Our Family’s Visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Southern California

Family Guide to Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove

from the moment i found out about the Great Wolf Lodge, i knew that i wanted to take my family on a vacation there. it was about four years ago when i read a post on another blog about the Great Wolf Lodge in Texas. it looked AMAZING…like a rustic lodge with amazing experiences for kids and a giant indoor water park. at that time, there were only seven Great Wolf Lodges in the United States, but the ones in Texas and  Seattle were the closest to us here in California. unfortunately, our family was never able to travel anywhere close to any Great Wolf Lodges. so imagine my excitement to find out that one would be opening in Southern California!!!!! Garden Grove in Orange County to be exact.

we anxiously watched the construction and even went on a hard hat tour while the work was in progress. atlas, it was finished and recently just opened this past February. my family finally got to take that vacation, or should i say “staycation”, to the Great Wolf Lodge in Southern California last month!

we had an absolutely fabulous time. all of us….parents and kids. it was more than i had thought it would be. and so that you can see what to expect when you stay at the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California…i’m going to share some….okay A LOT of photos from our visit.  click here for discounts and deals to stay at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California review

the Great Wolf Lodge is unlike any other hotel or resort in Southern California. its 100% geared towards families – everything you need is right there in the resort, from food, to entertainment to the hotel rooms. you can eat, sleep and play and not have to worry about leaving the resort until your stay is over. kids are allowed to do what they do best, just be kids. it’s okay to be loud, run and have FUN. and be prepared for lots of it.

when we walked in the lobby, we were greeted into a grand lodge…with vaulting ceilings, a gigantic stone fireplace that is used as a gathering place for bedtime story time and dance parties, and wilderness murals flanking the walls.

The Entrance to the Great Wolf LodgeGreat Wolf Lodge StaircaseGreat Wolf Lodge Staircase DetailGreat Wolf Lodge BenchGreat Wolf Lodge Fire PlaceGreat Wolf Lodge ChandalierGreat Wolf Lodge Lobby

i immediately felt my kids excitement as we entered. they wanted to start exploring right away! so we quickly checked in and headed up to our room to put away our luggage. everyone who is staying in the room is given a wristband that acts as your room key. it allows you access to the water park, and the coolest thing is not ever having to worry about losing a room key. this saved me so much time…you don’t even know!

the rooms are fun…decorated in rustic cabin style. there are many types to choose – from standard to deluxe. we happened to stay in a “Kid Cabin” which has a separate area for the kids with themed wallpaper and creatures on the wall that have special effects when you wave a MagiQuest wand at them.
Great Wolf Lodge Towel WolfPlaying in the Kids CabinGreat Wolf Lodge Bunk BedsKid Cabin at the Great Wolf Lodge

the rooms were cool…but not where we wanted to spend the day, as there were so many more things to explore at the GWL. we changed into our swim suits and headed out…..straight to the water park! because that’s the main reason why you stay at GWL. when you enter the water park, the kids get measured and given a color coded band that lets you and the lifeguards know which rides you are safe to ride on. you can also get pool towels.

Height Check for Slides at the Great Wolf LodgeTowels at the Great Wolf Lodge

check it out! how fun is this water park. there are slides for every age, Fort Mackenzie with lots of water features and a giant bucket that pours water every few minutes, a full-sized wave pool, places to splash, swim and climb…and sooooooo much more!!!! the water is heated to 84º and the air is also a nice 84º. you don’t ever have to worry about rain, or putting on sunscreen.

Lily Pad JumpingFort MackenzieKid Waterslide at the Great Wolf LodgeWave Pool at the Great Wolf LodgeSouthern California Water ParkSlide Tubes at the Great Wolf LodgeRainbow Slides at the Great Wolf LodgeSwimming in the wave poolLazy River at the Great Wolf LodgeWater Snake at the Great Wolf LodgeFamily Raft at the Great Wolf Lodge Southern CaliforniaRaft Slides at the Great Wolf LodgeFun Water Parks in Southern California

my boys’ favorite ride was the FlowRider. a wave simulator that you can surf on. and no, there is no extra cost to ride it.

Wave Machine at the Great Wolf Lodge

my hubby loved the Wolf Tail slide that basically drops the floor out from under you in a 20 foot drop into a water slide. yikes…i didn’t try it, but he sure loved it.

Expert Waterslides at Great Wolf Lodge

Vann and i spent a good part of the time in the kiddie area which had slides, pools and fun toys to play with that were just his size.  you didn’t have to worry about the big kids being too rough in this area.

baby water park area at Great Wolf Lodgebaby Slides at the Great Wolf LodgeSplashing at the Great Wolf LodgePool Decorations at the Great Wolf LodgeKiddie area at the Great Wolf Lodge

finally, not all of the water park is indoors. if you need some fresh air, head outside and enjoy the outdoor splash pool.

Outdoor Water Park area at the Great Wolf Lodge

as for food, there are lots of choices of places to eat. i am going to share all about them in another blog post, but i will mention that we mostly ate at the Loose Moose Kitchen – a family buffet that serves dinner and breakfast with lots of choices for everyone. there’s also a sit down restaurant, poolside restaurant, a pizza parlor and an outside grill that has a bar for the adults.

Loose Moose KitchenGreat Wolf Lodge Buffetin the morning, we couldn’t resist. we had to get Dunkin’ Donuts. that’s right, there is one in the GWL!!!!!!!Dunkin Donuts at Great Wolf LodgeEating Donuts at Great Wolf Lodge

we experienced so much more at GWL then just the water park. there are tons of fun activities to do there. one thing we noticed right away, is that lots of kids were running around with magic wands. they are part of the game, MagiQuest, that is played at kiosks throughout the entire hotel. you can purchase a wand of your choice, and even customize it if you’d like, the follow the clues as you wave your wand at the different stations. this was an additional highlight of our trip for the boys – the fun lasted throughout the entire weekend while we were at the hotel. after the boys solved all the clues at each station, they were able to fight the dragon at the end. MagiQuest was the perfect adventure for my older boys.

