Are you looking for a magical, holiday weekend trip just under two hours from Greenville? Great Wolf Lodge in Concord should be at the top of your list. It’s an easy drive from Greenville, it’s a great destination for families with all ages from toddlers to teenagers, and your stay includes an indoor waterpark that’s nice and warm even in the winter. The lodge is packed full of activities for making family memories.
Thank you to Great Wolf Lodge for hosting Kidding Around. Note: Prices and information are included for your convenience but may change. Please check the Great Wolf Lodge website or call before making plans.
It Even Snows Inside at Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge, Concord
Want to build some family memory making time into your holidays this year? Throw your bathing suits and a change of clothes in a bag, load up the kids and head to Snowland at Great Wold Lodge. A family adventure full of waterpark fun, magical quests, games and a lot more is waiting right there for you!
Great Wolf Lodge Snowland
If you have never been to Great Wolf Lodge, you should know it’s much more than a hotel. Your hotel pass includes admission into a large indoor waterpark and free programming for families. In addition to the included activities, you can purchase either bundled at a discount or a la carte passes to additional activities such as MagiQuest and ShadowQuest, mini golf, ropes course, bowling, arcades, laser tag and more. Inside the hotel, you will also find multiple dining options in a range of prices and styles.
If you have been to Great Wolf Lodge but not at the holidays, you need to put a visit during Snowland on your calendar. During Snowland, the lodge is completely decked out for Christmas and you will find special activities including Santa in the lobby, snow falling from the ceiling, a holiday dance party, and a fully decked out lobby with giant Christmas trees. If that’s not enough holiday cheer for you, book a Snowland suite complete with it’s own Christmas tree and holiday decor.
The dates for Snowland in 2019 are November 29, 2019-January 5, 2020.
What to Expect When You Get to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord
The lodge is really massive but it’s all one building. The lobby is huge and especially gorgeous when it’s decorated for Snowland. Upon entering the lobby you’ll see the check in desk to the right.
The check-in line can be really long. Some folks prefer just to park and bring all the bags in when heading to check in. In our family, I usually run in with the kids and wait in line while my husband unloads the car. By the time we’ve gone through the line, he’s there with our cart full of bags. Regardless, be prepared to wait several minutes in check-in. There’s a lot to see in the lobby area to keep you occupied while you wait. (Note that there are restrooms in the hall just past the check in desk, beside the gift shop, which you can always visit before you get in line.)
You cannot check into your room before 4 pm but you can check in as early as 1 pm to enjoy the waterpark. You will find changing rooms and rental lockers inside the waterpark if you decide to come early.
When you check in, you will receive wristbands for your family that will allow you to access the amenities at the resort. The adult wristbands also include a chip that will double as a room key and a quick pay option for the restaurants, shopping, and attractions in the resort.
When you purchase your room, you can choose between three packages that include extra attractions. The waterpark is included in your hotel stay.
Pup Pass ($44.99): This pass is intended for smaller children and includes a candy cup, ice cream, an arcade pass, and a pass to make a Build-a-Bear. I will say that even my older kids enjoyed making the Build-a-Bear version of their favorite Great Wold Lodge character. We’ve been home for days and even my 11 year-old boy is still carrying his around the house.
Paw Pass ($44.99): This pass includes a MagiQuest or ShadowQuest game plus a wand (or topper or belt), a candy cup, ice cream, and arcade card.
Wolf Pass ($59.99): This pass includes everything that the Paw Pass includes plus a game of mini golf, the XD theatre, Atomic Rush, laser tag and a game of bowling.
There are a couple other package choices that we’ll go through below when we discuss attractions as well as our opinions on what attractions were the best value.
When you check in, you will receive a schedule of the upcoming events at the lodge as well as a list of the different attractions. Take time to review these papers because they will help you not miss opportunities for fun (especially the free fun) in the lodge.
You will also be given Wolf ears. Warning, this may promote howling in children and adults. Anyone with a birthday receives special birthday ears. These ears are fun for kids because they will hear birthday wishes from the staff where ever they wear the ears.
Special Santa Hat Wolf Ears will be available for purchase ($8.99) during Snowland. The purchase of these ears will benefit Make-A-Wish.
Budget Tip: Subscribe to the Great Wolf Lodge emails to know when they are running promotions. You might also find promotional deals on other deal sites. Depending on what attractions you want to experience consider a pass for a discounted rate.
The Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge, Concord
We were really impressed by the indoor waterpark inside Great Wolf Lodge from its size, range of activities, and safety.
The waterpark at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord includes:
Fort MacKenzie: A multi-story water play treehouse with water slides, a giant bucket that dumps on a crowd every couple of minutes, and lots of places to explore. Be on your toes, if your kids try to convince you to walk right by this structure. They are probably hoping that giant bucket will catch you by surprise and drench you.
Shallow Swim Areas for Toddlers and Younger Children: Cub Paw Pool is a shallow play area perfect for small kids and is even gated so that parents can easily watch their kids. The deepest the water gets is 18 inches so that little ones can swim but easily stand above the water. If your child is in diapers, they will be required to wear a swim diaper. In addition, Whooping Hollow offers barely inclined water slides that allow smaller kids to gently move down and around slowly at their own pace.
Water Slides: My family was impressed by the number and range of water slides.
- Howlin’ Tornado Funnel seats to four people at a time and was the most thrilling of the slides. We saw lots of teens in line and the height restriction was only 48 inches which meant that most kids that would be old enough to want to ride it would also be tall enough to ride.
- River Canyon Run is great for families. Up to five people can ride and the height restriction is a low 42 inches. While the slide is fun, it’s not scary and we saw many younger children riding it with their parents.
- Alberta Falls allows for single riders or double riders and is a great fast and fun slide for a wide range of ages. The height restriction is 42 inches and children between 42-48 inches need to ride with another person that is at least 14.
- In addition, you can slide toboggan style down the 4-story steep drop Mountain Edge Raceway (children must be at least 42 inches). While this is a single person slide, there are multiple slides and the lifeguards will allow groups to slide down at the same time.
- During our visit, the lines for the slides were never very long. The number of people allowed per time on the larger slides plus the number of available slides reduced waiting time greatly.
Slap Tail Pond: My kids were delighted to find a giant wave pool (one of their favorite water park attractions). As a parent, I was thankful that the wave pool only reached 5 feet which in my opinion was the perfect depth for being able to fully swim in the waves without feeling like you couldn’t easily pull your kids into a more shallow area if they started to tire. Also, the waves were set on a quick frequency, so you did not have to wait long periods of time for the waves to occur. My kids absolutely loved this pool. Bonus: no lines to wait in here at all!
Chinook Cove: Kids can play basketball in this 4-foot pool.
Big Foot Pass: My kids spent quite a bit of time trying to cross on the lily pads without falling in the water in this obstacle course.
A couple last notes about the waterpark
- Waterpark admission is included in your room rate. You can also swim the day you check out. There are rental lockers for valuables and a changing room/shower area that you can use as well.
- Swim Towels are provided in this area. You can check out one person and you must return them at the swimming area to avoid a fee. You can exchange them as needed for dry towels.
- Dining is available in the waterpark area and you can bring food inside the area. There is pizza right outside the entrance and a grill with burgers beside the water.
- When you enter, your kids will be measured and given a wristband that will determine which slides they can ride. A lifejacket based on height will also be recommended for younger children. As a parent, you can choose whether or not your child wears the lifejacket.
- We were happy to see lots of lifeguards and that the lifeguards were alert and carefully watching the swim areas.
- You can rent cabanas in the waterpark. This option is great for parties or groups that would like their own space (the area fills up quickly during the day). The cabanas come with a fridge with non-alcoholic beverages, TV, table, chairs, fan, and locker rental.
- The air inside the waterpark is 84 degrees which keeps it pleasant to swim even in the winter. The water was also adequately warmed. If you are not swimming, you may want to still bring warm weather clothes for sitting inside the waterpark as it will be quite toasty if you are not in the water.
The Food at Great Wolf Lodge
The Concord Great Wolf Lodge offers four restaurants, an ice cream shop and a coffee shop. Meals are an additional fee, though some promotional offers may come with meal credits. The meal costs are similar to what you would expect to pay at an amusement park.
There are some special Snowland themed treats available including a hot chocolate bar, Jingle Juice in light-up cups for the kids, and a couple special cocktails for mom and dad. Those cocktails also come in light-up cups, and they’re really fun. Just a heads up, you get to bring the cups home. Pop the light-up piece out of the bottom of the cup before you wash it if you ever want to use it again. We had a sad demise of Jingle Juice cups over here the day we came back from our trip!
