A day of fun for families at the Williamsburg, Virginia resort
Nearly everyone in the DMV has heard of Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. It’s just a couple of hours from Washington, D.C., making it the perfect location for a weekend getaway. (Families in our area should also keep their eyes open for the grand opening of a new location set to open this summer just outside of Baltimore.)
The main attraction at Great Wolf Lodge is the enormous indoor waterpark. However, it is so chock-full of attractions there is no reason to step foot outside during your stay to stay busy. I visited with my kids, ranging in age from 7 to 15, and everyone had a great time.
The Water Park
The waterpark is the centerpiece of Great Wolf Lodge, and the primary reason most families visit. The indoor waterpark is huge, with activities from toddlers through thrill-seeking t(w)eens, and it’s kept at summer-like temperatures all year. It was a real treat to visit and hang out in our swimsuits in the dead of winter, although it would be fun any time of year.
Great Wolf Lodge’s waterpark is no mere splash-park, and attractions rival those offered by large amusement parks. My whole family loved the lazy river ride, pool with basketball hoops and the floating tree stumps that take you across the pool with the help of a large, suspended net. For older kids, there is also a ride that allows them to try their hand at surfing. By the time we left, my daughter was a pro. Other favorites included the huge wave pool and multi-story water slides. For younger kids, there is a large splash area with mini-slides. In summer, there is also a large outdoor pool, but that was closed during our winter visit.
Families have access to the waterpark (and the rest of the resort) all day on the days they check in and check out, so feel free to arrive before check-in time and plan to stay late after you check out.
When I first heard about MagiQuest, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I knew it involved magic wands that kids carried throughout the lodge to play a game, but I had no idea how intricate it was. The magic wand really is magic. In nearly every hallway, there are treasure chests that open with the flick of a wand and crystals that light up and begin to glow as if by magic. I saw plenty of younger kids happily lighting up gems, pictures and stars on the ceiling as they wandered through the lodge. Wands can also be used to activate animals throughout the lobby and restaurant.
However, the heart of the game is the quests. Great Wolf Lodge now offers two separate MagiQuest games. Choose your mission and wander the lodge trying to defeat a dragon, rescue a princess and other tasks. Some kids find that they enjoy MagiQuest even more than the waterpark. Completing all the missions can easily take more than a day, but plenty of kids (including my own) play shorter versions. We also learned that Great Wolf Lodge saves your progress so you can pick up where you left off on your next visit. If you finish and want to start over, the lodge can also reset your wand. MagiQuest stays active until 11:00 p.m., so it’s a great activity to play after the water park closes before bedtime. In fact, we saw many kids playing in their pajamas during our visit.
Guests need to purchase a wand. There is also a fee to activate the game.
Every day, Great Wolf Lodge offers multiple activities to keep kids entertained when they aren’t swimming or playing wizard. Some of my kids’ favorites included morning yoga (good for kids and adults), story time with Wiley the Wolf, a dance party and a MagiQuest knighting ceremony. They also enjoyed meet-and-greets with Great Wolf Lodge characters. My son wanted to drop into an origami class, but we didn’t make it since we were busy in the waterpark. These activities are all offered free of charge to guests.
There is also a Build-a-Bear shop in the lodge that offers exclusive Great Wolf Lodge stuffed animals and clothing. In addition, there is a gem mining game near the waterpark that my kids enjoyed. There are additional fees for both.
Great Wolf Lodge offers a ton of games apart from MagiQuest. My kids loved bowling in the bowling alley that has pint-sized pins and balls. The bowling alley was recently refurbished. There is also a really fun laser tag game that my children and I both enjoyed so much we played twice.
My kids also really enjoyed Great Wolf Lodge’s large arcade full of classic video games, ski ball, air hockey and new favorites. Kids can play to earn tickets which they can trade in for a prize.
My family stayed in a standard family fireplace suite, which was fine for the six of us and would probably seem large for a family of four. Our room had a fireplace, balcony and two televisions. There was also a mini-fridge, coffee maker and small microwave. The room was modern and very comfortable.
I got to see some of the upgraded rooms, some of which are big enough for two families to share. Kids also love the themed rooms with bunkbeds and a log cabin feel.
Great Wolf Lodge has several dining options. There is a large restaurant, Loose Moose, in the lobby that serves buffet-style breakfasts and lunch. Another popular breakfast option is the on-site Dunkin, although lines can get very long in the morning.
For lunch and dinner, there is a great pizza restaurant, Hungry as a Wolf, on site, and a deli case with sandwiches, salads and snacks. While hanging out in the waterpark, there is a concession stand, Buckets, that sells fries, burgers and similar fare.
There are also snacks galore in the gift shop, including a fun option to fill candy cups with a variety of treats. My kids really enjoyed getting a popcorn container that could be refilled an unlimited number of times throughout our stay at no additional cost. We also got a couple of refillable soda cups for unlimited drinks while we were there, and I treated my kids to ice cream from the on-site ice cream shop.
Great Wolf Lodge allows guests to bring in their own food. We saw some families that had packed meals and others that ordered in from nearby restaurants.
My family got the meal plan that included breakfast, dinner and a credit for lunch during our stay. This was a good value and made our stay very easy since we never needed to think about or plan meals.
If your family plans on playing MagiQuest or doing any of the other activities, getting one of the passes Great Wolf Lodge offers is a great deal.
There are different levels of passes available depending on what your children would like to do during their stay. It’s worth checking out the different levels of passes to see if they make sense for your family. My kids got the highest level of passes, the Wolf Pass. This gave our stay an all-inclusive feel and included access to almost all available attractions, including a credit for the arcade, a game of bowling, a game of laser tag a MagiQuest wand and game and a Build-a-Bear stuffed animal, along with some fun extras including a scoop of ice cream, a candy cup they filled themselves and a personalized souvenir bracelet.
Jamie Davis Smith is a regular contributor to Washington FAMILY magazine. A mother of four, she loves exploring the D.C. area with her family. Reach her at [email protected].