Our Visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA

I wanted to do something extra fun for Jack’s 4th birthday and another trip to Disney World was out of the question, so we decided to try an overnight trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA.

I had heard a lot of really good things about the water park, but when I checked the cost of a weekend trip I was absolutely flabbergasted. To give you an idea, here are the March rates off their website:

March rates

I just couldn’t imagine spending between $500 – 600 for ONE NIGHT in a hotel room. Sure, the hotel room fee gets you water park access from the day you check-in until the evening after you check out… but STILL. That’s an awful lot of money.

I did a ton of internet research before we committed and I was really annoyed that all I could find were sponsored reviews of the resort by various bloggers. I mean, sponsored reviews are fine if you’re being honest, but every single review was the same… ‘spend money here, eat the (super expensive) buffet at the resort, pay extra to do this and that and this some more.’

Sorry, but that’s NOT going to happen if I was already paying so much to STAY at the resort!

After a lot of consideration, Travis and I decided to take off work on Friday so that we could take advantage of the cheaper weeknight costs. Great Wolf was also running a special where you got a reduced room cost and also receive $50 in resort credits. When all was said and done, our Wolf Den Suite ended up costing us $327.45 (that includes tax).

Great Wolf Lodge 1 - Pocketful of Joules

We could have arrived at the resort on Friday at 1:00 pm to take advantage of the water park hours, but we decided to have a nice, lazy morning and got there around 4:30 or so. When you check in you get your wolf ears (if you ask nicely, they give them to grownups too) and Jack got a special birthday version to celebrate. He also received (for no additional cost) a birthday bracelet that gave him unlimited ice cream at the ice cream shop!

This is my Wolf Face, it’s like Blue Steel… but more wolfy.

Wolf Face - Pocketful of Joules

Our room was pretty great and Jack was super excited to check out his special ‘Wolf Den’ bunk beds area. He even had his own television in there, not that we really used it during our stay.

Bunk Beds - Pocketful of Joules

There was plenty of space to have more people in our room (it sleeps up to 6 with the queen bed, fold out couch and 2 bunk beds), so if you have another family to go with it would make the cost a little more reasonable per person.

Once we sat our stuff down, we immediately changed into our swimsuits and walked down the hallway to the water park.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I had no idea what to expect, but the water park was really awesome! Oh and I totally don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want my phone to get wet. You can check it out here though.

We strapped Jack into a free life jacket and spent a ton of time climbing around on Fort Mackenzie, a three-level tree house filled with interactive water toys. There was a huge bucket on the top that dropped about 1,000 gallons of water every 5 minutes or so. Obviously Jack loved it. And Travis and I loved it too.

We also rode all of the water sides except one (because Jack was too small for it) and our favorite was called the ‘Water Canyon Run’ where all three of us fit in a raft and hurtled down a pitch dark slide with flashing lights. The wave pool was also a winner and felt like we were in a sand-free ocean.

We petered out around 8:00 and went up the road to grab some Chick-fil-a for dinner. From what I hear, there is a fun bedtime story that takes place in the lobby for kids to attend in their pajamas, but Jack wasn’t interested.

The next morning we all woke up around 9:30 or so and drove a couple minutes down the road to grab breakfast at iHop. This was my morning view…

Morning view - Great Wolf Lodge - Pocketful of Joules

They do have a breakfast buffet at the Great Wolf Lodge, but it seemed crowded and really expensive for what you got. Instead, we had a nice breakfast for about half the price and then returned to the resort to check out, throw our stuff in the truck and return to the water park. On the day you check out, you can stay at the water park until 9:00pm.

Oh, before I forget… there is a Shutterfly book in each room that says to pick up your promo code for a free book. There was no promo code card in our room, but they had them at the front desk. Be sure to take the extra step to grab one… the value is around $30.

Once we were finished with the water park, we changed into dry clothes, grabbed yet another ice cream (yay, vacation) and checked out their kiddo bowling area. The lanes are about half the size of normal lanes and the balls were small duck-pin sized. Jack had never bowled before, so it was a new and fun experience for him. Even though later he said it was boring.

Bowling - Great Wolf Lodge - Pocketful of Joules

I mentioned that we had a $50 credit as part of our hotel deal. Well, that wasn’t difficult to spend at all… here’s what we ended up spending in addition to our room cost (not counting dinner at Chick-fil-a and breakfast at iHop):

  • $7 for 2 ice creams (Jack’s was free) on Friday night
  • $10 for a locker rental our second day
  • $25 for lunch at the water park snack bar
  • $7 for 2 more ice creams on Saturday
  • $10 for kiddie bowling
  • $13 for a souvenir toy for Jack

All in all, it was a pretty great mini-trip. All three of us had a really awesome time and I would absolutely be open to going again if we saw a great deal. I was initially concerned that there wouldn’t be enough to do to keep us busy for the whole time, but that wasn’t the case at all. And an added benefit, Jack slept until 10:30 the next morning!

