Great Wolf Lodge celebrated the grand opening of its first resort in California earlier this month, and we were lucky enough to be among the first to experience it! Located in the city of Garden Grove, just minutes from the Disneyland Resort, Great Wolf Lodge Southern California is the largest of the brand’s 13 indoor water park resorts in North America and introduces an entirely new vacation experience to families visiting or living in the area.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California. Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge Southern California. Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge.

The question has been asked over and over again – why build an indoor water park in Southern California?

Well, despite the sunny skies we’re known for, it isn’t always warm enough to run around outside in a swimsuit. It does rain on occasion. And even though there are already lots of water parks in California, for these very reasons they are only open during the summer.

DestinationReviewGreat Wolf Lodge Southern California is a complete destination for families looking for the perfect getaway. The centerpiece of the resort is the 105,000 square foot, 84-degree indoor water park. With attractions including the six-story water slide town with 10 exciting slides, a wave pool, interactive play area, lazy river, and the body surfing experience, the water park offers something for everyone. Plus, no sun screen is required and you never have to worry about lightening shutting down the park!

Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

While you’d think all this fun literally crammed under one roof would make for cramped quarters, this was not the case! The water park is actually quite expansive and thoughtfully laid out, leaving lots of room for lounge chairs and tables and for getting around. And because Great Wolf limits water park access to hotel guests (meaning no day passes are available), the water park never got too crowded and the lines for the water slides never got too long.

But the water park – while certainly the highlight of the resort – is only one of many adventures available for families to enjoy. Great Wolf Lodge Southern California, which I quickly dubbed “Vegas for Kids” (bright lights, loud noises, lots to do and lots of ways to spend your money), is truly a hotel designed with family fun in mind.

Main Street – Bowling, Mini Golf, Arcade Games and More!
Located on the resort’s lower lever, Main Street is the entertainment capital of the resort. Here you will find the Northern Lights arcade (open 24 hours), Ten Paw Alley bowling, Howl at the Moon glow-in-the-dark golf, Scoops Kids Spa, the Howly Wood X-D Theater, Great Wolf Kids Creation Station and the MagiQuest store.

Ten Paw Alley Bowling. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Ten Paw Alley Bowling. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Main Street is also where you’ll find the main entrance to the water park.

Parents can either join in on the fun or sit back let their kids run around safely from one attraction to the next. You can purchase a Paw Pass in advance, which gives kids access to whichever attractions you select, so they don’t have to hit you up for money every time they want to try something new.

MagiQuest
Battle dragons, befriend a pixie and wave a magic wand in this live-action adventure game that takes kids throughout the resort. The game features three unique chapters, each with their own challenges and quests. No space is off limits as kids run from one spot to the next throughout the hotel following the guidance of the Book of Wisdom.

Story Time happens nightly at Great Wolf Lodge. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Story Time happens nightly at Great Wolf Lodge. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom.

Story Time & Activities
Each day ends with Story Time in the grand lobby. Children are encouraged to head down in their pajamas as they go on an adventure with their favorite Great Wolf Lodge characters. Kids also have the opportunity to meet them, with daily appearances with Wiley the Wolf and Violet the Wolf. There are crafts and fun trivia games. And let’s not forget those nighttime dance parties just for kids!

Clubhouse Crew
What do you get when you combine Build-A-Bear with a touch of magic and super kid-friendly interactive scavenger hunt? You get the Clubhouse Crew – kind of like MagiQuest but for younger kids.

Plush creatures they build and dress practically come to life at the Creation Station. Each furry friend is registered to your child, and the hotel features a variety of Clubhouse Crew stations where they can check in and take part in a scavenger hunt around the resort.

Rooms & Dining
The resort features 603 hotel rooms, including Wolf Den and KidCabin suites that feature bunk beds in a private sleeping area. Larger suites offer second bedrooms and bathrooms.

They call it an all-suite hotel, but in my honest opinion (and my one criticism!) that’s a little bit misleading. What they label a “Family Suite” is really just a standard hotel room with two queen beds and a sofa sleeper. This is the room we stayed in and it actually worked out great, since we traveled with my son’s friend and having the sofa bed saved two 11-year old boys from the horror of having to **gasp** share a bed. But a suite it was not!

Surfing the Wolf Rider Wipeout. Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge.

Surfing the Wolf Rider Wipeout. Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge.

My best advice is to reserve a KidCabin or Wolf Den Suite, where children have a special themed room with bunk beds all to themselves. There are elements in the den controlled by their MagiQuest wands, such as a fish, a frog and a string of lights. They cost a little more of course, but they also allow everyone to have a little extra space and privacy.

Access to the water park, unlimited WiFi and all kids activities and shows are included in the room rate.

The resort features seven restaurants and snack bars, including the Loose Moose Buffet, Lodge Wood Fired Grill, Hungry as a Wolf Pizza and a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Great Wolf Lodge offers a shuttle to Disneyland, and is just a short drive from the beaches and other area attractions, making this a great destination to call home base when visiting Southern California.

Healthy Tip for the Destination
Great Wolf Lodge features a brand new state-of-the-art fitness room, with big screen TVs and windows overlooking the water park.

The newest Great Wolf Lodge in Southern California is open for business. Get a sneak peek at the hotel rooms, water park, and dining in this review.