Our family was provided with complimentary accommodations at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg.
If your family is anything like our own, you don’t necessarily get to have a vacation every year. In our case, finances and time are the two most common factors that keep us from enjoying a leisurely vacation with any regularity. It stinks but I guess that’s just life. Eventually, though, you simply need to take a vacation for your own mental and physical health!
This is actually a systematic problem in the US. On average, we don’t set aside enough time for rest and relaxation and it wears on the population. I think all of us could benefit from a little more leisure time! As for us, we last took a vacation in October of 2016! That’s too long in my opinion!
Since our last family vacation was almost two years ago, we were all in need of some actual unhinged fun time. The kids were getting antsy, I was feeling frazzled, and Orin starts getting grumpy and agitated. As a family, we’ve been so busy for so long, we were at our wit’s end and needed a reprieve. So, when the opportunity came up to go and check out the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg Virginia, we jumped on the chance!
Great Wolf Lodge, if you haven’t heard of it, is a resort that offers both indoor waterpark fun and dry-land adventures for the entire family. The waterpark itself is kept at 84 degrees all year long so you can enjoy a summer experience even in the dead of winter! If you get tired of spending a day in the water, there are other dry attractions for you. I talk about these options below the water park features!
We spent two nights but didn’t get to experience all of the attractions that Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg offers because there is truly SO MUCH to do there! Below you will find in-depth descriptions and reviews of the attractions we did get to experience. For attractions that we didn’t have the time or opportunity to participate in, I included brief descriptions.
The Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg Indoor Water Park
This attraction is Great Wolf Lodge’s main draw. The majority of the water park is indoors and maintained at 84 degrees year round. Winter is meaningless at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg! There are numerous mini-attractions within the main water park including:
- Howlin’ Tornado
- River Canyon Run
- Alberta Falls
- Wolf Rider Wipeout
- Racoon Lagoon
- Totem Towers
- South Hot Springs
- North Hot Springs
- Fort Mackenzie
- Slap Tail Pond
- Crooked Creek
- Big Foot Pass
- Chinook Cove
- Whooping Hollow
- Cub Paw Pool
Clearly, there is a lot to see and do just within the water park itself!
This is my favorite “ride” in the water park! Hop into a raft built to hold up to four family members, drop down a high-speed dark tunnel and blast into the six-story tornado funnel where you will ride up the walls as you spin out of control. As you exit the funnel, you will splash into a calm pond of water where you can exit the raft.
Out of our five children, only Maggie was tall enough to ride with us (48″+). My husband and I took turns riding it with her, which turned into a hilarious experience for us both. Maggie, as brave as she is, was gripping the handles of the raft so tightly as we shot down the first tunnel that her knuckles were turning white! Her shocked expression of both fear and delight made me laugh all the way through the ride. I was almost certain she wouldn’t want to ride it again but, to my surprise, she found Orin and asked him to ride on it with her as well. Orin and I traded off holding the baby and he and Maggie went to ride the Howlin’ Tornado. Orin said her reaction was exactly the same as I described even though it was her second ride. We all had a blast! She and I even rode it a third time!
River Canyon Run
Another fun ride but a bit less intense than the Howlin’ Tornado! This ride also uses a raft but can hold an additional rider for a total of up to five riders. After the workers help shove you off, you’ll find yourself rafting down dips, bends, and turns at a pretty good clip! Riders must be at least 42″ tall to participate and anyone under 48″ tall must have an adult accompanying them.
Jacob was technically tall enough to ride this one but he said he wasn’t ready to give it a try quite yet. So, as with the Howlin’ Tornado, it was Maggie and me who rode the River Canyon Run. Maggie wasn’t quite as white-knuckled with this ride as she was with the Howlin’ Tornado but she still held on to the raft pretty tightly. Her face had the same measure of delight with a little less fear. River Canyon Run made her laugh and giggle as we shot down the tunnels and came to a stop as we splashed into the calm pond below.
