November 29, 2022

Basilico13

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How to Get the Best Deals at Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Aquatopia! – The Parenthood Adventures!

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Daily Price Comparison of The Poconos WaterParks: Great Wolf Lodge vs Kalahari vs Aquatopia. Which is the Cheapest & When? Which Poconos Water Park is the Best Value?

The Poconos are a great place to go for some water park fun – with Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge & Aquatopia all being within about 10 miles of each other. Between the 3 resorts there are a total of almost 2,000 rooms. So that gives you some opportunities to get a good deal at the place of your choice.

We have stayed at all three of the Poconos water park resorts as a family: Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Aquatopia. The all have their pros & cons – which we have covered extensively in our other posts. You can find those posts list towards the bottom of this post.

We compared the cost of all three Poconos waterparks for every night of the year (Ok- just September 1st, 2022 to July 2nd 2023 so far – since not all three have published prices for a full year yet) – to find out WHICH Poconos water park is the cheapest & when is the best time to go to each resort.

Suites/ Rooms we used for the Comparison

To make sure we were comparing apples-to-apples, we chose rooms that are the most comparable at each resort. We settled on using a room configuration that featured 2 queen beds and a queen sofa / pull-out bed. Each of the resorts may call this something different – but we made sure they included at least this this bed configuration of three queen beds (one being a sleeper sofa) that could sleep a total of 6 guests.

Below, you will find pictures, descriptions and the included amenities for the rooms at each of the Poconos waterpark resorts we used for our comparison.

Great Wolf Lodge – Phone (800) 768-9653

Standard Family Suite @ Great Wolf Lodge – in the Poconos Pennsylvania

Great Wolf Lodge Standard Family Suite Room Details

  • Waterpark admission included
  • Two queen-size beds
  • Semi-private living area with a full-size sofa sleeper
  • 32-inch TV in semi-private living area (where the sleeper sofa is)
  • Full bath
  • Security safe
  • Mini-fridge
  • Coffee maker
  • Hair dryer
  • Table & chairs
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Free over-night parking

Kalahari – Phone (877) 525-2427

Double Queen Sofa room @ Kalahari – in the Poconos Pennsylvania

Kalahari Double Queen Sofa Room Details

  • Waterpark admission included
  • Microwave
  • Refrigerator (mini)
  • Coffee maker
  • Full-bath
  • Table & chairs
  • Ironing board & iron
  • In-room security safe
  • HD Television
  • Complimentary access to fitness center
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Free over-night parking

Aquatopia – Phone (570) 629-1665

Double Queen Suite @ Camelback’s Aquatopia – in the Poconos Pennsylvania

Aquatopia Double Queen Suite Room Details

  • Waterpark admission included
  • Microwave
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • In-room security safe
  • HD Television
  • Full-bath
  • Vanity outside of bathroom
  • Table & chairs
  • ADDITIONAL $25 CHARGE FOR OVERNIGHT PARKING!

Notes & Methodology (Click the “+”)

  • All prices reflect taxes & fees. In the case of Aquatopia – a $25 fee has been added for parking – since most guest park a car & incur this fee.
  • Please keep in mind that this analysis reflects a snapshot in time. Prices are dynamic, and you may find pricing to be different than indicated here.
  • I have used the “Heat Map” feature in Google Sheets to help make the voluminous data more easily digestible & understandable at a quick glance.
  • The darker green the shade of the cell – the better.
  • The darker red the cell – the worse.
  • The best months for booking each of the resorts was determined by weighing both the frequency of the lowest price occurring in that month as well as the average monthly price for the resort.
  • Aquatopia has a 7-night minimum stay for the dates of December 26th through January 2nd. Nothing shows as available – So I used the December 25th price throughout that time frame. I also chatted with a rep to try to determine the actual cost per night during that time,but was unsuccessful. I even requested the cost for December 26th 2023 – January 2nd, 2024 – to no avail (they don’t have rates published that far out).
  • Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is closed from September 18th through September 22nd, 2022, for maintenance.
  • Aquatopia offers a AAA discount, at least until through the end of 2022. When I called in August – they could not confirm (nor did their website indicate) a AAA discount for 2023 like it does for 2022.
  • Great Wolf Lodge also offers a AAA discount. You need to enter “AAA” into the “Offer Code” field when looking for a room price. You will also need to provide your AAA Membership number.
  • Kalahari does NOT offer a AAA discount. However, they do offer a discount for military, police, fire fighter and EMT personnel.
  • The VAST majority of data was collected on August 24th, 2022.
  • As of August 24th, 2022, no July 2023 or August 2023 data available from Great Wolf Lodge.
  • As of August 24th, 2022, no August 2023 data was available for Kalahari.
  • AAA data for Great Wolf Lodge was collected on August 25th, 2022.
  • All rooms were priced indicating 6 guests – 2 adults and 4 kids, ages 5, 10, 12 & 13.

