How Homeschoolers Can Enjoy Great Wolf Lodge Without Breaking the Bank


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Looking to save money on a Great Wolf Lodge vacation? Thankfully, the deeply-discounted Homeschool Crew at Great Wolf Lodge can make a family waterpark vacation that’s both fun and affordable.

We recently stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, WI for just under $150. This included a one-night stay in an upgraded Kid Cabin Suite, wristbands for two full days at their indoor and outdoor waterparks, parking, and all 5 taxes 🙄. We only had four people, but this rate could have included up to six people.

Considering a day pass for JUST the waterpark is $45 per person ($180 + tax for a family of four), this is a howlin’ good deal! 🐾

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Read on to learn more about how homeschool families can plan an affordable stay at the Great Wolf Lodge.


When are Homeschool Discount Days at Great Wolf Lodge 2024?

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The Great Wolf Lodge homeschool promotion dates for 2024 are:

  • January 22-25
  • February 12-15
  • March 4-7
  • May 6-9
  • June 3-6
  • August 26-29 — use promo code 2408HOME
  • October 7-10 — use coupon code 2410HOME
  • November 17-18 — use discount code 2411HOME
  • December 9-12 — use promo code 2412HOME

Be sure to use the corresponding coupon code at checkout to get the homeschool rate.


Rooms Start at Only $99.99/night

For the cheapest vacation at Great Wolf Lodge, you can get a standard room starting at just $99.99 per night (plus tax and parking). For us, parking was $16 per night in Wisconsin Dells.

Kids Cabin Suite Only $119.99/night

If you want a little separation, you can upgrade to a Kids Cabin Suite for just $20 more. Our room had a Queen bed for us and a kids’ cabin nook with a Bunkbed and Twin bed. If you need another bed, the couch also pulls out into a full bed, but we did not use this feature.

The room also included a table, 3 chairs, microwave, mini refrigerator, TV, and hair dryer.

There are quite a few more room options and suites available. Check out what room fits your needs and what’s available during the homeschool days you want to go to pick the right room for your trip.


Get Your Free Wolf Ears Headband

If it’s your first time at Great Wolf Lodge, we were told you can get a free wolf ears headband from the gift shop. That way kiddos can get a souvenir without adding anything to your trip cost.

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Dining at the Great Wolf Lodge

You have three main options for dining during your stay:

  1. Several options on-site at GWL
  2. Many dining options within walking distance or a short drive
  3. Bring your own food

The rooms have a mini-fridge, microwave, and coffee maker.


How to Save Money on Food at Great Wolf Lodge

When you book your trip, and for the days leading up to your trip, you can upgrade your package to include discounts on dining. There’s a breakfast option and general discounted food credit options. We did not eat at the Great Wolf Lodge because I knew it would be pricey and probably wouldn’t make us feel the best, so I cannot speak to these dining options.

We’ve been on a long journey to improve our gut health, and eating out often does not help us with this feat.


How We Ate for Cheap During Our Great Wolf Lodge Stay

Since we’ve gone through years of living on a tight budget as well as being food allergy parents, we’re accustomed to taking our own food on the go. We packed simple meals and snacks in two small coolers and yes, we packed an air fryer too!🤭

Our packing list included:

  • air fryer
  • hot dogs and chicken brats (warmed in air fryer)
  • sourdough pancakes (warmed in air fryer)
  • loaf of sourdough bread
  • peanut butter and jelly
  • chopped broccoli in a Stasher bag
  • peeled carrots
  • hummus
  • bananas
  • strawberries
  • tortilla chips
  • guacamole
  • beef sticks
  • granola bars
  • fruit snacks
  • protein shake powder and shaker bottle
  • 3 gallons of purified water (totally unnecessary if you’re cool with hotel water)
  • 2 coolers and ice packs
  • paper plates and disposable silverware

Eat Out One Meal (Save Leftovers if You Can!)

Although we packed most of our own food as a way to save money and eat healthier, we went out to eat at Buffalo Phil’s to fill our bellies for lunch before checking into the Great Wolf Lodge. Buffalo Phil’s was recommended by a friend as its “train-delivered food” and “LEGO brick city” make it a fun place for kids and it’s close to the GWL. They open at 11:00 a.m. daily.

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Warning, there is a Knuckleheads trampoline park with games and rides attached. We walked through and it was very stimulating, so be prepared for that if you have a sensory kid. You certainly don’t have to go over there. We chose to walk around while waiting for our food.

To keep this vacation affordable and not blow our budget, we prepared our children that we were there to eat. We could look at the other things, but we were not spending money except for the meal and the stay at the lodge/waterpark.

