Great Wolf Lodge was ok, nothing special. (Part I)

This past Saturday Anna turned 5! I will write a 5 year old update as soon as I get my thoughts together, but today is all about the little trip we took over the weekend to celebrate.

So...Great Wolf Lodge. This place seems to be all the rage. I mean, everyone (friends & coworkers) I talked to all said this place was da bomb. After we came back from Disney World in November, I was itching to put another trip on our calendar so when I saw a great promotion, I ran it by Luke and booked it for Anna’s birthday weekend. In total, we paid $500 for two nights in a standard family suite, with $100 in Bonus Bucks to spend at the resort.

Bottom Line: The kids had fun...just not the kind of fun we wanted them to have. With a giant waterpark in front of them, all Anna wanted to do was swim/soak in the hot tub. Will was more or less the same except he was a little more adventurous. Seriously? Between that and the average accommodation, this place was definitely not "da bomb" I was expecting. At least, not for our family. I mean, if the kids had the time of their lives, then it would be worth it. Expensive still, but worth it.
The Details: We picked up Anna early from school on Friday and arrived to GWL (in Williamsburg) at 4pm, right in time for check-in. We quickly changed into our bathing suits and hit the waterpark. We found out that half of the park was closed due to various reasons, so we were forced to join everyone else at the wave pool. That was fine, the kids seemed to like it. After a while, we decided to go to another attraction that was open -- the family hot tub. That was a big mistake because once we introduced that to them, they were reluctant to do anything else. Luke did convince Will to do a tube waterslide with him and they both loved it (I later did it myself and it was really fun, lots of twists and turns). As other attractions opened up, we also did a round in the lazy river as family, but other than that, it was more hot-tubbing.

The next day we did it all over again. Everything was open this time so we told them (Anna specifically) no hot tub until we tried everything else. And they did...but in the end, it was back to the hot tub we went.

In the meantime, Will just wanted to do this the entire time:
Lesson Learned: I do think GWL is great for kids that are more adventurous (and older?) than mine. It's nice for the parents -- play for 2 or 3 hours and then up to the room to rest -- without having to drive anywhere, to have everything under one roof. However, for my kids? Next time I am taking them to a swimming pool (and hot tub!) at any old hotel, with their floaties. Because that's all they really care about.
Few more things I want to mention:
1. Guests can use the waterpark anytime between 1pm on the day of check-in until closing on the day of check-out, which is a pretty sweet deal. We didn't take advantage of that, though. We didn't go back to the waterpark on the day we checked out.
2. The waterpark still felt cold to me, even at (supposedly) 84 degrees.
3. For the money, the waterpark really didn't seem that big or special.
4. The resort room was average. The carpet was visibly dirty (also stinky). It was old.
5. The employees didn't always know how to handle Bonus Bucks, so whenever I used them, there was a long (actually, LONG) wait.
6. An overnight trip would be enough, but I still liked our two-night stay so we didn't have driving days back to back.

There are other things to do at GWL beside the waterpark. Tomorrow/this week, I will highlight them all.


  1. Good to know! We have friends that asked us to go with them sometime in the future, but I have had my worries that our kids wouldn't enjoy it much. For one, they aren't great swimmers yet and I get nervous any time they are near water. Two, both of mine are scared of even slides at the park! There are a few they'll go down but every new park brings about a new fear of a slide. So adding water to it would likely make it scarier I think. Maybe when our kids are older it will be more fun? I could totally see my kids favoring the hot tub like Anna and Will.

    1. In the kiddie area, there are 3 little slides. Will loved them, but Anna reluctantly went down twice. I think the part where she hit the water scared her. She does love all the slides at the park, though. Based on what you said, I would definitely wait a few more years!

  2. Can you post a photo of his hot tub that the kids liked so much? Bummer it wasn't all that but hey, the more you know....Our friend asked if wanted to go with them last year but I declined because I'm not a water person. I'm sure my son would have LOVED the slide all day but it's not my idea of fun. Nice I don't have to put sunscreen on the kids though ;).

    1. You mean you don't do stuff JUST for the kids? Good for you!

    2. oh and the famous hot tub. sure, will post a picture of it next time :) i actually made a photobook yesterday of the trip when we got home. it has the "fun" pictures so i was planning on sharing those pictures using the photobook.

  3. Funny thing - my next door neighbor just went to the GWL in the PA Poconos.. and had a blast. His kids are a bit older.

    I got to dog sit their dog.

  4. Oh i'm sorry to hear you guys didn't have a great time. We had a great time but i think it was mainly because we had grandparents to watch the kids while they enjoyed the waves pool and we got to ride the slides. And my son enjoyed all the kid slides. If we hadn't had my parents with us i doubt we would have gone. We had stayed only one night and had no hot tub in our room. and my husband gets a corporate discount so that makes the price a lot better.

    1. Will went on the kiddie slides over and over too, that was fun for him. I should've gone on the big slides a few more times when my husband was in the hot tub with the kids. The hot tub wasn't in our room, it was in the waterpark, right next to the wave pool.

  5. Oh well, we'll chalk this one up as another lesson learned. Our kids love water, they'll splash in a pool or baby beach all day long. But these water park setups are just not their thing. Honestly, I don't like it much either. It's just not natural. I need the feel of the hot sun and sand. Now that we know, we'll save money by avoiding places like this in the future.


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