After taking Maverick to Great Wolf Lodge at 19 months old, I have a few thoughts about how to make the stay ‘worth’ it for toddlers, because it caters to older, adventurous children. (Even Cara’s kids, who are five and seven-years-old weren’t big enough for the Adventure Park or larger water park slides!).
Here’s a few considerations in deciding if Great Wolf Lodge is appropriate for your tot or preschooler.
There’s a tot pool and water table section
Yes, there’s a full section just for babies and tots, but with a few things to keep in mind. It’s not fully gated, so if you have a runner or wild man like Maverick, the tot section won’t fully contain them.
Also, there’s three “tot water slides,” but none of them allow for lap sitting. So, they’re better for preschoolers, yes, but they are misleading for true tots since they can’t go down them.
My tot loved the wave pool
Every 10-15 minutes a wolf howl alerts swimmers that waves are coming, but between those times, Maverick actually spent a lot of time at the wave pool. A few things that made it more tot-friendly: splash pads at the entrance, plus the zero depth entry.
Maverick really enjoyed the waves, too! Of course, it takes a lot of focus for the parent in the wave pool with a tot, but he loved having the waves crash on him!
There’s so many lifeguards
Just good to know for parents of kids of all ages, but our whole party was pleasantly surprised with just how many guards were focused on water safety during our stay.
For tots and preschoolers, plan to spend all your time at the water park. The land-section of the resort (called Adventure Park) is geared towards older kids. (Even Cara’s seven-year-old wasn’t tall enough for the high ropes course.) Other indoor activities, like the MagiQuest and the mineral mining aren’t appropriate for kids five and under.
Snuggles in the lazy river
If your tot is a busy body like mine, just go on a lazy river float for the best snuggles. Seriously, I floated around (and around, and around) the lazy river for 30+ minutes while he snuggled on me in the tube. It was a nice break from chasing him in the wave pool when I needed a breather.
The free programming breaks up the day
There’s only so much fun a tot or preschooler can have in one place, and Great Wolf Lodge does a nice job of offering other programming throughout the mornings and evenings to break up the day.
We did coloring at the arts/crafts pop-up, story time before bed one night, and even the dance party another night (although it is late for tots, starting at 9 p.m., but it only lasts 15 minutes).
Overall, we had a great time at Great Wolf Lodge with a tot in tow and would recommend it, but would advise you to go with another family with slightly older kids to break up some of the monotony of watching a tot continually. It was nice to be able to share the mental load of water safety with a toddler who isn’t yet a strong swimmer with switching with another mom while I played with her swim-confident kids.
Thinking about heading there this fall? Check out our guide to staying at Great Wolf Lodge over fall break/spooky season!