Great Wolf Lodge-Southern California

As Disney pass holders, we have watched this place being built from the ground up every time we took Harbor to the park.  When we were notified of their upcoming opening (and offered a discount!) we booked two nights to try it out.  We knew better than to book opening weekend since it’s never a good idea to be the first to try a new hotel and based on the reviews from that weekend, we are so glad we waited! You have use of their facilities from 1pm the day you check in, until 9pm the day you check out. We chose 2 nights at the hotel because we didn’t want to be without a room and dependent on public showers/toilets for so many hours, and wanted to have a quiet place to go to should Milana need a break. It was definitely the right choice! Keep in mind, you cannot use the water park without being a hotel guest but can use the rest of their facility without staying the night.  If you have friends staying the night, they are allowed to buy additional wristbands (the same # as people in their room) for $50 each, so that’s the only way to use the water park without paying to spend the night.  Our room was nothing spectacular, we opted for the family suite which had 2 queen beds and a sleeper sofa as well. Milana had her own bed which worked out perfectly.

_DSC5459_DSC5462_DSC5464

The 3rd time we went, we were upgraded to the Wolf Den room.  It’s similar to the family suite and also sleeps 6, but there is a little area with a bunk beds and tv for the kids.  It was nice, but the room size was the same and these are normally a lot more expensive and honestly not worth it if you are paying yourself.

_DSC2097-2_DSC2099-2

_DSC2101-2

We checked in on a Wednesday and the place was deserted! I’ve heard horror stories of massive crowds, but there were literally 5 other families in the water park that day, it was so awesome!  When you check in, you can purchase a pass for your child, which offers a discount on the activities they offer. Because Milana is under 5, we bought the Pup Pass (39.99) since the other things were for older kids.  She got a stuffed toy  from the Creation Station (similar to build a bear), glitter tattoo, arcade credits,  and ice cream among some other things. It’s definitely worth it if you are there more than one day, since you can’t possibly do all the activities in one day. When you check in, everyone in your party gets a wristband that is to stay on for the duration of your stay.  The adult ones have a chip inside, which opens your hotel door and allows you to charge to your room without carrying stuff around. It’s a similar concept to the MagicBand at Disney World, makes it easy to store your info without having to take out your wallet every time you want to buy something! You also use the band to get in and out of the parking structure if you choose to self park.

_DSC5461_DSC5467

_DSC5538_DSC5548

The water park hands out wristbands based on height. Kids under 42 inches receive the red band, meaning they can’t use a good portion of the park. No tube slides at all for that height, and that was by far the highlight of our trip. Thankfully Milana received the yellow band (42-48 inches) so we got to do the tube rides along with the smaller slides, so it was worth it.  We didn’t know about this until we arrived, and would have been really mad if we paid so much money for a glorified splash pad. If you only have one small child or if all your kids are under 42 inches, I would wait a little bit before going, since they won’t be able to use more than half of the attractions.  Milana loved the water park, especially the big tube rides and her favorite was the Mountain Edge Raceway where you lay on your stomach and go head first on a mat down a 4 story drop! She did that one multiple times, definitely a favorite!

unnamed

_DSC5468_DSC5471_DSC5473_DSC5476_DSC5483

_DSC5511_DSC5507

_DSC2107-2_DSC2111-2_DSC2102-2

Oh, the lazy river.  Who thought it was a good idea to design this?? The actual lazy river is so tiny, that if 20 people are in it, there wouldn’t be room for more! It’s kind of ridiculous because if the park is busy (again, there were times when we were the only ones in it), there would be huge lines to use it! Not smart, they should have made it the perimeter of the park.

UPDATE: We have since been back three times, and apparently the slipping issue was huge, so they have placed these giant skid mats all over the water park area, which helps a ton in not falling every time you walk! Something HUGE to note: I’m not sure how this slipped inspection, but the floors are extremely slippery in the water park. Obviously with water, that’s to be expected. But never have we experienced anything like this. At one point, I was sitting and watched several people in a row go down in front of me. It’s like walking on ice! It was insane and the management said they are aware of the issue and working on fixing it.  Milana and Dave both fell hard walking slowly from one place to the other, and needed band aids since chlorine and blood don’t mix to well! Hopefully they fix this soon, as from just reading review of this place, it’s clear that this is a really huge and noticeable issue.  I can’t believe they let this slip (ha!) during the design process.

