by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson
If you have kids, chances are you’ve heard of Great Wolf Lodge. With locations throughout the United States and Canada, it’s the largest family of indoor water park resorts in North America. The Poconos location opened in 2005, and is a sprawling, four-story, 401-room den of family entertainment.
About a two-hour drive from both New York and Philadelphia, this popular resort is packed year-round. The faux log-siding, entrance carved with bears, wolves and other animals, and giant clock tower in the entrance lobby will be a big hit with kids. Even though it’s staged, they really do manage to create the feeling of being in a genuine, old-fashioned lodge. It doesn’t hurt that this is the Poconos, where you drive up a winding road on the side of a steep mountain to reach the resort’s entrance and can look out on ski runs from your suite’s balcony or patio.
Great Wolf Lodge is all about the kids, and most of the fun centers around the water park. If you or your kids aren’t keen on getting wet and staying wet for long periods of time, this may not the place for you although the resort does offer a number of other family-friendly diversions like mini-golf and an onsite Build-A-Bear outpost.
For the rest of us, though, welcome to waterpalooza! With a 79,000-square-foot indoor water park open all year, and a giant outdoor pool area open seasonally, there’s water, water, and more water: 500,000 filtered gallons a day, to be exact, PH-tested every hour by hand.
Our Editor Loves
- Waterslides galore
- MagiQuest, Compass Quest and ShadowQuest
- Themed rooms for kids
- Water Parks
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Great Wolf Lodge is an all-suite resort, with 401 rooms. All rooms were completely refurbished in 2019, receiving brand-new and incredibly comfortable beds, new flooring and new modern furnishings and decor. Even the smallest of them is larger than most basic hotel rooms and nearly all suites have a balcony or patio; if you just want the minimum, go with a Family Suite. All room prices include water park passes for four. Suites can accommodate six, but you will pay an additional fee per night, per person, which includes water park passes.
Tip: If you have young kids and will be using a stroller, consider staying on the water park level, as the elevators are slow-moving and waits can be long.
Family Suites have two queen beds, a living area with a sofa sleeper, big-screen television, two phones, a microwave, coffeemaker, hair dryer, and Nintendo. The rooms accommodate up to six and also come equipped with a microwave, fridge and coffeemaker. Most have balconies, and some have fireplaces. The suites are comfortable for families but one caveat is that in many Family Suites the bathrooms are quite small, with the sink outside the bathroom. If bathroom space is a priority to you, upgrade.
The Queen Sofa Suite is a smaller suite for families but still sleeps four people. There is a queen bed, full bath, a full-size sleeper sofa, a 32-inch TV and a private balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer. This room is handicap accessible.
If you want a little more personality, try a themed room, which runs a bit steeper than a Family Suite. There are several different kinds, including The Wolf Den Suites, KidCamp Suites, KidCabin Suites, Royal Bear Suites, Majestic Bear Suites, Grizzly Bear Suites, and the Quest Master Suites.
The Wolf Den Suite sleeps four, with a maximum of six. The room has a cave-themed sleeping area with a bunk bed and TV. The main area has a queen bed, a full-size bath, full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer. There are versions of this room that are handicap accessible, too.
The KidKamp Suite sleeps four, with a maximum of six. The room has a tent-themed sleeping area with a bunk bed and TV. The main area has a queen bed, a full-size bath, full-size sleeper sofa, a 27-inch TV and a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer.
The KidCabin Suites in particular are really cute and fun for kids; in addition to all the amenities of a regular Family Suite, the rooms have a separate cabin area for the kids to sleep, with a bunk bed, a single bed, and a separate flat-screen. The KidCamp Suites are the same idea with a camp theme, and just one bunk bed. A downside: The kids' mattresses are covered in a plastic shell, and a little uncomfortable. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer and can sleep up to seven people. There are versions of this room that are handicap accessible, too.
The Whirlpool Fireplace Suite sleeps four people, with a king bed, full-bath, whirlpool tub, 27-inch TV, full-size sleeper sofa and private patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer.
Premium Suites are the top of the line, and in addition to all the amenities of a regular Family Suite, have a special features like treasure chests and lamps that open and speak when activated with the wand, as well as hallway lights outside the door when you walk by. Two wands are included with each MagiQuest room, and all have a private balcony. There are also Whirlpool Fireplace Suites (same idea as a family suite but with a fireplace and whirlpool, and Loft Fireplace Suites, which have a separate upstairs area with a queen bed, separate phone, and bathroom.
