Great Wolf Lodge: 10 Tips For Visiting

Trying to find a place to take your kids where there is a guarantee they are going to have fun can be a challenge. Having visited Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim several times, I can attest that my kids have a blast every time. There is enough variety of activities, both in and out of the water, that kids are always sure to be entertained.

That being said, a little planning upfront can make sure that everything about your trip is fun for the kids and stress-free for parents.

So what makes Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim such a great spot for kids?

Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim is an INDOOR water park. That means no beating sun and no freezing when you get out of the water.

Beyond that, here are some great things about Great Wolf Lodge:

  • Lots of lifeguards making sure the kids stay safe
  • A very “organized” setup where kids cannot just run wild and maybe get themselves (or others) in trouble or hurt
  • Everything is pretty “centralized” so kids can get from attraction to attraction pretty quickly

Now that is just the water park. The Great Wolf Lodge itself offers the following:

  • Kid-friendly restaurants
  • A mini-bowling alley (small balls, lanes, pins)
  • A huge arcade with very up-to-date games
  • An indoor mini-golf course
  • Lots of other activities organized by Great Wolf Lodge kids will love

Long story short, there is a LOT for kids to do and it is all contained in a pretty compacted space of a hotel.

So yes there is a lot to do for the kids Great Wolf Lodge but as always, there are always some good tips to have before you head there for the first time. With that in mind, here are my ten tips to prepare for your first trip to Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim.

Great Wolf Lodge

1.Pack a cooler

So this is one I learned the hard way on my first trip. Two things to know about Great Wolf Lodge in Anaheim:

  • There is NO ROOM SERVICE
  • They do not have any type of “convenience store” on site

So when I first arrived I figured if we need something in the room, call room service. Out of luck. OK, let’s go down to the lobby and get some stuff and put it in the in-room fridge. Out of luck.

Why it is this way? I don’t know. Maybe it is a “Vegas-style” idea that says get out of the room, spend money in the hotel on the other stuff. Yes, they have some restaurants, but that is of no use if your kids want apple juice at 9 p.m.

My solution? Starting on my second trip I just packed up a cooler. There is a fridge and a microwave in the room so you can bring some drinks, fruit, cheese and the like for the fridge and bring your popcorn, soups, mac and cheese cups for the microwave.

Don’t plan on cooking full meals in your room, but kids always want snacks and drinks so just plan ahead and you will be all set.

2. In-room entertainment at Great Wolf Lodge

Well long story short, there is none.

The TV’s at Great Wolf Lodge offer a sampling of channels with some kid-friendly ones like Disney channels. So if that is enough for you and your family, enough said.

I’m guessing is this day and age you (and your kids) will expect more. So the TV’s do have built in YouTube and Crackle. That is not much in the way of entertainment so my suggestion is bring your own device(s) if you are looking for something to watch/play.

3. Keep an eye out at the park

I know I just said that the park is pretty well run and organized but that does not mean you can just turn the kids loose and not give it a second thought.

great wolf lodge

The funny thing is that given all the lifeguards, Great Wolf Lodge makes a point of saying that YOU are still responsible for your kids. Now this all might just be for legal reasons, but they are trying to tell you that they are lifeguards, they are not a daycare service.

  • Make a plan for where you will always meet up, and then make a point of not venturing far from that spot

So my strategy was to go have some fun with the kids if we are all together, but as soon as the kids split up and go their own way, I head back to our spot. My kids are still pretty young so while this place is a lot of fun for them, it can get overwhelming.

My strategy then is to keep a home base, but make a lap every once in a while to make sure my kids are not sitting somewhere crying because of any potential trauma that may have occurred.

4. Lifeguards at Great Wolf Lodge

I know I already mentioned the lifeguards but I want to mention it again to discuss more about these folks.

These are not just a bunch of kids in red t-shirts sitting in chairs and looking around. The lifeguards at Great Wolf Lodge all carry flotation devices at all times, and they are CONSTANTLY moving to keep an eye on every spot where there is water in their park.

As an example, at the lazy river there are two or three lifeguards walking the length of the river. They keep walking back and forth to make sure they are covering every inch of the river.

So why is this important? The lazy river is is one where a little kid could get “pinched” between bigger kids and their inner-tubes. Once that happens they could easily be pushed under water without any one of the Great Wolf Lodge visitors in the river around them knowing it is happening.

So as I said, Great Wolf Lodge is very quick to limit their responsibility for your kids, they still do a great job of keeping kids (and grown-ups) safe in an environment that can potentially be very dangerous.

5. Meals

There are a few places to grab something to eat at Great Wolf Lodge. Since this is such a “kid-centric” place, it stands to reason that there are not that many “5-star” sit down restaurants here. All of the cuisine choices are geared towards kids with some “grown-up” options. I have not tried everything here but let me touch on the things I have tried.

Hungry Like A Wolf

This is a pizza place. Nothing fancy, nothing too upscale. As I mentioned earlier that is probably fine since kids are most likely not interested in a pesto covered pizza with an artisan crust! So it has pretty simple (a.k.a. a little bland) pizza, spaghetti, salads and the like that you would expect at a kind of “family dining” Italian restaurant. Only drawback?

