Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg
Great Wolf Lodge isn’t just a kids paradise, but since the Williamsburg location is just a couple of hours from the DC area it’s the perfect summer destination for those times you want to get away for just a night or two and don’t want to have to worry about planning an itinerary. Great Wolf Lodge is decked out with Summer Camp-In theme this year and it’s well worth taking a look at all that Great Wolf Lodge has to offer in the summer. It’s so much more than just an indoor waterpark!
The Outdoor Pool
Great Wolf Lodge’s outdoor pool is enormous, without ever getting deeper than four feet. For younger children there is a zero-entry point with a small slide, fountain, and other attractions for those who would rather splash than swim. There is also an area of the pool with several basketball hoops and plenty of space for free swim. The area around the pool is huge with plenty of chairs for lounging and tables for eating – and food can be delivered right to your table outdoors. There are also kids activities poolside throughout the day so kid can take a break from the water to enter a dance contest or see how long they can hula-hoop. The pool is shaded and bug-free and my kids could have spent all day there if there wasn’t so much else to do!
The Water Park
The indoor waterpark is the centerpiece of Great Wolf Lodge and the reason many families go. For winter-time visits most families spend most of their time insider, but in the summer most kids alternate between the outdoor pool and the waterpark. The indoor waterpark is enormous and include attractions like lazy river ride, floating tree stumps that take you across the pool with the help of a large suspended net, and a wave pool. For older kids there is also a ride that allow kids to try their hand at surfing. For younger kids there is a large splash area with mini-slides. Throughout the park there are various sized larger water slides and a huge “tornado” families can ride together.
Some kids like to go to Great Wolf Lodge just for MagiQuest. Get a wand from the on-site MagiQuest and watch real magic happen before your eyes. Nearly everywhere throughout Great Wolf Lodge there are treasure chests that open with the flick of a wand, crystals that light up and begin to glow as if by magic, and woodland animals that come to life with a flick of the wand. But, at the heart of the game is the quests. Choose your mission and wander the lodge trying to defeat the dragon and rescue the princess. Completing all of the missions can easily take more than a day but plenty of kids (including my own) play shorter versions. Be sure to hang onto your wand because your progress saves from one visit to the next.
Everyday Great Wolf Lodge offers about 20 activities to keep kids entertained at times they aren’t swimming or playing wizard. Some of my kids’ favorites included morning yoga (good for kids and adults), a bedtime story and character meet-and-greet, a dance party with bubbles, and crafts. All of these activities are included in your stay at no extra charge. There is also a full-service spa where parents and kids can retreat for some pampering.
My kids all got Paw Passes, which is a great value. While it’s definitely possible to enjoy Great Wolf Lodge without any of the extras, a lot of kids like having some options. There are three levels of passes, which are geared towards different age groups. The Paw Pass, which will appeal to most kids, includes things like a candy cup, bowling, a trip to the arcade, a MagiQuest wand, and a bear and outfit from Great Wolf Lodge’s new on-site Build-a-Bear Workshop complete with exclusive Great Wolf Lodge animals and swimsuits. My kids also loved the summer-only indoor S’mores bar at night. We didn’t get to try the outdoor ropes course or mini-golf but they also looked like a lot of fun.
My family stayed in an adorable Kid Cabin suite with bunk beds for the kids in their own little part of the room. In sticking with the lodge theme, the kids’ area was decorated with an outdoor wooded scene and even featured a moon-shaped night light. We even had a (fully enclosed) fireplace in our room. On a previous visit we stayed in a standard family suite, which was fine for my family of six and would probably seem large for a family of four.
There are plenty of options on-site at Great Wolf Lodge. The Lodge’s main restaurant offers a character buffet breakfast and buffet dinner with meals that will appeal to grown-ups and kids and decadent dessert bar everyone will like. There is a great deal available only at the time of booking for a meal plan that includes all meals for your stay. In my family’s case, there was enough left over for snacks each day as well. There is also a pizza restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more. Great Wolf Lodge does allow outside food and there are small refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms. We saw several families who brought their own meals. There are also several fast-food restaurants nearby so it’s very easy to leave Great Wolf Lodge to eat or send one parent for take-out. Most families prefer the convenience of eating on-site and this was definitely the best option for my family so we didn’t have to worry about changing in and out of swimsuits and drying off too frequently. Plus, the food at Great Wolf Lodge is really good so it didn’t seem like a compromise. There are also cocktails for the grown-ups throughout the lodge! Great Wolf Lodge is allergy-friendly. If you have any concerns, just give a call in advance and they will make sure your child has food that is safe for them to eat.
My kids loved Great Wolf Lodge so much they asked when we were going back before we even left the parking lot. While it’s definitely not the most exotic vacation, it was great to be able to just make a reservation and not have to worry about doing any other vacation planning at all. Since there is so much to do at Great Wolf Lodge I never had to worry about the kids getting bored without a carefully crafted itinerary and tons of advance planning. Because my family includes kids with ages ranging from 4-13, I also appreciated the range of activities and that there were things to do for all ages from toddlers through teens. It was also very relaxing knowing that once we arrived we would not have to leave the Lodge at all.
Good to know:
- It takes about two days to fully take advantage of Great Wolf Lodge. While my family spent two nights, it is possible to do a lot with a one-night stay if you arrive early and spend most of the next day at the Lodge. We could have also filled a third day if we had stayed longer.
- Don’t worry about the prescribed check-in and check-out times. If you stay the night you are able to use of Great Wolf Lodge the day of your check-in and the day after you check-out.
- Life vests and towels are provided.
- Great Wolf Lodge creates a very family-friendly, informal environment. We saw families walking around at all times of the day and night in swimsuits and pajamas. Just about anything goes!
- Check out the various deals offered by Great Wolf Lodge. There are discounts for staying two or more nights, booking in advance, military families, as well as packages for meals and bundled activities.
- If you are celebrating a birthday check out birthday packages, which include balloons, a cake, and other extras.
- Upgraded rooms, on average, cost about $25-$50 dollars more than standard rooms when available. If you have your heart set on a themed room book early.