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Insider tips: How to save on indoor waterparks

One of our best family getaways was a few years ago at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. It came highly recommended by a friend and we had the time of our lives. I was especially pleased that we packed so much fun in, on a budget. These tips can help you save on indoor waterparks to afford an otherwise expensive vacation.

Insider tips: How to save on indoor waterparks

Save Money on Water Parks

Book on a sale

Research the best rate possible on this getaway. Sign up for promotional emails delivering savings right to your inbox. Watch for sales through sites like Groupon, Living Social etc.that offer deals because of group buying power.

Great Wolf Lodge prices can range by about $400, depending on the room choice and day of the visit. Many promotions require a 2-night stay. The first time we went we got a deal on a one-night stay. To our surprise, there was a voucher outside our room when we woke up inviting us to add a night at a deep discount. I suspect they offer this regularly to fill vacancies, making it even cheaper than booking 2-nights upfront.

Make it an experience gift

A trip to an indoor waterpark makes an excellent gift if anyone is asking for ideas. Or consider taking the family there in lieu of birthday parties – that way it can come out of the birthday party and entertainment fund.

Arrive as early as possible

You may not be able to check into your room until late afternoon, but most waterparks will let you use their facilities as soon as they open in the morning. Call ahead to see when the earliest arrival time is.

Send one adult to check-in

Many people will try to check in around the recommended time of 4:00. During our first visit, our whole family lined up to check-in at the peak time. The next year, I stayed in the waterpark with the children while my hubby (thanks hon!) checked us into our rooms and took our luggage to the room. This added at least an hour to our waterpark time.

Stay as late as possible

If you stay one night, you can get two full waterpark days. Our experience has been that 2 days at a waterpark is plenty. And booking just one night of accommodations really helps you save on indoor waterparks.

Bring your own food

Eating at indoor waterparks can quickly become a huge budget buster. Pack items that can easily be made in a hotel room. We bring hot chocolate, oatmeal, and cereal for breakfast. We pack cold cuts and buns or hot dogs for lunch with cold drinks. And we order in a pizza for our dinner. Of course, poolside fries and ice cream are a necessary splurge according to our boys.

Split the bill

Traveling with friends is always fun and can help cut costs. Research a larger suite that could fit both families and it might even be cheaper than getting separate rooms. Plus it may have a full living room and kitchen.

I am on a quest to help families have high-value fun for a low price. I hope these tips will help you be able to afford a visit to an indoor waterpark.

Did I miss any tips for saving on these types of vacations? Please share in the comments.


  1. Brenda

    Re: #4. How do you get into the water park before checking in? I thought you needed arm bands and passes?

  2. Karen G

    Brenda – thanks for that question, I can see that is unclear. Each waterpark has a time when you can get your arm bands – and that is often a few hours before your actual room is ready. For example, you might be allowed to play at the waterpark at 1:00 even if your room is not ready until 4:00.

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