It is right next to the Great Wolf Lodge Arcade with no wall between the two. So good luck trying to get your kids to eat their food when the sirens song of the arcade is calling. And good luck getting a peaceful meal with the noise of an arcade blaring right next door. But lets face it, if you have brought your family to Great Wolf Lodge, you have no expectation of quiet!

Lodge Fire Wood Grill

So this was probably the closest thing you will find to an “adult” restaurant at Great Wolf Lodge. It is set off on it’s own (four actual walls as opposed to the pizza parlor I just talked about) and the food is not bad, but again do not expect 5-star cuisine. Once again, the menu has a large slate of items that kids will like so this might be the best-of-both-worlds option that is good for kids and adults.

Dunkin’ Donuts

It’s a Dunkin’ Donuts. I have never been a fan of their food so it is what it is. If you are looking for a breakfast, this may be your only option. Good news is that you can mobile order from here and then come pick up so you do not stand in (a sometimes long) line.

Bear Paw Sweets and Eats

great wolf lodge

An ice cream parlor with some great “sweets” (like brownies, tarts, etc….). They also make and serve smoothies that are pretty darn good. To be honest, they always seem a little disorganized here, but I cannot really say why.

Buckets Incredible Craveables

Well if you like fried and deep fried foods and the like, you will like this. It is right inside the Great Wolf Lodge water park so that makes it a plus and my guess is your kids will like it (is there a kid that does not like french fries??!!??). Long story short, do not expect anything to “healthy” here.

6. The drive there and back to Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim

So I live in San Diego and so I just assume the drive to and from Great Wolf Lodge will involve some snarled traffic. The joy of living anywhere in Southern California. The reason I bring that up is that for anyone who lives in San Diego knows, driving north out of San Diego involves two choices:

  • Interstate 5
  • Interstate 15

The logical, and shorter route, is Interstate 5. The trouble? One Sunday on my trip back from Great wolf Lodge I piled the kids in the car and hit the road without checking my phone to see what the traffic conditions were like. It was bumper to bumper from about the San Onfore Power Plant to Oceanside. I have not idea why but there it was. The real problem, once you go south of San Clemente, there is really not many places to get off the freeway and turn around.

The moral of the story, check the traffic before you head home from Great Wolf Lodge. Interstate 15 may be a longer route in terms of miles, but if the road is clear that way the time you spend on the road may be much shorter.

7. Parking

You have two choices (well three if you just park on the street I guess):

  • Self-park in the parking garage
  • Valet

Both cost money with the valet being a essentially an add-on (in other words you pay for garage parking either way).

I jokingly said you could park on the street. It is true you can but there is no street parking immediately in front of Great Wolf Lodge. If you do park on the street expect at least a one block walk.

I have always used the valet. You have kids, you have a bunch of stuff.  You (and they) want to start having fun right away.

The garage is directly attached to the lodge so the walk from there seems pretty short.

Valet offers the ability to text down your ticket number and then provide an ETA on when it will be ready so you can walk out the front door to a waiting car.

8. Safety on the slides

So when you are riding a waterslide at Great Wolf Lodge you are moving pretty quickly and you are (by definition) a little out of control. That is the fun of a waterslide.

With that there is the chance for injury. In the many times I have been to the park I have only seen ONE injury (as I said they run a pretty tight ship here).

I cannot say what happened to the rider but he had a couple of scrapes on his face and a little bit of blood. Now it is not nice that this happened BUT what was great:

  • Staff with a first aid kit attending to him
  • Parents seemed calm

Is there anything worse than your kids getting hurt?

Yes, when you are out and about and you have no idea how to get help treating injuries

So I do not want to tell you that any injuries will be quickly treated but it was nice to see that there was at least a mechanism in place to deal with a minor injury that may occur on a waterslide at Great Wolf Lodge.

9. Packages at Great Wolf Lodge

Just as I am writing this, there are seven different deals available on the Great Wolf Lodge website. I have used deals before and saved a pretty penny on my reservations. It is as simple as taking a look and in fact, when you book your reservation online, you will often see a popup for a deal that is currently available.

Great Wolf Lodge also offers a lot of packages that bundle things like meals and attractions. I tried one of these on my first trip but I never bothered again because I tend to be a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of traveler so trying to check every box while on a trip is tough for me-so it was kind of a waste of money for me.

10. Don’t forget….you should have fun too at Great Wolf Lodge!!

I find that when I go to places like Great Wolf Lodge, I have moments where I really do feel like a kid again. Like, for example, when I am flying down a waterslide!

Priority one should be to make sure the kids have a great time. The best thing about Great Wolf Lodge is that you can easily join in on the fun and do the exact same things your kids are doing and have a blast.

Vacations with the kids can be stressful, so make sure YOU let off a little steam on the trip to Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim!!

Are there any other type of activities or events for kids?

Yes there are! Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim has a ton of events and activities that are built just for the kids. Meeting the parks mascots and characters, treasure hunts, story time and even some shows are all playing out throughout each day for the kids.