By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
You probably don’t need a reason to make a visit to Great Wolf Lodge — it’s already famous as a great place for family fun year-round — but if you want an “excuse” to go now, visit in the fall to take advantage of Howl-O-Ween This annual celebration features the usual Great Wolf Lodge amenities, plus special — but not scary — events to celebrate Halloween.
For the entire month of October, all Great Wolf Lodge resorts provide a safe, indoor, climate-controlled way to celebrate Halloween. Howl-O-Ween activities include the nightly Trick-or-Treat Trail, costume parade, Monster Bash Dance Party, face painting, photo opportunities, and more.
We were invited to experience Great Wolf Lodge Howl-O-Ween for ourselves last weekend at the Williamsburg, Virginia, location, and can tell you this event is 100 percent a treat, with no tricks. See below for photos and details of all the fun you can expect!
Don’t worry about eating the sweets you get on this fun trick-or-treat route. You will do enough walking to burn it off! Great Wolf Lodge sets up its Trick-or-Treat Trail with neat decorated stations at various levels of its lodge. You follow a set route that takes you upstairs, downstairs, to the west wing, and to the east, each time coming to a new station with its own theme. You will end up in places such as the Witch’s Lair, the “Graveyard,” or the “Cave of Creatures.”
The trail is not scary: while the station names are spooky, with decorations to match, it’s all in good fun with no intent to scare. The costumed staff members staffing each stop are friendly and will invite your little goblins and ghouls to participate in games such as the Witch Hat Ring Toss, Mummy Bowling, or Pin the Wolf Ears on Mr. Bones. A nice touch of the trail is that the Howl-O-Ween House, the first stop, serves as a Teal Pumpkin stop for guests with food allergies and a non-food treat is handed out. (You also get a bag for trick-or-treating here, so there’s no need to bring your own).
Spooktacular Story Time
The traditional story time that takes place each night in the lobby takes a “spooky” twist during October. Again, the focus is to entertain, not scare, so these short stories are lighthearted and good for kids of all ages. The Great Wolf Lodge character animals, such as Wiley, Violet, and Oliver, also drop in for extra fun!
Monster Bash Dance Party
On Friday and Saturday nights, kids of all ages are invited to the hottest dance party around — the Monster Bash Dance Party! This is one fun “club” where you are not too young — or too old — to participate. Kids of all ages meet in the lobby at night to move along to dance hits, all under a giant balloon spider.
Face painting and other fun
Whether or not you brought a costume, the folks at Great Wolf Lodge can transform your kids into little bats and ghouls. Each day at different times, Great Wolf Lodge offers complimentary face painting
When you’re on the Great Wolf Lodge Howl-O-Ween Trick-or-Treat Trail, the decorated stations make for great photo opps. But at any other time during your stay, you can head to the lobby to take a photo with a festive backdrop.
Treats — and a way to burn them off
The food we had at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg was tasty, but visiting during Howl-O-Ween let us enjoy seasonal treats that were almost too pretty to eat. At Bear Paw Sweets & Eats, you can find cute cupcakes and terrifying treats. Don’t miss the ice cream and delicious fudge (also in Halloween designs) made on site! We tried the Amaretto and orange flavors and they were so yummy we had to buy some to bring home.
If you’re worried about indulging, rest assured you will have ways to burn off the extra calories. If you’re going to play MagiQuest (see below) you’ll already be walking around quite a bit, and Great Wolf Lodge also has a small gym with exercise equipment. During Howl-O-Ween, the resort offers other fun fitness activities for kids. You can begin each day with a Howl-O-Ween Yoga Trail or a Spooky Walk. You also can get some active play on the outdoor ropes course, climbing wall, and ten-pin bowling alley.
The famous waterpark
Perhaps the best-known feature of Great Wolf Lodge is the waterpark. With 15 locations across the United States and Canada, Great Wolf Lodge is North America’s largest family of indoor waterparks. A big selling point for families is that you can enjoy the waterpark not only during your stay but also on the day you check out.
This 67,000 square foot indoor waterpark, available exclusively to guests, is open from morning until night and has exciting options for guests of all ages and sizes. Greeting you upon your entry is Fort Mackenzie™, a four-story, 12-level, interactive tree-house water fort featuring suspension bridges, cargo nets, web crawls, more than 60 guest-activated water effects and a tipping bucket that holds almost 1,000 gallons of water. There’s also a big wave pool, with more than 112,000 gallons of water, the Wolf Rider Wipeout™ (an exciting surf simulator), and a relaxing lazy river. For those who love slides, there are four thrilling options, including a family raft ride and a new interactive one that lets you choose the music you want to hear as you rush down.
There are also two kiddie slides for guests under 48″ tall, and a fun tot area with splash fountains, interactive toys, small slides, and a zero-depth entry. This area was recently renovated so it’s all new!
The waterpark also features Chinook Cove™, an activity pool where you can shoot hoops right in the pool, and a Big Foot Pass™, a small balance course where you cross the pool on floating lily pads. All waterpark activities are included with a Great Wolf Lodge stay.
MagiQuest game, arcade, and more
Rivaling the waterpark in popularity is MagiQuest, a role-playing fantasy game that is hugely popular with children of all ages (and quite a few adults, too!). Buy a “magic wand” and pay for a game, and play as long as you want all day (and on subsequent visits; you keep the wand and pay for new adventures), seeking special icons, protecting your world, and battling dragons. Stations for this interactive game (which exist on all levels of the resort) are open until 11 pm, meaning guests can keep playing long after the waterpark and some other features have closed.
And definitely stop by the Great Wolf Lodge arcade! This HUGE area has modern, fun machines, including exciting “car racing” rides and classic games for bigger kids and adults, and little carousels and other fun options for tots. If you’re a night owl, this is the spot for you: the arcade is now open 24 hours a day!
Other entertainment and amenities at Great Wolf Lodge include Ten Paw Alley (a small but nice bowling area with six lanes), the Creation Station where you can build your own stuffed Great Wolf Kids character, a scavenger hunt, a small (four-seat) motion thrill-ride theatre, other interactive games, a spa for kids and adults, a lovely candy shop, restaurants, and a nice seasonal outdoor pool.
Want to experience Great Wolf Lodge Howl-O-Ween? You have two more weeks to book your visit!
All photos (c) P. Hall
Disclosure: My family and I were guests of Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg for Howl-O-Ween and received weekend accommodations, meals, activities, and gifts and keepsake items. We are at liberty to provide our honest review and, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.