Discover 10 reasons why our family considers Great Wolf Lodge to be “The Best Hotel EVER!” (Hint: it involves water slides, a magician’s quest, dance parties, plush pets, and SO much more!)
Note: this post is not sponsored by Great Wolf Lodge – we just had a TON of fun staying there and wanted to share our experience with you! We were graciously provided with a Mazda CX-9 to drive during our Southern California vacation by DriveShop.
Our family recently visited Great Wolf Lodge in Southern California (Garden Grove), and it was an incredible experience. If you’ve ever heard of Great Wolf Lodge, you probably associate the resort with their massive indoor water park, but there is SO much more to do and see than just water slides!
Great Wolf Lodge is about 35 miles away from the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and 13 miles away from John Wayne Airport in Orange County (SNA), so it’s an easy drive no matter which airport you choose to fly into. We picked up our Mazda CX-9 at LAX, and it was a nice and comfortable drive for our family of five (and all of our luggage!). The Great Wolf Lodge is located just down the street from Disneyland, so make sure to take a peek at their super awesome package deals!
From the moment that we stepped into the lobby, I knew this was going to be an unforgettable experience for our family. Great Wolf Lodge is currently all decked out as Snowland for the holiday season, and that means LOTS of Christmas trees, holiday decor, visits from Santa, and even “snow” fall at their nightly story time event! There are also daily craft activities, character visits, pajama dance parties, and more, all themed around the Snowland holiday event.
The lobby is also home to a life-sized gingerbread house, baked right inside the Great Wolf Lodge kitchens! The gingerbread cottage is made from 663 pounds of gingerbread, 70 gallons of icing, 1,152 Peeps, 450 pounds of Mike & Ikes, and 135 pounds of gumdrops, and it took workers over 160 hours to create – WOW!
You can make a reservation to dine inside of the life-sized gingerbread house for a $10 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities (plus the cost of your meal) for a once-in-a-lifetime family experience.
10 Reasons Why Great Wolf Lodge is Awesome:
1. The Waterpark, of Course!
Great Wolf Lodge is known for its guests-only indoor waterpark, but there is SO much more to the park than just the awesome water slides. With over 105,000 square feet of indoor water park action, there are tons of fun things for everyone to do!
The water park is home to an impressive wave pool, a relaxing lazy river, and several pools and themed areas. The area is kept at a constant 84-degree temperature, so it’s always summertime inside the water park!
Fort Mackenzie is a three-story treehouse of fun that’s perfect for all ages with interactive water toys, four water slides, and a gigantic bucket that tips every few minutes, so listen for the warning bells!
The Cub-Paw Pool is perfect for tiny tots with a zero-depth entry and a 24″ “deep end” full of kiddie slides and rainbow water cannons.
But oh, those big water slides were the highlight of our water park visits!
Even my six-year-old braved all of the big water slides…and LOVED them! There are lots of different slides to choose from for every size and age group!
There’s even a surf simulator, the Wolf Rider Wipeout, that offers three different riding positions for all skill levels. SO much fun!
2. The Northern Lights Arcade
Great Wolf Lodge has a huge arcade that is open 24 hours a day!
The games were all very kid-friendly, and we found them to be extremely generous with their ticket awards! Kids are able to trade in their tickets for a wide variety of prizes, and my boys ended up with a bunch of souvenirs from the arcade.
There are SO MANY claw machines in and around the arcade, and they were all filled with toys that were positioned in such a way that made it easy peasy for the kids to actually win the prizes (for a change!).
These guys were super proud of their claw machine skills! This was after Round One…by the end of Round Two the next evening, they had won a total of TWELVE new stuffed friends!
MagiQuest turns your stay at Great Wolf Lodge into a magical interactive game! Each player chooses a special magic wand (sold separately), gives it a topper with extra powers, and sets off on a quest around the lodge.
Each personal magic wand triggers interactive stations that give the player clues to unravel the mysteries of the Magi in three different levels and game options. Each game can take from 30 minutes to 3 hours, and can be paused and resumed at any time during your stay.
MagiQuest is a great way to burn off the kids’ energy at the end of the night or a great way to begin your morning while you’re waiting for other events and attractions!
4. Themed Suites
We stayed in a Wolf Den suite, and it was the perfect size for our family of five with a set of bunk beds in the “Wolf Den” and a queen-sized bed and sofa sleeper in the main room. The bunk bed room interacts with MagiQuest wands and Clubhouse Crew pets (made at the Creation Station), so make sure to put those items in the main room at night if you don’t want them going off!
5. Scoops Kids Spa
We didn’t take advantage of the Scoops Kids Spa during our visit, but my boys were really impressed that there was a special place just for kids to get ice cream-themed spa treatments!
6. SO Much Yummy Food!
I didn’t actually take any pictures of the food that we had (gasp!), but there is a TON of it at Great Wolf Lodge! From poolside snacks and cocktails to late-night pizza, breakfast buffets, ice cream treats, Dunkin’ Donuts, and The Lodge Wood Fired Grill that serves up an incredible chicken and waffles and sweet potato fries combo – there is something for everyone’s tastes at GWL!
7. Ten Paw Alley
Family bowling at its finest with half-length lanes and five-pound bowling balls makes it fun and easy for everyone to have a good time!
8. Howl at the Moon Glow Golf
Mini-golf has never been more fun than underneath the glowing black lights!
Be sure to ask about the resort’s package deals that include all of these fun activities for one low price!
9. Creation Station and Clubhouse Crew
The Creation Station is a Build-a-Bear-style shop where kids make and dress their own plush pal and then bring their character to life in the Clubhouse Crew interactive game. Similar to MagiQuest, Clubhouse Crew takes children on an interactive journey through stations located throughout the resort for fun games, quizzes, and activities with their stuffed friend.
10. Location, location, location!
As I mentioned earlier, Great Wolf Lodge is located right down the street from Disneyland, and the resort offers some amazing package deals. We purchased our vacation package through Get Away Today, and we got a steal of a deal (use code Happiness to save even more!)! We got a three-day Disney park hopper pass, and we enjoyed the best of all worlds with family adventure at Disney parks during the daytime and all the fun of Great Wolf Lodge during the mornings and evenings! Seriously, BEST VACATION EVER!
Just in case you forgot something at home, there’s a huge Target just down the street from Great Wolf Lodge that also sells inexpensive Disney souvenirs if you want to save a buck or two! If you happen to have a sunroof like our awesome Mazda CX-9 did, the parking lot is also a wonderful location to take in the nightly Disneyland fireworks if you happen to leave the park before the show. I wasn’t sure that we were going to need a vehicle on this trip, but in the end, I was beyond grateful that we had it! Great Wolf Lodge is close to everything, but it’s super convenient to be able to hop in your car and run a quick errand to pick up a replacement toothbrush (not that we know anything at all about that!) when you need to. The Mazda CX-9 was incredibly fuel efficient, and even though we ran around town a bunch, as well as to-and-from the airport, we barely put a dent in our tank of gas!
We actually had to head to Target to buy an extra suitcase to bring home all of those claw machine prizes, and I was worried that we might not have enough trunk space. Luckily, the back of the Mazda CX-9 was super roomy, and it fit all of our luggage without any problem at all! I couldn’t believe how many extra goodies we came home with from the Great Wolf Lodge – I even picked up a couple of holiday gifts from their gift shop!
We had even more fun at Great Wolf Lodge than I thought we would (and that’s saying a lot because I had high expectations!), and I highly recommend it! My family is still talking about how awesome it was to stay at “The Best Hotel EVER,” and we’re already making plans for a return visit!
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