If you have young kids, you might want to bring a gate for the stairs, or choose a different room. Also, if you have young kids and will be using a stroller, consider staying on the water park level, as waits for the elevators can be long.
The Grizzly Bear Suite sleeps six people, with a maximum of eight. There is a master bedroom with queen bed, 27-inch TV and full bath. The second bedroom has two queen beds and a 27-inch TV. The living area has a full-size sleeper sofa, full bathroom, corner fireplace, 27-inch TV and private balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer.
The Loft Fireplace Suite sleeps six people, with a maximum of eight. The main floor has two queen beds, full bath, two 27-inch TV's, a living area with full sleeper sofa and gas fireplace. Upstairs is a queen bed, 27-inch TV and a half bath. There is also a balcony or patio. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer.
The Majestic Bear Suite sleeps six people, with a maximum of eight. The master bedroom has a king bed and 27-inch TV. The main area has two queen beds, full sleeper sofa and 27-inch TV. There is also a private balcony or patio and a breakfast bar. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer.
The Royal Bear Suite sleeps four people, with a maximum of six. There is a master bedroom with a king bed. The main area of the suite has one queen bed and a sleeper sofa. There is a flat-screen TV and private balcony or patio in the living area. The bathroom comes with a tub with safety bars as this rooms is the only handicap accessible premium suite. The room is equipped with a microwave, fridge, coffeemaker and hair dryer, too.
by Mary C
Nice rooms with plenty of space. Had a fridge and microwave so we were able to bring some food to save some $. Towels were provided for the waterpark. Our family enjoyed the indoor water activities/slides, wave pool, lazy river, as well as the outdoor pool. Enough slides we can do separately, in pairs and together as a family. The only drawback was the cost. Even with a groupon, the cost was about $350.
by Nicole C
Amazing place - with so many kid activities for all ages, finding the time to do everything available is a struggle. My kids had fun from sun up to sun down - getting them to stop and eat was also an issue. Great Activities besides the amazing water park - the MagiQuest is so much fun - just be prepared to run around questing.... I would highly recommend this place to anyone who can afford to go and stay!
Indoor Park: Bear Track Landing
The indoor water park is a sight to behold. It's enormous, and the highlight of the resort. It has six pools and 13 waterslides, which vary on the thrill scale from tame toddler slides to extreme freefalls. There are slides for every age group and swimming ability, some of which wind in and outdoors. Also indoors are a giant and incredibly popular wave pool, a lazy river, an area to shoot water hoops, two whirlpools (one for adults only) a water roller coaster, four single- or multi-rider tube slides and two body slides.
Surrounding and winding between all of the attractions are plenty of tables for eating, lots of lounge chairs, showers, swimsuit dryers, and lockers, which can be rented for $10 a day. There is also an eatery right inside the water park offering delicious and hearty burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, snacks and drinks; you may eat or drink anywhere in the resort, including the lobby. Lifeguards are present in every area of the park and they are nationally certified. Towels and life jackets are available free of charge, but towels must remain in the water park and are to be checked out and in using your wristband, so you will be held accountable if you don’t return them. All children who are not potty trained need to wear swim diapers, which are available in the gift shop outpost located inside the water park itself, along with just about every other water-related item you can imagine.
Alberta Falls is four stories tall and twists in and out of the building before dropping into a plunge pool. The tube is enclosed so the temperature doesn't change. Children under 42 inches tall must ride with an adult and can only take the double tube.
Big Foot Pass
Kids test their balance, jump on lily pads and try not to fall into the water in Big Foot Pass.
Chinook Cove Activity Pool
Play water basketball or let kids test their balance on the floating activities in the Chinook Cove Activity Pool.
This thrill ride, Coyote Cannon, drops riders 40 feet into a cannon bowl. Children must be at least 42 inches tall in order to ride.
Float in a tube along the current of the winding, endless lazy river.
Cub Paw Pool
Cub Paw pool has a maximum depth of 1.6 feet and is perfect for little ones who may play with spray features and swim.
Double Barrel Drop
This two-rider waterslide drops you into a huge vortex where you slide up and down the sides of the funnel, then take a 450-degree hairpin turn and fly into the second vortex before ending with a splash on the Double Barrel Drop.
