Great Wolf Lodge tips?

KateDrake

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 26, 2011
Marketing works, and as such our kids have been begging us to take them to Great Wolf Lodge after seeing so many commercials on Disney channels. So because we are suckers, we gave in and are now coming in a day early to spend one night at GWL before moving to the Tropicana for our Disneyland trip.

We'll only have about 24 hours at GWL, so I wondered if anyone has any tips on making the most of it? We're mostly planning on spending our time at the water park, since that's what the kids are excited about. Are there any must-try restaurants or anything, or is it better to venture out? Other activities we should try? Happy to take any suggestions, as right now we're just kind of winging it (which is so not my style and kind of freaking me out, lol). But maybe it will be a nice break from real life before we move on to our 5 days at DLR with theme days and coordinating shirts ;)
 

beachdreamr1229

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 12, 2013
I went for 1 night back when they first opened. Get there early. They say you can start visiting the waterpark area at 1 if you arrive the day of your reservation, but many people check in earlier than that. I was surprised by how many people had already checked in.

If you don't have Dunkin Donuts wherever you're from, there's one there. As a so cal native, I was excited to try it. The pizza place is also pretty good if you don't want to splurge on the big "character" restaurant.

In the lobby, there's yoga, arts, crafts, and a "nature walk" every day as well as a show reminiscent of a very small scale country bear jamboree. I think there's a nighttime pajama thing, too. Most if not all of the lobby activities are free and fun for kids.

I personally wouldn't waste money on the bowling, the magi-quest wand, or any of the additional activities on the basement level. They're okay, but nothing special.
 


Funtimeswithteenagers

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 25, 2019
We go to the Washington one often. My kiddos favorite part is the magiquest game, but it takes a long time to play so if your only there a day I wouldn’t do it. You can buy a wand and get it activated for no extra cost so they can interact with all the stuff.
They say you can start using the water park at 1pm, the Washington one lets us in when we get there. We’ve checked in as early as 11am and got our water park bracelets.
We bring in our own food, there’s isn’t anything great. If they have a hungry wolf pizza there they do have goood pizza. There’s usually a coupon on the app.
Have fun!!! We love GWL!!!
 
  • twoolle

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2014
    My kids loved magiqeust also but we had 3 nights. We only did the waterpark a few hours each day. I would go out to eat. Maybe swim first then break to eat out and then back for more swimming.
     

    SoCal_Figment

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2019
    My advice is to just focus on the water park, since that's what you paid for. It usually doesn't get *too* crowded, but if it feels like the lines are long, come during dinner and get a whole pizza and just have dinner in the water park. You can also go when it opens in the morning, but if you are doing DL for several days, it's nice to have a leisurely start to the day for once.

    Have a strategy for how to handle all the extras with your kiddos. The magiquest is *everywhere* on every floor and area of the hotel. You have to walk by the bowling and kid casino aka "arcade" all the time.

    None of the food is worth commenting on. It's fine. It typically isn't worth it to me to go offsite for food, but I have a small family and live down the street.

    My 8 year old likes GWL more than Disneyland.
     

    GoldeneyezCA

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2016
    My 6 and 10 year olds love GWL, perhaps better than DL! We’ve been 3 times, all for one-night stays. I also recommend focusing on the water-park due to the ridiculous upcharges and time needed for MagicQuest and the arcade, and the fact that you’ll be at DL the rest of your trip!

    Check-in at 1 pm at the latest, wearing your swimwear (suits, goggles if needed, flip flops, cover-ups). You will only need sunscreen if your skin is extremely sensitive to the point that you’d be burned under opaque skylights, which is the case for one of my friends, but not typical. Check-out towels and find a table, if possible, to be your home base for your beach bag and family. (GWL doesn’t flip tables or chairs - if you leave stuff there, it’s usually there until the park closes.) If you have valuables, put them in the lockers, and if you want to take pics, bring waterproof case for your phone. Be aware that the chlorine smell is really intense - you’ll get used to it.

    My kids love the water slides, lazy river, and wave pool and will stay in the waterpark for 6-8 hrs at a time, but YMMV. At the busiest times of day, from about 1-6 pm, waits can be about 10-15 min for the popular slides, and the wave pool and lazy river may get crowded. If you stay in the waterpark until closing time, it will be nearly empty with no waits. Alternatively, there is usually a nightttime show and dance party with characters in the hotel lobby, and sometimes, they will allow you to arrange cookies and milk to be delivered to your room by a character if you call in advance. In the morning, arrive at the waterpark when it opens, grab a table, and enjoy the lower crowds.

