. 

This family-friendly resort chain has 15 properties—only one of which is in Canada. Even if you live close enough to Niagara Falls to visit annually, once you have kids, no trip is complete without at least one stay at Great Wolf Lodge.

Of course, there’s so much more to do at The Falls than waterslides, so don’t contain yourself solely to the waterpark either.

PACKAGE DEALS

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Your bare bones rate at The Lodge includes your room-of-choice and waterpark passes for each family member. Arrive as early as 1pm—even though check-in is at 4pm—because a 1-night stay gets you 1.5 days in the waterpark.

If this is your first visit to GWL, or you’re staying more than just one night, the Paw Pass is a great money-saver and gives your kids access to a little bit of everything outside of water play. For $64.99 per child, you get:

  • One MagiQuest classic wand or classic topper plus one MagiQuest game. If your kid is set on having a wand and a topper, buy the cheaper of the two and use your pass for the pricier component
  • One quarter-pound of fudge
  • One animal from the Great Wolf Stuffing Station (similar to Build-A-Bear)
  • One 5×7 Paw Prints waterpark action photo—just don’t forget to scan your bracelets at the waterslides like we did or you won’t have any pics from which to choose!
  • 20 Paw Points for the Northern Lights Arcade
  • One gift at Scooops Kid Spa
  • Two games of bowling at Ten Paw Alley (it’s just OK) or one game at Wacky Wilderness Mini Golf
  • Two Great Wolf Kids activities in the Cub Club—our kids made a couple of reasonably good crafts but the really good ones aren’t included, unfortunately
  • One pair of wolf ears, which ours still wear at home

When it comes to food, you can either buy your own onsite, order in or get in your vehicle and go out. Obviously, the convenience of staying on the property is nice—especially at lunch when you don’t want to get out of wet bathing suits.

If you’d asked us two years ago whether to upgrade your stay to include meals ($50 per adult and $25 per child), we’d have told you to run away. Quickly. But our recent stay proved that GWL listened to customer feedback and has dramatically improved the food situation. We definitely recommend it now.

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SAVING MONEY

If you don’t get the food package, bring breakfast stuff and snacks and keep them in your room. Each room has the basics for food storage and prep, like a small fridge and microwave. You can order in things like pizza for a less expensive dinner option.

Watch for Groupon offers and sign up for GWL emails, which can net you as much as 25% off your next stay. We’ve seen online deals for as little as $239.99 a night—which is a steal.

Visit from Sunday through Thursday for the cheapest prices all year, and consider off-peak months for the best savings.

WATERPARK SAFETY, WATERSLIDES + MORE

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Each child is measured upon his or her first park entry, and gets a wrist band noting which slides are doable. There’s no cheating here, so don’t bother trying.

The good news is that there’s a waterslide for every kid once they can walk up stairs and stand in a line. Our son was 18 months old the first time we visited GWL and he managed to get on four different waterslides.

There’s also a lazy river, wave pool, climbing structures, a big bucket that dumps an enormous amount of water every few minutes and more. So if your kid isn’t a waterslide fan, fear not. No one will be bored.

Safety is a top concern here, and you’ll feel safe knowing that there’s a lifeguard every 10 feet watching, watching, watching. They’re always watching. (Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, too.)

EXTRA PERKS

Take advantage of the many free things for kids at Great Wolf Lodge:

  • Story time — get your kids into their PJs before you hit dinner so you’re ready for the 8pm story in the lobby. On weekends, you may want to get your kids to save their spot on the floor by 7:30pm as it fills up quickly
  • Animatronics — throughout the lobby, kids can make trees and bears talk, squirrels scurry and raccoons pop out of tree stumps, all with a touch of their hands
  • Dance parties — some nights, post-story time, there’s an indoor or outdoor (weather-permitting) dance party that’s a lot of fun. Grownups are invited and no one is officially watching your kids, so don’t consider this a night off
  • Roasted marshmallows — when the weather is nice, GWL blocks off its front driveway and sets up fire pits, handing out sticks and marshmallows
  • Morning activities like yoga and arts & crafts — most mornings there are fun activities for the littles; ask the front desk for details

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN NIAGARA FALLS?

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You’ve come all this way. Be sure you see more than the inside of a waterpark!

There’s so much to do in Niagara Falls that you’ll be hard-pressed to do it all in one visit, but if you can spare a morning and part of an afternoon, here’s what we suggest:

  • Start out at Journey Behind the Falls as soon as it opens, because the line gets long—fast. This attraction provides a keepsake rain poncho, and you’re gonna need it. Travel (literally) behind the Falls and get really close to the powerful Horseshoe Falls while you learn more about how the Falls are being controlled to prevent further erosion
  • Then head directly to the White Water Walk; if you already have tickets, be sure to head to the cashier inside for your parking pass instead of feeding the meter on the street. Here, you’ll walk alongside Class Six rapids—the most dangerous in the world—and discover interesting facts like why the Falls’ foamy water has a brown tinge
  • Break for lunch at the Queen Victoria Place restaurant; the prices are a bit steep and the food isn’t going to blow your mind, but there are some tasty options (try the local craft beer, heirloom Caprese Salad and Queen Victoria burger) and you can’t beat the view of both the American and Canadian Falls
  • If you can squeeze in only one non-waterpark activity, make it the Butterfly Conservatory. It wowed all of us and it isn’t too expensive. Take a good camera because you can’t beat the subject matter—especially if a butterfly lands on your kid

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PRO TIP:

To properly take in both Great Wolf Lodge and a bit of what the Niagara region has to offer, we recommend a 2-night, 3-day getaway. However, if the price is too steep, consider Fallsview Resort as a good alternative that doesn’t come with quite as hefty a price tag.

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