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How Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine’s Renovation Made It Worse (And Better)

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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My family and I stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge near Dallas in Grapevine, Texas, in May 2023 and we returned in May 2024 to a renovated resort. Major renovations were just about finished when we visited this time, so we weren’t affected by construction, but we did have a slightly different experience.

Most of level 1 — the waterpark level — was changed, though the waterpark didn’t change at all. Great Wolf Lodge also made changes to how guests maneuver around the resort and some big updates to the lodge’s MagiQuest game.

Let’s look at how these changes affected our stay — good and bad — and what you can expect if you visit the updated Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine.

Limited Lobby Stairs

As we checked in, the first thing I noticed was a lack of stairs from the lobby — level 2 — to the floor below.

Here’s what the lobby looked like when we visited Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine in 2023, with stairs below the main staircase.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine lobby tower
The stairs in the lobby led to the first and third floors in 2023, but not anymore.

On this trip, though there was still a main staircase heading up to the third floor, there was no way to get directly from the lobby to the lower level. That made a big difference, as the lower level (the first floor) was where we accessed the waterpark, quick-service dining, arcade, and shopping. Instead of going directly from the lobby to the lower level, we had to walk down the long hallway on the lobby level past the gift shop, Starbucks, and restrooms and into the main elevator bank and stairs to get down to level 1.

From there, it was an even longer walk to the waterpark. Instead of landing at the bottom of the lobby stairs right at the waterpark entrance, we had to start from the elevator bank, walking past MagiQuest, restrooms, the arcade, dining, and even more long hallways.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine lobby stairs
This is where there used to be stairs in the lobby that made it convenient to visit the waterpark, dining, and shops downstairs.

I thought this was an odd renovation choice. Although it was easy enough to just walk to the stairs by the elevator bank and head down or back up, it added many more steps to our journey. In 2023, it was very easy to use the lobby stairs to pop up and down between the waterpark and the main gift shop, or head down to the arcade or waterpark after participating in lobby entertainment activities.

I didn’t understand why the stairs disappeared until we went down to the lower level.

Hot Tip:

The Grand Lobby’s redesign will highlight a new storytelling experience called “The Legend of Luna” which will feature a nightly snow flurry.

A Long Walk to the Waterpark

The first floor was majorly renovated. The stairs were removed, and a pretzel shop and hallway were put in their place. Another dramatic change: The waterpark entrance was much farther from any other points in the resort.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park shop
A view from Build-a-Bear (the old waterpark entrance) back to the elevator banks.

The walk to the waterpark started at the elevator bank and adjacent stairs — no more lobby stairs — and continued down the first-floor hallway, around a corner and down another hallway, and then around another corner with another hallway. That was much longer than it was in 2023.

Previously, we could either walk down the stairs from the lobby and be at the waterpark entrance or start at the elevator bank and walk down the main level 1 hallway to reach the park entrance without turning down additional hallways.

Here’s what the walk to the waterpark looked like in 2024, starting at the MagiQuest store near the elevator bank.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities level 1 renovation
A look down the level 1 hallway leading to the waterpark.

The Build-a-Bear shop moved into where the waterpark gift shop and entrance used to be. Instead of walking through this space, we took a right to continue following the way to the waterpark.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park entrance and Build a Bear Workshop
You can’t get to the waterpark through Build-a-Bear anymore. Keep following the signs!

Turning right at Build-a-Bear led us to another hallway past the pizza shop and gem mining store.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park walk
Keep going down the hallway to the waterpark.

Another turn led us to the final hallway and new entrance to the waterpark.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park walk continued
The new, carpeted hallway led to the waterpark entrance.

The old entrance to the waterpark — now the backside of Build-a-Bear — had a wall put up.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park entrance
This wall was where the gift shop waterpark entrance used to be.

The biggest impact of the renovated first floor was a longer, chillier walk back to our room from the waterpark. However, the new carpeted hallways made it easier not to encounter slippery spots as we left the park.

I wasn’t a fan of the lost stairs or the longer waterpark walk, but ultimately, neither of these changes was a deal-breaker. Getting around Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine was already a journey, and the renovation just added more steps. Still, a renovation should make moving around the resort easier, not harder.

Hot Tip:

With a longer walk from the waterpark to guest rooms, you might want to take a towel with you. You can keep the park towels as long as you’d like to during your stay, but you pay $15 each for any towels you haven’t returned before you’ve checked out of your room.

