For years and years and years and years now, my kids have asked to go to Great Wolf Lodge.
And for whatever reason, we never made the time.
Not that we’ve been sitting around here, twiddling our thumbs or anything. We’ve got a pretty packed schedule.
But we never set aside the time to find a date that worked, find a package that worked, or find families with whom we could coordinate our travels.
This fall, however, we were invited to visit Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA, and though we just snuck away for one night, it was so worth our time.
I am not going to dwell on the past and wish we would have visited before we did; instead, I’m going to be honest when I say that our 11, 10, and 8 year old enjoyed it so very much that we are 100% planning a return trip again soon.
The learning that happens there is rockstar. And the family time is really priceless.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Great Wolf Lodge–Learning and Loving Family Time:
I’ll be honest when I say that our trip to Great Wolf Lodge didn’t exactly come at a great time; Maddy fractured her wrist just days before our trip. (Boo.)
And we’re a water-loving family. The slides, lazy river, wave pool–all of it–were highlights for my kids before we even left.
The great thing is that we made it work.
And there are about 50 million other things to do for kids broken arm or not. Tons of cool ways to sneak in some learning in the name of fun.
Here are just a few:
- Great Clock Tower Show: Ours was a Halloween-themed experience, complete with decorations, characters, and more. The cool thing is that any time of the year, there’s a different theme. Super fun!
- MagiQuest: This? I wish we would have set aside more time for this, and I secretly wish that we would have invested in a wand for Maddy and Cora. Only Owen bought a wand–with his birthday money–for this adventure. It took us just a tiny bit of time to get the hang of it, but after we did, Owen and Maddy were totally hooked. We did this on our second morning (our last day) while Cora and my husband went back to the water park. There’s a lot of reading, strategizing, and planning with this game, and there are so many ‘quests’ that it honestly could have taken us the whole weekend to complete. The great thing is that next time we return, we’ll bring the wand and pick up where we left off! (There is a cost for this.)
- Ten Paw Bowling: The kids loved this–it’s a kid-sized bowling, and it’s really affordable. No bowling shoes. No heavy bowling balls. Just come as you are, and try to learn a little about bowling! (There is a cost for this.)
- Hower’s Peak Rope Course: This? Totally awesome. It’s a ropes course unlike anything we had done before. Our guides were great and were so patient with us, making sure that we were all attached properly and knew what to do. Unlike our Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center experience, this one keeps you attached, or tethered?, the entire time. I made the mistake of following Cora straight to the top right off the bat, which I wouldn’t do again. It was way to scary for me–so I followed her, did one challenge, and then went down and off. I am more comfortable with my feed on the ground, I think. Anyway, the kids–and my husband–were pushed, were excited, and were challenged the whole time. They loved this, and I love how they all learned a little bit about themselves along the way.
- Clubhouse Crew: Kids make a stuffed friend–one of the Great Wolf Lodge characters–and then they go through an interactive adventure with it! In the store, around the lodge, and all around kids will go, doing their best to solve puzzles and help find a lost friend. (There is a cost for this.)
- Activities in the lobby: Stories, songs, and dance parties–almost any time of the day!
- Of course, the Water Park!! Really, everything you want to Swim, Splash, and Slide the entire time is right here in the lodge. I am honestly pretty disgusted by water parks, I’ll admit it. I am intolerant of gross on the floor, gross smells, and gross pools. The water park at Great Wolf Lodge was clean. It was safe. It smelled fine. And it was safe. Did I mention ‘safe’? The lifeguards were non-stop moving, watching, and keeping a close eye on the pools and swimmers.
Check out all of our photos from the weekend. It was such an unforgettable time:
Interested in heading over to Great Wolf Lodge for yourself? Like I said, each holiday they run a ton of specials and cool activities, but here’s what’s coming up:
From November 28th to January 3rd, Great Wolf hosts its annual Snowland celebration, where they turn each resort into a winter wonderland complete with indoor snow showers, spectacular decorations, visits from Santa Clause, “Polar Wolf” Walks, Santa’s Letter Depot, a Great Clock Tower Howl-iday Show, and more. Family suites that sleep four start at $199 per night and include water park admission.
New in 2015, Great Wolf Lodge is launching Snowland Suites available at all 12 resorts (spanning Grand Mound, Washington, to Pocono Mountains, PA) complete with twinkling garland, a decorated tree, oversized snowflakes and a commemorative Snowland throw blanket that is yours to keep and a complimentary copy of the winter story book, Unique as a Snowflake. To up the holiday ante, Wiley the Wolf will also be hand delivering cookies to each Snowland Suite booked. While supplies last, add $40 to your booking for a Snowland Suite.
Families are also invited to celebrate the magic of the season by dining inside the world’s only life-size, dine-in gingerbread house. Great Wolf Lodge has partnered with Just Born, makers of PEEPS, Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales, to create each gingerbread house. Featuring more than 5,000 candies, 600 pounds of gingerbread dough and 1,320 pounds of sugar, each house will be baked, iced and candied to perfection, providing the setting for a memorable holiday feast. The appetizing walls of the lodge-baked abode have as much heart as taste as the proceeds for each meal goes to Ronald McDonald House Charities across the country (guests pay a $10 “sitting fee”). Over the past three years, Great Wolf has raised $65K for charity from their Snowland fundraising efforts.
What do you think? Have you been there? What was your experience? Do you have any questions for me? Let me know!
fyi: My family and I were invited to visit Great Wolf Lodge for the Howl-O-Ween is a seasonal celebration and share our experience. We had an absolute blast. As always, my opinions and ideas here are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and my my three little Howl-O-Ween loving kids.