Places to Go (Vacation) - 24 Hours at Great Wolf Lodge (Williamsburg, VA)


For the last year or so my kids have begged (over and over again) for a trip to Great Wolf Lodge ("GWL"), as this place seems to be all the rage with the grade school crowd. But I kept putting it off. First of all, a huge indoor waterpark didn't sound like that much fun (on this, I was totally wrong). And second of all, T isn't much of a water kid, so I wanted to wait until he was older to bring him (on this I was totally right). Then, right before Xmas, GWL announced a winter sale where weekday room rates plummeted to about $125 a night (weekend rates are often between $300 and $500 dollars, though prices fluctuate like crazy). So we decided to surprise the kids for Xmas. Dan couldn't take much time off work, so we planned on wetting our feet with a one night stay (Sunday) and we convinced some of our more seasoned GWL friends to join us.

Upon arrival, the place was more crowded than I anticipated for a Sunday afternoon (apparently I am not the only one who took advantage of GWL's reduced rates). Upon check-in we learned that the hotel was at 85% capacity. At 2 pm, our room was not yet ready, so we changed into swim suits and headed to GWL's GIGANTIC indoor waterpark. (Guests can use the waterpark anytime between 1 pm on the day of check-in until closing on the day of check-out, which is a pretty sweet deal).

Oh, the waterpark, it felt sort of odd to walk into a lukewarm room full (and I mean full) of half-clothed people in the middle of winter. But slowly I adjusted. Dan took T, while the girls and I headed with friends to the waterslides. After a 25 minute wait, we boarded a huge raft and drifted down the neon-lit "family slide". Okay, so that was sort of fun. A little cold. But fun. Then we moved onto GWL's premiere attraction - The Howlin' Tornado. It plunged, it swirled, I screamed. Over and over again. In summary, it's f**ing amazing. Crazy fun.

Eventually, I had to relieve Dan, who spent approximately 1 hour watching T go down the toddler slides and the next hour circling the lazy river with T ("it's just so fun, mom, why would I want to try another ride? The river actually moves, I want to stay here all day."). Luckily, even the lazy river proved relaxing enough, especially when interspersed with the family hot tub. And finally, after literally hours, T decided to venture onto the tube waterslides, where I felt like an Olympic athlete (sarcasm) as I climbed the stairs over and over again, huge tube in tow.

We could have waterparked all night (literally), but eventually everyone needed to eat. So after 4.5 hours or so, we finally checked into our hotel rooms, changed, and made our way to the dinner buffet. I was surprised that the food both tasted good and was reasonably priced (kids are only $6, adults were somewhere in the high teens). And while my friends and I relaxed over beers, Dan took all the kids to the "clock tower show" where animatronic trees and woodland creatures discussed the importance of protecting our environment (oh the irony).

By 10 pm, the kids were (finally) asleep. And then the next day, we did it all over again. I could have kept going (warning, the Howlin' Tornado is somewhat addictive), but around 1 pm, the fuss and yawns became overwhelming. So we changed into our normal clothing and ventured home. The kids spent the first half of the drive looking for help wanted signs, so that Dan could find a job closer to GWL. Seriously?

All in all, I was much more impressed with GWL than I thought I'd be. After years of watching the kids do things, it was fun to go somewhere close to home where we could all scream in fear together. Since we only stayed one night, we didn't check out the hotel's other offerings. MagiQuest, in particular, is their big attraction, where purchased "magic" wands unlock some sort of secret games throughout the hotel. Next time we visit (and, yes, there will be a next time), we will probably check it out, though I find the prices rather absurd (the wands cost approximately $20 and up, not including the $15 activation fee).

So if you're looking for an easy Disney-esque, close to home vacation, then GWL is the answer. In the summer, the also have a huge outdoor pool, so you don't have to spend your vacation "in the bubble". For more info, click here.

1 comment:

  1. my daughter has been wanting to go here for ages, i'm wondering if she'll recall that we promised to take her THIS year????



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