Price Comparison & Analysis: Great Wolf Lodge vs Kalahari vs Aquatopia

Here is my analysis of the data we collected – pricing a stay in comparable rooms for every day at all three resorts between the dates of September 1st, 2022 & July 2nd, 2023.

Guide for interpreting the various “Heat Maps”

  • Green is GOOD,
  • Darker Green is BETTER.
  • Red is BAD, &
  • Darker Red – is REALLY BAD!

1) Daily Price Chart For Night Stay @ Each Resort

This chart shows you the price for each night at Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Aquatopia. The Date & Day of the Week are listed on the left side of the chart. Red shaded cells are the more expensive nights and the green shaded cells are the cheaper nights.

Please scroll to see all of the months.

2) Line Graph Price Comparison

This graphs shows the trend of prices over the 10 months examined and the price spikes on the weekends.

3) Average Cost per Night @ Each Resort

This chart shows the average cost per night for each Poconos water park for the period of September 1st, 2022 to July 2nd, 2023.

This chart ALSO shows the highest & lowest price per night observed at each resort throughout the same time-period.

4) Average Cost per Night for a Given Month

In this chart I break out the average cost further – by showing the average cost per night – by month. This allowed me to better identify the more expensive & least expensive months for each resort.

5) Specific Dates & Frequency of Highest & Lowest Price per Night

This is the table that shows the SPECIFIC dates that are the cheapest to go to each of the Poconos water parks. From this table I also tallied the FREQUENCY of those lowest price instances for each of the observed months.

6) Lowest Price Frequency by Month

This shows my tallies of the frequency of the lowest price per night observed for each of the water parks by MONTH.

7) Weekend Penalty

This chart shows the difference between the average cost per WEEKEND night at each resort COMPARED to the average cost per night of a WEEKDAY. Since the cost to stay at any of the three resorts is almost always more expensive on the weekend – I coined the term “Weekend Penalty” to express this difference.

8) Best / Worst times to Go to Poconos Water Park

This chart summarizes, based on both average cost per month & frequency of lowest price, the best and worst months to stay at Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari & Aquatopia.

Observations & Conclusions

  • For the period of September 1st, 2022 – July 2nd, 2023 – Kalahari has the distinct honor of having the lowest cost for the priced room @ $314.77 (including taxes & fees), as well as the HIGHEST COST for a room @ $1,259.58! The lowest cost occurred 3 times – all in October. The highest cost was offered on February 18th, 2023 (which is a Saturday).
  • The lowest cost of $370.58 for Great Wolf Lodge (non-AAA membership rate) occurred a WHOPPNG 83 times during the period of September 1st, 2022 -July 2nd, 2023).
    • 10 of occurrences were in September
    • 7 were in October
    • 10 in November
    • 9 in December
    • 12 in February
    • 2 in March
    • 6 in April
    • 21 in May
    • 6 in June
  • The lowest price of $316.08 for AA members @ Great Wolf Lodge occurred 21 times.
    • 8 instances in September
    • 1 instance in October
    • 4 in November
    • 1 in December
    • 1 in April
    • 6 instances in May
  • On average, for the period examined, Great Wolf Lodge offered (for AAA members) the lowest price for the room for their double queen bed suite (with queen sleeper sofa) @ $449.28, while Aquatopia had the highest average price (regardless of price being quoted was for AAA members or not) @ $509.59 (non-AAA membership rate) and $500.18 (for AAA members).
  • The average cost of staying at the resorts during the week is lowest @ Great Wolf Lodge with the AAA price ($405.32), followed by Kalahari ($436.90) & Great Wolf Lodge without the AAA membership discount ($438.86).
  • The Weekend Penalty (difference between the average cost to stay at the resort on a weekday versus the weekend) is greatest @ Kalahari @ $176.60, and lowest at @ Aquatopia ($66.01).
  • Considering the FREQUENCY of the lowest price by month & the AVERAGE PRICE by month, the best months to stay at each resort are:
    • Great Wolf Lodge – September, March May & June
    • Kalahari – October, May & June
    • Aquatopia – September, October, November & May