Younger kids will get a kick out of the enormous bucket of water slowly filling up at the top of a sprawling treehouse. In fact, we missed two elevators waiting for the thing to fill up and tip itself over, my son's face pressed against giant glass windows. It finally dumped, soaking a dozen delighted children (and a few crazy grownups) below. As we later learned, this gigantic contraption holds almost 1,000 gallons of water and cools off a happy crowd approximately every five minutes, all day long. Fun! The bucket is atop Fort Mackenzie, which is a giant treehouse complete with squirters, water guns, steering wheels, soakers, waterfalls, bridges, and waterslides.
This roller coaster waterslide, Hydro Plunge, features a 42-foot vertical drop. Children must be at least 48 inches tall in order to ride.
River Canyon Run
River Canyon Run, one of the park's signature slides, allows families of up to four to ride together in a big raft. Children must be at least 42 inches tall in order to ride.
Slap Tail Pond
Slap Tail Pond is a wave pool with waves up to 3 feet tall. It features zero-depth entry and goes up to 5 feet deep. While tubes were previously permitted in the wave pool, they no longer are and you will see signage indicating the change. But it’s still super-fun for kids and adults alike to ride and jump the waves just like in the ocean. Children under 48 inches tall must wear a life jacket.
Three-stories up, the two, twin slides offer kids and teens a way out of the Fort Mackenzie tree house. Slip, slide and race to the bottom and see who makes it out first! These slides don’t end in an actual pool, so they’re great for novice or even non-swimmers.
Children under 48 inches tall can slide on the small Whooping Hollow slides.
Outdoor Area: Raccoon Lagoon
The outdoor park is called Raccoon Lagoon, and is a giant pool with plenty of room for swimming, basketball nets in the deep end, and a kiddie slide and sprayers in the shallow end. It is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and hours vary. Parents will like that fact the area is enclosed and smaller than inside; so you can watch your child in the pool from any seat. The one downside we found to the outdoor area is that while we were there it did not open until 10 a.m.
There are a number of amenities and fun for the kids that do not require swimsuits.
Compass Quest is an unlocked new layer of MagiQuest. A compass leads players on an interactive adventure of magic, mystery and discovery as they unveil the nine new quests. $14.99 includes compass and nine additional quests.
At Creation Station children can choose, design and stuff their own plush Great Wolf Lodge characters to take home, and parents can even purchase matching outfits for their children. In 2019 Build-A-Bear Workshop will take over the Creation Station, becoming the first Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Pocono Mountains and will offer additional animals and accessories to choose from.
Cub Club on Wheels
Parents will also love the Cub Club, where children can do crafts, as well as decorate their MagicQuest Wands and T-shirts. Parental supervision is required at Cub Club, except during special hours of the day, during which time children who are potty-trained may stay without their parents for $15 an hour, for a maximum of two hours.
Each night at 8 p.m. at Great Wolf there is a short nature show and story time in the lobby. The show takes place beneath the clock tower, and most kids will love the animated characters and songs, which play for about 10 minutes before a story is read in front of the fireplace. Mascot Wiley the Wolf usually makes an appearance at story time. Before the show, guests are encouraged to hop into their pajamas and join a PJ party in the Grand Lobby, complete with gamed and dancing. Many nights, there is also an after-hours movie shown in the Grand Lobby.
Howl at the Moon Glow Golf
This mini golf game has black lights and glowing features for a unique mini golf experience. The price is $7 per person, per game.
Howler’s Peak Ropes Course
Open seasonally, Howler’s Peak Ropes Course is a family-friendly aerial adventure for guests taller than 48 9nches. Walk across tight ropes, cross bridges and tackle a number of obstacles on this sky high attraction, all while attached to a secure climbing harness. On ground level, there’s a special course just for little ones so the whole family can enjoy at once. Single climbs are $14.99 per person or you can buy unlimited climbs for $19.99. Access to the ground level course is available for $4.99 per person.
