A Review of the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington (Minneapolis), Minnesota from a Disney Season Pass Family
This is a 100% honest, 100% authentic Great Wolf Lodge, Bloomington, MN review. Dadtography was not compensated in any way for this post.
All images are Dadtography originals. Please don't use our photos without permission.
Minneapolis is such a great city. There's so much to do - from the Minnesota Twins MLB team, to the arts, outdoor activities, restaurants and bars. MPLS has it all.
I've personally driven past the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, MN dozens of times. Most of those times were before it was actually a Great Wolf Lodge, though. Prior to becoming part of Great Wolf, the water park was known as the Water Park of America, and the hotel was a Radisson. Great Wolf purchased the property in early 2017 and put over $30M into a renovation.
I never visited the hotel prior to the acquisition by Great Wolf, but I knew, sooner or later, I'd end up staying there. I mean, how can you resist a hotel with an indoor water park in Minnesota? Here's a review of my experience from our July, 2018 stay.
What is the Great Wolf Lodge?
In short, it's a hotel with an indoor water park, in this case, right next door to the Mall of America.
As mentioned, the hotel that is now the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington hasn't always been a Great Wolf. According to the website, Great Wolf has 17 locations open, mostly in the US with one in Canada at Niagara Falls. There's also one location "coming soon" as of this review in Scottsdale / Salt River, AZ as well.
This is our first and only experience we've had with Great Wolf Lodge so far, but there is one open now somewhat close to us in Atlanta, GA. I hope to visit that location so that I have something to compare my experience in Bloomington to.
Great Wolf Lodge combines a rustic atmosphere of a mountain lodge with an indoor water park. This hotel chain is definitely geared toward families with children.
While the water park is fun for all (including adults) many of the other indoor activities are probably better suited for a younger audience. Although, maybe I'm just saying that because my teenager doesn't like to do anything except play video games.
Here are a few highlights of what Great Wolf Lodge features:
- Water Slides - both large and small
- A Lazy River
- Indoor water park for smaller children
- A Wading / Wave Pool
- Character Appearances
- Story Time
- Live & Animated Shows
- Some have mini golf courses
- Rock Climbing Wall
- Ropes Course
- Mini-Bowling Alley
- Fitness Center
How is the location of the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington?
A location next to one of the biggest malls in the world can be both a good and a bad thing.
The location of the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington is pretty hard to beat - if you're a family and you like malls, at least.
One of the biggest malls in the world is located within walking distance of the hotel - the Mall of America, of course. Although, be careful crossing the streets, for sure.
The Great Wolf Lodge is also close to the Minneapolis / St. Paul International Airport (MSP). It took us only about 10 minutes to go from the hotel to the airport for our flight out, which was pretty awesome.
In addition to the mall and airport, there's a ton of stuff to do in the immediate area, with lots of restaurants and bars. Few are within walking distance, but many are just a short drive.
Downtown Minneapolis is about 15 minutes away, depending upon traffic.
How are the food options at the Great Wolf Lodge?
As a parent, not impressive but if you're a kid, they're right up your alley.
When it comes to our meals during our stay at Great Wolf, the kids loved the options for food available inside the hotel and my wife and I were pretty "meh" about them.
Our boys frequented "Buckets", which was a fast-food style eatery right next to some of the water slides. It was about what you would expect - mostly burgers, hot dogs, french fries and the like.
Our boys also liked "Hungry as a Wolf", which is the Great Wolf's pizza joint.
My wife and I didn't really partake in either of these. Instead, we did "date nights" outside of the hotel and found local restaurants nearby while the boys stayed behind and played in the water park together. This worked wonderfully for us.
How is the condition of the hotel and water park?
Because, you know, 8 year olds have standards.
One of the things the things the Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington has going for it is the relatively recent purchase of the hotel and subsequent renovation.
As mentioned, a $30M+ renovation of the hotel was done in 2017 / 2018 when Great Wolf acquired the property.