Tips to Save Money – When Booking a Poconos Waterpark Vacation

  • Be Flexible with regards to the dates of your visit.
    • Mid-week is generally cheaper than the weekends. Most times, SIGNIFICANTLY so!
    • Stay away from peak weeks/months. Prices are significantly elevated at those times.
  • Compare the prices at all 3 waterparks. If you are somewhat indifferent to which Poconos resort you patronize – you should be able to compare & save some money!
  • Use your AAA membership to get a discount.
    • Aquatopia offers a AAA discount, at least until through the end of 2022. When I called in August – they could not confirm (nor did their website indicate) a AAA discount like it does for 2022.
    • Great Wolf Lodge also offers a AAA discount. You need to enter AAA into the “Offer Code” field when looking for a room price. You will also need to provide your AAA Membership number.
    • Kalahari does NOT offer a AAA discount. However, they do offer a discount for military, police, fire fighter and EMT personnel.
  • Some service professions (like military / police / fire, etc) get a discount at the waterparks.
    • Kalahari – offers a discount for military, police, fire fighter and EMT personnel.
    • Great Wolf Lodge – Exclusive discount for military (active, retired and veteran), fire, emergency medical service personnel, doctors, nurses, 911 dispatchers, police and correctional officers.
    • Aquatopia – Up to 15% off for members of the military.
  • AARP
    • Great Wolf Lodge offers AARP discounts of up to 25%. Use “AARP” as the offer code when checking room availability. See here for details: GWL-AARP
  • Book early! By booking early, you have the best chance to get what you want, when you want it. Prices are dynamic & change in response to demand!
  • Book last minute. If the water park resort has unbooked rooms – you might get a last-minute deal. However, you also risk not being able to stay if they are all booked up!
  • Check 3rd party websites like Hotels.com & Expedia.com (I haven’t had much luck with this)
  • Use Microsoft Edge as your browser – Microsoft Edge has a feature that will automatically look for applicable coupons for any website you are shopping on. This has saved me money in the past, and is one of the reasons I use Edge instead of Chrome.
  • Sign up for newsletters, discounts & special packages from all three Poconos water parks.
  • Show up early to maximize your waterpark time!. Even if you get to the resort before your room is ready – you should be able to gain admission to the waterpark. Ask at the front desk – and they should be able to accommodate your request. Waterpark hours of operation are as follows:
Great Wolf Lodge Kalahari Aquatopia
10:00-8:00 DAILY SUNDAY – THURSDAY: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (opening 9:30 AM for Resort Guests)
FRIDAY & SATURDAY: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (opening 9:30 AM for Resort Guests)
SUNDAY- THURSDAY: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
FRIDAY & SATURDAY: 10:0
Water park hours of operations
  • Consider other types of rooms. If you are staying at Great Wolf Lodge – consider a Kid Cabin Suite. It can sleep 6 – 7 guests and is generally cheaper than the Standard Family Suite. The difference is that the Standard Family Suite offers 2 queen sized beds and a queen /full-size sleeper sofa. The Kid Cabin offers a single queen size bed, the full-size sleeper sofa & 3 twin beds. You can see the details of that type of room HERE.
  • Get take-out from one of the resort’s restaurants and eat in either a common area or your room!

If you are interested in even more comparisons between the Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari and Aquatopia in the Poconos area – we have a couple of other posts you might be interested in checking out!

Poconos Waterpark Comparison Guide: Kalahari versus Aquatopia & Great Wolf Lodge!

Great Wolf Lodge vs. Kalahari vs. Camelback’s Aquatopia! The Poconos Water Park Showdown

Sincerely,

Chip