June 6th, 2012 by RichmondBargains

great wolf lodge water bucket

After hearing about fun times from many friends, I finally got to check the resort out for myself last month. Along for the ride were my four-year-old, my ten-month-old, and my mom.

GWL is located an hour’s drive or less down I-64. Its main attraction is the huge indoor waterpark, for which lodge guests receive free passes.

First things first, of course, I had to find a great deal on a room…

How to get a discount on Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg rooms:

    – Request a Savvy Saver card from RichmondMom.com and use the code RICH230A to save 20% on best available room rates and spa services. (Restrictions may apply in peak periods)

    RichmondMom also sometimes gets blocks of rooms at a discount for specific dates, which is how I got our premium suite for $149.99. The lowest price I’ve seen is $139.99 a night for the basic suites.

    – Sign up for Great Wolf Lodge emails to receive notification of the periodic 48-Hour Sales, when you can purchase rooms at a discount

    – Check the Great Wolf Lodge Deals page for current discount package options

    – Ask about discounts for military, AAA, etc.

    – Not surprisingly, the cheapest rates are usually offered Sunday through Thursday nights

Overall, we had a blast. My oldest was fascinated by all the furniture and decor made from rough-hewn logs.

My favorite feature was actually our waterpark pass bracelets that doubled to scan as our room key! Oh-so-stylish and no worries about losing them:

great wolf lodge wristband

My second-favorite was that, since the waterpark is indoors, I didn’t have to hassle with sunscreen!

Apparently simplification and convenience are my top priorities these days 🙂

Most of our free time was devoted to waterpark shenanigans. There are over a dozen sections/slides to the giant indoor park, which is kept a balmy 84 degrees. My uber-cautious four-year-old didn’t venture beyond the kiddie (Whooping Hollow) and wave (Beaver Tail Pond) pools this visit. He developed a paranoia about the huge water bucket that dumps 1,000 gallons of water in the central play area periodically; when her heard the warning dings, he would freeze wherever he was and cover his ears. Despite his misgivings, he did, however, thouroughly enjoy himself!

Saving at the resort, and random tips

Bring your own food! The rooms all come with a mini fridge and microwave. They do not, however, have any plates, utensils, or other cooking equipment (I ended up slicing bananas with my trusty mini Swiss Army knife). Dining prices at Great Wolf are high, though not highway robbery.

There are a number of restaurants just around the corner, including Sonic (Go for the half-price drink happy hour from 2-4pm every day!), IHOP, Burger King, Subway, and Chick-fil-A. If you need to pick up anything, there’s a Walmart as well. Or if you continue down Rochambeau Drive past Great Wolf Lodge, you’ll reach the delicious Pierce’s Pitt BBQ!

Pack a separate bag with your swim gear. You can start using the waterpark at 1pm on the day you arrive, and all day the day you check out, but you might not be allowed into your room until 4pm and have to check out by 11am. If your swim stuff is separate, you can head straight for the pool and change in the changing rooms. (I only saw three changing/shower stalls in the women’s area, however, which seemed insufficient)

Lockers are available to rent for $10 a day. We skipped the rental, and I just shoved my keys in our swim bag. Everyone leaves their clothes and towels on a table/surrounding chairs (It’s a good idea to claim a prime spot early in the day!)

You don’t need to bring towels – they are provided at the entrance to the waterpark (and are extremely scratchy I might add. No temptation to pilfer them)

DO bring warm cover-ups, like a zip-up sweatshirt, for the air-conditioned walk back to your room.

If you have older kids, anticipate a some pricey extras. Thankfully, my four-year-old was blissfully oblivious to all the alluring things for sale, but elementary age and older will certainly realize that there is a kids spa, mini golf, a big arcade, and game involving wands. As someone who enjoyed the computer game Myst as a kid, I thought the MagiQuest game looked like a fun activity down the road when my son is older. You have to buy a wand (I didn’t check the price, but I think they are $20 or $25) and pay $10 for a game.

“Suite” just means it has a fridge. As a mom with little ones who need their naps in peace, this is one of my pet peeves about hotels that advertise suites. To me, a suite has a separate bedroom with a door, but most hotels disagree with my definition, making it difficult to book rooms because the descriptions are often unclear.

(Great Wolf Lodge calls this a Queen Sofa Suite)
queen sofa suite.

I greatly appreciate the floorplans and room views included on the website, so at least I know what I’m getting. The reason I finally booked a stay was that RichmondMom had a bargain for premium suites – $149.99 for rooms that were $389 (!) at full price. I snapped up a Grizzly Bear Suite, which is HUGE, with two separate bedrooms and big living space.
great wolf lodge grizzly bear suite

It was more than ample for the two boys, my mom, and I, and could sleep six in comfort. The only thing I would change is I wish it came with a bigger table and more than two chairs. Oh, and a better balcony view (future home of a car dealership):

great wolf lodge view

The biggest recommendation for the resort was the fact that everywhere I looked, people were having a great time. Great Wolf Lodge definitely knows what it’s doing!

What are your tips for great stays at Great Wolf Lodge (saving money or in general)?

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