Hungry as a Wolf offers pizza and salad and was very affordably priced. You could choose between ordering by the slice, ordering a pizza, or ordering a family meal that included a pizza, salad, and 2-liter drink. This restaurant is located right outside the waterpark. Our salad was pretty amazing and could be a meal on it’s own.
Buckets Incredible Craveables is inside in the waterpark and offers a number of traditional grill items including burgers and hot dogs. Kids’ meals are available along with snack favorites like giant soft pretzels. Service at this restaurant was extremely quick the day we ate at it which is good when you have kids that are hungry from swimming.
The Loose Moose Cottage is a buffet style restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Both breakfast and dinner here were very good with a wide range of choices. You can purchase a breakfast package with your room that may be a little cheaper for families with older children.
Lodge Wolf Grill is a traditional sit-down restaurant that has a range of choices on the menu. The food we had from the grill was fresh and delicious.
Dunkin’ Donuts is available in the lobby and offers coffee, sweet treats, and breakfast sandwiches. Parents will appreciate the caffine when attempting to keep up with their kids on a MagiQuest adventure.
Bear Paw Sweets & Eats is an ice cream shop, sweet shop, and coffee shop. Some of the passes that you can purchase include ice cream at Bear Paw Sweets & Eats.
We recommend making reservations at the sit-down restaurants as they can get busy in the evening or plan to go early.
The rooms do include small refrigerators making it possible to bring food for simple meals or for snacks. Each room did have a coffee pot, but you will want to bring your own half and half or creamer if you prefer something other than powdered creamer.
Realistically, you should probably budget to eat at the lodge unless you have a clear plan on other food options. One of the benefits of a stay at Great Wolf Lodge is the fact that you can do everything under one roof without having to leave the building. Staying inside is especially nice in the winter when the weather is cold outside. Even though some of the food choices may be more expensive inside the lodge, the food was good and being able to not leave the building was a huge convenience.
Budget tip: Consider bringing sandwich options, snacks, drinks, and simple breakfast items to supplement your meals in the lodge.
Free Activities Beyond the Waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge During Snowland
Each day, Great Wolf Lodge has a complete schedule of activities for kids and families that are free. You can find a complete list each morning on a board in the lobby by the Clock Tower. Some of the activities we enjoyed during our Snowland stay were:
Yoga Tails – Kids were really enjoying this kid-friendly yoga program than combined a story with yoga poses.
Santa in the Lobby – Santa will be in the lobby at select times during Snowland. We got to visit with Santa during our visit and were impressed by how authentic Santa looked. Be sure to bring your camera when you visit Santa!
Clock Tower Show – This show happens in the evening and at select times during the day. It’s a show using characters that come to life and tell a story with music. During Snowland it’s always followed by “snow” falling from the ceiling.
Polar Bear Plunge- Decorate a polar bear on an “iceberg” and send it zooming down one of the slides in the waterpark!
Frosty Fest- New at Snowland this year is Frosty Fest! Activities include Feed the Snow Monster, Reindeer Antler Toss and Pin the Nose on Mr. Snowman.
Frosty Fest Family Dance Party – This fun dance party gets your kids moving at the end of the day.
Story Time – Bring your kids to the grand lobby for story time at night, featuring the GWL holiday story, Unique as a Snowflake.
It’s completely acceptable for your kids to wear their PJs to the evening activities.
There are also character meet and greets, fun kid-friendly exercise classes, and more going on. Check the schedule each day to make sure you don’t miss out.
Paid Attractions at Great Wolf Lodge
You also have a number of paid attractions to choose from at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. You can either purchase these attractions via a pass or you can purchase them separately as needed.
When I first visited Great Wolf Lodge, I had assumed that just the waterpark would be enough to entertain my kids. While we did spend a lot of time in the waterpark, we really enjoyed a lot of the other activities. Our favorite is MagiQuest! After visiting more and experiencing some of the attractions via my media pass I would recommend that families budget additional funds for at least some of the activities or for one of the passes. Here’s what we experienced and what we thought:
MagiQuest (or ShadowQuest): If your kids are elementary school or older, you really should plan on adding a game of MagiQuest or ShadowQuest to your itinerary. It is included in the Paw and Wolf passes or you can purchase it separately. We only played MagiQuest and ShadowQuest is the more advanced version. This game is modeled after a video game but your kid is the main character.
