Adventure in Concord, NC
Our family is not new to the Great Wolf Lodge experience. It really is a one-stop-shop family vacation that is completely affordable when you take into account that a fun and exciting waterpark is included with your stay. The Great Wolf Lodge of Lagrange Georgia, near Atlanta, has always been our "home park". But for this year's trip, we wanted to try something a little different. Every GWL is different in someway. This led us to choosing our next closest location in Concord, North Carolina. The major difference between the Concord location and the Lagrange location is definitely what you can do outside of the park. The Lagrange location is pretty isolated. There is not much appeal to venture outside of the park/hotel itself. Concord/Charlotte offers so much more to do. There is a simulated skydiving area, a top golf attraction, and aquarium (more about that in a minute) just a short drive outside and away from the GWL. There is also a very nice mall with tons of shopping that also has an amazing food court. The biggest take away from my reviews for any GWL is that one to two nights is definitely enough, especially during the winter. However, the Concord/Charlotte location does make longer stays appealing if you are willing to venture outside the hotel. Due to Covid, and capacity specifics, there were not a lot of restaurant options inside the GWL Concord location. This got us to venturing outside the hotel to the Crafty Crab seafood restaurant. It was absolutely delicious but with some questionable background music. Aside from the loud "club" style music, our service and food was
NC location? or GA location?
The hotel/waterpark size, the updates, and choices of add-ons that you can do, was quite better at the Lagrange GA location, in my opinion. During our stays there, we never wanted to leave. We were also done and ready to leave after only two nights. It should be noted that GWL allows you to visit the water park at 1 PM before your room is even ready at check-in and allows you to use the water park until 8 PM the day that you check out even though room check out is at 11 AM. Being able to still use the waterpark after check out, allows you to experience so much more, even after your stay is technically done. For this reason I tell people that 99% of the GWL can be a accomplished with only having one night's stay. That, of course, is if you time and schedule everything a certain way. I recommend that people arrive as early as possible because all of the add-ons are accessible to you as soon as you walk in, such as; bowling, the arcade, shopping, lobby activities, and more. So if you time everything just right, you can get a full experience with 1 to 2 nights booked. This makes the GWL an extremely affordable family vacation destination. Once you have broken down the price for one night stay, to show everything included, you can decide if you would like to upgrade your room to one of the themed suites. These rooms are so fun and immersive. Bunkbeds, that look like they are nestled inside a giant tree, make for a unique experience for the kiddos.
Just outside the GWL Concorde location in North Carolina, you will find an abundance of attractions to keep you busy when you need a little break from the waterpark. If shopping is on your list of things to do while on vacation, the local mall right across the highway is actually quite good. And within this mall, is a small hidden gem, known as Sea Life. Sea Life is a franchise aquarium that educates and captivates kids of all ages. Throughout the entire aquarium, there are several marine experts, that will educate you on different creatures throughout the tanks. This also includes a hands-on exhibit as well. I highly recommend upping your ticket to a behind the scenes tour (once construction is complete) to see how it all works. Behind the scenes tours are currently suspended for renovation but are set to be complete in the very near future. If you are able to visit Sea Life, ask for Jasmine, even if only to just say "hello" because she will definitely brighten your day with her amazing personality and endless amount of information on Sea Life and its residents.
Know before you go:
Cocktails and food inside the GWL are quite pricey. Thankfully the GWL allows you to bring outside food and drinks to your hotel room. I would fully take advantage of bringing sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for yourself and your children to save some money (and time). Each hotel room is equipped with a microwave and a mini refrigerator.
There are three different passes that you can purchase. Each pass includes several attractions, candy, ice cream and more, that ends up saving you 20% to 30% if the plan is to do all of those things while you were there. I highly recommend getting the passes for your Littles. Magi quest is one of the main attractions at the GWL, aside from the waterpark. It is a fun interactive game that requires a wand that is activated by the wand shop. Along with a small booklet/guide, you embark on a quest to collect different stones, electronically, by waving your wand at certain items that are stationed throughout the hotel. By waving your wand, some of the different locations will interact with you. This is always a fun highlight for our kids an is fun to do just before bedtime since it runs until 11pm.
During our stay, the hotel was filled to 85% capacity. Even at 85% capacity, our Saturday seemed quite crowded. The waterpark opens at 10 AM so it is important that you go about 20 to 30 minutes early to stand in line for the doors to open so that you can claim a good seat or table to put your belongings at. Those tables and seats fill up very fast. The line to get through the doors will seem long but the moment the doors open it moves very fast. Some of the food at the GWL offers mobile order which I highly encourage. Not really sure why, but this recent stay at the Concord/Charlotte location included lots of long waits. Long waits for food, long waits for slides in the water park, long waits for even coffee at their Dunkin' shop. I guess you could say that the old saying, "the early bird gets the worm", is very true at this location.
Remember to bring multiple swimsuits. With a giant fun water park just outside your hotel room, you will want to break up your water activities with other fun activities throughout the hotel. No one likes to put back on a cold wet swimsuit so bring several for comfort.
Due to the Charlotte/Concord location being in a colder environment, and the ropes course being outdoors, it is only offered during the summer months. This was disappointing to our son because he really wanted to try the ropes course this year. The ropes course at the Lagrange location is indoors but he was too small to do it on our last trip. Speaking of outdoor attractions, the putt putt course is also located outside, so be sure to bring warm clothes and such, for that activity if visiting during the winter.
During the summer the Great Wolf Lodge offers an outdoor pool area. The outdoor pool at the Lagrange location is, by far, nicer than the outdoor pool at the North Carolina location. We spent several hours at the outdoor pool in Lagrange sipping on margaritas and watching the kids swim. Keep this in mind when trying to decide how long your stay should be. I could easily spend all day sitting out in the sun, by a pool, sipping on margaritas. If you feel the same, consider maybe adding on one additional night to your stay if you are booking during the warmer weather.
I hope that this has been informative and helpful! Please comment below if you are planning a trip to either location in the future. Cheers!
The Adventurous Alfords