by: Jen Duncan
We went to the brand new Great Wolf Lodge location in Scottsdale, Arizona over Fall break. When we arrived, it was only their 4th day open! They were so nice to put our luggage on a big cart and take it up to our room. At check in, we received a wristband for each person in the room. The bands were super cool because you leave them on and it acts as your room key and access to the water park. There was also an option of linking your wristband to the room account so you can easily scan your bracelet at the stores and restaurants to charge things to the room. Don’t worry though, you can make sure the kid’s bracelets don’t have room charge access! The hotel does allow you early access to the waterpark on check-in day and you can stay all day after checkout.
The room was great and we loved being able to scan our wristband instead of digging around for room keys. We chose to do the basic birthday package for our daughter where they put a birthday poster on your wall, leave balloons and a card in the room with an arcade gift card and certificate for ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. There was also a great size mini fridge in the room which was great for the items we brought with us. The coolest room feature which was small, but meaningful, is they had USB and Outlet ports right on the front of the nightstand so you didn’t have to break your back trying to find the outlet behind the bed. When you leave your room, all Paw Prints lead to the elevators so you can easily find your way!
The Waterpark was a huge hit! From what I’ve heard, it’s not as big as some locations, but our 6 year old had a blast. We brought water shoes but you don’t really need them! There is a huge play structure with lots of splash features and smaller waterslides. My husband even had a blast on the mini slides and said it was the first ever waterslide he’s been on! They were great too because there wasn’t as many stairs to go up like the huge slides. There was a big wave pool and I loved that they had a lot of life vests and Puddle Jumpers for kids to wear. My daughter can swim, but we had her wear a Puddle Jumper in the wave pool just incase. I’m pretty sure they had a gym in the hotel but you won’t need it if you are in the wave pool. You’ll definitely get your squats in jumping the waves! There was a lazy river and a pool with the ropes and lily pads. There was even a small gated toddler pool with cute little slides and splash activities. The big slides were a ton of fun! Our daughter had SO much fun! One of the best parts about the indoor waterpark is no sunscreen is needed! If you want to catch some rays, there is also a huge outdoor pool and hot tub as well. If you’re planning to use the waterpark early on check-in day or after check-out, they do have large changing rooms with showers and one of those little machines that sucks all the water out of your suit. One tip, bring a wet bag for your wet stuff! They do allow you to check out one towel per room member and you can exchange them for fresh ones at any time and take them back to your room as long as they are returned by check-out.
The food wasn’t very impressive to be honest but was convenient at times. The ropes course was right in the middle of the eating areas and was quite loud at times. We did purchase the refillable cups which was very convenient throughout our stay. The cups were $9.99 if you buy it with a combo meal or $14.99 on their own. They are microchipped and the machines know when your cup expires. Ours were fillable for a week. The machines are smart though and the refills are timed. It seemed to be that you can refill your drink every 5 minutes. It was worth it to me and I even used it for cold water as well. Knowing what I do now, we don’t really need to bring a cooler next time, we’ll just get cups. There are many places nearby the hotel to eat if you prefer to go out somewhere. It is located right next to the Scottsdale Pavilions which has almost any kind of food you’d want to eat. If you’re staying over the weekend, be sure to check out the long running McDonald’s car show at the Pavilions!
I wasn’t prepared for how many extra things they had! We ended up purchasing a Wolf Pass which gave us access to all the extras. They have different levels such as a Pup Pass that is great for the littles and includes a Build a Bear, a Paw Pass which includes the MagicQuest game and a few more activities, and a Wolf Pass which includes almost everything. MagicQuest is their signature game at the hotel. You get a wand and some accessories that do different things. There are portals throughout the hotel with different quests. The kids have a blast bringing the wands around and waving them at all the MagicQuest things. There are other activities like rock climbing, a ropes course, mini golf, bowling, the Moonstone Mine mirror maze and more. There is a perfectly placed Build a Bear, Candy Store, Dunkin’ Donuts and Ben & Jerry’s that you’ll pass a million times! Prices may vary on the extras so be sure to check when you arrive.
There were lots of cute events for kids. Story time at 8:15pm is a huge hit! Kids gather in the main lobby in their PJ’s for story time wearing their Wolf Ears. They also had a dance party at 9pm which was Halloween themed. Bubble wands are a huge hit during the dance party, so if you want to save money, bring one with you. Just make sure to put batteries in before you arrive unless you carry a mini screwdriver with you.
Overall we had a blast at the Great Wolf Lodge. There were of course some things to work on, but it was brand new. Our daughter already can’t wait to plan our next trip.
My best tips:
A 2 or 3 night stay is perfect!
Bring a wet bag
Bring your own bubble blaster
Be prepared for the extras (consider buying a pass to save money)
Be prepared to walk a lot!
Buy a refillable cup
You don’t really need water shoes