I don't have a list of what was done, but clearly the property was converted to be more in-line with the standards of the Great Wolf brand. I'm sure attention was paid to the quality and safety of the park as well.
Considering how much use the park and hotel receive, I found it to be in good overall condition. Now, don't mistake a well-maintained property for a luxury one.
The Great Wolf Lodge is not a luxury hotel. You won't find top-of-the-line appointments and fixtures. What you will find is a quality hotel, decent rooms and a hotel that wouldn't scare away even picky consumers. I know, because I am one.
Hopefully, Great Wolf invests the time and money to maintain their properties. I'm sure they take a beating from all the children that stay in their hotels. Poor maintenance, over time, could be enough to turn a "good" hotel into one to avoid.
How are the rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge?
There are a lot of different room type options available at most Great Wolf Lodge hotels - Great Wolf calls them suites, as an all-suite hotel.
Our room at the Great Wolf in Bloomington was a "Deluxe Bunk Bed Suite". You can see a few photos below, or by clicking here. The photos we've posted of the room are not edited.
Our room was considered the "standard" room. My boys loved the bunk beds, so that was cool. Overall, the room was pretty spacious, with a queen size bed, a couch, a flat-screen TV a small table and chairs and a large amount of counter space.
The bathroom, on the other hand, was quite small and didn't include a sink inside the bathroom. It was a tub / shower, toilet and door. That's it. The tub was a nice gesture, but we never used it. It wasn't exactly a spa-like atmosphere in the bathroom, but that's not why we visited this hotel, either. It definitely wasn't big enough for even two people to be in the bathroom at the same time.
I guess that's okay, because that would be kinda weird anyway.
In addition to the Deluxe Bunk Bed Suite, here are the other room options available:
- Deluxe Bunk Bed Suite (Accessible) - This accessible suite features one queen bed, one full sofa sleeper and one set of twin bunk beds.
- Family Suite - This suite includes two queen beds as well as a living area with a full-size sofa sleeper.
- Family Suite (Accessible) - This suite includes two queen beds as well as a living area with a full-size sofa sleeper and an accessible bathtub.
- Queen Sofa Suite - This suite includes one queen bed and a full-size sofa sleeper, accommodating up to four people.
- Queen Sofa Suite (Accessible) - This accessible suite includes one queen bed and is perfect for up to two people.
- Junior Queen Sofa Suite - This suite features one queen bed, and one twin-size sleeper chair.
- Deluxe Family Suite (Accessible) - Accessible suite featuring two queen beds in a private bedroom and full-size sofa sleeper.
Here are a few thoughts on the cost and value of the Great Wolf Lodge.
There is a crap ton of stuff to do in the Great Wolf Lodge. Yes, some of it you have to pay "extra" for. This is true.
As mentioned, my family didn't really do any of the other activities available at Great Wolf that cost extra. We were in it for access to the water park, and for us, that was more than enough to entertain us for the three or so days we stayed.
If we had stayed longer, we may have done some of the other stuff, like the rock wall and ropes course, for sure. I'm not quite sure how I feel about paying extra for that stuff, though.
I mean, from a business perspective I get it - that's one of the ways they keep the room prices relatively low. They do often run specials on room rates, so it's pretty important to ask if they have anything. Especially in the off-season (which probably varies by location), you can get some pretty good rates.
I think for our stay we paid just over $100 a night for week night stays in July. Not bad!
I think the value for what you get if you're able to get a discounted rate is great. Even if you're not, $170 - $180 a night for a hotel with a full water park isn't a bad value, in my opinion.
Great Wolf Lodge - Bloomington, MNVaries - Check Rates
Hotel & Water Park Fun Factor10.0/10
Room Size (Standard)8.5/10
Hotel Cost & Value9.5/10
- Located right next to the Mall of America
- Has a full-size water park indoors!
- Standard rooms are decent size; also offer suites
- Lots of water slides and a lazy river!
- A great overall value for the cost
- Adult dining options are limited
- Above-average priced in-house dining options
- Pro Tip: BYO Wine
- Can be seasonally busy and feel crowded