    Important - the place is bigger than it seems, so you most likely won’t be relaxing much. You’ll either be running around with your kids or running around trying to find them, LOL. This is another reason to have a “home base” table - if we can’t find each other after riding different slides, we meet there.

    We usually just eat from the grill in the waterpark (burgers, hot dogs, etc), and then have dinner at the Stonefire Grill, which is decent, or eat the pizza.

    Other tips: Although the waterpark is kept at 84F all year, the hotel can otherwise be chilly, so bring layers. Also, pack good toiletries because GWL really skimps on that - I think you get 1 oz of lotion and shampoo, basically. LOL. On check-out day, you can either use the showers in the waterpark (no toiletries provided), or just clean up at your next hotel. But be sure to return your towels each time you leave the waterpark, or they will charge you $15 per towel! Have fun!
     

    wingednike

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2010
    My niece and nephew love GWL and remember their trip there more than their visit to DL.

    You can use the water park as early as 1pm on the day you check in and all day on the day you check out.

    Your waterpark wristband is also your room key. You can attach a credit card to it and charge your way through the whole day.

    Parking has in and out privileges; if you need things for your Disney trip, there's a Target nearby.

    Waterpark closes by 8:30. Arcade is open all night. Storytime and craft time in the lobby during the afternoon and evening. I have not tried the food but my coworker said the restaurants are good.
     
  • oakleycat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 19, 2017
    We've been a couple times and my kids love it. If you can spend all you time in the waterpark do it - GWL is a money pit and the kids want to do/buy everything if given the opportunity. My boys love the Magiquest as well.
     

    Evita_W

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2007
    For future reference, Great Wolf Anaheim is usually on Groupon and often about the same cost as other nearby hotels, so it may be worth booking through there for the entire trip at times.
     

    starry_solo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2010
    For future reference, Great Wolf Anaheim is usually on Groupon and often about the same cost as other nearby hotels, so it may be worth booking through there for the entire trip at times.
    Yup! And there's a groupon going on right now too.
     
  • Tylerrog94

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2017
    Does GWL have a shuttle or ART stop? We have 2 Wheelchair-bound people who would need transportation to the parks and just needed to check!
     

    Evita_W

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2007
    Unless they have changed recently, ART Shuttles are not very wheelchair friendly, just as a heads up. They mostly use the "trolley" style shuttles and only a few have wheelchair lifts and fewer that actually work, unless you are lucky enough to get one of the few routes that use a full sized bus. Also, they should transfer, as the ART drivers are not very good at properly securing mobility devices.
     

    Tylerrog94

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2017
    Unless they have changed recently, ART Shuttles are not very wheelchair friendly, just as a heads up. They mostly use the "trolley" style shuttles and only a few have wheelchair lifts and fewer that actually work, unless you are lucky enough to get one of the few routes that use a full sized bus. Also, they should transfer, as the ART drivers are not very good at properly securing mobility devices.
    Thanks for the heads up, I may call ART and see what the status is! We stayed at the Marriot last time and ART drivers were super considerate about making sure buses showed up right away when we needed them. I do fear it may not be the same that far from the resorts though...
     

    Evita_W

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 30, 2007
    You might be better off taking OCTA, since it is on the Harbor route, the buses run pretty much 24/7 and are all accessible. The fare is $2 each way or there is a day pass for $4.50. With ART, they stop running after a certain time and when they say last bus is at a certain time, they mean it, even if that last bus is full, there will not be an additional bus sent, at least that has been our experience.
     

    lindyv321

    TTFN! Ta Ta For Now!
    Joined
    Sep 9, 2013
    Is GWL good for older kids too? I have two teens and was considering doing one night/day here before our Disney trip too. We’d pretty much just be using the water park
     

    Tylerrog94

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 6, 2017
    Is GWL good for older kids too? I have two teens and was considering doing one night/day here before our Disney trip too. We’d pretty much just be using the water park
    Doing this with a 12 and 14-year-old this week! I will report back and let you know how it goes!
     

    goodeats

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2005
    There were some fairly thrilling slides. A drop out one, a couple "toilet bowl" ones with large drops, two tamer tube slides, and some racing slides. I wasn't expecting that much for older kids. Teens would enjoy I'm sure.
     

    lindyv321

    TTFN! Ta Ta For Now!
    Joined
    Sep 9, 2013
    Doing this with a 12 and 14-year-old this week! I will report back and let you know how it goes!
    Awesome! Thank you!

    There were some fairly thrilling slides. A drop out one, a couple "toilet bowl" ones with large drops, two tamer tube slides, and some racing slides. I wasn't expecting that much for older kids. Teens would enjoy I'm sure.
    Thanks! I liked online but it’s hard to really tell. I may have to check out YouTube too!
     





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