Great Wolf Lodge – it’s become synonymous with 100% fun in our household. We recently took our second visit there, and here’s why we love it. They have thought of everything to ensure that a family stay is seamless.
Checking In ::
Check in at Great Wolf Lodge is so simple. We used the new mobile app to check in, which meant we picked our arrival time and then got a text when our room was ready. (Early check in is not guaranteed so please do not rely on the time you pick on your app). We were actually still at home in Anaheim when we got our text, but you can use the waterpark from 1pm on the day of check in.
Room keys don’t exist at Great Wolf Lodge. Instead, they use a smart band system. The band not only opens your room but also allows you to pay for anything you want in the hotel and have it charged to your room. Wallet free life is wonderful! Every guest checking in is given the cutest pair of Wolf ears (special ears available for birthdays!) and then the fun really begins.
The Water Park ::
Ok so really this is what Great Wolf Lodge is all about. The Great Wolf Lodge chain of 18 hotels across the US and Canada all have a huge and amazing water park attached. The SoCal hotel was built in 2016 so the water park feels very new.
The hotel has over 600 suites and you MUST be staying in the hotel to access the water park and its FOURTEEN slides. Yep. 14 of them! You can also have a go at surfing and play in real waves created by their wave machine!
The park is organized into clear areas, most of which are inside a giant covered atrium. All the big slides are together in one area (accessed by many stairs!). They have a baby/toddler area with baby-friendly slides, a fun water play area which incorporates slides, and a sports/obstacle course area. The water park also has a great outdoor area with a shallow pool that is perfect to visit when little ones get cold inside.
The water park has ample seating areas for families to sit and relax. During peak times it can get quite crowded, but there is the opportunity to rent a cabana. I’d definitely go this route if we were traveling with a few families to split the cost. Cabana rental starts from $119 plus tax for inside and $199 for outside rentals. It includes lounge chairs, seating for six, 20-inch flat-screen Satellite TV, security safe, non-alcoholic beverages, and a basket of towels. All cabanas are fully accessible. If you book a cabana on your check-in day, you can gain access to the water park the moment it opens instead of having to wait until 1pm. For info on the slides available and height restrictions for each slide click here.
The Activities ::
The fun doesn’t end with the water park at Great Wolf Lodge. There is a great selection of activities included with your hotel stay as well as some which you pay extra for.
Free Activities ::
- Forest Friends Show – a cute show done in the lobby by the Great Wolf Lodge characters.
- Crafts in the lobby – while we were there, there was button-making, singing, and coloring.
- Wake Up with Wiley and Friends – fun activities lead by staff members and the Great Wolf Lodge animals before 10am when the water park opens.
- PJ Party with the Great Wolf Kids – fun evening dance party with games, a bedtime story, and the chance to meet one of the forest friends.
Paid Activities ::
We were gifted the Paw Pass, which is an activity pass that includes so many fun things to do. The pass costs $79.99 plus tax. There is also a Pup Pass available for younger guests at $44.99 and a Wolf Pass which is an upgraded Paw Pass and costs $99.99 plus tax. The Paw Pass includes:
- One MagiQuest game – we didn’t realize how much fun MagiQuest was until we started playing. Each child is given a wand. The wand is linked to quests around the hotel and you can use your wand to do MAGIC! It’s a lot of fun and we look forward to doing it again.
- Choice of classic or color wand, standard topper or Magi belt
- One Creation Station animal with a Clubhouse Crew Adventure – much like Build-A-Bear, you pick and stuff your own Great Wolf Lodge creature.
- One 12 oz. candy cup
- One pair of Great Wolf Lodge goggles
- One Glitz Glitter tattoo (get this when you leave as the pool water will remove it!)
- One Leather Treaty wristband which is personalized with the child’s name.
- One $5 Paw Points arcade card – this was the item I felt offered the least value on this pass. $5 in the arcade doesn’t go very far so expect to only play 2 games, or pay for more paw points.
Other Paid Activites ::
There is also Laser Frenzy, a laser maze you have to escape (think Mission Impossible style!). Howl at the Moon Glow golf is a glow in the dark miniature golf experience. If you want to do some bowling you can visit Ten Paw Alley for a game or two. Finally, arcade lovers will go wild for the Northern Lights Arcade where you play for tokens that you can spend when you are finished.
For more info on packages available at Great Wolf Lodge in SoCal, including info on their Spa and birthday offers, click here.
The Food ::
There are so many food options at Great Wolf Lodge that you are bound to find something that works for your family. When poolside you can enjoy the indoor Buckets Incredible Craveables or the outdoor Grizzly Jacks Bar and Grill. Both serve a variety of adult and child-friendly foods, drinks, and alcohol. We enjoyed sitting outside at the bar while the little ones played at the end of our first day, and the soft drinks have free refills!
The character breakfast at The Loose Moose Family Kitchen was a lot of fun. The buffet style restaurant serves breakfast and dinner for a reasonable price, and the food is fresh and tasty. If you want a more formal meal then you can hit Lodge Wood Fired Grill for delicious BBQ and steak. There is also Hungry As A Wolf where you can get pizza, pasta, salads, and hot subs. We saw some very clever families who had ordered pizzas to go and were taking them to their rooms. What a genius idea!
Little Indulgences ::
If sweet treats are what you are after, Great Wolf Lodge has Bear Paw Sweets & Eats, a delicious coffee shop packed with cakes, pastries, homemade fudge, and ice cream. There is also a Dunkin’ Donuts (hello donuts for breakfast…) and a candy store. If you visit the candy store, you MUST try to grape flavor gummy bears. They’re a taste sensation!
If wine is your thing, Great Wolf Lodge also offers Wine Down service, which is a food and wine pairing delivered to your room at a time of your choice between 8pm and 11pm. After a crazy day in the water park you might just need a glass of vino!
Great Wolf Lodge provides an allergy friendly environment. This is what their website says about their catering for dietary requirements and allergies:
All our culinary teams are well versed in common food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are more than happy to accommodate your needs, and we encourage you to speak to your chef so your meal can be prepared safely from the very beginning. Great Wolf Lodge dining facilities do not serve peanut or tree nut products, but some of our products may be manufactured in facilities that also process nuts.
Sleeping Arrangements ::
Great Wolf Lodge covered all bases when they designed their rooms. We stayed in a standard Family Suite (2 queen beds and a full-size sleeper sofa). It was spacious, comfortable and included everything we might need for our stay. Each room is equipped with a fridge, coffee machine, microwave, and some snacks to keep hungry little ones happy.
There are lots of other room types to choose from, including themed suites and premium suites. For more details, click here to go to the Great Wolf Lodge website.
I’m working on an autism friendly series because that’s very important for our family. We found Great Wolf Lodge to be relatively autism friendly. Choosing to go midweek during off peak season was very important for us. The water park was quiet and the wait times were short. They do not offer a disability pass option so I’d highly recommend going when the hotel is quieter.
Arlo LOVES the MagiQuest game so that kept him busy in the evening and gave him an escape if he needed a break from the water park. Mobile reception is great. I know to the parents of neurotypical children, that may seem silly. I like to know Arlo can access the thing he needs to prevent meltdowns. So it was great when he needed a sensory break, to be able to use our phones as his escape.
All in all, we LOVE Great Wolf Lodge and we are already looking forward to another visit next year.