Here are some videos of the water park:

Water Park Pool

River Canyon Run

Blue slide

Besides the water park, there are a ton of other activities to do. They have a movie theater (we didn’t try it), a spa for kids (again, didn’t try it since $45 for a kid pedicure is absurd!), bowling (Milana’s favorite and we had the whole place to ourselves!), mini golf (again, we were the only ones in there!), arcade (fun but can get expensive if you keep buying points!), laser tag (didn’t try it) and of course the popular MagiQuest game for the older kids.  The Pup Pass came with a Clubhouse Crew game.  After you get your stuffed animal, you register it and it has a chip inside. You walk around the hotel looking for clues at the various stations and when you complete the game, you go back to the store with the bear to receive a bracelet. This game is geared for younger kids, since they can’t really play MagiQuest.  _DSC5514_DSC5551_DSC5553_DSC5535

_DSC5533

Here’s a video of the mini golf: Mini Golf

The food at the hotel is just awful, but we expected that and planned to go out to eat. Just down the street is the Anaheim Packing District, which has some really awesome restaurants (try the poutine at the Kroft!).  The only restaurant in the hotel we did try was the Lodge Wood Fired Grill which was ok, but nothing spectacular and definitely not worth the prices with so many good food options outside of the hotel.  The only good thing at this restaurant were the tiny shot glass desserts, they were actually really good! This food definitely looks better than it tastes.

The hotel has some kind of kid activity going on pretty much all day. In the evenings at 6, we would play bingo (in the Grand Lobby).  The winner gets to choose a prize from their prize box and Milana won the second day!  At 7, was the dance party also in the same location. They also have pajama story time at 8pm, and after that kids can meet some of the Great Wolf characters.  And during the day, they had some kind of craft activity near the lobby area.

_DSC5559_DSC5527_DSC5543_DSC5540

If you are staying here and visiting Disneyland, they do offer shuttles but they are $5/person for adults and something like $3 for kids. Not worth the price, since they don’t run very frequently and it would be more convenient to just park closer to the parks which is what we did.

Overall, we had a good experience because the crowds were low. We’ve been 3 times now and had relatively low crowds each time since we go midweek.    If you can book a weekday, I’d do that. You’ll have the whole place to yourself, without massive lines for all the attractions.  This was the wave pool as we were leaving around 5pm on Friday. There were a handful of people in there on Wednesday and Thursday, and based on the check in line as we were leaving Friday, it was only going to get worse! Definitely book a weekday if possible. We also came around Milana’s birthday and purchased the birthday package, which honestly is not worth it.  They put balloons in your room with a cake and cookies, and a banner on the door.  You can easily do something like that yourself for a fraction of the price!

_DSC5563

 

 

18 comments

  1. This looks like so much fun! I have a friend who takes her twins there every year and they have a blast! I would love to take mine one day. Your cute little traveler looks like she is having so much fun!

    Like

  2. This looks like a nice lodge and so much fun. I can totally understand not wanting to go there the first weekend. Probably very crowded, and why not wait until all the problems connected to opening are fixed. Glad you enjoyed your times there 🙂

    Like

  3. That looks really relaxing, definitely not what you expect when visiting Disney, yet, a needed quiet place away from all the hustle. But honestly, the place is my childhood’s dream! Water parks and pajama story telling nights? What’s not to love!

    Like

  4. This looks like a lot of fun! And oh, she’s such a cutie. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again to go on these adventures but doing that now will be super awkward. Haha! But, great, beautiful photos!

    Like

  5. This looks like an amazing place to bring your children! I love how it has everything in one area so you can just relax while on vacation.

    Like

  6. Disney can be overpriced so it’s all about being smart with it. Glad you were able to provide your experience staying here with your beautiful daughter which definitely makes it worth it all. I can’t believe they charged $45 for a pedicure! That’s crazy. The water park does look great for the younger kids and it’s pretty neat that they continue to have activities throughout the day for the kids.

    Like

  7. This is the first time I’ve read about Great Wolf Lodge and I just LOVE your honesty about it! Especially when it comes to the birthday package. I always wonder why people do pay extra for such things. I mean, I know it’s lovely to do something special but like you said, you can do it yourself for so much less! $45 for a child’s pedicure is also insane. Surely you could rent a chair in a nail salon for that?!
    There seems to be so much to do here though, I can definitely see it as a great place to take kids!

    Like

  8. Thank you for this honest post! Great info, adorable photos! I’m glad they are getting a handle on the slipping issue! That sounds like a parents nightmare! Hello anxiety! Ha! Overall this place LOOKS SO FUN!

    Like

  9. Even if it has it’s flows, the waterpark still looks like it can be a lot of fun for children. I like that the hotel has put an effort and paid attention to all the little details, like a spa for children for example. Shame it’s so expensive though. I actually find the prices quite high, but maybe it’s cause I’ve never been to such a place and I’m not used to how much it should cost.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s