Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg has been on my list of things to do for years. But I really had no desire to spend the night. So I was thrilled when they approached me to come spend a day at the lodge with the family (Grandma, Mommy, P (age 8), C (age 6) and T (age 3) but not have to stay overnight. I have been wanting to try everything and report back to you. They did let me do all this stuff for free but I promise you all the opinions are 100% mine.
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Visiting the Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg
When we walked in I was very surprised. I expected the lobby to smell more like a waterpark was in the lodge and it didn’t. Not a whiff or chlorine in there. And since they had fun kids activities going on we were able to plop the kids down to work on a craft with an employee while we checked in and got things settled for the day.
The lodge is absolutely busy- it’s a lodge for kids. I have read complaints online about kids running through the halls or having their feet on the furniture- the whole place is designed for kids ten and under. If you are looking for a quiet get away with your kids this is NOT going to be it. But it still felt like I had plenty of room everywhere I went- I never felt crowded. Just be ready for a high energy environment!
Budgeting For Your Visit
These prices are from August 2018.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about Great Wolf Lodge is that the rooms are already expensive and then they nickel and dime you to death when you get there. As I read over these signs in the lobby it occurred to me with a little research before the trip you could really save big. None of the pre-packaged deals really seem to fit what I would want to do. Like each of these packages includes a Creation Station animal (i.e. Build a Bear). That’s totally not necessary with all the other fun stuff.
So before you go visit look below at the activities. I have listed the prices and you can put together your own package for what you would like to do. I will say that while it may be unintentional most of the kids activities that you have to pay for are tucked away in the corners of the lodge (with the exception of MagiQuest). So if you don’t go wandering too far your kids might not even know they exist.
Activities Included With The Price of Staying at the Lodge
Throughout the day the characters were available at specific times and locations for pictures. Instead of using a professional photographer and then charging you for pictures they had a staff member who would use your phone to take pictures for you.
The Indoor Waterpark
I hate to even just list everything as an “Indoor Waterpark” but it would take another 1500 words to tell you everything you can do in the water while you are at Great Wolf Lodge. I was worried everything would be on a smaller scale because it has to be inside. With the slides that was NOT the case. While all the slides start inside the building the bulk of the actual slide is outside. So there are plenty of twists, turns and drops for the older kids and the kids at heart. They were very comparable with other “regular” water parks I had been to.
This picture is one of my favorite things about the water portion- the wave pool. At other parks the kids don’t enjoy the wave pool as much because the waves are very strong and the water gets deep very quickly. C even looked at me and said “I feel safer in this one.” The wait time between the waves going off was also short and you heard a nice wolf howl before they started.
There are also two hot tubs- one for adults only and one for everyone. A few of the areas are great for younger kids and a special area called Whopping Hollow for toddler aged kiddos.
And, of course, in the middle is this giant beast of slides, ladders, stairs, buckets and a million other fun things to do. At the time it wasn’t running yet so you can see every detail but imagine thousands of gallons of water pouring all over it. Plus the bucket at the top fills up with water and every five minutes or so dumps another 1,000 gallons of water on everyone around it.
You can easily spend a good six to eight hours in the park if you try everything- water basketball, indoor surfing and other activities are available as well and all included in the price.
The Great Clock Tower Show
In the lobby of the lodge is the great clock tower. These Northwoods-themed animated shows are sprinkled throughout the day, entertaining little ones with songs and stories. Toddlers especially loved the show.
Story Times, Dance Parties, Lunch Time Breaks and Other Activities
There seem to constantly be activities going on the lobby. In the morning before the waterpark opens in the lobby they have Yoga Tails, a Wolf Walk and Wolfercise all lead by the friendly staff at the Lodge! During lunch time they have face painting, balloon twisting and other paws on projects for the little artists in your family. Then at night they have a PJ party with a dance floor, story time, games and trivia. All of these activities are free and give parents a chance to sit back and relax while the kids have a good time.
Activities Not Included With The Price of Staying at the Lodge
Choosing Your Wand Is Very Serious Business
Of all the things you have to pay for in the lodge this one is absolutely impossible to ignore. There are kids running around with wands everywhere. And the hotel is full of items with censors- if you point the wand at the censor the item will either track as part of the game or do something magical- treasure chests open, lights turn on and off, books open and more! No matter what floor your room is on there will be items to interact with the wands.
The store to buy the wands is on the first level (under the lobby which is level 2) and they range in price from $15.99 to $21.99. You can get a standard wand topper for free with that or pay for a special topper (between $17.99 and $19.99 so I would just skip that). You can use the wands in two different ways- if you have a younger one who just wants to wander around and make lights turn on and animals dance you don’t need to pay any additional money. If you have an older kid who wants to do the quests that go with the wand (they have a book of directions) it’s an extra $14.99 so they can play unlimited for the cost of your stay. It would still be plenty of fun without the quests.
At the end of the quest they gather to put the dragon to sleep and save the castle!
