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Trip Report Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, VA, with the granddaughters

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Our son and daughter-in-law invited us to join them and our granddaughters for an overnight at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park. Great Wolf is a chain, and we stayed at the one in Williamsburg, Virginia. We have never been anywhere like this before, having taken our children to Europe rather than Disney, Busch Gardens, or the like. Thus there will be a certain amount of what sounds like “Gollee!” in what follows, to which you might well respond, “Well, duh! Think so?” We don’t get out much.

Two major observations:
First: this place is a well-oiled machine for relieving you of your money. Rooms, food, beverages, extra activities all cost plenty. But at the same time, there is good value. You can use the water park from the time you check in (whether or not your room is ready) all the way to closing time on the day you check out, so you can pack in plenty of activity.
The facilities are well-kept, clean, wildly fun for kids of most ages, patrolled extremely well by lifeguards, and there is a universally pleasant and helpful staff. Our granddaughters are 3 and 7, and both found plenty to do. It was fun to watch them and join them in their activities and even more fun to watch their parents being kids.

Second: it is deeply touching to see what all sorts and conditions of parents will do for the enjoyment of their children. The children were universally well-behaved, and we were pleased that the parents were enjoying the place and their children. No yelling, no threats, no time out, no spankings. Mostly. See below.

First: the lack of teenagers. Yes, there were a few tweens of both genders, but the basic demographic was parents, children from newborn to twelve or thirteen, and grandparents. In fact, teenagers would probably have a great time, but somehow Great Wolf Lodge has an unbridgeable reputation for being uncool for high school students. They were the missing generation.

Second: the modesty of bathing suits. We live in a beach community and go almost every day in the summer, but I don’t think I have seen a skirted suit on anyone under 60, ever. Until Great Wolf. No one I saw had a bathing suit that was in the least bit risqué, and one sees far more cleavage, front and rear, at Trader Joe’s.

Third: the number of tattoos. I don’t know anyone with a tattoo. I don’t even know anyone whose children have a tattoo. Lots of people had tattoos, men and women, and they weren’t geeks or hipsters. Many of the tattoos were really badly done. Maybe they were temporary; if not, tattoo removal will be the great growth industry of the next twenty years.

The only negative came from the fact that I think many of the visitors don’t stay in hotels very often. Some families in adjoining rooms opened their doors to the hall, turning it into a common area for their families while annoying everyone else. People were not real quiet in the halls early in the morning or late at night, though we weren’t bothered since we had a somewhat remote room.
I saw into some of the rooms where the cleaners were working, and some of them were pigpens, with clothes and trash flung all over everything. I pity the cleaning staff, and I bet these guests aren’t great tippers, either. In the old days, schools actually taught people consideration for others, but they seem not to do that much anymore, and it shows.

Verdict: we had a good 24 hours and would go back once a year as long as they are interested. We wouldn’t go by ourselves, though my wife went on some pretty scary slides and loved it.

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