MagiQuest is a big part of the Great Wolf Lodge experience, and it's worth the money for kids 6 to 12. The game is basically one big interactive fantasy adventure, where you work your way through different floors of the resort with a magic wand, completing quests in order to get to complete levels. The process begins by choosing a magic wand from the MagiQuest store, as well as optional toppers and decorations. Just outside the store, near the waterpark entrance, guests will encounter Charlock and oversized animatronic dragon they can bring to life with their wands, making for a perfect photo opp for parents and lots of excitement for children. All around the resort are interactive "stops" where you can use your wand: Wave it at a treasure chest and it lights up, opens, and begins speaking to you; wave it at the ceiling and lights flash green. You can choose from a variety of quests, from simple to difficult, and as you solve riddles, you gain power and knowledge. Your magic wand records your accomplishments and remembers what level you are on, so you can go at your own pace. Wands are $15.99 and up and the game is $14.99. Great Wolf recently introduced Mini Magi Mode which is basically a “light” version designed for kids ages five and under. I purchased it for my 3-year-old, but in the end I thought she would have been happy just having her own wand rather than actually playing the game.
Moonstone mine is a fun mining themed interactive mirror maze that guests can work together to find their way out of. Single admission is $10.99 or you can purchase a family package for up to six people for $49.99.
Northern Lights Arcade
This family-friendly arcade is full of games ranging from games of skill for older ones to games of chance for little ones.
Oliver’s Mining Company
Oliver’s Mining Company encompasses the Moonstone Mine and the Oliver’s Time Challenge game, as well as an interactive mock mining area where guests can dig and sift for gemstones and minerals, clean them and bag them to be taken home.
Raccoon Lagoon Play Park
Adjacent to the outdoor waterpark is Raccoon Lagoon Play Parka dry area where families can play games of oversized checkers and Jenga, lawn games and make s’mores over an open fire pit.
Scooops Kid Spa
Young and tween girls will love Scoops, a mini-spa just for kids which does manicures and pedicures, and features ice-cream themed products. The kid spa is surrounded by glass windows, so parents can keep an eye on children without interfering.
Grab your wand and go! Help save the light with different characters while journeying through new worlds in this interactive video game. Defeat Malaki and receive the Medal of Light!
Ten Paw Alley
The Ten Paw Alley was made for families with little kids. It has 10 short lanes, 5-pound balls and no rental shoes. Kids have a blast at this bowling alley made for them. Single games are $6 per lane.
There are several options for dining at Great Wolf Lodge Poconos, all of which are casual and kid-friendly. While you can't go wrong with any of the choices, don't expect to be wowed by any of them either.
Ben & Jerry’s
In early 2019, Great Wolf Lodge Poconos welcomed a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop offering most of the ice cream giant’s most popular flavors and toppings. The enticing scent of the freshly made waffles cones wafts up from the shop to fill the Grand Lobby and meet guests right at the lodge’s entrance. Just try resisting!
Grizzly Jack’s Bar & Grille
Grizzly Jack’s Bar & Grille is the only outdoor eatery on the Great Wolf Lodge property and as such, is only open seasonally. It’s located alongside the Raccoon Lagoon complex and features creative, locally inspired dishes along with staples like wings, tacos and burgers, as well as craft cocktails and local beers.
Grizzly Rob's Bar
Grizzly Rob's, located inside the water park, is where you can take a little break and get beer and wine, mixed drinks, sodas, and snacks—very convenient. The bar however has limited hours—11 a.m. to 7 p.m.—and gets incredibly busy during the afternoon hours.
Hungry as a Wolf
Hungry as a Wolf is a quick and easy lunch or dinner option with a walk-up counter and a handful of tables. The menu includes homemade pizza, bread sticks, salad and pasta dishes. Many guests grab their food and enjoy it inside the water park, Grand Lobby or their suites.
The Loose Moose Family Kitchen
If you have big eaters in your family, try the Loose Moose Cottage, which has a generous gourmet buffet in a bustling and friendly atmosphere. The food is varied and plentiful.
The breakfast buffet has an above average assortment of pancakes, waffles and French toast, countless egg preparations and breakfast meats, pastries cooked-to-order omelets, and cereals, as well as a mimosa and Bloody Mary bar during the weekends.
The lunch buffet offers loads of kid-friendly options like made-to-order pastas, several varieties of pizza, homemade soups, a large salad bar, wraps, sandwiches and subs, as well as hot dogs and burgers.
The dinner buffet has several entrees, which change nightly, as well as a carving station, a variety of seafood including peel-and-eat shrimp, and a dessert bar with cookies, cakes, puddings and make-your-own sundaes. There’s also a fully stocked bar at the Loose Moose, that is much less frequented than Grizzly Rob’s and guests are free to take their drinks out of the restaurant to enjoy anywhere in the resort. Reservations are not required, but we highly recommend making them as the wait can be lengthy during breakfast and dinner.
