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What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park with a Preschooler

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

Disclaimer: I worked with the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/ Concord, North Carolina, in order to produce this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Who wouldn't love to splash and play in a massive indoor water park for a few days? The answer, I decided, was probably no one (or, at least, no one I wanted to hang out with), so I knew that I had to head up to the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina, for some watery fun.

It was my first trip alone with both kids, and I was terrified a bit nervous about juggling a preschooler and a 6 month old by myself, all while working on activities and photos that would be good enough for a blog post. I'm one of those just-rip-the-bandaid-off-quickly people, so I decided that I might as well jump into my first trip with 2 little kids before I chickened out completely and had to become a stay-at-home food blogger. (Your taste buds will be glad that I've decided to stick with travel blogging!)

So, off we went to Great Wolf Lodge with a preschooler and an infant. Spoiler alert: I shouldn't have worried at all! There's SO much to do here with little kids, and the property is set up for families to have fun safely.


Even though it's a family destination, there's not a lot online about what to do at Great Wolf Lodge with a preschooler or toddler, so here are my 4-year-old's top picks from our visit.

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

Preschooler Activities in the Indoor Water Park

While little ones won't be able to take full advantage of the water park offerings (no giant slides!), there's still plenty to occupy those in the 2-5 year old crowd. Grab one of the free lifejackets from the stands set up around the perimeter of the park, and head in!

Fort McKinley and Totem Towers

There are stairs to climb, water guns to shoot at unsuspecting passersby, and the perfect lookout point for the rest of the park: expect to spend lots of time at Fort McKinley while you're here.

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

Totem Towers are the only 2 water slides that younger kids can go on, so see if your toddler or preschooler wants to try them. The slides are tall, but they look more intimidating that they really are. The water moves quite slowly, and there's a lifeguard at top and bottom to help your tot if there's trouble.

Little ones might also like the bucket dump here; it's over 1000 gallons of water that roars down over Fort McKinley every 5 minutes. It's intense, but it's a lot of fun.

Racoon Lagoon

The first day we were there gave us perfect indoor water park weather: it was unseasonably cool for May in North Carolina, and it rained on and off all day. However, on the second day of our stay, the weather turned warm and sunny, so we tried out Raccoon Lagoon, the outdoor pool at Great Wolf Lodge.

It was tough to pull my preschooler away from this area! She liked throwing the basketballs at the goals and getting drenched from the massive water tower when it erupted every few minutes.

I liked that it was only 3 feet at the deepest, so I could sit by the side of the pool with Gibson, my infant, while Britton had fun with the other kids.

Whooping Hollow and Cub Paw Pool

This area is completely enclosed, so you can keep your runner contained! The 3 slides are much less intense than the ones over at Fort McKinley, and you could help build your little one's confidence by starting here. The water level never gets above 1.5 feet, so I felt comfortable letting Britton run around while I sat in the shallow in with her baby brother.

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

There are also jet skis and a seesaw to climb on, water guns to shoot, and small buckets of water to splash bathers.

Slap Tail Pond

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

I did not expect Britton to love this area as much as she did. It's a zero entry wave pool, but, other than the waves, there aren't any toys or slides here. Yet, she spent more time in the pond than she did anywhere else.

The waves are pretty gentle if you stay in the first 25 feet or so, and Britton only got pushed over when she felt like flopping around with the waves. The bottom is only lightly textured, so if your child does fall, he or she isn't going to scrape up their knees and elbows getting back up. In short, it's the most kid-friendly wave pool I've visited.

Preschooler Activities Elsewhere in Great Wolf Lodge

Sooner or later, your little one will be in danger of turning into a raisin at the pool, and you'll have to get him or her out (probably kicking and screaming). After drying off and requiring some rest time--or an outright nap--it's off to explore the rest of the Lodge! Put on those wolf ears that you got at check-in, grab the camera, and get ready for some family fun.

Face Painting in the Great Hall

It's free, but there's a very long line--and the employees will cut off the line after a certain point. Get there at least 10 minutes before the painting is set to start.