Think of it as a cross between a video game, riddles to solve and a scavenger hunt. Unlike traditional video games where you sit to play, this game forces you to run all over the lodge. As someone who exercises regularly, I’ll promise that the amount of stairs that we had to go up and down to play were definitely a good work out. I was actually sore the next day.
- The game takes place on the 2-4 floors of the lodge and is throughout the hallways. This means that if you choose not to purchase the game, your kids will be seeing kids playing the game every time they walk out the door of your room. It’s a fun game and your kids will want to play it when they see the other kids playing, so it’s probably a smart choice to just plan on adding it when you make your trip budget.
- To play the game you will need to pay to activate your account and you will need a wand. The game play costs $14.99 and remains active during your stay and the wands are $15.99+ (the shop also contains toppers and other accessories). This means that if you are new to the game and need a wand, your cost to play is going to be at least $30.98. Purchasing a Paw or Wolf Pass may be more bang for your buck if you do not already have a wand.
- Your game play is stored so if you return to the Great Wolf Lodge, your kids can bring back their wands and continue the game right where they left off. In addition, there are other MagiQuest locations in the US.
- Once you have activated your wand, you will then head to a forest of trees where your kid can pick their first quest.
- The quests involve finding things throughout the lodge and then activating them with the wands. The first quests are not difficult.
- Once you have completed required quests, you can then tackle an adventure. The adventures involve some sort of battle or challenge and are a little more difficult.
- This game has a lot of technology and as you might expect stuff does break when hundreds of kids are touching it. On our visit everything was working perfectly.
- You should plan on playing this especially if your kids love video games. My kids really enjoyed it. It was great exercise and it also encouraged my kids to think and work together.
- My kids might spend more time at MagiQuest than they do at the waterpark. It’s become a family favorite.
Ten Paw Alley: This bowling alley is kid-sized and even has kid-size balls and short lanes. You can easily flick the bumpers up to make it a simple game for small children. We enjoyed our time here. The cost is $7 a game and you can purchase the cards to bowl in the arcade. My kids really enjoyed this game!
Northern Lights Arcade: This arcade is open 24 hours.
Howling Wood XD Theatre: Up to four people can watch an immersive 4D movie (about 5 minutes) in this theatre.
You can also add on other fun activities such as having characters deliver cookies and milk to your room in the evening. My daughter particularly thought this was fantastic.
Let me take a moment here to say the staff who accompany the characters on their visits to rooms and activities do such an amazing job interacting with families. Everyone is happy and friendly and you can tell really are invested in guests having fun and families being together.
Outside there is also a mini golf and a rope course. It was raining and cold during our November visit so we did not try the outdoor activities.
Rooms at Great Wolf Lodge
All the guest rooms at Great Wolf Lodge have just undergone an extensive renovation. The rooms are beautiful! The new color scheme makes everything feel very open and airy. We stayed in a family suite and it was comfortable and roomy. Our room had two queen size beds and one pull out bed for our family of 6. Becuase some of our kids don’t do well sharing a bed, we brought along a fold up cot with us.
You can also pay for themed suites such as the KidKamp Suite that has a “den” with built in bunk beds and a TV or the Kid Cabin Suite with its own small cabin winthin the room full of bunks for the kids. During Snowland, you can also reserve Snowland decorated suites that even have a Christmas tree.
Larger Suites are also available and are perfect for multi-generational families that want to stay together but still have separate spaces.
Can You Pay for a Day Pass to Great Wolf Lodge?
The answer to this used to be “no.” But now a limited number of day passes are available for purchase online at $50 per person. Personally, staying is half the fun. I think we’d miss the experience if we didnt stay overnight.
Additional Tips for Great Wolf Lodge, Concord during Snowland
After visiting, I’m sure my family will head to Great Wolf Lodge again in the future. My kids had a wonderful time, we thought the waterpark was great, and last but not least we want to conquer MagiQuest.
In addition to the many amenities covered in our review, the lodge also included laser tag, fitness center, and shopping.
The gift store did have a number of quality items. In particular, I noticed that many families were buying matching pajamas from the gift shop as a souvenir. There’s also a candy store across from the gift shop and a special Build-A-Bear downstairs.
Great Wolf Lodge in Concord is located at 10175 Weddington Rd, Concord, NC 28027. It’s right outside Charlotte and under 2 hours from Upstate SC.
You can find more information on the Great Wolf Lodge website. Please refer to the Great Wolf Lodge website for current information on pricing and activities.