Alberta Falls is a single or tandem tube ride that takes you outside the building (you’re still in an enclosed slide). This makes the slide quite a bit brighter than the others and may help slightly more timid riders feel a little less frightened or apprehensive. Riders under 48″ tall must be accompanied by an adult or “supervising companion” who is over 48″ tall and over 14 years of age.
In our case, Maggie was tall enough to ride on her own but her petite frame made it difficult for her to not slip through the hole in the tube. So we decided to ride in tandem. I sat down in the seat behind her and put my feet/ankles under her armpits to help hold her up. This worked remarkably well as we weaved through the bright tunnel slide and Maggie loved every second of the ride.
Wolf Rider Wipeout
“The Wolf Rider Wipeout is a thrilling indoor surf simulator! Hop on a kneeboard or test your surfing skills as the water runs over the swell in a continuous rush. How long can you stay on? Will you fall off with a splash? Can you master a tricky 360˚? It’s a chance for the whole family to find out what it’s like to catch a wave indoors. Put it on your must-do list.” Riders must be 42″+ to ride.
None of us had the athletic ability (or the bravery) to give this ride a shot — maybe next time!
“Scamper on over to swim and splash and play; Raccoon Lagoon is where you’ll want to stay! Our outdoor, zero-depth-entry paradise offers a four-foot deep end, geysers, fountains, water basketball, water slides and plenty of poolside seating for soaking up the sun.”
This attraction was closed for the season since it’s outdoors and we visited after Labor Day. I peaked at it from the window though and it looked like a nice outdoor area!
“Quickly escape the Fort Mackenzie® treehouse on your choice of water slides! The action doesn’t stop when you get to the bottom; listen for the tipping bucket bell and get ready for a super duper soaking. Make your way through waterfalls and tons of kid-powered spray effects before heading back into Fort Mackenzie for another adventure, and maybe a few more trips down the slides.”
Maggie did these slides numerous times and absolutely LOVED them. Although neither Orin or I had a chance to ride these slides because we were busy corralling the other kiddos, he did manage to get her Aunt Holly to ride down them once and she said they were fun and fast!
South and North Hot Springs
The South Hot Springs is open for adults and children. We found ourselves here several times throughout our stay as the heated water was a relaxing way to loosen and warm ourselves up from the slightly colder waters of the other attractions. The North Hot Springs is for adults only. Since we had a plethora of children with us, we never had the opportunity to use it. However, it is no different than the South Hot Springs, other than being exclusively for adults to enjoy.
“Explore all the levels of splash-crazy fun in the best water fort tree house you’ve ever seen. Delight in the interactive water toys and kid-activated splash features. Escape via the Totem Tower body slides to start all over again. And listen for the bell; when it rings, the gigantic bucket on top is ready to tip!”
Jacob and Maggie were on this attraction a fair portion of the time we spent at Great Wolf Lodge. While Orin and I weren’t able to join them up there very often as we were caring for the younger three kids, we enjoyed the atmosphere the times we could join them. It felt like the water park version of the tree house from Swiss Family Robinson. There are rope ladders, water cannons, buckets, valves, and more to play with as the kids explored Fort Mackenzie. We spent the majority of our time on the ground beneath it as Zellene and Gideon enjoyed the splash pad and various toys. Fort Mackenzie proved to be a great way to wear our older two kiddos out!
Slap Tail Pond
Slap Tail Pond was the second most visited attraction among our children. They loved when the rolling waves would start and toss them up, down, and through the water. I was surprised just how much they enjoyed the waves! The pool starts at a zero depth so children can walk right into it and find their preferred water level and wave strength. The pool continues to a depth of 5 feet near where the waves are produced. Naturally, the waves there are much stronger than the shallow end where they’ve expended much of their initial energy.
