It’s a cold, rainy day and the kids are driving you crazy. Don’t get mad, get moving! Hop in the car and head up I-64 to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, where awesome adventures await. Built in 2005, Great Wolf Lodge is a family resort that features an amazing indoor water park, mini golf, and many more activities for families to enjoy together.
Recently my daughters, Charlotte, 11, and Julia, 9, got out of school early, so we went on a quest for fun at Great Wolf Lodge. In order to visit the water park, families must stay overnight in one of the lodge’s 405 rooms. However, many of the other activities are available for day visitors. We were on a mission to check out the newest adventure game offered at the park, Shadow Quest, which joins two other adventure games available: MagiQuest and Compass Quest.
Shadow Quest is played throughout the lobbies and hallways of the four-story lodge and is similar to a scavenger hunt. You journey through a medieval landscape complete with props, lights, treasure chests, jewels, and small video screens with faces that talk—all of which are activated by the whisk of a wand. Participants select from eight different kinds of wands, ranging in price from $16 to $22, which you can take as a keepsake when you’re done.
After selecting their wands, my daughters chose names, which were logged into a computer. Next we met Kelsey McCabe, who explained how the game works and how to operate the wands and their magic toppers. The wands turn on lights throughout the lobby and restaurant as well as activate stations when playing the game. A computer keeps track of your progress, allowing the game to be played throughout your stay.
The idea is to search the kingdom and find colored crystals that light up and make a musical sound when activated by the wand. These are located in various areas of the lodge, including “Tangled Woods” and “Forgotten Hall.” The setting is mysterious, a bit spooky, but not scary, and there are video prompters that help along the way. When the wand is waved over a video screen, a face appears to offer a clue and help.
Shadow Quest appeals to kids of all ages, most of whom play it with their parents. Older children, like mine, will be captivated by the hunt: finding the clues that lead them to the crystals. However, younger children will get a kick out of waving their wands around and making things light up. In fact, the entire family can get into the game.
In addition to Shadow Quest, we visited Scoops Kids Spa at the lodge. Charlotte, my older daughter who loves to dress up and do all things girl-y, really enjoyed the hair curling and make-up application. Instead of making her look like a little grown-up, Danielle Perkins, a cosmetologist, and Carolyn Uselman, a certified massage therapist and make-up artist, applied kid-style face glitter and painted a star on Charlotte’s face. They curled her hair and added pink hair chalk—a fun, single-use hair dye.
My younger daughter, Julia, was reluctant to be made-up and get her hair done. She is a brush-her-hair-and-go type of girl. Fortunately, Carolyn and Danielle sensed her hesitation and talked patiently about what they could do. Julia decided she wanted to be part of the Shadow Quest theme, so the ladies created a cat-like look, which Julia loved.
We also stopped in the Northern Lights Arcade, a spacious electronic playland which caters to elementary and middle-school children. The bright lights and loud beeps and buzzes can seem overwhelming, but there is a definite wow factor. Charlotte and Julia loved Fruit Ninja, a game available on electronic devices, but at Northern Lights Arcade, you play it on a big 25-inch screen. Playing as a team, the girls racked up tickets, which they could exchange for gifts or candy. (Guess which they chose?)
My family was worn out when we got home, but we loved our quest for adventure and can’t wait to go back again. And we won’t forget our magic wands!
Susan Smigielski Acker is a freelance writer.