Buckets Incredible Craveables
Inside the indoor water park, there is a snack shop that sells more quick food like pizzas, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, hot pretzels and nachos. Buckets Incredible Craveables is a convenient choice to feed everyone without having to leave the park.
Just off the Grand Lobby is a full-service Dunkin’ offering everything from a quick cup of coffee and fresh donuts to breakfast sandwiches and lattes from morning until night.
Wine Down Service
There is no room service at Great Wolf Lodge, but at check-in, guests should receive an order form for nightly Wine Down Service, which gives you the option to order food and wine pairings to be delivered to your room within a certain time frame. Options include gourmet chocolates, desserts and cheese boards paired with popular wines. It’s a convenient and often well-deserved option for parents who want to treat themselves after a day of chasing excited children around the resort. Additionally, you can request to have milk and cookies delivered to your suite in the evening for the kiddos to enjoy.
There are plenty of nearby options outside of the resort, including a Wendy's. You are not permitted to bring your own food into the water parks, but you may carry it into the resort. Take advantage of the refrigerator in your suite and bring at least snacks and drinks with you. Eating and drinking in general is allowed everywhere in the resort, including in the lobby.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
- Check-In Process
Be prepared for the fact that check- in, especially during heavy travel times, can be very busy, and on the slow side, so be prepared to wait. Check in is at 4 p.m., but you are welcome to arrive as early as 1 p.m., check in, and rent a locker until your room becomes available. You will have access to the water park as soon as you check in. In addition, and this is a really great feature, check out is at 11 a.m., but you may use the water park all day the day of your checkout, until it closes in the evening.
The resort has a few shops for families to visit when in need of an extra T-shirt, swimsuit or toothbrush. Bear Essentials Swim Shop will have everything you need should you forget a necessity. For fun souvenirs, visit the Great Wolf Kids Store, Buckhorn Exchange or the MagiQuest Marketplace.
For a sweet treat or souvenir, you can’t miss the Great Wolf Candy Company, located just off the Grand Lobby, where the walls are lined with massive candy dispensers filled with goodies representing every color in the rainbow. Just be aware that bulk candy can only be purchased in one size—not by the pound—so for one price you get a cup and fill it up. We were tempted, but there was no way our family of four was going to eat that amount of sweets, so we went with the pre-packaged lollipops and boxed candy instead.
- Nearby Attractions
The area around the lodge also has multiple other attractions if you should get tired of the water. Museums, horseback riding, hiking trails, ski resorts and golf courses are close by for families looking to do more than just slip and slide.
The Best Time to Visit
Keep in mind that the outdoor water park is open only Memorial Day through Labor Day. Each season has its own benefits; summer allows you access to twice the parks, but winter provides a warmth and ambience that just isn't achievable in summer. Bed time stories in the dark, in front of a hearth and fire while the resort is buried in snow, have a different effect than in the bustling light of summer.
Also check the resort's website for monthly specials and deals, which often include meals, game credits and extra hours at the water park.
The resort is about two hours from New York City and Philadelphia and is easily accessible by car. When coming from any direction, be sure to turn on to Route 611. Coming from the north and heading south, Great Wolf Lodge Poconos will be on your right. When coming from the south and heading north, Great Wolf Lodge Poconos will be on your left.
Let's face it: Great Wolf is for the kids, but if your children are older or you can tag team with a friend, grandparent or partner, you may be able to find a respite from the raucous. If you can't escape from the indoor water park, relax in the North Hot Springs—a whirlpool located near the pools and slides, just for adults 21 and older. Rejuvenate in the warm water while waiting for your kids to come down the next slide.
- Fitness Center
The Iron Horse Fitness Center is for those adults looking to get a workout in at any time—it's open 24 hours! However, if you’re game for the waterslides, you’ll get a good workout just climbing up the stairs over and over to access them.
- Private Cabanas
There are a number of private cabanas available to rent both in the indoor and outdoor waterparks and they are a great option for parents who anticipate needing a moment of seclusion, a quick snooze or a quiet place to soothe over-stimulated little ones. Cabana rentals which are available from $249.99 per day include non-alcoholic beverages, fresh fruit and premium towels, with some options also featuring television and locker rentals.