Maggie and Jacob spent a significant portion of their time near the deep end practicing their swimming with their Aunt Holly. The waves never bothered them as their life jackets kept them afloat. Little Zellene would occasionally doggy-paddle her way out to join them. Gideon wasn’t as big of a fan of the waves because one splashed him in the face. After that, he wanted to be held above the waves. Eventually, Orin sat down in the shallower end of the pool with him and, within a few minutes, Gideon didn’t mind the waves anymore as he ran around his dad in circles.
If you get tired of high energy attractions, you can head over to Crooked Creek and enjoy a leisurely tube float around the gentle stream. Because of the creek’s shape, you can remain in a relaxing tube ride for an indefinite amount of time. This is also a great option for younger children and toddlers who just want to enjoy the use of a tube for a while.
Big Foot Pass
Essentially a test of agility and dexterity, Big Foot Pass consists of large floating lily pads with a rope cargo net overhead for stability. How fast can you get across the lily pads? “Balance and sway as you get underway! Giant, floating lily pads and cargo nets invite your wolf pups to a sweet aqua adventure that builds dexterity and strength while offering soft, warm water landings.”
Maggie and Jacob were both excited to test their skills on this. When I asked them what they thought of it, they both responded with a simple “good”. I think the wait time to get started made them choose other attractions over repeating that one frequently, although they did try it a number of times.
“Swim, laugh and splash all day with basketball and balancing play. Let your imagination run wild as you balance and ride on the friendly floats, or practice your hook shots, free throws, and rebounds. Everybody loves water basketball, so you’re sure to go into overtime in this pool of family fun.”
We spent a little bit of time here. However, because our children are young and like to be busy, they preferred to move on to the other attractions when the opportunity came up. This is where a lot of teens were spending their time as they played some pretty intense and competitive games of water basketball.
Gideon and Zellene LOVED these smaller slides. They were the perfect size for them and they spent a chunk of time climbing the stairs, sliding down, and repeating. The slides were gentle and slow but still fast enough to entertain young children and toddlers. When they could time it right, Zellene and Gideon would race down the adjacent slides. It was pretty adorable! Jacob, although 6 years old, also enjoyed the slides as well.
Cub Paw Pool
“Geysers and a zero-depth entry welcome you to a terrific territory for tykes and toddlers. The perfect water park splash for your kids, Cub Paw Pool offers tiny kiddie slides and rainbow-colored jet skis with water cannons on your way to the 18-inch ‘deep’ end.”
Like the Whooping Hollow, Zellene and Gideon really enjoyed this area of the water park. Cub Paw Pool and Whooping Hollow are directly connected so they moved freely back and forth between the two. The toys in this area are the right size for younger children and were sensory and tactile in nature. Lots of things to turn, water cannons to shoot, dumping buckets, splashing fountains, etc. I think this is where the younger kids got the most enjoyment.
Tips For the Waterpark
You don’t need to take your own beach towels from home or towels from your room because fresh towels are provided for you. Life jackets are also provided. There are TONS of chairs available throughout the waterpark area where you can leave your personal items. We did not take any valuables with us into the water area, so felt safe leaving our coverups and shoes at a chair. They were fine there both days. Should you take valuables with you though, you can purchase a small locker for the day. You can also rent out a private cabana space for your group if you’d like.
The waterpark seemed least busy right as it opened and closer to closing time each day, so plan to try to be there for one of those 2 time periods if you prefer the smaller crowd.
“Dry” Attractions at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg
Like I said earlier, if you get bored with the water park or just need a break from being wet, you can check out all of the dry attractions that Great Wolf Lodge has to offer! These include:
- Howlers Peak Ropes Course
- Howly Wood XD Theater
- Ten Paw Alley bowling
- Howl in One Mini Golf
- Oliver’s Time Challenge
- Northern Lights Arcade
- 4D World
- Creation Station
- Clubhouse Crew
Howly Wood XD Theater
“It’s not just a movie; it’s the ultimate, full-immersion, 4-D thrill ride! Buckle up for a multi-sensory adventure you’ll never forget. Instantly feel like you’re part of the movie as your motion-enhanced chair and other fantastic effects transport you to an entirely different dimension.”
