This year we ended summer at Great Wolf Lodge. Ordinarily I would rather spend a week at the beach, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us since O had kindergarten orientation, etc. the one week he had off this summer. So we spent 2 nights at Great Wolf Lodge, and thankfully I found a good deal that made it reasonable.
If you have no idea what Great Wolf Lodge is, it is a resort with a large indoor waterpark that is geared towards families. There are different pools, water slides for all kids, and many different activities. There are several Great Wolf Lodges dotted all over the USA, and from what I gather they sound about the same.
I have to be honest, I didn’t think this place would be that great. I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old, how much can they do at a water park, right? Boy was I wrong! These kids went on several water slides, even O wanted to try slides that I thought were a bit too much for him (perhaps I still see him as my baby and not the big boy he’s becoming). They also had a pool with lily pads they could hop across that my kids affectionately called a Ninja Warrior course. And let me tell you the struggle was real to get them out of the waterpark. My husband even liked it!
There’s also more to this place than the water park. There’s an arcade, duck pin bowling, Magiquest, mini golf, ropes course, spa, and so much more. You can never be bored and there’s really no reason to leave with all the activities they have available for your entire family.
Here are some tips to make your stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg a bit more enjoyable:
- Check in technically isn’t until 4pm, but you are able to get into the waterpark at 1pm! When you get to the front desk they’ll give you your waterpark wristbands, which also includes your RFID wristband that acts as a room key and credit card. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived a little bit after 2pm, so we changed into your swim suits and went to the waterpark. There are changing rooms and towels in the waterpark, just pack the swim suits in a beach bag. They will send you an e-mail with your hotel room number when it is ready, which means you can go straight to your room and use your wristband to get in (no need to go back to the front desk).
- Because your wristband also acts as a credit card and room key, you don’t need to carry around a wallet or worry about losing your room key at the busy waterpark! We didn’t use any lockers, even though they were available. We just left our beach cover up stuff, waters, and towels by our chairs and merrily went to different parts of the waterpark not worrying about valuables. However, I would bring/buy a waterproof pouch for your cell phone. They sell them at the shop in the waterpark, but you can probably find something that cost 3 times less at Walmart down the street. It’s definitely worth having, especially if you want to take pictures.
- There are a few restaurants throughout the resort, with varying price ranges. You can get pizza, a desserts shop, a restaurant with bar, Dunkin’ Donuts, and a place that is more fast food. You can easily pay with your wristband, which means you can pop out of the water park, eat, and then pop back in. They made it so easy because there is really no reason to leave!
- However, I would say that the food is quite as healthy and/or really expensive (that buffet!!!). You can easily leave the resort too. There are several strip malls nearby with typical fast food places and restaurants. One day we had Chick-fil-A and another day we found this great hibachi style Japanese place that got the meat to veg to rice ratios perfectly! There’s also a Walmart down the street if you want to pick up supplies for sandwiches or breakfast. Your room has a mini fridge to keep things cold, like milk.
- Magiquest! You’ll see tons of kids and adults roaming around the halls of the hotel with magic wands unlocking things. It is not included with your hotel and water passes, and it is expensive. But I think it is worth it, even for our two little kids. We took the opportunity to use Magiquest as breaks from the waterpark. Our days went something like this: breakfast, Magiquest for an hour while we waited for the waterpark to open, waterpark, lunch, waterpark, dinner, bath, Magiquest, storytime, bed. Magiquest really helped us give the kids something to do other than the waterpark. When you begin a quest, it’s like a scavenger hunt, which my kids (especially O) really understood. The fighting of the bad guys was difficult, even for us adults. But otherwise it was a lot of fun for them. Just really expensive. But the good thing is that you can keep the wand and reuse it if you come back to any Great Wolf Lodge, you just need to pay for a new game. And your game isn’t a per day thing; it lasts your entire stay at the resort.
- There are other free activities throughout the day, like crafts and storytime. They are usually led by the characters of the lodge. I guess they are trying to make it like Disney, where there is a group of woodland creatures. But I had no idea who they were or their names let alone my children. It wasn’t a make or break thing for them, but the storytime was a nice way for us to end the day.
- You have to check out at 11am or you pay huge fees! There’s no such thing as a free late check out here. You can still go to the waterpark until they close at 830pm on the day of your check out. So we packed a bag with a change of clothes, put our luggage in the car, and spent the rest of the day at the waterpark.
- If you are at all considering a trip here, I would sign up for their mailing list. They often times e-mail you great discount codes; our trip was booked using a special code for 50% off.
Overall, it was such a great trip for us. The kids basically said they wanted to live at Great Wolf Lodge. My husband was most impressed by the technology making it easy for their guests to enjoy their stay. I have a feeling this won’t be our last time visiting this place.