A New Pretzel Shop and Updated Ice Cream Shop — But Less Seating

One of most welcome additions from the renovation was a new pretzel shop. The new shop had coffee, smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and pretzels, including miniature hot dog pretzels and mozzarella-stuffed pretzel bites. It was nice to see breakfast on the menu here, as breakfast at the resort was previously limited to the breakfast buffet and cold items at the market.

My family loved the mozzarella-stuffed bites. We also got the garlic bites, which had a lot of flavor but were too salty because they had both regular and garlic salt.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage pretzel shop
We were happy to see Pretzelmaker near the waterpark entrance.

The ice cream shop stayed in the same place, but the front wall was opened up.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage Bear Paw Sweets Eats
The ice cream shop renovation took out the front wall and added some cute wolf art and ice cream lights.

Where there used to be a small seating section within the ice cream shop there was just an open space. I later saw why when I got into a long line for ice cream during the nightly lobby glow party. It was a popular time to grab a late-night snack! The line used up all of the shop’s space and snaked into the hallway.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage Bear Paw Sweets Eats entrance
The ice cream shop removed seating but added more room for ice cream lines.

The pizza shop, Hungry as a Wolf, also changed slightly. Instead of a single window for ordering and pickup, there were ordering kiosks around the corner from the pretzel shop and a separate pickup area. You could also place an order with an attendant at the pickup spot, but you had to wait in line with people picking up orders and then get in line again for pickup.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage hungry like a wolf pick up
The new pickup window at the pizza shop.

The lobby restaurant also got a refresh, but we didn’t visit in 2023 or 2024. From what I could tell, it was mainly a rebrand of the buffet restaurant from Loose Moose to Timbers Table & Kitchen.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage Timbers Table
The lobby restaurant refreshed from Loose Moose to Timbers Table.

The lobby gift shop had new offerings for candy buckets. I was amused by a water dump bucket just like the buckets at the waterpark. It came with a lid to avoid unexpected spills.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine food and beverage candy bucket
The lobby gift shop had a new water dump bucket for candy.

Although I liked the new food offerings, particularly the pretzel shop, the renovations again cut back on some of the resort’s functionality. There used to be a small seating area across from the pizza shop, but that area was repurposed with the renovation. That left 3 quick service dining spots in level 1 (plus a small market and popcorn shop) with zero chairs and tables.

We had a few places to sit down and eat food purchased on level 1, and none of them were very good. We could take our food into the waterpark, where there were tables and chairs near the Buckets quick-service restaurant, but those tables were often covered with the towels and belongings of people swimming in the park.

Another option was making the journey up to level 2, where there were a couple of tables and chairs near Starbucks, but those weren’t always available.

Finally, we could eat in our room, which required more walking and had limited dining space. Though our room was designed to sleep up to 6, our in-room table was small and had just 2 chairs, so it wasn’t a great spot for all 5 of us to eat.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine dining area
In 2023, I thought this dining area was too small to serve all of the level 1 dining, but it was completely gone in 2024.
Hot Tip:

The renovation will also add a full-service restaurant called Fireside, a FatBurger location, and The Outpost, a new outdoor bar in the outdoor pool area.

A Closed-In Arcade

The Northern Lights Arcade didn’t see major changes, but the entrance became much smaller. In 2023, we could see about half of the arcade from the walkway.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine activities Northern Lights Arcade
In 2023, the entrance spanned about half of the arcade.

In 2024, the arcade’s entrance was narrower and less visible. That didn’t impact our stay. However, I could see how a smaller entrance would make it easier for families with small children to keep their children contained in the arcade.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities arcade
In 2024, the arcade entrance was smaller.
Hot Tip:

New attractions will also be introduced, including laser tag at Laser Trail and mini-bowling at Ten Paw Alley.

Updated MagiQuest

Along with the first-floor renovations, the in-resort game MagiQuest got a major update. This live-action role-playing game is half of the reason we visit Great Wolf Lodge, as we spent about as much time playing MagiQuest as we did at the waterpark on our 2023 and 2024 visits. We liked the game elements in 2023 just fine but returned to find an enhanced game that was more accessible and had new characters.

In 2023, the MagiQuest shop — where we could purchase a wand to play the game — was past the waterpark entrance across from the gem mining shop.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine activities MagiQuest shop
In 2023, the MagiQuest shop was near gem mining.