Each movie costs $7.00 or $20 for all four films. We hope to experience this one next time we visit!
Howl In One Mini Golf
“No family vacation would be complete without a round of miniature golf! Reserve your tee time for 9 holes of interactive outdoor play with plenty of sand traps, tricky shots, and giant animals. It’s challenging enough for more skilled players and easy enough for putters of all ages.”
The kids really wanted to do this one while we were there. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. We are looking forward to tackling this when we go back again!
“Slip on your high-tech 4D glasses and prepare for amazing action! Play along as this enchanting, otherworldly adventure comes to life around you. Take aim at the moving targets and compete with friends and family to find out who can grab the most points.”
Essentially an interactive augmentation game where you shoot moving targets. Again, we didn’t have time to experience this attraction, but hope to next time we spend a few days at Great Wolf Lodge! Things like this are Jacob’s favorite type of game so I can’t wait to see how he reacts to it!
Oliver’s Time Challenge
“One of our most popular attractions among small and tall ones alike, Oliver’s Time Challenge is a fast-paced adventure that will have you laughing as soon as it starts. You’ll sprint between LED boards, trying to push the buttons as fast as they light up. Capture as many points as you can before time runs out!”
I don’t know how, but we missed this attraction! Looking forward to a family challenge night next time we come!
The following attractions are included with the purchase of a Paw Pass: Howlers Peak Ropes Course, MagiQuest, Ten Paw Alley Bowling, Northern Lights Arcade, Creation Station, Clubhouse Crew. Since we participating in the Paw Pass program, I plan to share a post specifically about the Paw Passes very soon and will talk more about those attractions then.
There’s a huge variety of things to do at Great Wolf Lodge! There’s enough here in the attractions alone to keep you busy for several days. However, this isn’t the end of the list. Let’s talk about the activities! Think of these as a sprinkling of sugar on top of the treat that is Great Wolf Lodge.
You never know when you might come across a character meeting! We met Violet the Raccoon near the entrance as we were preparing to leave to head home. Gideon asked to meet her the moment he saw her walk in. He was SO excited! Look at the love on his face. (Oh my heart!)
There are also scheduled appearances as well. These include:
- Wake Up With Wiley and Friends – Enjoy Yoga Tails where you can find your inner zen, watch The Great Clock Tower Show as it comes to life or become an expert on Northwood’s animals during Wolf Walk. Be sure to have your camera ready, a Great Wolf Kid might join in on the fun at any time!
- Lunch Time Lineup – Have a balloon twisted into the shape of your favorite little critter, let your face be transformed during face painting or create a one of a kind masterpiece during Paws-On Projects. Make sure to stay picture perfect, a Great Wolf Kid may want a selfie with you!
- PJ Party with the Great Wolf Kids – An evening at Great Wolf Lodge is always full of excitement. You’ll have the chance to play games, let loose at a dance party and listen to a bedtime story, a nightly tradition for us at Great Wolf Lodge. Stick around afterward to say hi to our special guest of honor- one of the Great Wolf Kids!
We participated in the dance party for a little while one evening and it was a highlight of the trip for me. It might sound odd but our two-year-old, Gideon, got really into it and started dancing like no one was watching! As luck would have it, they finished off the songs with one of his current favorites, “What Does the Fox Say,” much to his delight! Hilarious, cute, and a cherished memory for me!
The kids also managed to snag some balloon creations, much to their delight!
“Put on your cutest PJs and get cozy for nightly Story Time. The perfect ending to your fun-filled day at Great Wolf Lodge, enjoy The Great Clock Tower Show followed by Great Wolf Lodge bedtime stories as told by one of our Ambassadors of Fun. Don’t forget your camera because after Story Time, meeting Wiley, Violet or one of the Great Wolf Kids characters is an unforgettable memory you won’t want to miss – and a pretty cute one too! High paws are always welcome and definitely encouraged.”
