Think Great Wolf Lodge is just an indoor waterpark? Get ready to be amazed because this destination is so much more. By the end of our stay, we coined it #kidvegas and for very good reason—from arcades and bowling to dance parties and treasure hunts (just to name a few), this hotel (yes with an indoor waterpark) will have your kids so entertained day and night, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been here before.

Important Hotel Deets

Whether you’ve got a big clan or it’s just a duo, there are rooms for your family at the Great Wolf Lodge. The most popular option is the KidCabin Suite, which has built-in bunks and a queen bed, as well as a pull-out couch. The rooms are spacious enough to chill in after a busy day and all rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge include mini-fridges and microwaves. Other great options include rooms with multiple queen-sized beds, rooms with double bunks in a separate space and even big family suites like the Grizzly Family Suite which sleeps a family of 8.

Good to know: Unless you spring for a room with separate bunks (KidCabin) you and the family will all be in the same room. This isn’t a bad thing, since this is a family vaycay, but if you’re hoping for some downtime/privacy after the kids sack out and you’ve got light sleepers, you should upgrade.

Dial It In: Wine Down Service is as amazing as it sounds. After the kids are settled in (or while you’re settling them in) dial up the service that will bring you whatever you need—including a bottle of wine—and then instead of disturbing you in the middle of that precarious “oh, she’s almost asleep” stage, they just text you to let you know your wine has arrived. They leave it outside your door and you grab when it’s convenient for you. Genius.

Pools, Pools and More Pools

Most likely you came for the pools and while at first it may seem odd to go to an indoor waterpark in Southern California (aren’t we known for great weather all year round?) the truth is, we don’t have spectacular weather all of the time (I know it’s supposed to be a secret but I can’t keep it any longer). Between the chilly and sometimes drizzly winter weather to May Gray and Jun. Gloom, it can be downright disappointing not to be able to jump into a pool any time you want. At Great Wolf Lodge, the indoor temperature along with the water stays a consistent 84 degrees year round. Bonus: They have an outdoor pool as well so if the weather is nice, you can get that Vitamin D and then escape the hot burning sun whenever you like.

This signature attractions at every Great Wolf Lodge includes Fort Mackenzie, a multi-level interactive water fort treehouse with a massive tipping water bucket, Crooked Creek winding lazy river, Slap Tail Pond wave pool, toddler water features, and the River Canyon Run, which is a family raft ride with a raft elevator that does all the heavy lifting for you.

Good to know: Great Wolf Lodge pools are open exclusively to guests staying at the resort. This means the chances for crowded pools and long lines diminish significantly. If you’re staying at the resort and you have a guest pop in for the day, extra wristbands are available for $50.

Sweet Shops, Snacks & Cuddly Friends

For a souvenir worth snuggling, stop by Creation Station to build a character from the Great Wolf Lodge roster (like Oliver the Racoon, Violet the Wolf, etc.). You choose the animal and then an outfit to go with (outfits cost additional). Don’t forget to hit up the Great Wolf Candy Company for some bulk goodies gummies, jelly beans, taffy and all kinds of treats.

For a little pampering paw-style, stop by Scoops (not an ice cream parlor but rather an ice-cream/cupcake themed spa just for kids). Glitter tattoo or hair chalk, anyone?

There are eight different food and drink spots on site, including a Dunkin Donuts, Hungry Like a Wolf pizza place, a breakfast and dinner buffet offering and more. Pack a few power bars for the kids to avoid the hangries, but most everything you need is on site.

photo: Great Wolf Lodge

There’s More To Do Than You Can Imagine

During your stay at Great Wolf Lodge, there are activities and events scheduled from morning until night. Start your day out with Yoga Tails. Cap your evening off with story time—PJs are encouraged. You’ll also find a dance party (one for the younger kids, another version for the kids who stay up later), character visits—be on the lookout for Violet the Wolf and Wiley the Wolf. Each day offers a different program so that your kids are never bored.

And then there’s MagiQuest. No visit to the Great Wolf Lodge is complete without an introduction to the interactive game that is like a scavenger hunt meets video game. But don’t be fooled—there’s very little screen time and kids and their parents will get lots of exercise (my son logged 10K steps!) wandering the lodge communing with Pixies and battling dragons. Start your Quest at the MagiQuest shop where you procure a wand and declare your Quest name. Throughout the second and first floors, you’ll find the wands react with features, stations (called “portals”) and more. Light up crystals, make paintings talk and more as you solve each level. And if you find yourself heading to a different Great Wolf Lodge location, bring your wand! It will work for the adventure at any location.

Good to know: For a small fee you can ask for late checkout (2 p.m), giving you more time to get your stuff together before you leave for the day. But even if you check out at 11 a.m., your wristband gives you access to the waterpark until closing that day! Stash your luggage in the car and then hit the waterpark, where you can shower before getting dressed and prying yourself away from the property. There are lockers at the Water Park for a change of dry clothes (locker fees apply).

Happy Cub Pack

This my friends, is the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even gotten to the part about it being less than an hour from Los Angeles so you can plan ahead for a much-needed reprieve or take a last minute vacation.

Or the tremendous detail the resort puts into being allergy aware (if you have special dietary needs, let them know and they will accommodate you and your family).

Or the fun arcade with new games and retro games and also where my daughter hit the jackpot and won 1,000 tickets (another reason why we called it #kidvegas), or just how much FUN we had as a family floating around the lazy river, round and round and round without any pressure to be anywhere, to rush back to some far away hotel, find a restaurant to eat, because it’s all right there. For a no-pressure, fun-filled weekend…this is the place to be.

ADVERTISEMENT

Great Wolf Lodge
12681 Harbor Blvd
Garden Grove, CA
Online: greatwolf.com/southern-california

Have you been to Great Wolf Lodge yet? Let us know your favorite part in the comments below!

—Andie Huber

Photos by Andie Huber, unless otherwise noted.

RELATED STORIES:

Get In the Swim Of Things: A Dozen Perfect Public Pools

Swimming in Nature

50 Things to Do This Summer With Your Kids

LA’s Best Family Beaches