Our kids each picked a meal off the kids’ menu, and my husband picked a burger with chips. I ordered a Texas Chicken Salad. It was yummy and HUGE, so it ended up being my lunch and dinner, which made our packed food go even further.


Packing Tips

Pack a pool bag with your gear for the waterpark.

  • Even though your room may not be ready until late afternoon (4pm was check-in time), you can use the waterpark anytime on the day of check-in. So have this bag ready and leave the rest of your luggage in the vehicle until your room is ready.

Pack beach towels or use your wristband to “checkout” beach towels from the lodge

  • Their towels are nothing fancy, but borrowing from the lodge can save space in your luggage; then you don’t have to worry about messing with wet towels either.
  • Note, you must return the towels or you’ll get charged (and they’re not worth the $15/piece they’ll charge you for them!). So keep track of the towels to save money on your trip.

Pack simple entertainment for downtime.

  • It’s easier to resist the urge to spend extra money doing additional activities if you bring a few fun things to do. Card games, books, traditional board games, puzzles, or activity books from around the house are easy to toss in.
  • Our kids also packed audiobooks, which they listened to in the car and before bed. CDs, a Toniebox, or Yoto Players (we have the Yoto Mini and love it!) are great for listening to all kinds of stories, podcasts, and music on the go. Don’t forget the headphones!! 🎧

Here are a few fun activity ideas all under $20 if you need something new:


Download the Great Wolf Lodge App

While I’m not a fan of downloading extra apps, the Great Wolf Lodge app is helpful during your stay.

It’s helpful to check what activities were going on around the lodge. It also has operating hours for the waterpark, activities, and attractions like the Northern Lights Arcade, Build-a-Bear Workshop, MagiQuest, Oliver’s Mining Sluice, and ShadowQuest.

You can see all the dining options and even order food and drinks from the app too.

Finally, there are extras like a lodge map, Spotify dance party playlist, camera filter, reminders, and more in the app. You can get the Great Wolf Lodge app here.


Our 2-Day Schedule for Great Wolf Lodge Stay

Our two-day itinerary looked something like this:

Day 1

  • After we packed up our food and clothes, we headed to Wisconsin Dells.
  • We ate a large lunch at Buffalo Phil’s.
  • We checked into the lobby at Great Wolf Lodge and got our waterpark wristbands (which are also room keys).
  • We had our swimming gear ready in our pool bag, so we just took that inside and left the rest of our luggage in our vehicle.
  • Check out towels using your wristband at the waterpark entrance.
  • Kids need to get measured and get a color-coded wristband to indicate which rides they’re tall enough for.
  • We walked through the indoor waterpark areas to check everything out.
  • We saw it was nice enough to go outside, so we headed to the outdoor waterpark area and found some lounge chairs.
  • We hung out at the outdoor and indoor waterparks, swimming and going on rides for hours.
  • Around supper time, we changed back into our dry clothes and headed out to our vehicle to bring the rest of our gear into our room.
  • We showered, ate a simple supper in the room, played some card games, and checked out the activities that were going on in the main lobby. The Great Wolf Lodge app is great for keeping track of the activities going on throughout your stay.
  • We went for a walk outside to check out the area.
  • We headed back to our room to relax for the evening, read our family book, and went to bed.
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Day 2

  • We woke up, enjoyed the quiet patio, ate sourdough pancakes for breakfast.
  • We prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the ride home.
  • We checked out the morning activities then geared up for the waterpark, which opened at 9:00 a.m.
  • Our second day was cooler, so we stayed at the indoor waterparks this day. We had a couple of snacks (beef sticks, granola bars, fruit snacks) and water in our pool bag to hold us over this day. We played and hung in the hot tub until everyone was tuckered and ready to head home.
  • We packed up, texted the concierge that we were leaving, and headed home.

As you can see, we kept it pretty simple, nothing over-the-top or too fancy, but it was still a wonderful trip our whole family enjoyed!


Have an Awesome Great Wolf Lodge Stay without Breaking the Bank!

Taking your family to Great Wolf Lodge for a couple of days can be an affordable way to get away from all the chores and responsibilities at home and have some fun together as a family. And thanks to the homeschool discount days, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

I hope this helped spark some ideas for how your family can enjoy the Great Wolf Lodge while saving some money.

If you have a tip to add to the article for other homeschooling families, email me at val @ thecommoncentsclub (dot) come

Val Breit

Val Briet helps women create a life they love with money hacks, productivity tips, unique gift ideas, and honest reviews to find products that are worth it!

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