Our kiddos were always so tired after a day of playing hard in the water followed by dry and activities that we didn’t make it to story time, but hope to try this out on our next trip.
The Great Clock Tower Show
“Watch with wonder as the Great Clock Tower friends come to life in the Grand Lobby! These Northwoods-themed animated shows are sprinkled throughout the day, entertaining little ones with songs and stories. Whether you need a fun break between water slides and arcade games or you’re looking for some evening entertainment before bed, kids cherish this chance to interact with their favorite forest friends. Smiles are guaranteed with jokes, musical entertainment, and even a little learning mixed in.”
Other Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg Features
Other incredible features include:
- Iron Horse Fitness Center – Exercise your commitment to health and well-being in the Fitness Room. They offer a selection of cardio equipment including treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. There are also yoga mats, flat-screen TVs and towel service, so you can stay on top of your game or begin anew during your stay at Great Wolf Lodge.
- Elements Spa Salon – Escape to Elements! Tranquility and serene spa services balance mind, body and spirit through healing touch and natural ingredients. You’ll find a beautiful array of massage and skin therapy choices along with manicures, pedicures and gentle waxing available. Special spa packages and services for your teens are also part of the picture!
- Scooops Kid Spa – What better time to indulge in a little girl time than when you’re on vacation? This sweet retreat comes complete with ice cream-themed fizzy soaks, sherbet scrubs, and yummy nail colors. Your special girl will feel like a dazzling star as she rests on her banana split throne in her take-home tiara. Try a Mommy & Me Pedicure for extra fun!
- Restaurant and Food Services – Food & Wine Pairings, The Loose Moose Bar and Grill, Hungry As A Wolf (pizza, pasta, and salads), Buckets Incredible Craveables inside the water park, Dunkin’ Donuts (their chai is to die for!), and Bear Paw Sweets and Treats.
We didn’t have the chance to try out any of the fitness room or spa services but we did have pizza from Hungry as a Wolf one night for dinner and it was delicious! We also made daily stops to Dunkin’ Donuts – gotta have that morning caffeine!
Yowza! That’s a lot of stuff to do! Once you’ve completely exhausted yourself at the attractions, eaten like royalty, and pampered yourself at the spa, you’re probably ready to crash for the night! So what can you expect from the suites?
Here’s a basic rundown of your options:
- Family Suite – One of the most popular choices, the Family Suite offers versatility in sleeping options with two queen-size beds and a full-size sofa sleeper in the living space. Settle in after a fun day of water park play.
- Queen Sofa Suite – The Queen Sofa Suite is a cozy and economical option for your family of up to four. Featuring a queen-size bed, a full-size sleeper sofa as well as the additional space and safety features of an accessible suite, it’s an ideal vacation suite.
- Luxury King Suite – Enjoy your very own Northwoods-themed retreat, complete with a luxurious king-size bed and full-size sleeper sofa. After a day of water park play, you’ll find this to be an ideal quiet haven to relax.
- Family Fireplace Suite – Enjoy the cozy comfort of the Family Fireplace Suite. In addition to the gas fireplace, the suite includes two queen-size beds and a full-size sofa sleeper in the semi-private living space.
- KidKamp Suite – The KidKamp Suite brings the thrill of the great outdoors inside. The tent-themed sleeping area, with bunk beds, makes this a unique family vacation option. While the kids are “camping,” relax in your queen-size bed and full-size sofa sleeper.
- Wolf Den Suite – The Wolf Den Suite includes a queen-size bed and full-size sofa sleeper in the main area, plus a built-in wolf’s den with bunk beds.
- KidCabin Suite – Our kid-themed KidCabin Suite sleeps up to 6 people and comes with an in-room log cabin complete with bunk beds and a day bed. The suite includes a queen-size bed and a full-size sofa sleeper.
