Last weekend, my family and I spent a fantastic weekend at Great Wolf Lodge in Orange County. We were invited as media guests to attend their week-long celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the “Harvest Moon Festival”) and experience everything this high-quality resort has to offer.
This was our first visit. With a driving time of 1 – 2 hours from Los Angeles (depending on traffic), it’s the perfect “stay-cation” for Angelenos or extended vacation for visitors to SoCal.
I highly recommend a visit to Great Wolf Lodge for families with children of any age! It’s also a great place to celebrate birthdays, events, and have reunions or conferences (their conference spaces are huge!). We saw a few child-less couples having fun, who were there celebrating a niece or nephew’s birthday. The customer service and staff is extremely helpful and friendly, and the hotel is kept extremely clean. When kids are happy, parents are happy. Activities and entertainment all under one roof!
Our two-night, three-day experience was like Vegas for kids (and the kid in all of us)!
It’s all about the pool
Any good vacation is built around pool-time, and Great Wolf Lodge has it all. The 105,000 square foot indoor water park’s centerpiece is “Fort Mackenzie” – a multi-level tree house water fort with bridges, slides of all heights and multiple spray stations. Every four minutes, a giant bucket tips over, dumping water on everyone below.
Surrounding it is a wave pool, a lazy river, raft rides, water playground, and surf simulator. My 4-year old preferred the Cub Paw Pool, to swim and slide. My husband and I switched off kid-duties to experience the more thrilling slides such as the “Wolf Tail” – 360-degree thrill ride with vertical plunge and trapdoor.
There’s also a small outdoor area, with a walk-in pool and comfortable lounge chairs where my kid (surprisingly) took a nap.
Well-trained lifeguards are located throughout the water park, but it is still the parent or guardian’s responsibility to supervise their children. Kids are assigned colored wristbands, based on height, which also helps them access certain slides and pool areas.
Note: only hotel guests have access to the water park. Hotel guests may purchase additional wristbands under certain conditions.
Great Wolf Lodge offers a variety of family-friendly rooms, some suites sleeping up to 8 guests! If you want an extra-themed room, choose the Wolf Den Suite, or Kid Cabin Suite when booking your room – each has a separate kid-sleeping area with bunk beds.
My daughter’s favorite activity besides the water park was bowling! “Ten Paw Alley” is cosmic-style mini-bowling, where everything is scaled down – perfect for tiny hands! Guardrail options are available too, for those who need it. I was tickled to see my kid have so much fun. She even did the whole “lean, wait for it” move.
Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf
The 9-hole mini golf course is a lot of fun. Glow-in-the-dark animals and course outlines are bright neon, lit by black light. TIP: If your kid(s) is new to the game like ours was, it’s best to play in the middle of the day, when it’s not so crowded.
Yup, there’s a place for kids (and parents) to get pampered and relax during their day of fun. The Scooops® Kid Spa has ice-cream themed services including manicures and pedicures.
My daughter experienced a lotion, lipgloss, and hair perfume package, complete with tiara and sash!
MagicQuest® Adventure Game
Throughout the hotel, you’ll notice guests of all ages excitedly waving wands at oddly placed fixed objects. You won’t understand it until you experience it. When I heard it takes between 6-8 hours to complete, I was apprehensive to participate. However, once we started, it was difficult to stop!
How it works:
- Purchase your wand of your choice at the MagicQuest® store
- Register your wand and name it
- Purchase a Quest, which will activate your wand to allow you to play the game
- Play the game using the monitors, stations, and objects located throughout the hotel
- If you fully complete a quest, you are eligible to participate in a ceremony
- Your game progress is saved in your profile, and you can purchase re-activation for return visits
Interactive motion thrill ride
The “Howly Wood® XD Theater” offers three different themed options for this short movie shooting game. There was one that was western-themed, zombie-themed, and monster-themed. I liked how you can choose to make the seat shake or not, and how you are competing against the other guests. I had the top score in my group both times!
Good food, an eclectic buffet, and allergy-aware chefs
I was really impressed with the food served at Great Wolf Lodge. There are plenty of healthy food options available at all the eateries, even at the buffet. The executive chef, Hany Ali, worked at The Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach prior to his current position at The Great Wolf Lodge. He enjoys his role and helping families with food allergies or restrictions find the best food option.
Dancing + Live Entertainment
I love how Great Wolf Lodge helps wind the kids down to sleep. First, a dance party to get out the jiggles; next, an animatronic song from a bear and his forest friends (“Rhythm of Nature” Clock Tower Show); then, a bedtime story. Finally, a meet-and-greet with the character who helped with the bedtime story.
My daughter fell asleep so fast both nights – not just from exhaustion, but in anticipation of the exciting activities the next day!
Shopping + Souvenirs
There are plenty of great ways to remember your trip to the Great Wolf Lodge. We came home with a Rachel Raccoon plush, dressed like a princess. All plushes are stuffed with the help of the guest, with plenty of outfit options. In addition, kids can register their plus to play Clubhouse Crew, an interactive scavenger hunt game.
Disneyland Ticket Packages
Be sure to check out Great Wolf Lodge Southern California website for exclusive packages which include park passes to Disneyland. A great way to stay and save!
Upcoming Events at Great Wolf Lodge
Family-friendly Halloween celebration all month long featuring:
- Trick-or-Treat Trail
- Spooktacular Story Time
- Daily Costume Parade
- Monster Bash Dance Party
The resort is transformed into a winter wonderland complete with:
- Daily snow showers in the Grand Lobby
- Special appearances by Santa Claus
- Dine in the life-size Gingerbread House
- North Pole University
Tips for your trip
- If you have a life jacket for your child, you should bring it – their life preservers are abundant, but available on a first-come, first-serve basis
- Bring a waterproof pouch – to keep your valuables and phone
- Clothing tips:
- Pack band-aids and any other small first-aid kit items
- Wheelchair access: hotel public spaces, accessible rooms, and water park decks are ADA compliant
- Check-in time is at 4pm, but guests can access the water park as early as 1pm
- Guests can still enjoy the water park and amenities after checking out of the room – wristbands are good until closing hours the day of check-out.
Great Wolf Lodge
There are several Great Wolf Lodge locations across the United States, and one in Canada. This review is based on our visit to the Southern California/Anaheim Great Wolf Lodge, located at: 12681 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, CA 92840
Great Wolf Resorts, Inc.®, Madison, Wis., is North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts and, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, owns and operates its family resorts under the Great Wolf Lodge® brand. Great Wolf Resorts is a fully integrated resort company with Great Wolf Lodge locations in: Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Mich.; Kansas City, Kan.; Williamsburg, Va.; Pocono Mountains, Pa.; Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada; Mason, Ohio; Grapevine, Texas; Grand Mound, Wash.; Fitchburg, Mass., Garden Grove, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C
Book your visit or learn more on Great Wolf Lodge website: www.GreatWolf.com
Disclaimer: Westside Mommy was invited to experience the Great Wolf Lodge as a member of the media. No monetary compensation was exchanged for this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you, Great Wolf Lodge for hosting this amazing experience! This post contains affiliate links. All watermarked photos taken by Ruby Hunt (Westside Mommy). Non-watermarked photos provided by Great Wolf Lodge.
THANK YOU, GREAT WOLF LODGE!