Meet and Greet with Wiley and Friends

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

If your little one wants a picture with Wiley the Wolf and his friends, you'll want to make plans to attend one of the many meet and greets throughout the day. We went to two (one at night and one in mid-morning), and only had to wait about 5 minutes at each. There's usually a line, but employees keep things moving at a brisk pace.

Early Morning Yoga

They provide the mats, you provide the aspiring yogi. The session lasts about 20 minutes and is focused around easy yoga moves that coordinate with a woodlands-related story.

Nightly Story Time

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

The story is centered around Wiley and his friends, so this is a good way to get to know more about the mascots behind the Lodge. Plan on staying for 20 minutes for the full story. The reader uses a large print, giant storybook so that kids even in the back can see the pictures.

The Great Clock Tower Show

The animatronics aren't as slick as those you'll see at the big family theme parks, but the animals are cute and the songs are catchy. Mine loved it so much that she wanted to walk out of her breakfast the next day so she could watch it again. (A meltdown nearly occurred when I told her we were mid-meal, but, thankfully, a quick pancake diversion saved us!)

Souvenir Coin Press

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

This is Britton's new favorite thing to do on our travels. I'm all for it since it's a cheap and easy way to remember the fun things we've done (and it doesn't take up a ton of room!). If your kid loves souvenir pennies as much as mine does, head for the machine in the lobby near the gift shop entrance.

Northern Lights Arcade

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

While most of the activities are too savvy or complicated for preschoolers, there are several cute options for younger visitors. Britton had a blast on the carousel and fire truck, but little kids will also like some of the easier, non-riding games, as well.

Preschooler Approved Eating Options

Overall, the menus at Great Wolf Lodge are catered towards typical kid food: chicken nuggets, fries, pizza, and hamburgers. Among those offerings, we found a few spots that my preschooler loved.

Dessert at Bear Paw Sweets and Eats

Fudge and ice cream and cookie sandwiches: the possibilities are endless! If you've got a sweet tooth, this is the place to go. Britton's favorite pick was a worms in dirt pudding cup, while I loved the M&M fudge and sugar cookies.

Breakfast Buffet at Loose Moose Cottage

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

My kid is obsessed with breakfast. She can take down waffles and eggs and ham and fruit cups like it is her job. That's why I decided to splurge on a breakfast buffet on our second morning: I knew that Britton would eat well, and there would be a great variety of foods there.

I wasn't disappointed: the food was fresh (and frequently refilled), tasty, and plentiful. We both enjoyed Great Wolf Lodge-themed waffles, french toast, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelets, and yogurt. There's also cereal, grits, hard boiled eggs, bacon, and sausage, if that's your thing.

Best of all, kids under 4 eat free!

Pasta at Hungry as a Wolf

I may have the only preschooler on the planet who doesn't eat pizza. Since that's Hungry as a Wolf's main focus, I decided to delve into their lesser menu items for something Britton would eat. We hit the jackpot with their Fettuccine Alfredo: my preschooler devoured her portion.

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com
Dining al fresco as we eat our pasta

While it might not have been the best version of the dish that I'd ever tried, it was filling, creamy, and quite good for mass produced pasta. We ordered the half portion (for 2-4 people), and had generous portions with extras leftover for lunch the next day.

Final Thoughts

Don't wait until your kid is older to go to Great Wolf Lodge because there's plenty to do at the resort with your preschooler!

When you're completing your Great Wolf Lodge booking, ask for a room close to the lobby so those little feet won't have to walk so far every time you need a snack or a trip to the pool.

Aside from the things listen above, there are a few other attractions that mature preschoolers might like including the make-your-own-stuffed-animal experience, but most of the other activities you'll hear about are for kids a bit older. Skip MagiQuest until they're older, along with the morning Wolf Walk: we tried both of these and neither kept my preschooler's interest.

You'll just have to plan another trip in a few more years to try out everything else. (As if I needed another excuse to travel!)


Have you visited a Great Wolf Lodge resort before? What did you think?

What to Do at Great Wolf Lodge with a Preschooler | CosmosMariners.com

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