Now, for a little Q&A to answer some questions I’ve gotten about our trip:

Is it actually worth the money?
It is expensive, but I think for a treat it was absolutely worth it to us. However, there is no way we would have paid the full price of $500 – 600 to stay for a weekend night.

Was it fun for kids AND adults?
Absolutely positively YES. Travis and I probably had as great of a time as Jack did! If you like water slides and water, than yes you will enjoy it. However, if things like getting unexpectedly splashed or waiting in line for a water slide annoy you (we were lucky and never waited longer than 10 minutes), you might not enjoy it as much as we did.

I’ve always wondered… can adults go without kids or is that just creepy?
Yes, adults could totally go without kids. There is even a bar in the back of the water park area if you want to have some grown up drinks. I could totally see going as a fun ‘date night’ kind of trip with your sweetie or even a girl’s weekend.

Is it a good place to go with just one kid or should we recruit some cousins to come with us?
I think it really depends on your kid and also their age. With Jack being just 4 and not a swimmer, it really worked out well for us just to have him to chase after (especially around the tree house where he could run around a corner and be out of sight). We also really liked having family time with just three of us hanging out in line, sliding down the slides and jumping around in the wave pool. With that being said, if you had a good grown up-to-kid ratio, it could totally be a blast to have a bunch of kids for yours to play with.

Can you take a just-walking toddler or are the activities more for older kids?
There are definitely activities for all ages and I saw many little babies/toddlers there. The wave pool has a ‘beach’ entrance, so it starts at an inch or so and gets deeper – which is great for just-learning-how-to-walk kids. Also, the bottom level of the tree house has a bunch of fountains shooting out of the ground, which I’m sure will cause lots of giggles!

What about food options – are there choices for kids with limited diets (and parents who don’t want to pack the whole kitchen)?
Of our experience, the food at the resort was not my favorite. When we had our lunch at the quick-food snack bar in the water park it was mostly hot dogs, fries and soft pretzels on the menu. From what I can tell, the Bar & Grill has some additional options and I hear that the pizza is good (we didn’t have it). I CAN say that the ice cream was spectacular!

If you have picky kids/adults or diet restrictions, I would suggest either bringing food for your room (you get a fridge) or going to a nearby restaurant for your meals. Both the iHop and chick-fil-a we visited were less than a 5 minute drive from the hotel. I also highly suggest bringing snacks for you room because it would a nice little break to walk to the room for a little snack time away from the loudness of the water park.

What clothing should we bring besides bathing suits? Crocs or flip flops?
I suggest bringing an easy cover-up for your swimsuit – I threw on a casual dress and Jack and Travis both put on t-shirts – however, you certainly have plenty of people just walking through the hotel in only their swimsuits. As for shoes, Travis and I wore flip flops (and left them in a corner once we entered the water park) and Jack wore water shoes the whole time. They provide you with towels, but the towels stay in the water park so you can’t use them as an impromptu cover-up and take them back to your room.

One more thought on bathing suits — absolutely nobody has to worry about being self conscious. You will see all sorts of body types represented and nobody seems to really care what anyone else looks like, unless something  terrible happens like a stray penis or nipple flies out from under cover. With that in mind, I’d suggest a comfortable swimsuit that won’t move around too much (probably not the best place for string bikinis), but you be you.

Do you have any Great Wolf Lodge questions that I didn’t answer?

 

Disclaimer: This was NOT a sponsored post and we paid for our trip and expenses on our own.

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10 thoughts on “Our Visit to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA”

  1. We’ve never been to Great Wolf Lodge before, mainly because of the cost. But sheesh! You must have east coast inflation for sure! The one closest to us (Cincinnati) has premium rooms from $329 per night, with the cheapest option (standard room) starting at $189! Yikes for $500! So glad to read an honest review of the place. We were talking about sneaking over for a couple of days during spring break this year!

  2. I’m glad we got to see you there! Jack seemed to be having a great time. This time we went with about 15 people, a lot of littles, so it’s really fun and less expensive that way. Also, they run a special in the November time range that for every $100 in gift cards you buy you get $20 in wolf bucks. So that pretty much covered our dinners there. We usually bring food for breakfast, and eat at the buffet one night. My kids were definitely exhausted when we left. Glad you had a good time!

  3. Wowwwww that’s expensive for a weekend, but it definitely looks great to take advantage of during a week mini-trip. Thanks for the guide through the experience because for a mom who’s never been, it looks a little terrifying.

  4. That does sound like a ton of fun if you’re willing to spend the money! We have a Great Wolf Lodge about 15 minutes away and I would love to visit once Caleb is old enough to enjoy it!

  5. Thanks for the awesome review! I checked the rates in the fall and they were much more reasonable. I’ll wait until my youngest is 4. Great to know about the close alternate food options! Sounds awesome!

  6. We went to Great Wolf Lodge for our anniversary back in 2012–it was like a Tuesday, so the place was pretty empty, and it was in the dead of winter during Michigan, so it was pretty fun to have the waterpark to swim and play in. We went outside of the hotel for food though.

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