In 2024, the MagiQuest shop was near the elevator bank on level 1 and had deeper theming throughout.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities MagiQuest walkway
In 2024, the MagiQuest shop moved closer to the elevators.

The new shop was appealing, with easy-to-choose wands and game merchandise. An interesting addition was merchandise for each of the game’s realms: Dewdream, Timberstone, Starcloud, and Undermoon. Each had an accompanying main character, like the fox Telltail from Undermoon.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities MagiQuest shop
The updated MagiQuest shop.

Aside from the shop changes, the gameplay changed, too. The biggest difference was condensing the game encounter floors from 8 to just 4. That was a hugely welcome addition, as in 2023, everyone got a little fed up with going up and down so many stairs.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine MagiQuest floors
In 2023, there were 8 floors of gameplay, and we had to go up and down so many stairs.

In 2024, we still had to tackle lots of stairs, but it moved up and down 1 or 2 floors rather than 4 or more to interact with the game elements. That meant we could just stick to going up and down the stairs instead of sometimes relying on the elevators to go up to much higher floors.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities MagiQuest floors
In 2024, MagiQuest was only on 4 floors, which made it easier to complete quests.

But with fewer floors devoted to the game, there was less space for gameplay elements. For example, a few of the gameplay floors in 2023 had encounter rooms, like the sixth-floor Pixie’s Perch. That room was walled off when we returned in 2024.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities MagiQuest Pixies Perch
In 2023, Pixie’s Perch extended the game into a room rather than just playing in the resort hallways.

Instead, the gameplay elements were entirely in the hallways rather than separate rooms. That complicated traffic moving throughout the hallways a little bit, but the updated elements looked and worked great.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities MagiQuest floor theming
In 2024, the interactive game elements were in the hallways, and all of them were refreshed with new theming.

What Didn’t Change at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine (But Should)

Aside from the entrance, the waterpark remained unchanged. That’s too bad because this main-draw attraction could benefit from updates.

One of the first things I look for at a waterpark is a lazy river, and this park’s river was disappointing. It was very short and narrow, tubes were always in extremely short supply, and there wasn’t much of a current. You can usually find me in the lazy river at waterparks, but not this one.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park lazy river
I’d love to see an updated lazy river.

Other water features could use repairs, like the worn-away concrete surrounding the Chinook Cove pool where the water met the edge.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine amenities water park pool
Some of the pools needed a refresh.

Overall, we were happy with our guest rooms in 2023 and 2024. However, with limited seating for quick-service dining in the resort, we generally ate in our room. Though the room was designed to accommodate up to 6 people, that was only for sleeping.

We had 2 chairs at a small table and a small chest as a coffee table at the sofa bed. That was the extent of our in-room dining space for 5, so it was pretty tight. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to add a table that could seat 4 or more in the guest rooms we stayed in.

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine guestroom dining and seating
Going to our room for meals was usually better than the alternatives, but we had limited space for dining.

Final Thoughts

Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine has nearly completed its $40 million renovation, and while some of the renovations made sense, others hurt the resort’s functionality. I didn’t like not being able to get to the waterpark directly from the lobby. Likewise, I wasn’t impressed by the much longer walk to the waterpark entrance.

However, the new pretzel shop was a hit with my family, and we all liked the updates to the resort’s MagiQuest game.

At the same time, there were a few changes I would have liked to see that weren’t addressed with the renovations, like updates to the waterpark and more seating for quick-service dining. Overall, nothing about the renovations changed enough of our experience that we will be more or less inclined to visit, as my family enjoys the waterpark, MagiQuest, and overall experience. We’re looking forward to visiting the new Great Wolf Lodge in Webster, Texas, soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine still renovating?

We encountered a few renovation tasks still underway in May 2024, but they were more like finishing touches than major renovations. We saw painting and a bit of construction debris — nothing noisy or hazardous. The Great Wolf Lodge website indicates the arcade will expand and there will be a small bowling alley. We didn’t see either of those during our May 2024 visit, so the renovations could continue to include them.

Is the Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine waterpark under construction?

No, during our visit to Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine in May 2024, the waterpark was not under renovation.

When does the Great Wolf Lodge in Webster open?

The new Great Wolf Lodge in Webster — serving the Houston area — is expected to open Labor Day weekend on August 29, 2024.

Do you have to stay at Great Wolf Lodge to visit the waterpark?

Day pass policies vary depending on which Great Wolf Lodge you’re visiting. Day passes are available at Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine.

Jessica Merritt's image

About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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