- Whirlpool Fireplace Suite – Think of the Whirlpool Fireplace Suite as your very own personal Northwoods getaway. Relax in front of a roaring fire as you enjoy your private whirlpool tub or stretched out on the luxurious king bed at the end of a full day of fun. The suite also includes a full-size sofa sleeper.
- Loft Fireplace Suite – Imagine checking into your two-story Loft Fireplace Suite after a day of splashing and play. The corner gas fireplace welcomes your whole wolf pack to warm up and relax in your semi-private living area, and the only decision to make is who gets the loft! This suite includes three queen beds and a full-size sofa sleeper.
- Majestic Bear Suite – Family time together is priceless, so is a little extra space to spread out when you’re on vacation together. The Majestic Bear Suite brings both. The master bedroom includes a king size bed and TV, while the main living area includes two queen beds, a full-size sofa sleeper, second TV and full bath.
- Royal Bear Suite – The accessible Royal Bear Suite is ideal for families who need a little more space or those who travel in larger packs. Enjoy the comforts of a private master bedroom with king size bed, a semi-private living area complete with a full-size sofa sleeper and an additional queen bed. This accessible suite also has the additional space and safety features your family may need.
- Grizzly Bear Suite – If you need a little more space for your family the Grizzly Bear Suite is a great choice. Comfortably sleeping up to eight people, you’ll find plenty of room for everyone. The private master bedroom includes a queen bed while the second private bedroom has two queen beds. A full-size sofa sleeper is also included in the semi-private living area.
That’s a lot of options! Since we are a larger family now (seven of us!) we needed one of the larger suites. The kids’ wonderful Aunt Holly was gracious enough to come along and lend me and Orin a hand as it can be tough to balance the workload with the variety of ages of children between two adults. We wanted to make sure that the older kids were able to enjoy the activities more suited for their ages and abilities and likewise for the younger ones. Having Holly with us helped to make that happen! The Loft Fireplace Suite was perfect for us!
Aunt Holly took the loft area so she could enjoy a bit of privacy and the rest of us laid claim to the main level. Between the three queen beds and the sofa sleeper, there was plenty of room for us all. The beds felt great to sink into at the end of a busy day! The room also features one full bathroom and one half bathroom, numerous TVs, an outdoor patio/deck with a sliding glass door, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. We usually found ourselves back in our room sometime around 9 pm. As we wound down from the excitement of the day, we enjoyed some movies as a family, snacking, and talking. It was a great way to get to interact a little as we were usually too busy during the day to really talk much. We threw bedtime out the window so we could really maximize our time together.
Spending this time in the room gave me the opportunity to really marvel at how our family has changed over the past 8 years. We went from no children to five in that amount of time. Our oldest, Maggie, is now eight years old and I just can’t believe it. She’s already becoming a young woman and is so helpful to me. It seems like yesterday I was holding her as a newborn and now she loves to cook, make art, and study animals. Jacob is a strapping young buck at six years old and loves to wrestle, play video games, and play chess. He amazes me! Zellene is a fireball of a four-year-old. She’s so spunky and opinionated but also sweet and tender. She already loves babies. Gideon, our two-year-old, is a comedian and an overall joyful kid. He’s always smiling, laughing, and enjoying life. He reminds me to enjoy the little things! Aram is our little guy at just a couple months old. He’s laughing and smiling as long as he’s being held or talked to.
Getting to spend some quality time together, whether at the attractions or in our room, at Great Wolf Lodge helped remind me just how lucky and blessed I am as a person, mom, and wife.
There is so much to see and do at Great Wolf Lodge that this single post really doesn’t do it justice. For example, you can maximize your funds with a Great Wolf Lodge Paw Pass! Check back soon for my write-up about it!
Our experience was amazing. The staff was so friendly and professional, the room was clean and spacious, the attractions are out of this world, the dining is delicious, and the activities keep everyone entertained. I couldn’t recommend a visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg any more highly! You won’t ever regret a visit.
I made amazing memories there… memories that mean so much to me. Better yet, our kids made memories there and I hope they always mean a lot to them too!