Want to escape from the winter weather? The Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains has an impressive waterpark, which is kept at a balmy 84 degrees. And, if you visit during the summer, there’s no need to worry about sunburns. Even better: The resort is in the midst of wrapping up a $12 million renovation complete with updated guest rooms and brand-new attractions.
Budget Level: Upscale ($179.99--$319.99/night)
Lodging Type: Large Hotel (401 rooms)
Great Wolf Lodge embraces a woodland theme. The resort is massive, and resembles a log cabin on steroids. Inside, the rustic aesthetic continues with plenty of wood and a huge fireplace in the lobby. The centerpiece of the resort is the 79,000-square-foot indoor park, while the Main Street retail area is packed with a kid’s spa, arcade, bowling alley, and mini golf. New amenities include the Great Wolf Candy Company, a new Dunkin Donuts, and a soon-to-open Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
Great Wolf Lodge is aimed at families with young children, so the vibe is fun, relaxed, and playful. At night you’ll see families sporting matching pajamas. This is the kind of place where you can walk around in a towel and flip-flops en route to the waterpark, and nobody will bat an eye if your child has a meltdown at breakfast.
Who Will Love It
If you love Disney, cruises, and theme parks, than Great Wolf Lodge is for you. The resort is best suited for kids ages 4 to 12, and families can be found having a blast. Plus, you won't need to worry about crowds and lines: The waterpark is only accessible for paying guests, so it never feels too crowded.
Who Might Not
While some couples do come to Great Wolf Lodge for a waterpark getaway, the number of families and kids underfoot are not synonymous with a quiet, romantic weekend.
The waterpark is the big draw, and families can spend hours zooming down the slides, or, take it easy on the lazy river. You’ll also see plenty of kids running around waving magic wands as a part of the resort’s MagiQuest adventure game, an interactive scavenger hunt for kids.
The basic room rate includes access to the waterpark for all guests. The resort also puts on fun (and free) activities for the kids, such as evening story time in the lobby with animated characters.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
Great Wolf Lodge is packed with non-water activities, such as an arcade, mini golf, Creation Station (which is similar to Build-A-Bear), MagiQuest, and a children’s spa. The newest attraction is the soon-to-open Oliver’s Mining Company, where families can explore the Moonstone Mine as well as use pans to sift through silt and sand to find their own gemstones. Guests will also be able to get their glow on at the upcoming Illumination Station, which will feature light-up toys and other cool glowing items.
All of these activities are an additional cost. Attraction passes are available at three different price points designed for different ages; prices start at $44.99. Dining packages are also available. A breakfast, lunch, and dinner option is $34.99/person. Parking is free.
How to Get a Deal
September and May are traditionally the resort’s most inexpensive months. To score a better room rate, sign up for the resort’s email newsletter to be alerted to special deals. One thing to keep in mind is that a one-night stay offers two full days at the waterpark. For example: Guests can access the waterpark by 1 p.m. on the day they check in, and they can also use the waterpark after they check out.
In the Neighborhood
Great Wolf Lodge is located in the sleepy town of Scotrun, Pennsylvania where the main attraction is skiing. The resort is minutes away from Camelback Mountain, and other ski mountains in the area include Shawnee and Jack Frost Big Boulder. Great Wolf Lodge is also close to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which offers hiking and river tubing in the warmer months. If you’re coming from the east, try to time your trip to have lunch at the atmospheric Walpack Inn, which looks like an antique store and features delicious house-made bread. Other local dining options include Scotrun Diner and Satto Sushi. Families will enjoy the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, a 114 acre site that showcases what life was like in the 19th century. In addition, Crayola Experience is about an hour away.
Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, PA is about 30 miles from the resort. The next closest airport is Newark International Airport in New Jersey, which is about 82 miles away.
The Bottom Line
Great Wolf Lodge delivers plenty of laughs, thrills and fun for families. Like Disney, it’s poured money and plenty of brain power into creating a well-designed experience for the whole family.