It is also REALLY important to note that you can bring your wand back. You would just need to head back to the shop to reactivate it. So if you have a friend whose kids have abandoned their wands see if you can grab them and then save yourself this cost.
Howlers Peak Ropes Course
Of all the extra-curricular activities at the resort this was my favorite. I have always wanted to do a ropes course and I think this is about as good of a starter course as you can do. My 8 year old nephew found it challenging and as an adult there was still some trepidation about being so high. You have to be 48″ tall to participate.
It has three different levels so by starting on the bottom it allows you to get the hang of things before you move to a height that is a bit more nerve wracking. The sling that holds you to the course is on a track so it’s much easier to use than others I have heard about where you have to switch out pieces to move around. There was plenty to do and lots of different ways to do it.
Looking down from three levels in the air!
Pricing is : $12.99 for a single climb (you stay up as long as you want but once you disconnect you are finished), $19.99 for unlimited access for your stay or $24.99 for unlimited access to Howlers Peak Ropes Course, the rockwall and Howl in One Mini Gold for your entire stay.
Howl In One Mini Golf
Grandma won and was happy. P lost and was sad.
Tucked in the back by the ropes course you will find their 9 hole mini golf course. It’s a cute, standard nine hole mini golf course. It was very clean and the greens well maintained. It was fun and the skill level required was low enough for the little ones who have no patience with trying to get a tiny ball in a hole.
Pricing: $5 per person for 9 holes.
Ten Paw Alley
I was on the media tour when my family did the bowling game but it was a BIG hit with T. Everything about it was miniature- from the little balls to the pins that were attached to springs and are much quicker to reset. The older kids had a good time but you have a 3 – 5 year old I would ABSOLUTELY recommend this for them.
Pricing: They only charged for the bowler so if you take a 3 year old down there and don’t bowl yourself you shouldn’t break the bank on this one at $6 per game.
Northern Lights Arcade (Included with Paw Pass)
The arcade was great (I recommend the Connect Four game for maximum ticket earnage). Overall there is nothing incredibly unique about it but they had a good variety of games for each of the age levels, it was clean and I liked that the games were far enough apart you weren’t constantly bumping into people. It’s also open 24 hours so apparently it gets busy at night.
Of course if you play the games that earn tickets you get to trade them in for prizes at the end. You can completely avoid the arcade if you want but in case you don’t want to here are your package pricing options (most games were 4 or 8 paw points):
The Number One Complaint From My Readers- The Rooms- And The GREAT NEWS
Whenever I post deals on Great Wolf Lodge visits (particularly the Williamsburg, VA location) people always say something like “the kids had fun, the waterpark was great, the rooms were unimpressive.” The bulk of the rooms at this particular location have not been renovated since the hotel opened 13 years ago. And while the rooms they showed us looked fine to me I was there being ushered around as part of the media and I am sure we saw some of the best rooms they had.
We saw three different styles of rooms but you can see on the Great Wolf website all the rooms available. I thought the KidCabin rooms were adorable- they have a special cabin inside with bunk beds and a kids own tv. To give a little separation between the adults and the kids. They also have some rooms that were two stories high- one bed upstairs and at least one bed down. That would also give a little privacy.
I also want you to know almost every room they took us to was on the 4th floor and had nice high ceilings. So if you can request a room on a higher level. There are 405 rooms in the lodge so you should have your pick of rooms.
But for those of you concerned about the rooms I have GREAT NEWS! Beginning in January 2019 the hotel will begin renovating all 405 of the rooms. They will close off a section of the hotel, work on the rooms, open them and then begin the next section. It is scheduled to take 10 – 12 weeks. The rooms will go down to the walls and be completely redone- fixtures, wall paper, furniture, carpets and even new 50″ tvs.
And The Food
Ironically the one bad experience I had all day was with the one thing I paid for at the lodge- a fountain drink. After we finished swimming we were thirsty so went over to the one place to buy it in the waterpark area. We paid the $3 for the soda, went over to the machine (one of those Coke mixing ones) and there is no ice. I looked over at the exact same guy who rang me up (and said nothing about there being no ice) and he just shrugged his shoulders and said “we have to go next door to get ice.” And then just stood there looking at me- not moving to get any ice or indicating WHEN ice would come back. So I tried to just put some drink in the cup- it was luke warm and flat. So my whole family ended up traipsing next door to get our drinks and then heading back inside the waterpark through the sign that said “no outside food or drink.”
I didn’t actually eat any of the food but I did take pictures so you can see it! The kids said the cupcakes they ate were excellent. We had a buffet for lunch so this was what my family members picked. The chef did come out and talk to us. They are almost a completely nut free resort (some candy in the shop downstairs has nuts) and take extra pre-cautions for other food sensitives.
There were other elements including a spa, candy shop, 4D movie experience and other things but this post was already way too long. As it is I am going to have to do a separate post on how to save on the rooms!
So what have been your experiences at Great Wolf Lodge?