Travel

Still Howlin’ ~ Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

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All smiles at GWL

If you’ve never been to Great Wolf Lodge, you have to go! Although we have been before, our most recent visit was the very best one we have ever had. Initially, I was hesitant and unsure about going because of COVID concerns, but the lodge is still howlin’ on. The cancellation policy offered by Great Wolf made me much more comfortable in booking, as well as all of their precautions to ensure the safety of guests. We have been careful, and wear masks everywhere, and felt we needed to get out of our house and provide a bit of normalcy for the kids. The “Paw Pledge” commitment at Great Wolf includes social distancing, contactless procedures, cleaning and sanitation, and access to masks and hand sanitizer throughout the lodge. Masks are required, with the exception of when you are in the water. There were many people wearing masks and/or face shields in the water park. We felt safe and were impressed with the changes made to keep the fun going for kids. For example, rather than the usual craft making tables there were to-go craft bags. Rather than the normal character visits, there were photo-ops as you can see pictured. This may not be the same for some, but for us with a child who is terribly afraid of characters, it was a dream come true. The wolf in a cage helped us out a lot. And while I wish COVID was something nonexistent, our stay at Great Wolf was an example of making a situation as positive as possible. The lodge was operating at reduced capacity and it was not crowded at all. It was really enjoyable for everyone.

I have a few points of advice for having a stay you love. First, my best advice for booking with Great Wolf is to check the rate calendar on their website. You can see the price of any night you want to book for any of the room types offered, and this is how I always find the lowest price. Booking early ensures you get your room of choice – I booked our trip in the fall for February. There are always deals offered as well that you want to check out. Usually, going midweek offers lower prices. Second, you have to choose a room that fits your family. I made the mistake once of choosing the cute room with the little cabin and bunk beds because it was so irresistibly adorable. Guess what? The girls never slept there. The bunk bed mattresses were really firm, so then there were tons of people trying to fit in one bed. I got in the bunk bed to see what the fuss was about and agreed with the girls; just not as comfortable as we prefer. For a family of five, we found the perfect room for us that the girls still loved even though it wasn’t decorated in a kid theme. The loft room gave us exactly the right amount of space with comfortable sleeping arrangements – two beds downstairs and one bed upstairs. There was also a small table, a fireplace, a pull-out sofa, three televisions, a microwave, a mini fridge, and two bathrooms. This is our room of choice from here on out. It was perfect!

When you look at the price of staying at Great Wolf, remember that it includes water park admission. For a family of five, this is a good deal. Get to the water park early, as soon as it opens in the morning, if you want to find a chair to put your towel on. Chairs are taken fast and not given up very quickly because kids want to stay in the water park ALL day and never leave. You can also rent a locker so you don’t have to worry about carrying around anything else that you didn’t leave in your room, so not finding a chair isn’t terrible. If you plan to eat, though, it comes in handy.

There are also many add-on packages available and you can add as much or as little as you want for your budget. Just remember that if you are going to end up going to the buffet or going to the arcade, it’s cheaper to add those things on before you go. The Paw Pass (I kept saying Paw Patrol pass accidentally) was a great deal. When you see the prices of individual activities, you will be so glad you bought the pass. Look at the differences in the passes and choose what your kids will enjoy the most. The Paw Pass doesn’t include Build-A-Bear and while it’s true that the last thing we need is another stuffed animal, the girls wanted to do that and we didn’t let them, so the next time we go I’ll choose the cheaper pass that does include that activity.

We also did the MagiQuest game for the first time and the girls loved it. Kids use their magic wands to go on a quest around the lodge. You will need comfortable shoes for this adventure and don’t forget to look up…there are a few magic tiles on the ceiling, some animals that dance in their cages when you shake the wand at them, and a bear on the wall whose eyes will light up in addition to all the other magical things. For kids who enjoy competition, they can look for their name in the top player rankings.

One of the most convenient things about staying at Great Wolf is that there are dining options and you can charge directly to your room using your bracelet, which means you don’t have to carry money around or load up the kids to go find a place to eat dinner. Try the pizza or get a family spaghetti dinner to carry to your room, or eat in at the buffet. A must do that you might not think about is to go buy the chocolate covered strawberries. They were incredible and affordable – a much better value and taste than I have gotten anywhere else. I mean better than the expensive strawberries you can buy online…I’m serious. And trust me on the taste. We ate 21 of them!

We were safe, we had fun, and we made great memories together as a family. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and accommodating, from housekeeping to the manager. I hope you get a chance to visit too, and that your experience will be as happy as ours was.

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