A couple of years ago, Great Wolf Lodge opened a new location in Garden Grove, CA, JUST down the street from Disneyland! We have just spent our second “staycation” at the resort, and I hope I can share some of our experiences and tips we’ve found with other families who are considering this super fun family attraction!
The 105,000-square-foot indoor water park is exclusively for hotel guests and boasts over 600 suites. Our first trip was for Kaitlyn’s 4th birthday. We booked a standard suite and invited family to come along. We were able to purchase guest visitor passes for $50/pp and kids with 4 little toddlers, 3 of whom did not require a wristband. Despite their young age (3 under 3), the kids all had a blast! This year, we booked 2 suites for both families and the kids (5 under 5!) – and again all throughly enjoyed the park!
For the toddlers, we’ve always packed their Puddle Jumpers, because they are all familiar and comfortable with them. The resort does provide complimentary life vests and suggest all children under 48″ wear them.
The water park itself is indoors, heated to a comfortable 84F, with water temp at 82F. Fresh, dry towels are limitless – my how this was important with so many kids! The large number of employees and life guards on watch was reassuring as well. With our group’s young ages, we typically spent a lot of time in the Cub Paw Pool. Even our littlest (10 months) enjoyed the shallowest of waters, with a beach style-slope entry, water fountains, water tables, and the tiniest of slides. The older toddlers also loved the slides in the Cub Paw Pool and overall semi-freedom of being able to bob, walk, and paddle in the shallow waters. Our toddlers also LOVED Fort Mackenzie and all the water slides it offered. Even our 2 year olds could slide down solo, with a parent waiting at the bottom. The lazy river and wave pools were also a huge hit with the older toddlers, accompanied by adults of course. The adults took turns supervising little ones and going on the big slides for some thrills as well.
We made a point to attend their famous Bedtime Storytime in the main lobby. We had missed it on our first trip because we were still playing in the water. Plan accordingly if you want to attend this FREE nightly event. We set enough time to get up to the rooms, shower, get the kids in PJs, and scope out good seats. The kids got a kick out of going downstairs and seeing everyone else in their jammies as well. The stage involved moving characters, screens, a live storyteller, and a large character for meet-and-greet afterwards. If your child is timid, it may be better to choose a spot further back from the stage.
To save some serious dough, book a weeknight stay. The second best alternative, as we have done both times – book a Sunday/Monday stay. Groupon also regularly has deals for Great Wolf, so be sure to check it out. You are allowed to use the waterpark as early as 1pm on the day of your stay, with check-in typically around 4pm. You can also pre-check in and they will send a text to let you know when your room is ready. For the day of checkout, check out is at 11am. You may pay an additional fee for a later check-out if space is available. You are also able to use the water park the FULL day until closing, on your check out day. Plan ahead and pack a change of clothes and toiletries. There are showers and changing rooms in the water park.
We have yet to try the interactive MagiQuest game that is a huge hit with the resort, but we did see many groups throughly enjoying it! Be warned though, if you decide to partake, from my “interviews in the elevators”, the game requires a lot of elevator trips, and approximately 6 hrs to complete in entirety. It is also not free. I heard it cost about $40 ($20 per wand, and $20 for the game). It was conclusive by all participants we saw, that they thought it was completely worth it! When our kids are old enough to enjoy, I am sure it will be an activity we do as a family!
* A refillable souvenir cup for drinks can be purchased for $14.95 plus tax and includes free refills for the duration of your stay.
* Dunkin Donuts (on main lobby level) also has a refillable coffee cup for $9.95 plus tax.
* Guests celebrating birthdays can request a special “wolf ears” headband, as long as available. Our first year, they were all out. All children guests receive complimentary wolf ears.
* There is a Target within 1/2 mile down the street for anything you may need or forget.
* McDonald’s is across the street.
* The Great Wolf “story” and an accompanying episode can be found in animated version on the in-room tv station.
* There is a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker in the room. We also received a couple of free bottles of water.
* Though the signs state no outside foods can be brought in, we never had any trouble with the snacks and milk we packed for the kids.
* GWL provides a limited number of complimentary shuttles to and from Disneyland Resort.
Years ago, we never would have thought we would have needed or found a reason to stay locally at an indoor water park. However, Great Wolf Lodge really has become such a treat that we’ve all fallen for. Have you stayed at a Great Wolf Lodge? Please feel free to share any of your tips as well!
***ALL OPINIONS AND TIPS ARE MY OWN. NO COMPENSATION WAS PROVIDED FOR THIS REVIEW.***