Great Wolf Lodge Build Your Own WandGreat Wolf Lodge WandWandsWizard Wands at the Great Wolf Lodgemy youngest loved creating his own Clubhouse Pal at the Creation Station and then taking an adventure at the Clubhouse Crew kiosks on the lower levers of the GWL. this is fun for the smaller kids. and both the Clubhouse Pals and MagiQuest wands have sensors that unlock magic surprises around the rest.

Creation StationClubhouse Pal Club at GWL

there are lots of other fun activities to do with the kids, like bowling…..Bowling at Great Wolf LodgeTen Paw Bowling

a 3-D Howly Wood XD simulator….

Great Wolf Lodge 3-d Movie
Howl at the Moon Mini Golf….

Howlin Moon Mini GolfGlow Golf at GWL

a fun arcade….

Fun stuff to do at Great Wolf LodgeGreat Wolf Lodge Arcade

plus…Wiley, the Great Wolf Lodge mascot, is always popping up around the lodge. he sure got a lot of hugs from our family.

Wiley at Great Wolf

and one of the most special experiences was going to Scooops and having a mommy and me,  ice cream scented pedicure/manicures with Vann. it was the cutest thing…there was even banana split and ice cream chairs. and after your treatment you get to eat an ice cream treat!

Scooops SpaFun things to do at the Great Wolf LodgeScooops Kids Spa at the Great Wolf Lodge
lastly, after a full day of activities at the Great Wolf Lodge, we ended our day with a dance party and bedtime stories around the grand fireplace. all the kids staying at the lodge, even adults, are welcome to wear their jammies and enjoy an evening of fun playing together with Wiley the wolf. then it is off to bed. now that was a fun day.

Great Wolf Lodge Story TimeGreat Wolf Lodge Dance Party

the boys and i had the most amazing time at the Great Wolf Lodge….we are definitely going to visit again sometime in the future. there is so much more that i can tell you about GWL and so many more photos i can share, but one blog post is not enough. i can tell you that my kids left with an amazing amount of new special family memories that we made throughout our visit. it really was a special experience for all of us. honestly, it was the most relaxed i have felt on a vacation because i knew my kids were safe and happy. i didn’t have to worry about them getting lost or getting stolen…it was just nice. and for me…that is big. i was able to just enjoy watching them smile and have fun….something i love most as a parent.

Faimly Time at GWL

with something like this, it’s one of those adventures that does cost some money. i personally feel that it worth it. you get to go to the water park for two days….that in itself would cost almost as much as a nights stay. plus, included in your stay – everyone in your party receives a pair of wolf ears, can visit with Wiley and friends as they walk around the resort, participate in morning yoga, nightly story times and dance parties. everything else does cost money, so be prepared for that…but, is not necessarily needed in order to enjoy a GWL stay. i do recommend saving up some money as a family to come to the resort….enough to include some extra funds so that you can experience some of the extra activities. it’s an experience i would love for all families to enjoy, and would be fun to have a GWL fund where you could enjoy a “staycation” once or twice a year. i do hope that your family gets to visit the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California soon.

lastly, after you read this post, you will probably want to go with your family as well! …..so here is a link to get the best deals around. make sure to sign up as and exclusive member. it’s FREE and will enroll you to get special offers right to your inbox and a $50 resort credit. click here for discounts to stay at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California.

Great Wolf Lodge Rock

stay tuned for more Great Wolf Lodge coverage. i have some more detailed posts coming soon!

click here for discounts and deals to stay at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California


  1. Ivan says

    Very nice description of what you guys enjoyed in there… Thank you for sharing. I am going tomorrow for the first time and I can’t wait for it.

  2. Carrie Kleckner says

    We had so much fun this week here! So happy we finally got to go! Worth every penny!

  3. Megan Guess says

    This place looks awesome , we hope to visit one day!

  4. Olivoil says

    My family would love this!

  5. Emmanuelle says

    Love your post! Is it possible to use the facilities without being sleeping at the hotel?

  6. Carolina says

    Thank you for sharing your experience here. We considered doing a “staycation” here this summer, but we weren’t sure because my daughter is so young. Now I’m glad we didn’t plan it. I think I’ll wait till she is 2 1/2 at least, so she can do more activities and enjoy them. Definitely adding this to our things to do list.

  7. Katie says

    Thanks for posting about your trip. I loved all the detailed photos and helpful tips. Because of your blog, I just booked a 3-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge at Garden Grove and may plan a trip to the Washington location. Thanks for putting time and keeping up with your posts. Do you any events happening in OC area from 8/3-8/6?

  8. Susan says

    Thanks for featuring this place. Love all the photos you take. I’m glad we have a fun family waterpark/resort so close to home. BTW, I love the bathing suits you had on in the pictures. Where can I find them?

  9. Honeye Hawkins says

    We just booked a trip here for August! We are so stinkin’ excited and can’t wait! I love your recounting of it all and it made me even more excited for out trip! Can I ask where you got your bathing suits?? They are totally cute and I would love to get some new ones for our upcoming trip! 🙂

  10. Heather says

    Thank you for such a detailed description. I stayed with my family and couldn’t describe the whole experience to everybody who asked about it. Now when people ask how my day was I’m just going to refer them to your blog. Thanks!

  11. Jen F. says

    Thanks for sharing about this…I’ve been tracking the opening for awhile. This looks like such a fun place to spend time with the family. Definitely adding this to my “someday” list!


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